One Piece

Monkey D. Luffy (red vest, center left) is a classic example of a shounen hero

One Piece is one of the long format behemoth shounen anime (as of the summer of 2012 it had logged an impressive 550 episodes). I follows the exploits of Monkey D. Luffy a young man who is determined to become the next Pirate King. As a little boy Luffy had gained the superpower of a completely rubberized body, though his monstrous strength is a result of the classic shounen values: hard work and friendship. Luffy gathers a crew a characters as interesting as himself and the set out to sail to the ends of the world in search of the legendary treasure known as the “One Piece”.

The success of the show lies in the likable characters (including at time the antagonists) and a masterful blend of storytelling that balances comedy, tragedy, and action in ways that keep fans engaged even when the main characters aren’t present. Long story arcs and at times inchworm pacing (sometimes having more to do with the pace of the source material’s pacing than anything) can wear on a viewer’s patience, but the quality of the plot shines through even the most trying moments.

The show can be taken as an exemplar of shounen titles featuring heroes who care deeply about protecting their friends and vulnerable people. The protagonists face strong opponents who encourage them to grow stronger in response often as evidenced in new moves and named attacks. Unlike other shounen titles the female protagonists are capable crew members and fighters in their own rights and have goals and quests that have little to do with furthering Luffy’s desire to become the Pirate King.