When it comes to swash-buckling Shounen Jump fun, the winky smiley face of One Piece stands proud. It took me a while to catch onto this show- I only started watching in January 2006, but spurred on by what has to be the most unique character designs I’ve come across in a mainstream anime series, I found myself in love with the adventures of Luffy and the Straw Hat Crew.

Aside from the ultra-cool artwork, what perhaps seperates One Piece from the likes of Naruto and Bleach is that the storyline is first and foremost all about adventure. Luffy sets off on his journey to become the Pirate King and along the way forms a crew of loyal friends, each with their own dreams and ambitions, ambitions that run parrell to each other. Imagine Berserk’s “Band of the Hawk” and to quote Caska (of Berserk), here we have a “bonfire of dreams”; each personality carries a small flame, it flickers in the wind, but put them together and you have a roaring fire. It’s just that Luffy’s flame is bigger than most.

Comradery, friendship and trust are the underlying messages of this show- through light and dark, we see the Straw Hat crew fighting for themselves and each other. It’s so far (I’m up to episode 54 now) been a heart warming, fun journey through groups of blood thirsty pirates and corrupt naval marines. And I get the feeling the story is just warming up too.

Of course this wouldn’t be a Shounen Jump anime without massive set-piece battles and One Piece has it’s fair share of bare fisted knuckle fights but (as if you couldn’t tell by now) what I love most about this show is these wide-eyed characters and their adventures and for what it’s worth, I can’t wait to watch more.