One Piece is licensed for an English language release in North America by Viz Media. The individual chapters are being serialized in Viz's Shonen Jump manga anthology and being published in tankōbon volumes. In the United Kingdom, the series was being released by Gollancz Manga, it is now released by Viz Media along with all of their other manga previously released by Gollancz Manga. Madman Entertainment is releasing the series in Australia and New Zealand.
The series was adapted into an original video animation (OVA) produced in 1998 by Production I.G. It was later adapted into a full anime series by Toei Animation that premiered in Japan on Fuji Television on October 20, 1999. Since then, the still ongoing series has aired more than four hundred episodes. The anime series was licensed for a heavily edited English dubbed broadcast in North America by 4Kids Entertainment. It has since been licensed for a full Region 1 DVD release and broadcast by Funimation Entertainment in its original and uncut form. In addition to the anime series and OVA, One Piece has been adapted into ten feature films by Toei and multiple video games based on the series have been released. A Japanese amusement park based after the series has been slated to open in March of 2010.
A boy named Monkey D. Luffy, inspired by his childhood hero "Red-Haired" Shanks, sets out on a journey to find One Piece, the legendary treasure of the King of the Pirates, Gol D. Roger. To accomplish this, he must reach the end of the most deadly and dangerous ocean: The Grand Line.
Luffy captains the Straw Hat Pirates first through the sea of East Blue and then through the Grand Line. He follows the path of the deceased King of the Pirates, Gol D. Roger, from island to island on his way to the great treasure One Piece. On his way his crew grows to have a swordsman – "Pirate Hunter" Zoro, a navigator – "Cat Thief" Nami, The sharpshooter – "Sogeking" Usopp, a cook – "Black Leg" Sanji, a doctor – "Cotton Candy Lover" Tony Tony Chopper, an archaeologist – "Demon Child" Nico Robin, a shipwright – "Cyborg" Franky,and a musician – "Dead Bones" Brook.
During the course of the story, the crew contends with other pirate crews, the royal Shichibukai (7 Warlords of the Sea) and the Marines. The latter are the subordinates of the corrupt World Government, who apparently seek justice by ending the Golden Age of Pirates. Many background story elements involve the delicate balance of power between the World Government and the world's most powerful pirate crews, especially the Four Emperors, the four most powerful pirates in the world.
The fictional world of One Piece is covered by two vast oceans, which are divided by a massive mountain range called the Red Line (赤い土の大陸（レッドライン）, Reddo Rain?). The Grand Line (偉大なる航路（グランドライン）, Gurando Rain?), a sea that runs perpendicular to the Red Line, further divides them into four seas: North Blue (北の海（ノースブルー）, Nōsu Burū?), East Blue (東の海（イーストブルー）, Īsuto Burū?), West Blue (西の海（ウエストブルー）, Uesuto Burū?) and South Blue (南の海（サウスブルー）, Sausu Burū?). Surrounding the Grand Line are two regions called Calm Belts (凪の帯（カームベルト）, Kāmu Beruto?), which experience almost no wind and ocean currents and are breeding ground for the huge sea creatures called Sea Kings (海王, Kaiō?, "Neptunians" in the English manga). Because of this, the Calm Belts are very effective barriers for those trying to enter the Grand Line. While navy ships, using sea stone to mask their presence, can simply pass through, most have to use the canal system of Reverse Mountain (リヴァース・マウンテン, Rivāsu Maunten?), a mountain at the first intersection of the Grand Line and the Red Line. Sea water from each of the four seas runs up that mountain and merges at the top to flow down a fifth canal and into the first half of the Grand Line. The second half of the Grand Line, beyond the second intersection with the Red Line, is also known as the New World. A Log Pose
The currents and weather on the Grand Line's open sea are extremely unpredictable, while as in the vicinity of islands the climate is stable. What makes it even harder to navigate is the fact that normal compasses do not work there. A special compass called a Log Pose (記録指針（ログポース）, Rogu Pōsu?) must be used. The Log Pose works by locking on to one island's magnetic field and then locking on to another island's magnetic field. The time for it to set depends on the island. This process can be bypassed by obtaining an Eternal Pose (永久指針（エターナルポース）, Etānaru Pōsu?), a Log Pose variation that is permanently set to a specific island and never changes.
The world of One Piece is filled with anachronisms, like the transponder snails (電伝虫, den den mushi?, lit. electric transmission bug), snail-like animals that can be attached to electric equipment and function as rotary phones, fax machines, surveillance cameras, and similar devices. Dials (ダイアル, Daiaru?), the shells of certain sky-dwelling animals, can be used to store wind, sound, images, heat, and the like and have various applications.
Devil Fruit (悪魔の実, Akuma no Mi?, "Cursed Fruit" in the 4Kids dub) are a type of fruit which when eaten confer a power on the eater. There are three categories of devil fruit. Zoan (動物（ゾオン）, Zoon?) fruits allow the user to fully and partially transform into a specific animal. Logia (自然（ロギア）, Rogia?) fruits give control over and allow the user "to change their living body structure into the powers of nature". Paramecia (超人（パラミシア）, Paramishia?, called "Paramythia" in the English versions) is a catch-all category for fruits that give the user superhuman abilities. Devil Fruit users cannot swim. When even partially submerged in sea water, they lose all of their strength and coordination, although some abilities remain; such as Luffy still being able to stretch after being totally submerged. 'Moving' water such as rain or waves does not have this effect.
One Piece started as three one-shot stories entitled Romance Dawn—which would later be used as the title for One Piece's first chapter and volume. The two one-shots featured the character of Luffy, and included elements that would later appear in the main series. The first of these short stories was published in August 1996 in a special issue of Shōnen Jump and later in One Piece Red. The second was published in the 41st issue of Shōnen Jump in 1996 and reprinted 1998 in Oda's short story collection, Wanted!.
Oda originally planned One Piece to last five years, and he had already planned out the ending, but he found himself enjoying the story too much to end it in that amount of time and now has no idea how long it will take to reach that point. Nevertheless, the author states, as of July 2007, that the ending will still be the one he had decided on from the beginning and he is committed to seeing it through to the end, no matter how many years it takes.
When creating a Devil Fruit, Oda thinks of something that would fulfill a human desire; he added that he does not see why he would draw a Devil Fruit unless the fruit's appearance would entice one to eat it. The names of many special attacks and other concepts in the manga consist of a form of punning, in which phrases written in kanji are paired with an idiosyncratic reading. The names of Luffy, Sanji, Chopper, Robin, and Franky's techniques are often mixed with other languages, and the names of a number of Zoro's sword techniques are designed as jokes; for example, some of them look fearsome when read by sight but sound like kinds of food when read aloud. Eisaku Inoue, the animation director, has said that the creators did not use these kanji readings in the anime since they "might have cut down the laughs by about half." Nevertheless, Konosuke Uda, the director, said that he believes that the creators "made the anime pretty close to the manga."
The creator of One Piece was "sensitive" about how it would be translated. The English version of the One Piece manga in many instances uses one onomatopoeia for multiple onomatopoeia used in the Japanese version. For instance "saaa" (the sound of light rain, close to a mist) and "zaaa" (the sound of pouring rain) are translated into "fshhhhhhh."