10 Ways One Piece Embraces Shonen Clichés

   Popularity and influence have made One Piece an undisputable king of the shonen genre and has always been praised for its limitless creativity. Eiichiro Oda never feared breaking the shonen conventions, daring to incorporate bold character designs, mature political themes, and morally ambiguous heroes into what most saw as a lighthearted pirate adventure.


Yết, for all the ways One Piece pushed the boundaries of shonen storytelling, it remained fond of the classic tropes that made the genre so well-loved across the world. The infamous shonen clichés that are seen as the bane of the genre are present in One Piece in both their established glory and tiresome redundancy. The iconic series embraces the good and the bad of the genre’s conventions while still holding onto its individuality and distinctiveness.

   10 Excessive Fan Service

Nami's initial outfit for the Onigashima raid in One Piece.

   In shonen anime, fan service is often disregarded as a cheap marketing trick that conceals the show’s lack of substance. And while One Piece doesn’t rely on exploiting its female characters’ desirability to keep the viewers entertained, it still suffers from a needless abundance of fan service. Most female One Piece characters, including the prominent protagonists like Nami and Robin, have an unattainable physique that openly accentuates their seductiveness.

   However, unlike other shonen titles, One Piece never reduces its heroines to brainless eye candy. For all of their unrealistic curves and absurdly revealing outfits, the females of One Pieceremain compelling, self-sufficient characters on par with their male counterparts.

   9 The Inevitable Time Skip

One Piece: All The Straw Hats In One Image Post Time-Skip

  Most long-running shonen series inescapably run into a point in the narrative when a time skip is necessary to progress the plot and give the world time to develop new challenges. Matured and strengthened in their time apart from the audience, shonen heroes always come back from their time skips ready to take on new daunting obstacles.

  One Piece had a two-year time skip at the half point of its story that readied the Straw Hats to enter the dangerous waters of the New World. The time skip split the narrative in two, with the events that followed being much more mature and high stakes than the Super Rookies Saga.

   8 Underdog Protagonist

Luffy as a kid in the forest

   Most of the shonen greats, from Naruto to Chainsaw Man’s Denji, start as nobodies the world at large rejects. The same is true for Monkey D. Luffy, a simple-minded yet infinitely determined boy from Foosha Village who dreams of becoming the Pirate King.

   While Luffy always had some influential ties, with his father being the leader of the Revolutionary Army and his grandfather holding a high status within the Marines, these connections didn’t open any opportunities in the pirate world for the boy. Luffy had to craft his fame as a notorious pirate by himself, starting from the irrelevant seas of the East Blue and sailing all the way to the top of the New World.

   7 Plot Armor

Pell flying in One Piece. (1)

   Death doesn’t scare most shonen heroes, no matter how life-threatening their circumstances may be. Most of them get out of even the wildest dangers that would undoubtedly kill a regular person thanks to plot armor – a narrative device protecting relevant heroes from the most improbable odds. Aimed at young boys, shonen often avoids making death a part of its narratives, and One Piece is no different.

   While some notable characters, like Whitebeard and Ace, sacrificed their lives during pivotal conflicts, others escaped unavoidable death way more often. Plot armor shields not only the Straw Hats but extends to side characters such as Pell the Falcon, whose unlikely survival on a death mission felt laughably unrealistic.

   6 Foes Turned Allies

Bon Clay and Luffy escaping Impel Down in One Piece.

   In shonen, the power of friendship constantly forges bonds between the most unlikely alliances, turning yesterday’s nemesis into today’s companions. Villain’s heel turn is a beloved cliché in shonen storytelling that many series embrace, but none quite as willingly as One Piece. Luffy’s shocking ability to charm people earned him countless unexpected alliances.

   Most of the Straw Hats started as antagonists or very reluctant allies, including Nami, Robin, and Franky. Yet, Luffy managed to win them over and earn the respect of much more menacing foes, such as Baroque Works’ Bon Clay, Duval, Bellamy, and even Crocodile.

   5 Drawn-Out Fight Scenes

Luffy fights Doflamingo - One Piece

   Shonen fights are much more than a simple, swift exchange of blows. Infamously, shonen showdowns are intricate, prolonged, tense encounters that can last many chapters. While not as excessive as the battles of Dragon Ball and Naruto, fights in One Piece can still go on for much longer than conventionally necessary.

   Some of Luffy’s encounters are easy and swift wins. Yet, many struggles span double-digit chapters, such as the 33-chapter fight with Donquixote Doflamingo. The longest battle in One Piece history was the thrilling clash against Kaido and Big Mom at the end of the Wano Country arc that lasted 64 chapters.

   4 Perverted Characters

Sanji having a nosebleed in One Piece.

   An unfortunate staple of any shonen anime’s cast is the perverted male character whose advances toward women are never humorous and always creepy. One Piece tries its best to execute this trope tastefully. Yet, the series’ determination to exploit some of its characters’ lust for gags left many disgusted and disappointed with otherwise amazing heroes.

   Sanji is the most famous pervert among the Straw Hats’ ranks, panting after every attractive woman he encounters. However, he’s not the only one giving Nami and Robin trouble, as Brook is also guilty of constantly asking the girls to show him their panties.

   3 Ridiculous Attack Names

One Piece Luffy using Gomu Gomu no Pistol to defeat a Sea King

   From Goku’s raged cry of Kamehameha to Tanjiro’s various forms of Water Breathing, special attack names have always been a ridiculous yet well-loved quirk of shonen anime. A show that openly embraces its campiness, One Piece doesn’t shy away from making its heroes yell the most absurd things before launching their finishing move.

   Luffy has an array of hilariously named special attacks and forms that take advantage of his rubber body, from the classic Gomu Gomu no Pistol to Gear 5’s super-strong Gomu Gomu no Bajrang Gun. However, each Straw Hat has plenty of unique moves, all named after something the particular character holds dear or specializes in.

   2 Sudden Power Escalation

Luffy taps into Gear 5 in One Piece Film: Red.

   When a situation gets particularly dire, it’s common for a shonen hero to suddenly unlock a new power or technique that grants them an instant upper hand. One Piece is guilty of relying on this age-old trope relatively often, with most of Luffy’s power upgrades happening amid an otherwise losing battle.

   As someone who almost always clashes with increasingly stronger foes back-to-back, Luffy doesn’t have much time for gradual training, his powers increasing in sudden bursts. The most absurd power creep so far came during Luffy’s battle with Kaido, when, after a just loss, he unlocks Gear 5 in a moment of desperation.

   1 Tragic Backstories

One Piece Robin Crying

   While there’s no more effective way to make a character feel sympathetic than through shedding some light on their tragic pasts, at this point, a heartbreaking backstory became a clichéd staple for all shonen heroes. One Piece excels at using this trope not only to make fans pity its characters but to humanize them in unexpectedly profound ways.

   From the years of turmoil Robin endured after the destruction of Ohara to the frighteningly understandable hatred Doflamingo felt towards the people who lynched his family, each One Piece character is shaped by the tragedies of their past and the nuances that defined their healing journeys.

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