One Piece and the Art of Doing Flashbacks

Spoiler Warning: The following contains major spoilers for One Piece

Everyone knows that flashbacks are never the best part of a story. At best, they give crucial information that sets up and explains the actual story and characters. At worst, they come off as wasting time. Either way, flashbacks aren’t known for being good stories by themselves. None of this applies to One Piece. In One Piece, flashbacks frequently accomplish their usual goals, but also provide some of the best parts of the entire anime. One Piece has had a lot of flashbacks, but for this article I’ll be focusing on Robin’s backstory, which is by far the most memorable and contains all of what makes One Piece flashbacks so great.

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How to do Shounen Right (and Wrong)

Warning: This editorial contains minor spoilers for Naruto and One Piece.

Out of the many genres in anime, there’s one that’s undoubtedly the most popular: shounen. The term shounen means something like “young boy” and is used to refer to anime and manga directed at adolescent and teenage boys. Shounen series are primarily action based and outdo nearly everything else in anime and manga in terms of popularity. Some of the biggest hits in anime history have been shounen; Naruto, One Piece, Dragonball, Fullmetal Alchemist and Fist of the North Star were all shounen. In this piece, I’ll be looking at some things shounen should do or avoid doing to be good. None of these points are absolute and most apply to storytelling in general, but they’re all strengths and weaknesses common in shounen.

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How to Kill off Characters

The following article contains major spoilers for every show mentioned. Read at your own risk.

Character deaths can be extremely impactful in both anime and fiction in general. If done right, they can be the most emotionally moving scenes in a story and can signal a major shift the plot. They’re also very easy to do wrong. To be clear, I don’t mean minor character deaths or random villain deaths. When I talk about death scenes, I mean scenes for significant characters that are at least intended to leave an impact. In general, a character’s death should matter at least as much as the character did. Otherwise it risks feeling unearned if overdone or unsatisfying if underdone.

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Where did Bleach go Wrong?

Warning: This editorial contains major spoilers for Bleach.

I’ve been following Bleach for a long time. I first picked it up back when the anime was airing on Toonami and I’ve followed both the anime and the manga ever since. With the manga having just ended, I’d like to look at how it went from one of the most popular shonen franchises of it’s time to having the anime get cancelled and the manga rushed to an ending. I won’t give much of a plot summary since I’m assuming everyone reading this is at least somewhat familiar with Bleach (it would also take way too long), but I will go through each arc and look at what worked, what didn’t and how it changed over time.

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Is Fanservice a Problem?

The topic of fanservice comes up pretty frequently in discussions about anime, and for good reason. Every season has at least one show that obviously just exists as a vehicle for fanservice, and even anime that doesn’t prioritize it sometimes has fanservice. Some people like it and some people hate it, so the question I’m looking at here is whether fanservice is inherently a bad thing.

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Is Anime Only Content Always Bad?

It’s pretty common knowledge that most anime is an adaptation of something. Manga, light novels, visual novels and even mobile games all provide source material for anime. There are a few original anime, but they’re vastly outnumbered by all the adaptations produced every season. As with any adaptation, there are plenty of people who are fans of the original material and complain if the anime changes things and that following the original work is always better. The problem with this mindset is that there’s nothing inherently better about following the source material. All that means is that the anime will have the exact same strengths and weaknesses as the original, so if the original did something badly, so will the adaptation. That said, in my experience, adaptations that stick closer to the source material tend to be better, but not for the reasons people normally give.

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How Did One Punch Man Get so Popular?

If you’ve been involved with the anime community at all in the past year or so, chances are you’ve heard of a little show called One Punch Man. Based on an already popular manga and webcomic, One Punch Man has exploded in popularity since the anime first premiered last year. The big question here is why. The easy answer is “because it’s really good,” which, while true, doesn’t actually answer the question. There’s a lot of really good anime out there that, for whatever reason, never got as popular as OPM, which means there has to be more to it. It’s not just the flashy action scenes either, although that definitely helped. OPM started to get popular back when it was just a webcomic, and the comic didn’t look very good. The story and the fight scenes were basically the same, but the art was pretty bad and obviously amateur. It says a lot that something that looks so unappealing at first glance was able to get so popular.

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