If you haven’t heard the news yet, then it is with a heavy heart, that I must say One Piece has yet again been cancelled. Following the announcement on Friday, March 10th, One Piece will be leaving the Toonami block on March 18th. Replacing One Piece in its former 2:30am timeslot will be Tokyo Ghoul which will premiere a week after One Piece’s final episode.
While I’m not personally a fan of the new replacement, Tokyo Ghoul is a very popular and well-received show and is definitely worthy of being on the Toonami block. However, the minute news broke of One Piece’s sudden departure, it didn’t take long for OP fans to run to social media to voice their heartbreak and woes on what feels like an unfair boot to the beloved long-running pirate anime. I didn’t want to go over whether or not OP deserved to be cancelled or what do we do now necessarily. More so, I wanted to explain, as a huge fan of One Piece, why this cancellation is such a shame given One Piece’s rocky ride in the U.S.
Absorbing One Piece over the years, the one thing I can liken being a fan of this long-running series to, is the same feeling as being a huge fan of anime. To better explain my point, I’m sure every anime fan has had the experience of a friend or family member who isn’t into anime and sees it as a weird and nonsensical piece of animation as opposed to the charming and thought-provoking medium it can be if given a chance. If you are familiar with that feeling, then congrats!, you now know what it’s like to be a One Piece fan. While some anime fans see One Piece as an overwhelming and weirdly drawn anime that doesn’t seem to take anything serious, One Piece, in my opinion is a show that shouldn’t be judged by its cover. It’s a series that isn’t long for the sake of being long like Naruto and has the charm of Dragon Ball, but with far more depth and personality in its world building unique and vibrant characters.
And that’s exactly why it hurts so much to see One Piece not get the love it definitely deserves at times. One Piece first premiered on September 18th, 2004 on the Fox Box. This was the era where 4Kids had the rights to the series and very heavily edited the show. So much so, entire arcs were skipped due to violence and major plot points were affected as a consequence. I remember being a kid, newly discovering cartoons and understanding what anime was. To give some context, at the time, when I saw commercials for it on T.V., I wasn’t even aware the show was about pirates! It just seemed like a lot of weird visuals mixed with 4Kids’ over-the-top acting. It wasn’t until it hit Cartoon Network a few years later that I got into the show and even with 4kids edits, there was something about it that drew me to it. At the time, Naruto had just made its US debut and it seemed like nothing could dethrone it for me. Then one day, while browsing online, I managed to catch clips from some of the Japanese episodes of One Piece. Through these clips I saw an entirely new and fantastic side of One Piece. It was a side that showed One Piece to be a deep, brutal, hilarious, and more creative than anything I was watching at the time. It felt like this is what the original Dragon Ball would have become if rather than taking the path of being a battle manga about martial artists fighting aliens, it stayed to the path of being an adventure show where there was endless limits to the unique and diverse places you could go!
And thus started my OP journey, I looked for any source I could to absorb the true authentic form of One Piece and found myself relentlessly “marathoning” through it. With each episode, the show just kept getting better and better. The characters felt more real than anything I’d ever seen, the world was engaging and kept me wanting to know more. I laughed. and I cried… it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. But that’s also why being a One Piece fan is a double-edge sword. It’s like learning a hidden truth about the world that no one is privy to. While people were gushing over series like Naruto, Bleach, and Dragon Ball, thanks to the poor job 4Kids did it introducing it, now no one took One Piece seriously. They were all blissfully unaware of this gem of a show that never got it shot until years later when Funimation saved it from obscurity and even now to this day, the show fights to prove its worth.
Ultimately my point however, is that if there is anything to take away here, it’s while yes there are plenty who are so upset over the news of One Piece getting the boot, -so much so that some are threating to stop watching Toonami-, I don’t believe saying if you were only watching for One Piece or that if you weren’t watching it every weekend then you shouldn’t complain is a fair thing to say either. If you are a Dragon Ball or Attack on Titan fan, it’s easy to stay up to 11pm to watch and support your show every week even if it is material you’ve already seen. But staying up till 1am and now 2:30am, respectfully every single week is certainly asking a lot, no matter how big a fan of a series you are. As a 25 year old adult who works early in the morning, I definitely can agree that is a very taxing thing to do every week. But that doesn’t mean I don’t make sure to catch the One Piece Simulcast every week at 10pm which works far easier into my Saturday evening routine.
So the bad news is that One Piece will no longer be seen on television for millions to access, but that doesn’t mean all is lost for the show as a whole. One Piece is still the best selling manga in Japan and one of the highest revered animes going head to head with Dragon Ball for the top spot. Meanwhile, both on Funimation and Crunchyroll, One Piece is doing incredibly well and is one of their top selling and most watch shows on both platforms. One Piece Film Gold also just premiered in U.S theaters recently and given the limited showings and theaters it played in, it did immensely well, too, especially for One Piece’s first time on the big screen in the U.S! So if it wasn’t clear already, One Piece isn’t going anywhere. And if there is any good news to take from this, it’s that One Piece has definitely risen in popularity of the years. With the multiple well-received films ever since Strong World back in 2009, and with the manga ramping up on a massive scale at a time where both Naruto and Bleach have both concluded their stories, the only thing seemingly fighting against One Piece seems to be Dragon Ball Super and more recently My Hero Academia. But if Toonami was the place where you first got into One Piece, know that there are plenty of different avenues to continue your One Piece journey. One Piece has just reached a major milestone in the dub, reaching up to episode 516 and are quickly catching up to the Japanese broadcast. So, you got plenty of episodes to watch if you’re a dub fan and if you like both versions of the show. There’s even more One Piece to absorb past the English Dub.
And on side note… to Toonami’s credit, even they seem heartbroken over the news. So much so they gave it a proper send off in the form of a music video, something they did not have to do, but did anyway. And that definitely makes it clear that if anything they were fans of the show too and this ultimately is just a “It’s not personal, it’s business” situation. Toonami, since One Piece’s return to the block with the Davy Back arc, supported One Piece tremendously well. In the past few years, there were awesome promos for the Enies Lobby saga, marathons, and even attempts to show the show off at 8pm for a brief period. It’s just sad to say that ultimately it just wasn’t enough to keep One Piece on the block. One Piece, is made by Toei Animation, and it’s one of, if not the top show they have over in Japan so I’d imagine running One Piece on Toonami definitely isn’t cheap for such a big show. So when the numbers that come in for the ratings don’t justify the cost, well… you see the result, sadly. This however is my own theory, there is still no official word on what it really came down to since television is such complicated beast to understand. But that being said, let’s give One Piece the best sendoff possible by tuning in for these final episodes of the show and showing Toonami just how much we love it by destroying the ratings with huge numbers for One Piece!