One Piece Wednesday – Romance Dawn

Before One Piece there was Romance Dawn.

How do you even start to tackle a titan of storytelling and worldbuilding like One Piece? From the beginning of course. And the story of One Piece doesn’t begin with Volume 1 but instead with an earlier version of the story, which the first story arc was eventually named after, called Romance Dawn. I’m sure you can find these chapters online somewhere or if you’re like me and you’ve bought the box sets, it is included in the very first one. Let’s have a look, shall we?

This is probably the first depiction of the character that eventually became Nami, the character I named my cat after.

Oh, and this series of volume reviews will contain spoilers for the volumes themselves and sometimes for stuff that happens later. I’ll try to avoid major spoilers for later arcs, but a lot of things become more interesting with the right amount of context. I’ll mark any spoilers where I can.

Since this is a very thin booklet I’m not going to talk about it a ton, once we get to the actual volumes I’m sure there will be a lot more substance to talk about, especially once the cover page stories start picking up steam, those are very interesting and easy to miss out on if you only watch the anime. The story basically tells the first bit of One Piece. Shanks gives his hat to Luffy after a big fish bites off his arm, Luffy messes with a pirate, gets a city in trouble, saves the day and Nami has a ponytail and is named Silk in this story.

It’s funny to see the inspirations for later characters in this. Nami is definitely based on silk and the Mayor changed a bit but still has some similarities to his Romance Dawn design. We see Shanks’ crew, including Yasopp without his long nose. I’m guessing Oda thought about Usopp and his relationship with Yasopp later on. I’m glad he dropped the whole peacemain versus morganeer narrative, I don’t think that would have been as catchy as everyone just being pirates living free lives. In both versions of the story, Luffy isn’t exactly a lawful character, but it’s a bit too on the nose in the one shot. 

Oda made a big mistake cutting the best character out of the story before turning it into One Piece. Shoutout to my man Gary.

The volume ends with a Q&A which doesn’t have a ton to it. It does reaffirm that Buggy is one of Oda’s favorite characters, partially because he’s easy to draw. But there we have it, the origins of One Piece. Next week we’ll take a look at Volume 1 and I’m going to get a little bit more in depth on that. For now, thanks for reading and I urge you to read along with this series weekly for a comfy trip down memory lane.

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