Hey everyone - this is a discussion thread I've wanted to start for quite a while, talking about whether One Piece is the best manga (not anime) around, based on a combination of various factors such as drawing style, character development, plot pacing, etc, etc. Please leave your bias at the door (or as much of it as you can!).
Me, I've been reading manga for a long time now. I've read Kenshin, Hunter X Hunter, Flame of Recca, Death Note, Bleach, Naruto, Gantz, and quite a fair bit more. However, the more I've read, the more I've come to feel that One Piece is the best manga that there is at the moment. Why? Well, firstly, it feels very well planned. The pacing of OP is really good - each chapter gives a new development to the storyline and leaves you wanting to know what's going to happens next. If you go back and read a whole arc of OP, it's easy to read. Each chapter generally has some good action or good story, and Oda's mastery of timing and ability to shift between seriousness and humour is excellent. Also on pacing is the introduction and development of characters. New characters are well interwoven into the story line, and there is enough character development that you can really get a fear for these characters.
Contrast this to manga like Bleach, where I feel the pacing has left a bit to be desired, even if the concept is kinda cool. There are so many characters in Bleach that it's really hard to feel for any of them. The artist's penchant for groups (as opposed to individuals) has added to this issue. For example, that group that taught Ichigo how to utilise his mask - they have come and gone without much background and it's hard to see if they're going to play a further role in the storyline either. And why did there need to be 6 of them?
Another example of OP being well planned is that you can feel where the storyline is heading and where it's at (I'd put it to about 50 or 60% completion). Hunter X Hunter, on the other hand, seems to have lost the plot. And I'm not referring to the artist's unfortunate illnesses. After Greed Island, which I felt was well done, Gon and his team are on a fairly random arc that doesn't feel like it's contributing anything to the development of the overall story. Or take Gantz. 300 chapters and you STILL don't know what the purpose of the manga is aside from being really violent.
OP is also creative. The characters regularly receive reasonably acceptable upgrades to skill and power (haha, I didn't really buy Sanji's flaming leg improvement, but that's just me) and the introduction of new devil fruits is very creative (bubble fruit, door fruit, who would've thought?). Now look at Naruto. Naruto (the character) starts off with shadow cloning…which features in every fight...he learns mass shadow cloning...then he learns rasengan. 2 years later, after he gets back from training, what's he pull out? A bigger rasengan. And his latest move is...an even bigger rasengan, in the shape of a giant ninja star (remember his first big weapon?).
Oda is also a really good drawer - he has great command of the camera angle and generally it's easy to see what's happening. I'm going to compare this again with Naruto, where I've often had to re-read chapters a few times to try to work out what's actually happening in a fight.
So - these are just some of the things I've discussed often with a friend. What does everyone else think? Is One Piece the best manga around?