Recently I decided to start my xth reread of One Piece, but instead of powering through it like I usually do I decided to take my time reading it. Having only finished the 2nd volume, I feel that much discussion has been missed by those who weren't able to discuss the series from the start. So I thought perhaps it would be good to start a thread to discuss the series starting from its humble beginnings.
Originally I was thinking of making a schedule of what parts to read and discuss in a group, but just reading the first two volumes made me decide that was a bad idea. Instead, we just start with the first chapter, and let the discussion flow naturally. We can talk about what we think about individual chapters, how we think they connect to later parts, if you feel certain events were wrapped up nicely later on in the series, etc. By starting from square one, we can find out each others favorite parts, and just get an overall feeling of about the manga. With that in mind.
The first chapter is outstanding, especially in hindsight. It's does a good job of allowing the reader to connect to Luffy and Shanks, and you get a feel of how big the world might be, and the different people inhabiting it. The mayor doesn't mind Shanks crew, but he is a rare crew that doesn't rob people. You have the mountain bandits which we find out much later were the kind of people that took care of Luffy. We learn about the Devil Fruits which gets the readers excited to see what kind of other powers might exist in the world. A bigger part is that we get a mysterious part of Shanks, who scared off a giant fish with a stare (which we find out later is CoC). From what I read, it seemed like he didn't know how to use it quite yet. The chapter ends quite nicely with Luffy having learned to control his powers, and takes out the fish that almost killed him years before.
One thing that I realized reading this time around is the similarity of the events that happened in Jaya. Both had a bar scene in which Shanks/Luffy get belittled and hit by a bottle of alcohol. They do nothing about it and just take it. Shanks/Luffy is only spurred into action when a friend was put in danger. They both have a big moment at the end by effortlessly taking down the thing that endangered their friend. It really shows how much Luffy came to be like Shanks.
One other thing that felt like similar events showing characters growing was Luffy/Coby with Alvida then Shanks/Coby with Akainu. Luffy befriends Coby who was a coward, but gets a burst of strength to no longer grovel. At the end of Marineford, Coby stands up and proclaims that the fighting should stop, despite the threat of Akainu nearby. With Akainu, Coby seemed less frightened with his fate then with Alvida. However, like with Alvida, he gets saved at the last second, but by Shanks instead of Luffy.
It's really cool to see some early stuff have some kind of comeback later on to show character growth. Also, lots of small moments in the beginning have more impact when you make those connections to later arcs.