Welcome to another installment of Fun-Size Friday! Once again I get to talk about whatever I want, with the sole caveat being that I keep my thoughts on each topic to a hundred words or less. That includes this introduction, by the way. Any more than that and it becomes a rambling mess, although now that I’m writing this all down, “rambling mess” is a pretty apt description for the “Fun-Sized” posts. Is it too late to start changing names, or maybe it’s early enough that I can get away with it oh shoot I’m doing it again just start!
You know I’ve talked about a couple comic books now, even a few manga, and yet I’m surprised I haven’t yet mentioned one of my all-time favorite comic books: One Piece. To very quickly summarize, One Piece (ワンピース) is a story about a crew known as the Straw Hat Pirates led by their Captain – Monkey D. Luffy – as they traverse vast oceans and dangerous islands in search of a mythical treasure known as the One Piece. Written and drawn by the insanely talented Eiichiro Oda, One Piece was first released back in July of 1997 in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump and has been releasing chapters on a near-weekly basis for over 21 years, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. It has a small but substantial following here in America but that pales in comparison to the cultural juggernaut it has become in Japan covering books, a TV show, dozens of movies, and even an amusement park. With over 440 million volumes sold worldwide at the time of this writing, One Piece has surpassed titles including Bleach, Naruto and all of the Dragon Ball series to become the best-selling manga of all time.
Now to clarify, this post is not going to be one big all-encompassing review of the series; there have already been many, many in-depth reviews and professional think pieces that can give you a much better understanding of One Piece than I could ever dream of matching here. Instead, I’m going to narrow my focus to a single chapter – Chapter 108 to be specific – and dig into the reasons why I think it works so well.
Whether you’re a reader who enjoys comic books of the Japanese variety or you’re a connoisseur of action-packed shonen anime, chances are high you’re familiar with the hit series Boku No Hero Academia (僕のヒーローアカデミア), or My Hero Academia as it’s called here in the States. Created by writer/artist Kōhei Horikoshi, the story – a class of students learning how to become the next generation of superheroes – has become a critical and financial success with interesting characters, solid artwork, and intriguing commentary on the concept of heroism. With nearly 200 chapters as of this writing, as well as an anime adaptation, a spin-off series (the first volume of which I covered here), and a feature length movie coming soon to theaters, My Hero Academia and Horikoshi show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
It’s easy to look at success stories like these and assume the people behind them came up with a winning concept on their first try, but of course the reality is that like many of Horikoshi’s peers in the creative fields, the path to stardom was a long and winding road. Case in point, while the first chapter of Academia was released back in 2014, Kōhei Horikoshi has been working steadily as a writer and artist since 2007. Academia is actually his third series to be published in the weekly Shonen Jump magazine, preceded by Oumagadoki Zoo (逢魔ヶ刻動物園) back in 2010 and Barrage (戦星のバルジ) in 2012. For whatever reason neither Zoo nor Barrage seemed to click with readers, neither of them lasting longer than a year or so before being cancelled, their failures ultimately enabling Horikoshi to pursue his most prolific work to date.
Being a big fan of My Hero Academia, I was curious if I could find any copies of Zoo and Barrage to peruse and see how Horikoshi’s work has developed overtime, though I didn’t hold out much hope. Sadly, as is the case with a lot of manga series that get cancelled early on in their runs, there is little chance if any for officially translated copies to make their way over stateside, not counting the underground efforts of dedicated fans. The results of my amateur search efforts bore bittersweet fruit; while there are no official English translations of Oumagadoki Zoo available at the moment, Viz Media has graciously released both volumes of Barrage in print and in digital format. Having sat down to read the complete series, I thought I could take a moment to discuss Kōhei Horikoshi’s second official series, Barrage, aka The Series That Had To Die So My Hero Academia Could Live.
YEP. YOUR’RE DOING IT AGAIN.
Leave me alone.
DONE DEAL. REAL QUICK BEFORE I GO: WHAT’S YOUR WORD COUNT AT RIGHT NOW?
Shut up! I’m refining my process.
OH, SHAME ON ME FOR INTERRUPTING THE BARD WHILE HE’S AT WORK.
Weren’t you supposed to be me, like my subconscious or whatever? You’re being awfully snippy.
WOULDST THE BARD LIKE ME TO TONE-ETH DOWN THE SASS?
I thought the whole point of you was to help me with my writing. This isn’t getting me anywhere.
WHY ARE YOU STILL DOING IT, THEN?
I don’t think I can even remember at this point.
LET ME ASK YOU THIS: HOW MUCH TIME HAVE YOU ACTUALLY SPENT WRITING SINCE THE LAST POST?
Since the introduction? Like, right after! I don’t remember anything about the last two days that doesn’t involve writing, in fact beyond my immediate surroundings I have no idea what’s going on in the world. California could have sunk into the Pacific Ocean yesterday and I’d be none the wiser. You’d think with all that time I’d have something to show for it but PBBTPBBTPBBTPBBTPBBT
ARE YOU HAVING A STROKE?
I’m fine! I was trying to do a sound effect thing, like when you make a raspberry noise with your mouth? Like that. I’ve got nothing, is what I mean to say. Give me a break.
SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE HAVING A PRETTY ROUGH GO OF IT.
I got four hours of sleep last night, so yes, on the whole I’d describe things right now as “shaky”. Also “blurry”. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m sitting down.
NOT ALL BAD THOUGH, RIGHT?
I mean yeah, sure, not completely terrible. When I’m just “talking” or whatever you want to call it, that part’s pretty fun. But then I try to get into the real stuff I want to talk about it doesn’t click. I’m trying to come at it from different angles and none of it sounds like me.
WHAT WERE YOU GONNA TALK ABOUT?
Well, it’s kind of an awkward topic. I’m trying to spin it in a way where it doesn’t sound stupid, but there’s really no way to talk about it where I come off looking good.
I THINK THAT PARTICULAR SHIP LEFT THE PORT A WHILE BACK.
Let me dream, darn you! Or darn me?! I still don’t get how this works and I’m the one writing it!!!
CHILL, DUDE. IT’S PROBABLY NOT AS BAD AS YOU’RE MAKING IT OUT TO BE. WHY DON’T YOU BREAK IT DOWN.
NICE TO MEET YOU.
It’s, uh, nice to meet you too.
Yeah. Sorry, don’t mean to be rude but…who are you?
NO IT’S COOL. I’M ACTUALLY YOU.
YEAH. THIS IS PRETTY AWKWARD FOR ME.
Yeah, no, I guess it would be. I mean, I know it would be. I mean it is. Ugh. Talking is hard.
How do other people manage?
THEY PROBABLY TALK TO OTHER PEOPLE. ALSO THEY DON’T JUST STAY INSIDE AND WRITE WEIRD CONVERSATIONS WITH THEMSELVES ON THE INTERNET. BUT HEY, NO JUDGMENT.
I mean…that still sounds kind of judgey, though?
SO YOU KNOW THIS WHOLE BLOG THING YOU’RE TRYING OUT?
Well, I assume by “blog thing” you’re referring to the soon-to-be worldwide phenomenon known as Giant-Size Fa–
YES. THAT’S THE ONE.
I was going for something that shows I’m into comics but also shows my readers I have a funny side.
Did you know Marvel Comics actually published a comic in the 70’s called Giant Size Man-Thing? Like, how does that happen? Did nobody catch that? Anyway I changed a letter and now I have a title. It’s like wordplay! Also this way Marvel can’t sue.
IT’S VERY CLEVER. YOU ARE VERY CLEVER.
Don’t patronize me.
NOT WHY I’M HERE ANYWAY.
I’m guessing this is about the introduction, then.
WELL, YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING ON IT FOR A WHILE NOW.
Yeah, y’know, I’ve been tinkering with it. Getting into a flow, y’know, finding my rhythm. Looking for the perfect way to communicate what I’m really, like…about. Y’know?
YEAH. I KNOW.
You get it?
I GET IT. WRITING IS A PROCESS, AND I DON’T MEAN TO RUSH THINGS. REALLY. STILL, IS IT POSSIBLE YOU’RE OVERTHINKING IT JUST A BIT?
RIGHT. I MEAN, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU REWRITTEN THIS CONVERSATION ALONE?
This might be the second time. Or fifth?
I THINK THAT’S WHY I’M HERE, TO SNAP YOU…US…OUT OF IT.
All cards on the table, I’ve been at this for two hours now and this has been the furthest I’ve gotten.
HOW ABOUT THIS: ASSUMING YOU HAVEN’T FRIGHTENED YOUR READERS OFF WITH YOUR SLOW DESCENT INTO MADNESS, WHY DON’T YOU JUST TELL THEM A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT EXACTLY YOU’RE TRYING TO DO HERE?
I don’t think that’ll work.
WHO CARES? LIFE IS SHORT AND YOU’VE GOT STUFF TO DO.
Well alright then!
Hello there, distinguished guest! I’m Z, and at the age of six I drew a picture of a turkey looking at itself in the mirror. To this day my mom calls it one of my greatest achievements. With the launch of this humble blog, I hope to match that grand milestone.
To put it simply, Giant Size Fan-Thing is my attempt to capture my own experience as a fan of, well, a lot of stuff, but predominantly I’m gonna be talking about comic books. I freaking love comics. Even before I started writing about them I would spend hours reading through the stories, analyzing the characters, going through their history, and looking at the writers and artists behind-the-scenes. American superhero comics are my bread and butter but in the last few years I’ve also gotten way more into manga (shorthand for “comics from Japan”). Beyond that, I’d also like a space to talk about the movies I’ve seen, the TV shows I’ve watched, the music I’m into and the anime openings I can sing along with (admittedly, not a big list). As a self-described “casual” there’s a few things I’ve picked up over the years but I know there’s a lot more I could still stand to learn, and I’d like to use this site to, for lack of a better term, document my progress.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Z, what makes your blog any different from the thousands of other professional, more established sites? Let me assure you right now, GSFT is an entirely different beast. I can personally guarantee you I will not be bogged down with silly things like “relevancy” or “experience” or “a third, equally important thing”. I’m interested in results! And money! And sweet, fleeting internet fame!
I’m not gonna lie, it’s gonna be a slow start at first. In the past, my writing output has been sporadic at best, so my plan is to use this space to re-commit myself. I don’t know how crazy my schedule will be, but tentatively I hope to publish at least twice a week. Will I be able to keep it up? Let’s not dwell on that.
On that note, I’m gonna wrap this up. This is supposed to be a quick intro after all and I’ve got to get started working on the next piece. I hope I was able to briefly entertain you, whether you actually meant to come here or not, and if you’re interested I hope you’ll check out more. I’ve got a lot of stuff planned and I’m looking forward to trying it out over the next couple weeks.
“SQUARES”? IS THAT GONNA BE YOUR THING?
I was trying to be spontaneous!
WHOA, MOVE OVER CHEVY CHASE! YOU GOT SOME COMPETITION OVER HERE!
Gimme a break, and really? Chevy Chase? Because that’s who all the kids are quoting these days.
THIS WAS GREAT. THIS WAS A GOOD START.