How Oda designs fights in One Piece

How to Hype Up Fight

One Piece is a fighting manga that doesn’t have characters fight that often. We get forty chapters a year, it’s a good year if we can get a few fights that lasted more than four pages. The rest of the time, it’s about world building and hyping up fight. So how did Oda do it? Masterfully.

Oda is the ultimate hype master. He’s been doing it since the first volume. All the bosses of each arc hype up bosses of later arc.

How Oda Hype a Fight #1 Use Something to Measure Combat Power

It might seems childish, but combat power is something that is easy to understand and can be used to build up hype. It is a staple of Shonen battlea/adventure manga, and even slice of life ones as well. It’s easy to undertand, easy to discuss among friends during lunch.

Of course, every manga that has these levels at some point mentioned that these numbers and ranks are unreliable. One Piece, which use bounty as a roundabout way of determining how powerful a person is, subvert its own set up by having Robin, a little girl, with high bounty just because she’s a threat to the World Government. And Blackbeard asked to be Shichibukai when his bounty was 0.

Suddenly in the newest arc, Wano, bounties become indicator of something again after Luffy’s exceed 1 billion and with the release of bounties for Roger, Whitebeard, Kaido, and Big Mum. We just have to wait and see where Oda is going with that.

I want to talk about the Douriki thing that Fukurou measured for a moment. It’s very telling that Oda decided to use it only once yet never mention it again, even during that very arc. It served its purpose though. Look how he ranked it. Of course, Lucci would be the strongest. The whole thing actually hype up Jabra. He’s supposed to be Rob Lucci’s rival in power, and is even stronger than Blueno which Luffy hadn’t fought yet at that point. At the time, the reader had no idea who he will be fighting with, they only know that poor Usopp wouldn’t stand a chance.

How Oda Hype a Fight #2 Ranks, Title, and Characters Relationship Are Also Important

More than Bounty, ranks are also important in One Piece. Not just how high it is, but in relation to another person who holds that rank. Mihawk was the first Shichibukai we ever met, and his strength was insane, so it’s reasonable to think that when Luffy was going to go up against Crocodile, he was going up against someone Mihawk’s level. (Yes… no… but then again… no. But yes.) So what does it mean to be a Shichibukai, what does it mean to be a Yonkou, what does it mean to be an admiral?

Readers of all ages, but especially kids, keep tabs on who lost to who therefore who is stronger, etc. Oda pulled off quite a feat, making Crocodile still seems formidable even after losing to Pre-Haki Luffy. Even if we are saying we not moved by bounty and rank, we still know that Ryokugyu is going to be strong as hell.

How Oda Hype a Fight #3 Introduce the Villain Long Before the Fight

Oda likes to introduce his villain in their casual setting, often in a silly way. This one is uniquely One Piece, and it works so well (at least for me), wonder why other manga don’t follow. Other manga preview future bad guys, and even have them slaughtered innocents before meeting the main character. But not in a different context like One Piece did. The reader knows that these people are strong because of their bounty, title, etc. But it’s just hard to tell. Then, Oda will show how deadly and evil they are later. This makes the character more three dimensional

Sometime Oda hid their power. Sometime he showed them with their power right away. Anything to spark the imagination of the reader of what would happen if this person clash with Straw Hat members.

One character readers don’t know how to feel about, even though all the signs were there. We saw him as a silly ugly looking character that tried to go after Luffy who was on his way to Sky Island. If we paid close attention, we know that Ace was after him, he wounded Shank. But what does that mean really? (We only found out Shank is a Yonkou after Enies Lobby) Then this happened…

I know people were mad at Oda that Ace lost to this guy. Little did we know…

How Oda Hype a Fight #4 Don’t Forget to Hype Up the Heroes Side Too

One lesson I learn from Oda is to never assume that the reader knows the strength of your own character. Judging from the comments online, there were some fights that people are… let say, disagree strongly with the results of some of the recent fights.

Of course we expect the good guys to win. But it must be realistic, if they powered up some how, they should show it. Since Timeskip, we saw only two Straw Hat fought to their limit are Usopp and Luffy. So if other characters are going to pull new moves out right now, it wouldn’t be out of their asses. I’m still waiting for Zoro to open his left eyes to reveal something (joking).

How Oda Hype a Fight #5 Let Them Clash a Bit Before

This is a no brainer, but worth mentioning anyway, because again, other manga rarely does it. Other manga may preview the bad guys, but usually don’t actually have a mini-clash. It can be very appetizing.

How Oda Hype a Fight #5 Epic Fight Starter

Another thing I noticed after going back to read some of the chapters to make this post is the conversation the two characters has during their fight. Jabra for example start trash talking about Robin, which of course, piss off Sanji. Other battles actually have interesting conversation. Both Crocodile and Doflamingo (between their taunts) talked a bit about how to use devil fruit to the fullest potential. Rob Lucci and Luffy talked about philosophy (good and evil, criminal and justice) and leadership. The content of their dialogue actually transform the mood and tone of the entire fight.

*Theory by Panasit

MIHAWK vs SHANKS! Full length hand drawn chapter!

Do you remember the Rumbar Pirates?