Sunday, April 6, 2008

Things I Learn from One Piece

When I was growing up, my mother always told me that fictions were not the best choice for reading. I should be learning piano or Chinese instead, she would go on. Or improve mathematics skills and do some physics experiments that would be beneficial to my study. Being a kid, I disobeyed her and enjoyed novels very much. I read almost everything from short stories in magazines to detective stories (The Famous Five, The Three Investigators, The Secret Seven) to adventures stories to school-life stories (Malory Towers, St. Clare's). Oh, and of course, fairy tales too.

In my junior high school year, Japanese Comic (manga) entered the country (Candy Candy). Along with it, the first anime also came (Doraemon).

We have come a long way since Candy Candy and Doraemon, but anime and manga are still enjoyable today. One of the series I like very much is One Piece. And this might sound weird, but One Piece has really good advices and life values that I admire.

One, Luffy is always loyal to his friends (or nakama). He never leaves his nakama behind, even though it means he has to fight in a "hopeless" battle. Once, he charges through the strongest fort of his enemy to get his nakama back. Nobody has ever survived that experience, but he is ready to risk it all for his friends. This kind of friendship is rare in real life. We might have our own ideals and think that we will everything for our friends, but once the price gets real high, our economic sense prevails.

Two, every member of the Straw-hat's Pirates has an obvious flaw. Luffy is dumb and hungry all the time. Nami loves money too much. Chopper is scared of everything. Usopp lies. Zoro is always lost. Sanji is weak against women. Robin is calculating. I don't know Franky's weakness yet, but it will show in time. But despite the flaws, Luffy always focuses on his team's strength. He never asks Zoro to learn the directions more, for example. He leaves it all on Nami's hand. It will be all too easy for him to ask Usopp to stop lying, but he takes it as a fact of life instead. Luffy knows he is only good at fighting, so he learns new techniques to become stronger. We should always try to improve ourselves, but insisting it on someone else is probably not a good idea.

Three, every member looks out for each other, even without being asked for. Among the 8 members in the team, 3 have the Devil Fruit ability. Which means they cannot swim. For a pirate, this flaw is very serious. They are on a ship most of the time. They fight with other pirates on the ship too. And what will happen if the ship sinks? The 3 members would be in grave danger. And yet, every time something happens, another member always remember to look after these three. No agreement has ever been made before. The three do not even yell for help. The others are probably in pretty serious situation too (being thrown into the sea is no laughing matter). But no matter the danger the put themselves in, the members would always help these three. I envy this relationship. In North America, we have been taught to be independent and self-sufficient, so that help can be seen as an insult. As a result, no help is ever given that is not asked for. "Mind your own business" seems to be the theme of social life here.

I am sure there are some more lessons I learn just from One Piece. But I will reserve them for another day.

PS: If you haven't seen One Piece before, I highly recommend you watching the Japanese version with English subtitles, not the English-dubbed one. The Japanese version is far superior to the English one.

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