One Piece is an anime series that likes to take it’s characters to new places with new things to see. In every arc, there are new characters, new pirates to beat up, and new places to explore each with their own theme and colour palate. Suffice to say an anime series based off a manga with a versatile tenure in aesthetic should produce some damn good art books.
For this review I’ll be looking at the first two Color Walks.
One Piece Color Walk 1+2 (2001, 2012)
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Publisher: Tokyo Shueisha, Viz Media
Binding Reviewed: Softcover (107 pages)
Each of these Color Walks collects the title page pieces or colour spreads located inbetween chapters of Shonen Jump. Color Walk 1 has pieces from the Buggy Arc all the way to the start of the Arlong Arc and Color Walk 2 continues the Arlong Arc and into the Alabasta arc. They also include a few larger versions of the volume covers that break up each set of colour spreads into their respective arcs. Rounding out the package are some one off promotional material, concept art, and interviews dubbed Monochrome Talk.
The first thing to say about Oda’s art is that it’s very colourful and varied. Each piece jumps out of the page and illuminates the room due to the bright colour palette. You would think that a manga about pirates would feature lots of navel scenery or treasure but you’d be mistaken. Oda shows the crew in a multitude of scenarios from hitching a ride on the back of a cart along side fresh faced vegetables to taking a sky ride on top pterodactyls. This is more prominent in the second color walk as the first features Luffy’s grinning mug on every other page.
A criticism brought up to me by a friend is the lack of diversity in the character’s expressions. Luffy is grinning in almost every piece either with his mouth hugely open or closed. This can be applied to any of the Straw Hats as they all suffer from this mono-expressive facial feature especially in the first Color Walk. While it has never bothered me too much, Oda’s art is not for everyone. I always thought it made everything more cartoony and light hearted and with the majority of shonen manga going for dark and brooding, One Piece never took things too seriously so it was always fun.
A nice touch was to add small explanations for some of the color spreads but these are infrequent. If two pages are not covered by a colour spread then it would be a coloured manga page or a picture of Luffy. This leads to many pages not being used economically. The worst offender is when a page is just a solid colour with nothing else. Other complaints are double page spreads with details being lost in the spine.
Each books is quite short being only 107 pages (100 pages being art), the remaining pages are dedicated to interviewing Oda about manga bits and bobs. Color Walk 1 being reviewed is in the original Japanese as the English print of the version appears to be missing or extremely rare. European languages such as French and Spanish versions are readily available making more wonder why it’s difficult to scavenge an English copy.
Like with most products it comes down to the price and how much you like the series, or in this case Oda’s art. I’m a big fan of One Piece and picked these up used for $10 each on amazon so even though they are a bit disappointing, they do serve as a nice reminder of the adventures I had shared with the Straw Hats. Art book collectors can skip these if the the price is not right as they are too short and lacking in content for a recommendation at and above the RRP.
One Piece Color Walk 1+2 are for fans wanting to flip through and re-experience the East Blue one more time.