Created by Eiichiro Oda
Written by Sho Hinata
Translated by Stephen Paul
Design by Adam Grano
Edited by Megan Bates
One Piece is by far the most popular manga in the world, and it makes a lot of sense. Between the ambitious scale of its world and its entertaining cast of characters, the series continues to draw in readers. That said, while English fans have been able to easily access the main series, many of the franchise’s spin-offs have remained unlicensed. Thankfully, Viz has decided to satisfy that niche by releasing One Piece: Ace’s Story, a two volume light novel spin-off centered on the popular character Portgaz D. Ace. After reading the first volume, it’s safe to say that this will fill One Piece fans’ cravings for more content.
One Piece: Ace’s Story tells the tale of Ace’s early years at sea and the formation of the Spade Pirates. Interestingly, the novel is narrated not by Ace, but rather his subordinate Deuce. The story starts with Ace and Deuce’s first encounter, both men being stranded on the treacherous Sixus island. Surprisingly, Deuce had no intention of becoming a pirate. Inspired by the exploration books of his youth, Deuce had set out to sea to become an adventurer. While his ambitions differ from those of Ace, they both feel like outcasts from society. Deuce was considered a waste in his hometown, failing to live up to the high expectations of his family. What Duece sees in Ace is not only a friend, but someone who will accept him regardless of his past shame. In turn, by having the novel from Duece’s perspective, Ace’s charisma as a leader becomes all the more evident. Ace has the power to unite people far and wide, and Deuce serves as the first person to see that quality in him.
Being that this is Ace’s origin story, it doesn’t try to hide his biggest secret from the manga: Ace is Gol D. Roger’s son. This becomes evident from the very first page, and while it’s an unexpected choice, the novel is better off for it. When Roger is brought up, you can see that his legacy torments Ace. Since people viewed his father as a dangerous criminal, those expectations have been automatically placed on himself as well. Ace’s dream to become greater than the King of the Pirates represents his desire to be recognized for his own efforts and usurp the burdening shadow of his father.
Roger’s legacy also serves as fuel for Ace’s sense of loneliness. Ace continually questions whether his life has meaning beyond being Roger’s son, and if he deserves the same fate as his father. Ace’s recruitment of outcasts to the Spade Pirates is his way of battling against society. Ace does not want others to experience his fate, instead wanting those who have suffered to find a place to belong. Still, while Ace has given others a new purpose, he has yet to fill his own lonely void. This is a side to Ace that we rarely got to see in the manga, so to have it be explored in-depth in this novel is fascinating. Ace is still searching for his own happiness, and he hopes to find it through his journey down the Grand Line.
One Piece: Ace’s Story is a great exploration of Ace’s character that will easily satisfy One Piece fans. Ace gets the spotlight like never before, and his adventures with the Spade Pirates are a blast to read about. The second volume is set to release later this year, and I’m eagerly looking forward to it.