The Early Years: MONSTERS Nehszriah

One Piece: The Early Years


SPOILER WARNING: Monsters one-shot, One Piece chapter 450+

To fully capture the epic that is the One Piece Saga, one has to go back to before One Piece as we know it began. Eiichiro Oda did not just start with Luffy, Gol D Roger and the Grand Line. A number of one-shot manga have been drawn by Oda in a prelude to his distinctive style while a student and under the tutelage of other manga-ka. Only one of these manga so far has been noted by Eiichiro Oda as part of the One Piece story: Monsters.

Monsters is the story about the samurai Ryuma, his adversary Shirano and the young woman Flare. It originally started as Oda wanting to write a story where something was being sliced up in a double-page spread.

Ten years before the story begins, a mysterious figure steals an object called the Dragon’s Horn, which is rumored to bear mysterious powers. The incident was quickly forgotten and the artifact never found.

In the present time, Ryuma the wandering samurai makes his way into a village, half-dead from five days of starvation. He is kicked out of (presumably) several restaurant-type establishments for not having money until a young waitress named Flare catches him staring in the window and invites him in. He eats his fill and promises to repay the debt.

Also in the restaurant is the famous and popular swordsman, Shirano, who was visiting Flare. He saved her from death seven years prior, when a dragon attacked her small village in the mountains. She ended up being the only survivor and became eternally grateful towards Shirano, who became world-renown as a model swordsman due to the incident.

Shirano walks down the row of tables, ready to leave, when his sword’s sheath clinks against Ryuma’s. Ryuma takes this as a challenge to a duel, while Shirano tries to downplay it. Swords are drawn and at the end, Ryuma is the one with a sword pointed at his throat... but not before slicing though a copper bust.

Shirano claims victory and leaves. Ryuma begins to protest, but Flare stops him. The restaurant proprietor then tells Ryuma of Flare’s connection to Shirano, as well as the man’s rumored strength in battle. Ryuma takes a great interest in Shirano, saying that he is most likely a man with a “great warrior’s soul in his heart”.

Ryuma then leaves the establishment and walks through the busy street where a third-rate swordsman named D.R. knocks sheaths with him. D.R. promptly creates a scene and summons a dragon using the stolen Dragon’s Horn. The townspeople all panic, except Flare, who argues with Ryuma over how frightening a dragon really is. Shirano then comes into the picture and instructs all the residents to leave for their own protection–he was going to fight the dragon as he did in Flare’s village.

The townspeople escape and soon the only two left are Flare and Ryuma. After a flashback of how horrible the dragon was from before, Flare decided that she was going to go stop Shirano from possibly dying for the village. Ryuma follows her, saying it is pointless. They argue in the street, which ends with Ryuma drawing his sword at her neck, instructing Flare to not turn around and leave the village. Like the distressed damsel she is, Flare disobeys and turns to see Shirano and D. R. packing up valuables from the homes, plundering the town before using the real Dragon’s Horn to summon the creature (the one from before was a fake).

Turns out that Shirano and D.R. were in on the dragon destroying Flare’s village seven years prior. Flare was wandering in the rubble aimlessly for help and collapsed before Shirano, who then went and found the girl’s father stuck under a fallen beam. After directly killing the injured man, Shirano takes Flare to another village to “earn some prestige”.

Flare is devastated by this news and goes off to an empty building to cry. Ryuma, who is surprised she did not run away, challenges Shirano to a duel. Victory comes easy and D.R. is scared witless. The dragon comes and Ryuma slices it head off in one epic chop. Flare comes out of hiding and thanks Ryuma, who replies he will come back one day (to get food since he fought twice and she therefore owes him one).

After Ryuma leaves, the villages come back, astonished at what had happened. The restaurant owner comes and tells Flare he remembers where he had heard Ryuma’s name before: the people he’s saved call him “Ryuma the King” and that he is the swordsman who carries the greatest warrior’s soul.

Ryuma later shows up as one of Professor Hogback’s zombie warriors on Thriller Bark. After years of being dead, he is “revived” with the use of Brooke’s shadow and duels Zoro over chapters 462, 466 and 467. Zoro wins this duel and claims Ryuma’s meitou (master sword) as a prize to replace the busted Yubashiri. He finds Zoro as a worthy opponent and is pleased with his sword’s new owner having a great warrior’s soul.

The fan-translated edition of Monsters is available through, translated in a joint project by NULL and KEFI. Remember that although online translations are quick and convenient, there is more than one reason why Naruto, Death Note and Bleach merchandise is ordered before One Piece products. Buy the manga by Viz/Shonen Jump and the anime by FUNimation and support this incredible series.

Date Published
07/10/08 (Originally Created: 07/08/08)
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