The Netflix film One Piece has been ranking in the South African Top 10 movies category for three consecutive weeks, with no signs of slowing. The series stars Iñaki Godoy as the lead Monkey D Luffy, who sets out on a mission and leaves his hometown alone to follow his goals of being King of the Pirates in the world and getting to the One Piece. Luffy is brave, fearless, bubbly and confident. The series moves between characters, following their differences in reaching the same mission “One Piece” with different goals.
On his way to the One Piece, Monkey D Luffy meets Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu), who intends on becoming the greatest swordsman in the pirate world. Zoro is alone and does not have a family. His tutor has inspired his motivation, and the pirates crew has shown him the necessity and importance of having people by his side. It is easy for university students to get so absorbed in their own world that they even forget to socialise and only realise their antisocial conundrum in their final year. Surrounding yourself with people who push you to do better and get better is good for mental health.
Nami (Emily Rudd) is introduced, and she is on a mission of going after the One Piece alongside her method of using people to get what she wants. Nami finds good people by her side, but she betrays everyone around her as she is controlled by what life chose for her. She later realises how blessed she is to have good people by her side, which makes her change her perspective of betraying them again. She even falls in love with the mission of getting to the One Piece. Many students can relate to Nami’s story, as it portrays the everyday student’s emotional and mental life. Some students choose a career path that they are not sure about and risk underperforming, being unhappy, or dropping out.
Just like Nami, the signs are personal and students undergo their academic journey without sharing their inner feelings. The signs may appear to them as follows:
• Attending lectures, but not being present mentally. Students try to do their best but to no avail because losing focus everyday seems to be their usual experience.
• Feeling like tests, assignments, exams, and studying are the end of the world. Students who feel they have chosen the right study path are happily able to do the work required. On the other hand, students who have chosen the wrong path often feel worn out by the mere thought of it all.
• Not being happy in general.
Usopp (Jacob Romero) is a storyteller who leaves his girlfriend at home to chase his goals of exploring the sea and coming back with real stories. University is not only about studying 24/7. University is also about creating both good and bad memories to fill up your album when you leave.
The last crew member, Sanji (Taz Skylar), is a chef who was left behind on an abandoned island for months with no food or help coming. He grows to be a remarkable chef on the island and after meeting the pirate crew, he follows them with the mission of finding the One Piece himself and being the greatest chef in the world. This is similar to university life because these people are strangers, with different backgrounds and the same mission of finding the One Piece. Everyone has their own unique path, unique identity, and the belief that if they find their One Piece, their dreams will come true. One Piece is similar to student life in that just like finding the One Piece, reaching the goal of graduating is difficult. Where the pirate crew came across multiple people that they had to fight and pass as obstacles of their journey, these obstacles present themselves in our university life as tests, assignments, practicals and exams, as well as personal stressors like school fees, academic pressure to meet deadlines, balancing our social lives, and university responsibility.
Amidst a thousand trials a minute, what can be learnt from One Piece is this: despite our different backgrounds, everyone has a goal to reach and is facing adversities we might not know of.