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Whenever an author writes a series, everything he or she wrote themselves is considered canon. To put it more simply, canon is the original material that was stated by the writer in their work.
To know the story of One Piece and its content, you must look at the Japanese print of the manga; where the series started from. The manga is the backbone of One Piece, and without it, One Piece would not exist. Everything, everyone, and any events or information found in the manga are canon.
Mini-arcs are side stories that are found on cover pages. They often show what happened to an antagonist or side character after they encountered the Straw Hats. As they are written by Oda, and often connect back to the main story-line, they are considered canon.
The SBS is a question and answer column that is printed in the One Piece Volumes. In them Oda, and occasionally voice actors from the anime, answer fan questions about One Piece. As Oda is providing the information, usually going into more depth about things including a Devil Fruit's name or confirming a bit of information he had hidden in the manga, it is considered canon.
The databooks give out more detailed information on the manga, giving names not found in the manga and are considered canon due to Oda supplying the information, unless the information is contradicted by the manga or SBS.
Colorspreads are double page pieces of artwork by Oda that appear as chapter covers on occasion, with no set schedule. Color Walks are books that collect colorspreads from multiple chapters. As the colorspreads are designed and devised by Oda, they are canon, although most have no effect on the actual plot.
This is a review of material already presented in the manga. It is considered canon. It was made by Oda, when he was ill, to help fans catch up with the series.
Monsters is a one-shot manga story Oda created in 1994, before One Piece. It was revealed to be part of One Piece canon during the Thriller Bark Arc, due to the appearance of the protagonist, Ryuma, in the form of a zombie. It was officially confirmed in SBS Volume 47.
The anime can be highly canon if it is following the manga, but sometimes the anime becomes independent and inserts its own information that is not originally found in the manga. Sometimes Toei can subtly foreshadow the events that are coming up in the anime (mostly due to events being done in the manga prior). This can be seen when a ghost of the Going Merry is shown during the sea train ride, and also after the Luffy versus Usopp duel, where Toei had Zoro acting cold towards Usopp by telling Chopper not to talk about him. Fans thought that this move was out of his character but in the manga, Zoro acted the same way after Luffy learned that Usopp wanted to re-join but did not like the idea of Luffy being weak like that. In the anime, Boin Archipelago was a giant plant with the mouth in the middle, it was confirmed canon later in the manga, the same goes to the shadowy figures Zoro faced turning out to be apes, who were confirmed in the manga except that they were baboons instead. But the anime is not always trustworthy. The anime was meant to describe the events in the manga, expanding the roles and actions to fill up the 30 minutes time frame. They add events, histories, information, and extra scenes not found in the manga.
Toei has even created some plotholes. For example, in the Warship Island Arc, Zoro stated that there was nothing he could not cut, but the fact that he claimed that the chains he cut were steel is a major plothole as in the manga (and the anime), he was shown to be unable to cut steel until the Alabasta Arc, when he cut Daz Bones. In the Davy Back Fight Arc, Chopper ate three rumble balls without turning into Monster Chopper, but Chopper was not supposed to eat another rumble ball within 6 hours. In the Diary_of_Coby-Meppo cover story adaption, Garp, Coby and Helmeppo went up Reverse Mountain, but in the manga they went through the Calm Belt, however Toei covered up the mistake by having Coby state that the newspaper was wrong. In the anime, Toei tried to explain why Sanji was in a sweet dress by saying that Caroline had him release his "inner maiden" which turned Sanji into an Okama, thus causing him to lose his interest in girls and leading to him deciding to be friends with them while in the manga he was forced to wear it. Sanji was no longer wearing it and had reverted to his old self when he met Ivankov. In the Warship Island Arc, the crew saved Ryu, an old and weakened dragon, however, in the Punk Hazard Arc, the crew stated that the dragon they had encountered on Punk Hazard was the first they had seen.
As for the fillers, they were added to prevent the anime from catching up with the manga, during the filler arcs they often insert pieces of canon material in the middle of a filler episode, and often insert children that are seen as annoying by many fans. Here are the list of filler arcs and filler episodes added by Toei Animation. Take note that none of the fillers have any connections to the canon storyline.
- Warship Island Arc: Takes place between the Loguetown Arc and the Laboon Arc. In the manga, the Straw Hat Pirates were supposed to escape Loguetown, enter and escape the Calm Belt before going up Reverse Mountain without any interruptions, Luffy was supposed to save Usopp from the Sea King instead of Apis. During the Warship Island Arc, Oda had just wrapped up the Drum Island Arc and was doing the early chapters of the Alabasta Arc.
- Post-Alabasta Arc: The arc was made up in 3 parts, the stand alone episodes (for each of the crew members but Luffy and Robin), Goat Island Arc, and Rainbow Mist Arc. It took place after Nico Robin joined the crew. In the manga, after Robin joined, a ship fell from the sky. This filler was made because Oda was in the early stage of Skypiea.
- G8 Arc: The Straw Hat pirates landed in a bay of a Marine base. In the manga, they landed in an open water after Skypiea, Nami tried out the waver and Luffy discussed the idea of obtaining a shipwright. In the G-8 Arc, it was Usopp who discussed about getting a shipwright with a repairman.
- Ocean's Dream Arc: This arc is based on a video game of the same name. It involves Robin trying to reunite the crew, who have lost their memories.
- Foxy's Return Arc: This arc takes place sometime after the Ocean's Dream Arc, and depicts the Straw Hat pirates re-encountering Foxy, Porche, and Hamburg . This encounter leads to a fight, and also leads to the the encounter with Aokiji.
- Lovely Land Arc: This chronicles the journey of the Straw Hat Pirates from Water 7, into the Florian Triangle, coming close to a winter island inhabited by the Accino Family.
- Spa Island Arc: This arc takes place after the Thriller Bark Arc, and chronicles the Straw Hat's stay at Spa Island, where they run into Foxy, Porche, and Hamburg.
- Little East Blue Arc: The Little East Blue Arc is a special anime-only arc consisting of four episodes, which is meant to lead into One Piece Film: Strong World.
- Z's Ambition Arc: The Z's Ambition Arc is a special anime-only arc that serves as a lead into One Piece Film: Z. It takes place between the Fishman Island Arc and Punk Hazard Arc.
Twelve novels were written depicting various stories connected or separate from actual canon as depicted by Oda. The first novel is an expanded version of the Loguetown arc written by Tatsuya Hamazaki with ideas and concepts by Oda. One of the concepts used in the novel was a sequence left out of the manga explaining how Usopp received his goggles and his encounter with Daddy Masterson, which could be considered continuity or filler dependent on your views.
Defeat Him! The Pirate Ganzack is the first anime in a movie form created in 1998 one year before Toei took rights to create the series based on the manga. Only Luffy, Zoro and Nami are in it, since it released when One Piece was in the Syrup Village Arc, which is why Usopp did not appear. Ganzack, a villain with a armor with a crab claws was a basic concept for Don Krieg.
Video Games may feature characters and events from the manga, but they have nothing to do with the canon storyline. In fact there are games that have original non-canon characters:
- One Piece: Unlimited Adventure: Which features Popola and the Evil Guardian/Evil Master Beast.
- One Piece: Unlimited Cruise: Which feature Gaburi and the Doom Guardian/Demon of Doom.
- One Piece: Unlimited World Red: Which features Patrick Redfield with the Batto Batto no Mi, Model: Vampire and Pato the pen that "ate" the Inu Inu no Mi, Model: Bake-danuki.
Toei has inserted special features that have nothing to do with the canon.
Most of the comics Oda drew in the omake have nothing to do with the canon, despite the fact that Oda drew them. The comics often humorously feature the One Piece cast in different roles and different situations which are standalone stories. However, the only omake which could occur in continuity is Report Time, which chronicles the Straw Hat crew's eating habits during the first parts of their voyage, up to Sanji joining, but it is unconfirmed if it actually is.
These movies were based on the events of the series.
- Movie 1 takes place in the East Blue, just before Sanji is introduced.
- Movie 2 takes place between the Loguetown Arc and the Warship Island Arc. While it could be in canon with Ace and Vivi having a cameo appearance in the credits, their color schemes are different from those shown in the manga, and later the anime.
- Movie 3 has Tony Tony Chopper in it, but cannot occur in the canon since neither Nefertari Vivi (who was there when he joined) nor Nico Robin (who joined the crew immediately after leaving Alabasta and Vivi) are in this.
- Movie 4 took place after Alabasta, the confrontation between Gasparde and Luffy was similar to the confrontation between Crocodile and Luffy (Luffy screaming Gasparde's name like he did with Crocodile and coated his hands with powder to fight Gasparde like he used blood to fight Crocodile).
- Movie 5 took place while the series was in Skypiea.
- Movie 7 was supposed to take place before Water 7. Although there are machines in the movie, Oda later added Karakuri Island to the canon storyline, although the only mechanics on this island were the Automata created by Moonwatcher. While this movie is not to be consider canon, it shows Luffy activating Gear Second unwittingly, being a possible explanation for the origin of the technique.
- Movie 8 was supposed to take place during Alabasta Arc but many things were changed. Ace, Rainbase, the Marines, and Mr. 3 did not appear in the movie, making it different from the canon Alabasta.
- Movie 9 is a remake of the Drum Island Arc, but Vivi is not in it, and Robin and Franky make an appearance, and Wapol has an older brother and new subordinates. It is dramatically different from the canon events that occurred at Drum. However, the revised 2014 edition adds an additional scene which retroactively makes it a dream that a post-timeskip Chopper experienced while on board the Thousand Sunny after the crew has reunited, setting the movie sometime after the Fishman Island Arc but before the Punk Hazard Arc.
- Movie 10 takes place on Merveille. It takes place between the Thriller Bark Arc and Sabaody Archipelago Arc, because Brook has joined the crew and it occurs before the crew is separated.
- Movie 11 takes place between Thriller Bark Arc and Sabaody Archipelago Arc, because Brook has joined the crew and it occurs before the crew is separated.
- Movie 12 takes place at various locations in the New World and is the first movie set there. It occurs at some point between the anime-only Z's Ambition Arc and the Punk Hazard Arc because the crew has entered the New World but Law is not with them yet.