Chapter 1 is titled "Romance Dawn - The Dawn of the Adventure".
The main character of the series, Monkey D. Luffy, is introduced as a child, with his role model, Shanks. After Shanks comes into conflict with a mountain bandit at a bar, it is revealed that Luffy accidentally ate a Devil Fruit, the Gomu Gomu no Mi. Later on, after Luffy provokes Higuma, he is taken hostage. Shanks and his crew show up and defeat Higuma's bandits, but Higuma escapes, taking Luffy on a boat. After Higuma kicks Luffy into the water, a Sea King appears and eats Higuma, and Shanks arrives just in time to save Luffy's life. Shanks scares away the Sea King by using Haki, but loses his arm in the process. Because Shanks sacrificed his left arm in order to save him, Luffy becomes even more determined to become a pirate. Before Shanks leaves, he gives Luffy his straw hat. Ten years later, Luffy officially sets sail as a pirate and begins the adventure to fulfill his dream of becoming the Pirate King.
Back at the Party's Bar, Shanks stands by his claim that Luffy cannot join unless he learns how to swim and that he is too young to join. When Luffy stands by his claim that he is a man, Shanks tricks him into drinking a glass of juice, proving that he is still just a kid. After being turned down once again by Shanks to join his crew, Luffy gets depressed. Benn Beckman tries to explain to Luffy that the captain is only looking after everyone's best interest, but Luffy thinks Shanks is not taking him serious, which Shanks proves by mocking the kid again. Finally, Makino appears and gives Luffy a meal. As Luffy and Shanks eat their meals, Luffy raises the question of how long the crew will be staying. Shanks says that he is thinking of taking two or three more trips and then heading out, which Luffy states is fine because he will have learned to swim by then.
At that moment, Higuma and his bandits appear and begin to demand sake. However, Shanks and his crew have already drank all of the alcohol in the bar, so Shanks offers Higuma the last bottle, but, unsatisfied with just one bottle, Higuma smashes it, spilling the sake over Shanks. When Shanks takes no stand to defend himself and instead asks for a cloth to clean up the mess, Higuma smashes the plates on the bench with his sword. Once again, Shanks does nothing and instead laughs it off. Convinced that Shanks is a coward, Higuma leaves the bar.
Afterwards, Shanks and his crew laugh at his humiliation. Angered by this, Luffy claims he is going to find another role model. As Shanks grabs his arm to stop him, it stretches, to everyone's surprise, and it is revealed that Luffy has eaten the Devil Fruit which they recently stole from another ship. Luffy discovers that he is now made completely of rubber and is doomed to never be able to swim again.
A few days later, Shanks and his crew go out to sea, leaving Luffy behind once more. Angry at Shanks for not standing up to Higuma, Luffy sits in the bar as Higuma suddenly arrives.
Soon afterward, Makino rushes through the village to find the Mayor because Luffy has gotten himself into a hostage situation with Higuma after Higuma said something that angered him. As Makino and the Mayor return to reason with the bandit, the bandit states that it is already too late because Luffy is going to die. As Higuma raises his sword to kill Luffy, Shanks and his crew reappear. Higuma and his men tell them that it is none of their business.
As Shanks walks forward, one of the bandits points a gun at Shanks, only to be shot by Lucky Roo. Shanks tells Higuma that he will not allow him to hurt a friend of his and get away with it. Higuma, unfazed by his speech, sends the rest of the crew after him. Beckman decides to step in and single-handily takes out the entire gang of bandits, leaving Higuma alone. Realizing he cannot win, Higuma drops a smoke bomb and takes Luffy away. As the smoke clears, Shanks realizes Luffy is gone and panics.
Out at sea, Higuma and Luffy stand in a boat. Higuma decides it is time to lose Luffy and kicks him into the water. Angry that he could not do anything to Higuma, Luffy struggles in the water as a Sea King appears. The Sea King eats Higuma, who is unable to do anything to defend himself, before turning toward Luffy. Moments before Luffy is eaten, Shanks saves his life and scares away the Sea King with a stare. When the Sea King is gone, Luffy begins crying upon realizing Shanks has lost his left arm in saving his life.
Finally, Luffy realizes he is too young to sail out to sea and become a pirate, as well as what a great man Shanks is. Later at the docks, Luffy says goodbye to Shanks and his crew and admits he is sad that they are leaving, but is not worried about going with them because he has decided he will become a pirate on his own. This leads to Shanks stating that he did not want him on his crew in the first place before claiming that there is no way Luffy can become a pirate. Luffy angrily proclaims he will become a pirate, gather a crew strong enough to beat Shanks's, find the world's greatest treasure, and become the Pirate King no matter what. Happy about Luffy's decision, Shanks gives him his straw hat and tells Luffy to give it back to him when he has become a great pirate. Honored by Shanks's gesture, Luffy cries. As Shanks boards his ship to leave, Beckman comments on how Luffy will become big. Shanks admits that he knows Luffy will because he reminds him of himself when he was young.
Ten years later, Luffy leaves the village to start his own pirate crew and become the Pirate King.
- The origins of Luffy's scar are revealed - he cut himself with a knife to prove that he was brave enough to be a pirate.
- Shanks refuses to take Luffy with him.
- The Red Haired Pirates acquired the Devil Fruit called the Gomu Gomu no Mi from an enemy ship.
- Monkey D. Luffy ate the Gomu Gomu no Mi and can no longer swim.
- Luffy tries to fight Higuma for insulting Shanks and loses, thus creating a hostage situation.
- Shanks loses his arm to a Sea King to protect Luffy.
- Shanks scares away the sea monster just by looking at it.
- Shanks decides to leave after staying at Luffy's hometown for a year, leaving behind his straw hat with Luffy on a promise that Luffy would return it someday when he became a great pirate.
- Luffy leaves ten years later.
- Luffy states he will recruit at least ten people (not counting himself).
- As standard practice for the first chapter of a manga, this chapter has more pages than the average chapter.
- None of Shanks' crew-mates have been named in this chapter.