And the legendary One Piece22 July, 2010 by Yan
Oda Eiichiro (尾田 栄一郎) easily takes the #1 spot on my list of favorite mangaka and it is easy to see why. As the creator of the insanely popular One Piece, he currently stands as the most wanted man in the manga industry. While (as mentioned before) Toriyama Akira brought forth the golden age of manga when he was serializing Dragonball, Oda Eiichiro is now considered his spiritual successor and has brought along the 2nd golden age of manga in Japan. I’m sure crazed fans will protect him from any harm just to make sure that he churns out their favorite manga chapters every week without fail.
Oda Eiichiro was born January 1st 1975 in Kumamoto, Japan. As a kid, Toriyama Akira’s works had aspired him to work his way to become a manga artist himself and he eventually worked his way up to becoming an assistant to several established mangaka, one of which was Nobuhiro Watsuki of Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X fame. It was during then that he started to draw with several adopted styles before finally create a new drawing style of his own.
To decipher Oda’s unusual art style, pay attention to the weirdly drawn characters and the minimalist dotted-eyes, verified as some of his signature trademarks. These character designs have since become one of One Piece’s selling points, allowing Oda to freely create even more eccentric and outrageous characters.
But things hasn’t always been as smooth in the past. At the time of One Piece’s release, the dot-eyed style of artwork was becoming less popular and manga and anime seemed to be moving toward the more popular Bishonen or the big-eyed style of drawing, made famous by shows like Sailor Moon. Eiichiro Oda was fully aware of the change of art style and was worried early on in its run that his style of “ugly” or “weird” characters would put off people from reading his manga. As time progressed and One Piece’s popularity grew, Oda was able to relax the style more, resulting in One Piece’s drawing style becoming more loose and kinetic, exaggerated even.
Oda’s greatest accomplishment to date and his only long running manga series is the now legendary One Piece. But fret not, for I’ll also be covering his one-shot series collection “Wanted” and touching on the previously mentioned Cross Epoch to our readers.
First up, One Piece.
The epic pirate adventure manga written and drawn by Oda Eiichiro, One Piece has been running in Weekly Shonen Jump since 1997. 593 individual chapters were collected and published in 58 tankobon volumes (ongoing). Since its debut, One Piece has established itself as one of the premiere manga series in the magazine. One Piece holds the highest total manga sales within Japan, and is currently Weekly Shōnen Jump’s most acclaimed and all-time best-selling title, having sold over 140 million copies domestically. It is also the fastest manga to reach sales of 100 million.
The story introduced Monkey D. Luffy, a straw-hat wearing boy who set out to sea to become a legendary pirate. One Piece has since evolved into more than a simple pirating tale. The manga is known to employ colorful and creative motifs that are taken from classic mythology, politics and musical inspirations. It is also mixed with pirate lore and the typical Shonen formula. Through the years of its serialization, One Piece has taken vastly differing directions in its storyline, at a time waving off the initial focus of the pursuit in becoming Pirate King. One Piece also has been noted to include many moral values such as what treasure is, the meaning of justice and the concept of chasing ones dreams.
For the last 13 years, One Piece was one of the few manga series that had me loyally chasing its weekly chapters and bi-monthly tankobon volumes. It has indeed secured its place as the number one manga series in my heart. I would heavily recommend One Piece to anyone who can afford the time, money and patience to read all 593 of the currently published chapters. It has all the passion, adventure and excitement that the best Shonen manga has to offer.
As One Piece has expanded to an almost 600 chapter long adventure, One Piece Log books are also created to allow young children/budget readers to be able to afford all the back story of the popular series who might not have the fortune to read it right from the start of its release.
These large sized One Piece magazines usually include an average of 30 manga chapters, along with some additional info pages. They have the same format as the Weekly Shonen Jump magazines but are entirely dedicated to only one series: One Piece. As such, the chapters retain their colored pages/posters and even offer supplementary postcards or special tankobon book covers.
I’ll also include some of the One Piece guide books and other miscellaneous art books for reference while I’m still on the topic of One Piece. Please bear with me for this fanboyish behavior but I’ll try to cover some of other stuff that has been released with the success of One Piece.
One Piece Databooks are a series of tankobon format books that are regarded as Encyclopedias to the One Piece world. Until now, three One Piece data books have been released; One Piece Red Grand Characters, One Piece Blue Grand Data File and the One Piece Yellow Grand Data File.
Different books cover slightly different information that ranges from a Character directory, Devil Fruits Encyclopedia, Animal/Monster guide, World Navigation and some of the other miscellaneous stuff like Oda’s Workshop. It included not only series information but also specially drawn four-panel manga side stories, the Luffy Pirates 4-Panel Theater. Each of the shots featured one of the Straw Hat Pirates in absurd situations.
One Piece Color Walk is a book series containing past title page artworks in color. Originally, these artworks were produced in greyscale and featured in both Shonen Jump and the manga collective volumes like this. This is a standard for many manga in Japan due to the cost of producing color reproductions. The color walk presented a unique opportunity to see Oda’s title page artwork in color.
Once Piece 10th Treasures is a special collectors book released in 2007 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of One Piece. It includes much information (and spoilers) as well as concept art by Oda. There is also an entire section dedicated to One Piece art done by other manga artists in their art styles.
Grand Paper Adventure was a book containing various works by Oda Eiichiro placed into a pop-up format.
While again slightly off-topic, I’ll also like to introduce readers to One Piece Strong World.
The film is an original story written by Oda Eiichiro himself in honor of One Piece’s Tenth Anniversary. In previous One Piece films, Oda provided character designs and approved story ideas. There were even 2 movies featuring heavily edited story arcs from the manga episodes itself. For Strong World, Toei personally asked Oda if he would write the story himself and as a result, One Piece Strong World was promoted as one of Oda Eiichiro’s original works. This is the first movie for One Piece that is written by Oda himself, so it is generally regarded as canon and not filler, even though the story drifts slightly from the main storyline.
As mentioned before, One piece is the only series he has run thus far, So the next thing I’m going to introduce is the tankobon compilation of one-shots Oda had done before he started on One Piece. “Wanted”! initially was the title of the first one-shot that he had written, but it became the title of the single tankobon book of his various compiled one-shots. I’ll cover through every single one with summarized introduction below.
God’s Gift for the Future (1993)
Ikki Yako (1994)
Romance Dawn V.2 (1996)
“Wanted”! (ウォンテッド!) was the earliest and the first of the one-shots featured in the compilation tankobon. The story opens with Wild Joe, a bounty hunter, going after the head of wanted criminal, Gill Bastar but was unfortunately killed by Gill Bastar in a hilarious way. In turn, Joe becomes a ghost and starts haunting Gill in hopes of killing him.
God’s Gift for the Future (神から未来のプレゼント) was the 2nd one-shot featured in the book. The story starts with god, who is furious with the pickpocket Bran and decides to punish him with death. He wrote in his special notebook: A meteorite will hit Bran’s house”, but accidentally writes “A meteorite will hit Branchi”, Branchi being a big department store. He tries to set things right by forcing Bran to do a cover up for this accident.
Thirdly, Ikki Yako (一鬼夜行). Ikki Yako is a prologue of the monster slaying monk Gukou. Previously a timid monk who runs away from the slightest fear, he goes on a journey to look for his lost master/best friend. After knowing that the monster who was chasing him had eaten his master, he takes up the guardian’s sword and kills it, thus becoming a legend.
Next is Monsters (モンスターズ). The story follows the air-headed Ryuuma who’s a wandering samurai. Upon reaching a small town seeking food and lodging, he is unfortunately accused of summoning a dragon to town causing everyone to have to evacuate the town. Just as the dragon arrived, Ryuuma leaped from a building and with one mighty swing, slew the beast.
Interestingly, in Oda’s current manga One Piece, there is a appearance of a similar character named the Samurai Ryuuma. He is said to hail from Wano Country (a parody of “Wa no Kuni” or “Japan”) and was said to have slain a dragon just like in the story of Monsters. According to Oda, the two are the the same character, thus this makes Monsters the only previous story linked to One Piece other than…
The last of the one-shots and a pre-sequel to the popular One Piece, Romance Dawn is actually a 45 page one-shot of One Piece that follows the similar cast of characters. It stars Straw Hat Luffy on his initial adventures of becoming the pirate king.
From the Romance Dawn series, you can see the evolution of Oda’s art style in his early works like Monsters to the art style used in the more current One Piece. By the time Romance Dawn V.2 was drawn, Oda’s overall style of drawing was much closer to that used during the beginning of the One Piece series.
I consider this single one shot compilation to be a interesting read. But of course all one-shots suffers from a lack of story depth, which comes from the restrictions of having to tell a story within 40~50 pages. Nevertheless, I will still recommend this book to all readers. Not only will you be able to enjoy the evolution of Oda’s artwork but also some award winning stories.
My final introduction on Oda Eiichiro’s one-shot and series will be on the previously mentioned before Cross Epoch. A cooperation of artworks between Oda Eiichiro and the Dragonball creator, Toriyama Akira. This one-shot is a crossover that presents characters from both One Piece and Dragon Ball. Sad to say, despite having the two greatest mangaka of Weekly Shonen Jump history art in a one-shot, there are zero story elements.
Oda Eiichiro has secured his place as the golden child of this generation of manga artists and made history by creating a series that secured the hearts of many. What he initially planned for One Piece to last for only about 5 years, it’s been running for 13 years and is still going story. Fortunately for us readers, his passion and drive beyond duty to give just that little more in his works has make One Piece the stuff of legends.
I guess its a mixed feeling to being able to surpass Toriyama Akira who served as both his inspiration and mentor who’s works has lead him to pursue the path of being a mangaka. Alas, Oda stated that after he finishes One Piece, he intends to take the same path Toriyama did and focus on creating short-story manga.
Till then, I can only hope that he will void any such plans and continue to dish out another epic long running manga series. But for now, One Piece stands as the best adventure manga one can get their hands on. Do pick up a volume of the One Piece manga to support him and do yourself a flavor by reading one of the most epic adventures ever to be told.