With soon 100 tomes of bubbling adventures and 1,000 episodes for his supercharged series, Monkey D. Luffy has truly become the king of the world. As its French fans prepare to celebrate One Piece, CNEWS set out to discover the origins of this success.
Because with more than 26 million manga officially sold in our regions since the launch of the first volume in September 2000 at home, no one has really escaped the wave of the Straw Hat crew. Including abroad, since the One Piece tidal wave is the source of more than 480 million copies that have come to be housed in any ideal manga library across the planet, according to figures reported by its publisher Glénat this summer.
And if Dragon Ball or Naruto have been able to mark their era, when we talk about One Piece, the manga is intriguing, because its record longevity is still valid. The secret of this popularity without borders? CNEWS went to ask for it with the Japanese director of the animated series Shibata-san at Toei Animation but also with his French publisher Glénat Manga which now prints each volume of One Piece in more than 110,000 copies and no longer has its reprints.
Eiichiro Oda himself had planned to end the story in a shorter number of volumes.Shibata-san, director of the animated series
Besides the incredible adventure led on the seas by Luffy’s crew, it is also an international odyssey for the artists and publishers who accompany the heroes imagined by Eiichiro Oda. A manga artist who did not miss the visit of President Emmanuel Macron during the Tokyo Olympics this summer to give him an original drawing for the attention of French fans.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) July 23, 2021
Because with 100 volumes and 1,000 episodes, the series reached records that even its creator did not imagine. “I heard that Eiichiro Oda himself originally planned to end the story in a shorter number of volumes. We also didn’t expect it to turn out to be such a long program. It’s a big surprise that we’ve been able to continue making cartoons for twenty-two years and continue to be supported by the fans, ”director Shibata-san told CNEWS.
The man also points out that he had a free hand to direct the TV series: “Toei Animation has worked on many popular series for Weekly Shonen Jump in the past, but we thought One Piece was a much more popular work than the previous masterpieces, so we started production with the determination to make it a success. At the start of the anime, Oda-sensei thought the manga and the anime were different things, he trusted the anime production team and left the production to them. “
© Eiichiro Oda / Shueisha, Toei Animation
And when asked about the recipe for this success, Shibata-san (who calls himself a big fan of the cook Sanji) analyzes it this way: “The dramatic story that continues to culminate even after 100 volumes of comics. , the characterization of Luffy, the members of Straw Hats and the other pirates of the series, the unique taste of the art and the world of the series, I believe the combination of these factors has led to its enormous popularity. “
All was not won for One Piece
A shared opinion at Glénat Manga which should record in 2021 a new record year for the series. For Benoît Huot, manga editorial manager, notably on One Piece, all was not won for Eiichiro Oda. “From memory, he must have applied at least twice to the editorial staff of Shônen Jump – a large Japanese pre-publication magazine – before being authorized to publish One Piece. Its editor was motivated, but the editor had expressed reservations, ”he told CNEWS.
With us, the manga began to meet its audience from volume 8.Benoît Huot, manga editorial manager at Glénat
And to continue: “When One Piece arrived in France in 2000, we were in a phase of manga development and especially in a phase of researching new series, because classics like Dragon Ball were finishing their publication. It was therefore necessary to find the next generation. Glénat then spotted One Piece, D. Gray-man and Bleach. At the time, our publishing house believed a lot in One Piece since this title was about adventure and pirates, universal themes. At the time, however, the first volume did not experience an immediate explosion even if it sold well. With us, the series began to meet its audience from volume 8 but especially with the Alabasta arc developed on volumes 12 to 23 where the manga takes on thickness, all readers were stunned by this story that unfolds in the desert. It is from there that sales exploded ”.
ONE PIECE © 1997 by Eiichiro Oda / SHUEISHA Inc.
Twenty-two years later, One Piece has become a transgenerational manga. “The first readers discovered it while reading the manga, but today new readers often find out first through the animated series or video games. The manga being in advance, it ends up seducing those who watch the series and who want to know the rest ”, adds Benoît Huot.
“In addition, there are different levels of reading. On the one hand, there is an extremely effective original story of pirates, friendship, surpassing oneself which is also moving. In addition, Luffy is a positive character who says what he thinks, he is also the only character in the series who does not have thought bubbles. All this remains accessible. And on the other hand, the saga develops certain more critical subjects, such as this episode on the mermaid slave market, or even ecological questions on the massive industrialization which destroys nature. So more serious themes. Above all, Eiichiro Oda knew how to create a hero he would never tire of with whom he likes to spend time. He always wonders how he is going to amuse his readers ”.
And Shibata-san added: “The most impressive thing is that Oda-sensei, the animation production team, the voice actors and others involved in the animation bonded like a real man. family and have walked together for the past twenty-two years. Although we take a break now, we used to have “banquets” together. I hope the world will come back to a place where we can party again soon. ”
ONE PIECE © 1997 by Eiichiro Oda / SHUEISHA Inc.
Where will Eiichiro Oda, its famous creator, take us? Only he knows it (even if the end is approaching), but this workaholic has been able to propel his series to the firmament of the Shônens, with a constellation of characters that continues to illuminate the daily life and the memory of his readers. “The quintessence of a manga is to provide emotions and I would say that One Piece always gives you some”, concludes Benoît Huot.