Eiichiro Oda, the discreet mangaka behind the hit saga “One Piece”, whose 1000th episode has just been released

The saga One Piece of the Japanese Eiichiro Oda, it is 490 million copies sold, almost half a billion. It is more than Dragon Ball, or that Naruto. A saga whose 1000th episode of the animated version was released on Sunday in 80 countries. A resounding release so far in France where thousands of fans have gathered in cinemas to celebrate the event. What contrasts with the discretion of the creator of the series, Eiichiro Oda, 46, who flees the light and the interviews.

He was born in Kumamoto, in southern Japan, where he grew up like all Japanese children of his generation: devouring manga. Very early, at the age of 4, he learned to draw, at the same time, he was passionate about the history of the Vikings, that of the pirates too. But it is by discovering Dragon Ball in 1984, when he was 9 years old, he decided to become a mangaka. There he began to write his own stories. At 17, he sent one of his creations, a western called Wanted !, to a specialized magazine and received its first prize, the Tekuza Prize, to which many other awards followed.

So much so that at 19, he, who had embarked on architectural studies, decided to stop, to give up in order to devote himself entirely to his passion. He becomes assistant designer at the weekly Shonen Jump, and finally convinced the publisher in 1997 to publish his own fiction: One Piece, “the treasure”, in this case the one that his hero, Luffy, a straw hat pirate who scours the seas to get his hands on the precious pot, is desperately looking for.

Against the backdrop of a treasure hunt, Eiichiro Oda’s work speaks above all about freedom, adventure, discovery, and those unexpected encounters that sometimes change life. It has been going on for 24 years, and the book version is at 100 volumes. In France, One Piece, it is 26 million copies sold, at the top of the sales with each release. Eiichiro Oda, he does not brag about it, his speeches are more than rare, he says that he must draw, that for that he only sleeps three hours a night, and that his wish, basically, is is to end the saga, and move on.