An original and mysterious script, a thousand characters, a skilful blend of humor, epic and emotion as well as scriptwriting prowess have ensured the work a worldwide success.
The king of comics
On June 18, 2015, the manga entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the “world’s most printed series”, by a single author, with 320,866,000 copies. Only seven years later, the 500 mark is crossed. It officially surpasses the comics “ Batman “, sold 480 million copies. A last juggernaut still stands in front of the pirate: Superman. The comics of the most iconic of superheroes reached 600 million copies sold. Small subtlety, they are not one and the same story, and were not written by a single author.
The ranking is updated regularly. Spider-man, who recently exploded the global box officeis the 4th best-selling comic book of all time (397 million). Spider-Man is pursued by the refractory Gauls Asterix and Obelix, and their 380 million comics sold. “Tintin” (200 million) and “Lucky Luke” (300 million) are in the top 10.
This is the draw for a Goncourt prize
The enthusiasm for Japanese work is particularly visible in France. Glénat, the publisher, announced on March 10 that more than 5 million volumes had been sold in France in 2021, unheard of for a manga.
Illustration of the phenomenon: volume 100, published at the very end of 2021. At the time of release, 250,000 copies were already in bookstores. It was then the biggest launch in history in this field in France. “It’s the draw for a Goncourt prize”, declared Benoît Huot, editorial manager at Glénat.
A major literary work?
The sales figures are also impressive, when compared with those of works from other literary formats. With its 500 million, “One Piece” rubs shoulders with the biggest behemoths of international literature. Among the list of highest sales by author, Eiichiro Oda is ahead of big names like Stephen King (350 million, all books combined), JRR Tolkien (300 million for “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”), Alexander Pushkin (300 million) or even Leo Tolstoy and his 400 million copies (approximately) sold of “War and Peace”.
Only one author still alive is on a par with the river manga, JK Rowling. The literary saga Harry Potter – seven books adapted to the cinema – has also reached 500 million copies sold. This top of the basket is completed by the major work of Miguel de Cervantes, “Don Quixote”. The work published between 1605 and 1615 also totaled 500 million sales worldwide.
Which books did better?
The purely statistical comparison can be nuanced. “One Piece” reached these sales records in 25 years of publication, after the publication of at least 100 volumes. However, the figure remains highly symbolic. Because in history, very few authors, and even fewer works, have gone beyond it.
Regarding the series of books, the British novelist Agatha Christie would have sold 2 billion copies of his 66 novels and 14 detective collections. Vertiginous heights also reached by the 39 plays of the playwright William Shakespeare. Apart from fiction, only three books have been more widely distributed than Eiichiro Oda’s work: the Koran (estimated at more than 3 billion copies), the Bible (between 4 and 5 billion) and “ The little red book by Mao Zedong. This collection of speeches and writings of the Chinese leader, nicknamed the “Bible of the East”, has sold 800 million copies.
“One Piece” thus enters a restricted circle composed of major works and series. The popularity of the work is even recognized up to the Élysée. In December 2021, Emmanuel Macron placed a volume on his desk, just below the “Memoirs” by Charles de Gaulle. Difficult to estimate then where the manga will stop, at the rate of 20 million volumes sold per year. When first published in 1997, the story was only supposed to last 5 years.