When the ‘mangaka’ Eichiro Ode published the first adventure of ‘One Piece’, in 1997, he could hardly imagine that he was giving birth to one of the great historical references of pop culture. 25 years later, the figures harvested by this endless history of pirates speak for themselves: 103 volumes on the store shelves of those that have been sold 490 million copies, which makes the work the best-selling manga in history. And if the comic is successful, the anime, with its more than 1,000 episodes, is not far behind.
Toei Animationfirm behind the audiovisual version of the franchise, wanted to celebrate the first quarter century of the saga with the release of the film ‘One Piece Film: Red’which will hit theaters throughout Spain on November 4.
“This is a tape that was designed from the beginning so that it can be understood by anyone, regardless of whether or not they are familiar with the One Piece universe,” he explains in conversation with ABC goro taniguchidirector of the work, in addition to the first person in charge of animating the franchise in 1999, when the very long series started.
During the development of the film, he will meet the elastic and smiling Monkey D. Luffy and his gang, the Straw Hat pirates, the same ones who have been searching the seas for 25 years in search of One Piece, of which we do not know so many years later. Practically nothing. In the film, the characters attend the concert of a popular singer named Uta, who tries to lock all the attendees, through her music, in a utopian world where nothing can go wrong. The character, again coined, acts as the protagonist and great villain. Music, obviously, has a great weight in the proposal. So much so that, at times, it seems that it is a musical. “Uta’s design was mine and Oda’s, she has things from each,” notes Taniguchi.
The director makes it clear at various points in the conversation that ‘One Piece’ is not just another work. When he started working on it, in 1999, he didn’t even know anything about it; however, he didn’t have to spend too much time trying to adapt Oda’s odyssey to be charmed by the adventure. He states that he does not have a favorite character, although he identifies with Roronoa Zoro, the silent swordsman and leading member of the Straw Hats gang. About the creator of the manga, who has always been very involved in all the adaptations that have been made of his work, there is no doubt: it is Luffy, a character who occupies a unique place on the altars of Japanese animation, with a similar popularity, if not superior, to that of the well-known Naruto either Goku.
«Oda, sometimes, acts on his own without explaining too much to others about the reasons why he does things. As with Zoro, I have to take care of talking to him and explaining his ideas to the others. Zoro is also the person who takes care of talking to Luffy when he makes a mistake,” says Taniguchi.
For a saga like One Piece to maintain popularity despite the passing of the years, and to become an intergenerational work, it is important that it has something special. For the manager, the key lies in the characters: «They hook a lot. The good thing about Luffy is that he never twists, it’s always him. Then there are other characters good enough for everything to work perfectly even if this one doesn’t appear. Same thing with Star Wars. Without the main character, you can enjoy the story.”
For its part, Ryuki Kochi, the main executive of Toei Animation in Europe, points out that One Piece is not only a “very entertaining and suitable for all types of audiences” product: “There is a great job by creators, producers and television stations that have dedicated themselves thoroughly to ensure that the work is successful. Regarding the time that remains for the adventure, Kochi points out that Oda intends to finish it in the next five years and that Toei, after so much time, “is perfectly prepared for the moment it happens.”