The Japanese series “One Piece”, one of the most popular in the manga universe, turns 25 this Friday and its author promises one last salvo of surprises for its protagonist, the pirate Monkey D. Luffy.
“I’m going to start presenting all the secrets of this world that I kept hidden,” warned the author, Eiichiro Oda, in a handwritten message posted on Twitter. “It’s going to be fun. Please fasten your seatbelts,” he added.
The series, traditionally published in Japan in the weekly Shonen Jump, prepares that last straight line from July 25.
“One Piece” is the name of a legendary treasure that all the pirates of the imaginary world of the series have been eagerly seeking for a quarter of a century.
The first volume was published in 1997, and the author, Eiichiro Oda (47 years old) has already drawn more than a hundred, without the passion of his fans having given up one iota.
In total, more than 490 million books sold. A Guinness record in the category “the largest number of copies of the same comic published by a single author”.
Luffy is the protagonist, a young pirate whose body was literally made of rubber after eating a Devil Fruit.
“‘One Piece’ is currently not only one of the great manga, but one of the great contemporary cultural works”, considers Chedli Ben Hassine, a pop culture specialist in France.
In Spain the series is published by Planeta, and the cartoon series already has hundreds of episodes.
“This manga is special mainly because of its script,” says Ryuji Kochi, responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Toei Animation, the Japanese company that has produced the series since 1999.
The cultural references of “One Piece” are vast. It covers different eras, from ancient Egypt to medieval Japan. Its protagonists are pirates (Luffy is a pirate with a straw hat), easily identifiable throughout the world.
Oda was even inspired by a small Spanish town, Morella, located in the province of Castellón, for one of the locations of “One Piece”.
“I want that when the boys read ‘One Piece’ they think of me as if I were their colleague from the neighborhood” Oda declared in 2017, in a rare interview.
Oda rejects being called “sensei” in Japan, an honorary title for teachers in a genre.
The author of the series, who does not lavish himself in the media, is instead famous for appearing dressed as Luffy in hotels and restaurants in his country.
Oda started drawing manga at the age of 17. “Every week I ask myself: would I have liked to read this when I was 15?” she declared in 2009.
“One Piece” promises new episodes full of suspense, and the Netflix platform, with more than 200 million subscribers worldwide, is preparing an adaptation.
Hollywood however has a complicated relationship with Japanese manga. The adaptation of “Dragon Ball”, another legendary Japanese series, ended in failure in 2009.