Opening the epic journey of Monkey D. Luffy and the crew of the Straw Hat Pirates, Eiichiro Oda took his fans on an unforgettable adventure. The manga series has over 80 volumes (and nearly 840 chapters). The anime has 800 episodes, eight TV specials, and 13 movies! Those who know the saga say with conviction: once you start following, there's no way to stop!
Based on ScreenRant's post, this article will show you some little-known facts about Oda, his most famous series, and its impact on the anime world. Be warned that there are many spoilers in this article. If you want to watch the series without spoilers, we recommend you stop reading now. If not, we hope you'll enjoy these two pages of 15 things you (probably) didn't know about history yet:
15 – One Piece is in The Guiness Book as a world sales record
One Piece fans are well aware that this story is far from over. Since 1997, each manga volume has taken viewers on exciting new adventures, epic battles, rich personality development, and ever-changing environments. Oda has created an addictive series for fans around the world. In fact, the manga was so successful that it became the best-selling manga of all time.
The Guinness Book of World Records recognized Oda for having "most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author" in 2014. At the time of recognition, One Piece had sold 320,866,000 units between December 1997 and December 2014. To date, the manga's sales now exceed over 416 million copies worldwide.
14 – The story was originally only supposed to last for 5 years
The journey of the Straw Hat Pirates was Oda's life's work. His commitment to creating most artwork led to a very demanding schedule. According to Kotaku, Oda got up at 5 am and worked until 2 am the next day. No vacations and no holidays. Craziness!
It was quite a change from Oda's initial plans for the manga. In the past, he stated that the manga would conclude in 2002. He even had an ending planned! However, as he continued to develop more characters, battles, and adventures, the story took on a life of its own. In fact, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the manga. Also, with the author's recent claims about the current story being around maybe 70% of the whole plot, we definitely have a long way to go by the end.
13 – Oda started life as an artist to avoid a “real job”
Please don't kill me, artists out here. But that's exactly what the author actually said.
Many comic artists and mangaka started their careers because of their passion for drawing and storytelling. Although their careers don't usually start in their preferred fields, one day, they find their way into art, doing exactly what they love and want from their stories. For Eiichiro Oda, however, being a manga artist was his only choice in life. And according to an interview in One Piece Blue: Grand Data File, Oda stated that he wanted to become a mangaka at age 4 to avoid having to chase after a "real job." That's what we call excellent life goals! 😛
Adhering to his dream, Oda developed his skills over the years and created several series in his late teens. His first series, Wanted!, won several awards and came second in the famous Tezuka Awards. After this recognition, Oda got his first job at Weekly Shonen Jump.
12 – Dragon Ball was the biggest inspiration for One Piece
Oda found inspiration in many of his childhood manga and cartoons growing up. Among his favorites was Vicky the Viking, an animated television series from the 1970s – which sparked his interest in pirate stories. However, in terms of manga, Oda was a massive fan of Akira Toriyama and all of his work, including Dr. Slump and the top-rated series: Dragon Ball.
Often cited as an influence on many well-known manga writers, including Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto and Bleach creator Tite Kubo, Dragon Ball's Goku character inspired Oda. Since One Piece debuted in 1997, Oda became good friends with idol Toriyama and even collaborated on a few projects. The Cross Epoch manga became the first crossover for One Piece and depicted the characters from its world combined with the Dragon Ball universe.
11 – The saga originated from two one-shot stories
As Oda continued to work on Weekly Shonen Jump, he began to develop his skills as a manga artist. He worked as an assistant in Suizan Police Gang, Jungle King Tar-chan, and Mizu no Tomodachi Kappaman. He has also been cited as a significant influence while working on Rurouni Kenshin with artist Nobuhiro Watsuki!! (fucking lucky)
After working on notable projects and artists, Oda finally created the one-shot series "Romance Dawn. In this 1996 series, he portrayed the character Monkey D. Luffy as a leader with his straw hat and boisterous personality. " It was a storyline that Oda originally came up with back in his school days.
When Oda developed and published One Piece in 1997, he kept the name "Romance Dawn" in an homage to the story's roots. This name served as the title for the first chapter of the series and the manga's first volume.
10 – First character designs and other plans
As with any developing story, specific plot and character elements undergo some changes in their early stages. In the case of One Piece, several characters were designed in styles that are in stark contrast to their final appearance. For example, Chopper's character was initially created with a more realistic reindeer appearance and carrying a sword! (personally, I prefer the fluffy form, haha). The website Comicbook even reported that in an interview with Shōnen Jump, Oda revealed, "If I designed him as I initially planned, he would be erased by the other characters (people wouldn't see his uniqueness), so I finally made him smaller. it's prettier".
Other characters with varied backgrounds included a Nami with a mechanized arm and a massive battle axe, plus Zoro as a pirate hunter and bodyguard for Buggy (can you imagine?). However, many of their character plans had to be changed thanks to a competing manga…
9 - Conflict with the Naruto manga
After the release of "Romance Dawn," Oda worked to fully develop the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his crew. And as we said earlier, while he kept some elements of the original story, he also developed new characters. One such character was the troupe's cook, known as "Blackleg" Sanji - as he was eventually named. When he was created, Sanji was actually called Naruto! However, Oda's "rival," Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto, had just developed his series of the same name and published it in 1997. Having heard of its development, Oda changed the character's name to avoid confusion.
Even with this alleged "rivalry," the two artists respected each other. When Kishimoto published his final volume of Naruto, he even drew the Straw Hat Pirates' symbol on the headband of Naruto's Hokage statue - in chapter 700 of the manga. As a response to the homage and a final goodbye to the ninja series as it ended last year, Oda has added tons of references to Naruto on the cover of One Piece chapter 766. These references included the symbols of Konoha and the Uzumaki clan. Luffy was eating ramen - Naruto's favorite dish - with a figure sitting in front of him that clearly resembled Naruto himself (very insinuated). His final message to Kishimoto was: "My friend and rival, thank you for 15 years of heartfelt serialization!! Kishimoto-san, Otsukaresama (which basically means: "you're tired because you worked hard, thank you and have a good rest")!!" It was a charming way of recognizing the colleague's effort and saying he appreciated his work.
8 – Inspirations in Classic Literature
Even though Oda's first and foremost inspirations came from his childhood manga and cartoons, he also found much of his inspiration in classical literature worldwide. The design of Impel Down Prison strongly mirrors the Nine Circles of Hell depicted in Dante Alighieri's 14th-century poem, The Divine Comedy. Both structures define varying degrees of torture and punishment based on the severity of their prisoners' crimes.
Another reference is the villain and former war leader Donquixote Doflamingo, who has several connections with the ingenious "Don Quixote of La Mancha," a book by the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. Greek mythology also inspired Oda to make the Gorgon sisters and the Amazons of the island of the Pirate Empress, Boa Hancock. In addition, Luffy and Ace's childhood friend/brother, Sabo, wore a signature big hat and a rolled-up scarf, reminiscent of the character Artful Dodger, belonging to the classic "Oliver Twist," authored by the famous Charles Dickens.
7 – Historical references of pirates
The Straw Hat Pirates encountered a massive variety of pirate crew during their journey. While none of them jumped into the pirate cliché we hear from real-life stories, many of these characters are shaped by popular ideals and characteristics we know about pirate stories. To add depth to the characters, many are even based on real-life pirates in the story.
Starting with the beginning of the manga: most notably, the story of One Piece began with the execution of the infamous pirate Gol. D. Rogers, who, on the day of his execution, challenged anyone to try to find his precious One Piece. This declaration and execution were based on the French pirate Olivier Levasseur. In a final gesture, he threw his cryptogram necklace into the crowd and stated that whoever solved the writing would have the location of his treasure. The pirate was so famous for these last moments of his life that he was the inspiration for several sources (he is also a character in Assassin's Creed).
Additional historical references include the pirate Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard (the Blackbeard character is Marshall D. Teach and his rival Whitebeard is Edward Newgate, so both are part of the reference) and the pirate Bartholomew Roberts (the connection is Bartholomew Kuma). Also, notable female pirates can be connected to Captain Alvida (5th-century pirate. Alwilda) and Captain Jewelry Bonney (Irish pirate Anne Bonny – ps.: a character from Assassin's Creed).
6 – Connections with pop culture
Over the years, we've noticed that Oda's inspiration came from many sources outside the manga world. While influenced by historical figures and literary classics, he also incorporated aspects of popular culture.
One of the most easily recognized homages in One Piece can be found in character Emporio Ivankov. It cannot be denied that Ivankov's physical aspects and mannerisms are a direct reflection of the character of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, from the classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," originally played by actor Tim Curry.
Oda has listed Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino among his favorite directors, and The Nightmare Before Christmas as one of his favorite films. The scariest aspects of both Burton and his work can be seen in the Thriller Bark Arc. Additionally, the use of zombies and "Thriller" in the island's title likely connect to the song and music video "Thriller" by Michael Jackson.
A DeviantArt user known as SATOart compiled a list of characters he thought Oda was inspired by for the character design, listing their name by name in the English description. From musicians to world leaders, it's a pretty extensive pop culture reference list!
5 – Easter Eggs
Oda is famous for hiding easter eggs throughout the One Piece manga, with many of these references in the anime. One of the most recognizable is the recurring appearance of the character known as Panda Man.
Oda originally created the story's characters when he was a teenager and submitted his design to the Kinnikuman manga by the mangaka duo Yudetamago. Fortunately, the feeling was selected and used in the manga. Since then, Oda has been slipping the character quite discreetly (or not) in his manga pages.
Other easter egg characters include Panda Woman, the Tomato Gang, and the Unforgivable Mask. He also had brands of fiction he created, including Criminal, Doskoi Panda, and Cyberpanda. These brands and titles are often displayed in the store setting or even on the clothes of the Straw Hat Pirates and other characters.
As previously discussed, Oda prefers a "subtle touch" when referencing other manga artists in One Piece. However, he likes to include himself in his work as well. Oda already put his name and work in random books in the series. How many of these have you seen?
4 – Memorials for One Piece characters in real life
One Piece is full of sad moments and tragic deaths throughout the series. Two of the worst moments for fans came during the Marineford Arc when two beloved characters – Whitebeard and Ace "Fire Fist" – die during Ace's attempted rescue mission. In the manga and anime, the "father" and "son" pirates were buried next to each other with their tombs decorated with their personal belongings. Their deaths thrilled manga fandom around the world.
In 2013, Universal Studios Japan brought these iconic images to life for the annual One Piece Premier Show event. As part of this show, memorable scenes and locations are recreated in real life for fans to visit. These tombs were exact replicas of the ones depicted in the story and included a listening area where fans could hear the two characters speak some of their most famous lines. Cool, right?
3 – Armani Exchange has already designed clothes for the characters
While anime exists as a simple form of entertainment in Western countries, it has become a way of life in Japan. Popular characters were incorporated into commercials, advertisements, and advertisements for subways, trains, and other public transport. Its global popularity also makes anime the perfect market for the fashion world.
One Piece characters were used as animated models for the company A|X Armani Exchange, owned by famous Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani. In 2009, the company joined forces with studio Toei to promote the 10th film in the One Piece franchise: Strong World. Luffy became the first manga character to appear on the cover of the Japanese fashion magazine Men's Non-no in its 24 years of publication. This was also the first cover design Oda drew for something other than a manga.
The models in the magazine represented the manga characters in nautical-themed outfits. The partnership returned in 2012 for the release of the feature One Piece Film Z. This time, the characters wore clothes designed by A|X Armani Exchange that were selected by Oda himself. To further cross-promote, these outfits have also been made available for purchase!
2 – Restaurants, theme parks and exhibitions dedicated to One Piece
One Piece fans will be happy to know they can experience their favorite anime beyond the world of manga, anime, and numerous movies. If you're willing to take a trip abroad, you can fully immerse yourself in the world of the Straw Hat Pirates.
In Japan, you can visit Universal Studios Japan's "Universal Jump Summer" event, including attractions based on One Piece, Dragon Ball Z, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and Gintama since June 30 of this year. You can also enjoy a live One Piece show and ride in person on the life-size version of the Thousand Sunny boat in Laguna Ten Bosch One Piece, located in Gamagori, Japan. This park also has those memorials for Ace and Whitebeard that we mentioned earlier in the post.
However, if One Piece is your only focus, travel to Minato-ku, Tokyo, and visit the dedicated Tokyo One Piece Tower tennis court. The park contains sculptures, themed restaurants, and games for fans to enjoy. You can also see replicas of their ships' interiors, full-scale recreations of iconic scenes from their journey, and a live One Piece show!
1 – Luffy is one of the ambassadors of Japan at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo 2020
Since its official announcement aired during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo has had incredible plans for its games in 2020. The Japan Olympic Committee has incorporated iconic characters from TV, anime, video games, and beyond. It was like seeing every nerd's perfect dream come true!
To continue building the global reach of anime, one of its most lucrative "exports," Tokyo announced that several anime characters would be its Olympic ambassadors. With its worldwide appeal and devoted following, One Piece obviously had to be included in this lineup.
As reported by Anime New Network, the official ambassadors are "Astro Boy, Sailor Moon, Shin-chan, Luffy, Naruto, Jibanyan (Yōkai Watch), Goku, Cure Miracle, and Cure Magical (Maho Girls Precure!)". These will be included in promotional items and merchandise for the event.
Cool, right? So, do you have any tips or other One Piece eggs to share? Leave it in the comments for us! and If you looking for cool anime lighters check out our collection here