Updated: Sep 6
Eiichiro Oda, born on January 1, 1975, in Kumamoto, Japan, is widely regarded as one of the greatest manga artists of all time. The creator of the popular One Piece manga, having more than 470 million copies in circulation. He changed the whole landscape of the manga industry due to the popularity of his manga all around the world and has been named as one of the manga artists that changed the history of manga.
At the early age of four, he decided to become a manga artist, and the biggest influence in his life and also in his artistic style was Akira Toriyama, the creator of the Dragon Ball franchise.
He once said, "(When asked about his feelings towards Akira Toriyama) He's like a god to me, of course. He is in a different dimension. More than anything else, his drawing skills are too good to be true!". Oda and Toriyama have also collaborated several times, most notably the crossover one-shot, Cross Epoch.
A career as a Manga Artist:
He started as a manga artist at the age of 17 when he first submitted the manga, Wanted, which won several awards and in turn led to Weekly Shōnen Jump hiring him. He gave his first interview when he was 17 in an article published in 1993, stating, "If you were to talk about Takehiko Inoue of SLAM DUNK, a manga series currently being serialized in Weekly Jump, everyone would know which famous author you’re talking about. But even Inoue had his beginnings with the Tezuka Award (which is held by Shueisha), a competition which is the first step up the ladder for rookie manga artists. Now, Kumamoto City High School senior Eiichiro Oda has recently won the runner-up prize".
He started as an assistant to the Suizan Police Gang manga, and then on Jungle King Tar-chan and Mizu no Tomodachi Kappaman manga which also influences his artistic style even today. He also worked as an assistant in the Rurouni Kenshin manga. However, he later stated that he would never draw any more long-runners because his physical health could not stand it.
How One Piece came to Life:
Oda has said many times that he loved watching Vicky the Viking cartoon show when he was young, and that was the reason he started liking pirates, and ultimately that inspired him to create a manga based on pirates. One Piece fist came into being when he first submitted it as a one-shot story called Romance Dawn in 1996, with praise from the readers. He then produced a second Romance Dawn draft within 2 weeks and was published with more critical acclaim. Then in 1997, the One Piece manga began its serialization and the rest, as they say, is history. He originally planned for One Piece series to last for 5 years, and had already planned the ending but due to the love and popularity the manga received, the story has continued to this day. In an interview with
Omedetou in 2014, when he was asked as to how the end story would entail, he said, "Yes, I already decided on how it’s going to end... I won’t be pulling off some kind of Wizard of Oz thing like that. After having gone through an adventure like that, it wouldn’t be fair to not reward them".
“From now on, I'd like to restrain my desire to write many things. If I write what I want to, ONE PIECE will never come to an end". ONE PIECE newspaper Vol.4 (2012) and Oda says it is a fight between his lifetime and the ending of ONE PIECE. He says he needs to have the courage to reduce his ideas. (2016) During a recent interview on Arashi Band's A La Tubo variety program, Oda stated that he plans to end the story in 4-5 years. He also revealed that his editors know the ending of the story.
In vol.17 of the manga, Oda wrote a message saying,"(About the popularity of One Piece) My staffs and I go to a very noisy Japanese restaurant where a lot of people take their children. There are TVs at each table. If you go there on Sunday nights at 7:30, you'll see the children staring at the TV screens with their mouths wide open, looking silly. They're watching One Piece. When I see that, I never want to let them down".
Oda has worked on several notable projects other than One Piece ranging from being an assistant to several mangas, one-shot and cross-over mangas, as mentioned below -
God's Gift for the Future (One-shot)
Ikki Yako (One-shot)
Midoriyama Police Gang (Assistance)
Jungle King Tar-chan (Assistance)
Watery Friend Kappaman (Assistance)
Rurouni Kenshin (Assistance)
Romance Dawn, Version 1 (One-shot)
Romance Dawn, Version 2 (One-shot)
Cross Epoch (One-shot collaboration)
True Food! Devil Fruit!! (One-shot collaboration)
Oda voice the character of Odacchi in Dream Soccer King.
He played as Shanks in the 2008 Jump Festa.
His name appeared on the mirror in episode 21 (minute 3:09), on a book in episode 70 (minute 18:21) as an easter egg and among Ohara's books in episode 278 (minute 12:49).
Eiichiro Oda is in the Japanese Fan Poll, even though he has never included himself in
any issue of the manga (except the SBS).
*In the second fan poll, he is ranked 25th.
*In the third, he is ranked 48th.
*In the fourth, he is ranked 31st.
*In the fifth, he is ranked 50th, which made him tied with Marguerite.
*In the sixth, he is ranked 40th.
Like most mangaka, Oda typically uses outlandish caricatures to represent himself in printed works. He has three avatars representing him, one at age 17, one at 21 and the current one which is the most common. It is a striped tropical fish, best known for "giving" all of Oda's weekly comments in Shonen Jump's table of contents.
According to both himself and his editors, Oda is an ardent worker and perfectionist. By his estimation, he sleeps only three hours per day during a typical work week. During his first years at Shueisha, Oda was also noted to be unusually impatient and blunt for an aspiring mangaka, willing to argue with senior mangaka and editors on topics as major as story approval and minor as workplace music. This was gradually reduced through a combination of indulgence from the senior mangaka and discipline from the editors.
However, when interacting with fans - particularly in his SBS columns - Oda usually assumes a very laid-back, eccentric personality, eager to make jokes (especially those involving puns and/or toilet humour) and deprecate himself at any opportunity. Despite his age and status, he freely allows fans to address him with his grade-school nickname "Odacchi" (or the even more intimate "Ei-chan").
Oda was seen on the verge of tears after the Straw Hats' voice actors asked the audience to say "Odacchi, Itsumo Arigatou" in a Jump Festa event. He then asked if they had planned that just now. Mayumi Tanaka (Luffy's voice actor) and Kappei Yamaguchi (Usopp's voice actor) responded that they planned that just now when Oda was still blindfolded after a certain game they played.
Oda, like most mangaka, likes to keep his private life a secret so not much is known about him. He married Chiaki Inaba, a former cosplay model and "Race Queen" who played Nami during Jump Festa stage performances in 2002. Oda met her during one of these performances, and after a period of dating, they married in 2004. They have 2 daughters together. Due to his tight work schedule, Oda lives separately from his wife and children, receiving visits from them roughly once per week. He usually visits their home during holiday breaks.
In 2018, it was revealed that Oda gifted Kumamoto Prefecture 800 million yen (US$8 million) after it suffered a damaging earthquake in 2016 that even affected its iconic Kumamoto Castle. Oda's 800 million yen donation was offered in two separate gifts, one for 500 million yen under Luffy's name and the second donation of 300 million yen. Eiichiro Oda is a long-time supporter of the earthquake-stricken area, writing supportive messages, contributing art for local products, and participating in the ONE PIECE Kumamoto Reconstruction Project.
Relationship with other Manga Artist:
Oda regards many mangakas of "his" generation with a mixture of camaraderie and rivalry. Among the oldest of these is the mangaka he knew as fellow assistants under Nobuhiro Watsuki — the so-called "Watsuki Gang" consisting of Hiroyuki Takei (best known for Shaman King), Shinya Suzuki (best known for Mr Fullswing), Mikio Ito (fictionalized into a long-running Easter Egg in One Piece), and Eiji Kumazawa (pseudonym Gin Shinga). On at least one occasion, Oda cited Takei as the most "amazing" of his rivals, capable of drawing things he could not. He also stated several times that he is friends with Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro, the author of Toriko.
Masashi Kishimoto is often regarded as his most prominent rival as Kishimoto's manga series, Naruto ran alongside One-Piece for fifteen years and was usually the only Jump manga that could challenge it in popularity and volume sales. Throughout their careers, Oda and Kishimoto have maintained a friendly bond, even attending each others' weddings. Oda refers to Masashi Kishimoto as both a friend and a rival.
For the title page illustration of One Piece chapter 766, which ran in 2014's 50th issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump alongside the final two chapters of Kishimoto's Naruto, Oda included a hidden message and other tributes in the art. Kishimoto himself also made a tribute in the ending of Naruto where the character Boruto Uzumaki makes a drawing of the Straw Hat Jolly Roger on a mountain.
What's Next After One Piece:
Oda stated in an interview in 2008, saying that he wanted to create a Robot manga after he finishes One Piece. And in an interview with Mangs no Chikara (2008), he wants to create a short story manga as Akira Toriyama did. He also said that he would never draw any more long-runners because his physical health could not stand it.
Oda's favourite real pirate is Blackbeard (Edward Teach). According to Oda in an interview for Shonen Jump in the early days of One Piece's run, his favourite villain in One Piece is Buggy the Clown (he joked that he literally threw him together).
Oda has also claimed if he could eat any of the Devil Fruits, he would eat the Bara Bara no Mi. In a Shonen Jump question asking "If you could be any manga character, who would you be?" Oda said he would want to be Nico Robin so that he could "sprout hands and draw manga twenty times as fast". Drawing animals is one of his major hobbies. He is a fan of Mexican food. His favorite real pirate is Blackbeard (Edward Teach). His 3 favourite movies are Seven Samurai, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Young Guns.
He is a fan of rapper Eminem, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, and Tim Burton, which is reflected in his work (Enel/Eneru's design is a homage to Eminem, and Spandam's design is a possible homage to WWE wrestler Mankind). One Piece is both the best-selling manga and the best-selling comic series of all time, in turn making Oda one of the best-selling fiction authors.
The second half of 1992: second place Tezuka Award for Wanted!
1993: Hop☆Step Award for Ikki Yakō
2000: Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize finalist for One Piece
2001: Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize finalist for One Piece
2002: Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize finalist for One Piece
2005: Sondermann Award in the International Manga category for One Piece
2006: Japanese Media Arts Festival 100 Manga Selection for One Piece
2008: Sondermann Award in the International Manga category for Volume 44 of One Piece
2009: Sondermann Award in the International Manga category for Volume 48 of One Piece
2012: Received Grand Prize at 41st Japan Cartoonists Association Award for One Piece
2015: Guinness World Record for "the most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author" with 320,866,000 copies printed worldwide up until December 2014.
2018: Kumamoto Prefecture Honorary Prize