The adventures of his straw hat pirate have kept millions of fans around the world spellbound for a quarter of a century: the manga One Piece celebrates its 25th anniversary before embarking on the home stretch of its endless intrigue.
After a one-month break, place for the final bouquet of the work from July 25 in the famous manga weekly Shonen Jump (in English) from the publisher Shueisha, where the new chapters of One Piece in Japan.
“I will begin to present all the secrets of this world that I have kept hidden”, warned its author Eiichiro Oda in a handwritten message posted on Twitter. “It will be fun. Please fasten your seatbelt.”
Eiichiro Oda’s last message on the end of one-piece hype of phew! pic.twitter.com/b47UTLQr9z
—Suck My Geek (@SuckMyGeek) July 15, 2022
Since the publication of volume 1 in 1997, the hunt for One Piece, treasure coveted by all pirates and first and foremost Luffy, hero of the series, now has more than 100 volumes to its credit and multiplies sales records. .
With 490 million copies sold, Eiichiro Oda (47) was even awarded a “Guinness World Record” in the category “largest number of copies of the same comic published by a single author”.
Enough to make its 25th anniversary, from the United States to France, the second largest manga and Japanese animation market, a global event that looks like consecration.
“One Piece is today not only one of the greatest manga of this world, but one of the greatest works on a cultural scale, all sectors combined”, According to AFP Chedli Ben Hassine, content creator specializing in pop culture who has 1.7 million followers on TikTok. How to explain such recognition? “What makes this manga so special is above all the scenario”, underlines Ryuji Kochi, president Europe, Middle East and Africa of Toei Animation, the Japanese company which has produced the animated series since 1999.
Excessive industrialization, racism, slavery, geopolitical intrigue… Beyond the themes addressed and its endearing characters, the immense universe of One Piece is crossed by cultural and geographical references (ancient Egypt, Venice, medieval Japan…) which give it a universal dimension.
“By offering totally different worlds, the author allows the reader to never be bored in the narration. All this means that we have a fresco, an epic, which has lasted for an extremely long time and where we cannot say that it is turning in a ring”, told AFP Benoît Huot, manga editorial manager at Glénat, on the occasion of the release of the 100th volume in France last year, printed in 250,000 copies as a “Goncourt Prize”.
While the plot still promises many twists and turns, what is missing? One Piece to reach an even wider audience beyond fans of Japanese animation, like sagas like Star Wars Where Harry Potter ?
“Although Japanese culture is now exported very well, it is still far from the influence of Western creations, driven by a very large market, and by all the ‘soft power’ that a big machine like Hollywood places at an industrial level. “, explains to AFP Julien Pillot, economist specializing in cultural industries.
The upcoming release on Netflix, the streaming platform with more than 200 million subscribers, of a series adapted from the universe of One Piece is supposed to help it, want to believe its producers.
“History has shown us that Hollywood had all the trouble in the world adapting manga. We all have in mind the disaster of the adaptation of + Dragon Ball +, artistically and commercially”, recalls Mr. Pillot. “If Netflix could make a really high quality product that captures the special spirit of ‘One Piece’, that would be a great start.”