A Pirate Mangaka's Journey - The History of One Piece

Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece has been rocking the world for more than two decades. Even for mainstream manga, that’s considered pretty long. However, the spice and appeal of the story didn’t go bland despite its near-infinite run. It is common knowledge in the fanbase that Oda-sensei isn’t just stretching the story or going around in circles. In fact, he already has an appropriate ending for his series. No, the actual One Piece is not just any abstract shenanigans like friendship or memories. As a series that’s been running this long, One Piece has already created its own history. Let’s run through it.

The Dawn of One Piece

One Piece actually wasn’t initially called One Piece. One Piece was actually based on Romance Dawn, a series Oda-sensei started conceptualizing when he was still in seventh grade. He then kind of let it sit for a good long while, then went about fulfilling his dream to become a manga artist. Just like most mangakas, Oda-sensei also started as an assistant to other famous mangakas like Rurouni Kenshin’s Nobuhiro Watsuki. He only got back to working on Romance Dawn in 1996.

A year after, One Piece’s dawn has arrived. Even though the whole concept of One Piece was an expanded version of Romance Dawn, One Piece wasn’t even mentioned in the pilot chapter. On the other hand, Oda-sensei kept Romance Dawn as the title for One Piece’s pilot chapter and first volume.

The First Five Years

Oda-sensei already had the whole thing planned out. Yes, even the ending. Initially, he wanted to end the series after half a decade. However, that obviously didn’t happen. It’s already been more than two decades and One Piece is still going strong. Well, not that we’re complaining. Anyway, Oda-sensei had to make a lot of changes to his original concept to make the series more interesting. In Romance Dawn, Garp was actually a peace main pirate who didn’t want Luffy to follow in his footsteps, and Zoro was working as a bodyguard for the Buggy Pirates. In addition to that, some character sketches also required some tweaks.

Originally, Chopper was intended to look more realistic, but Oda-sensei thought that made his character less noticeable. As such, he made Chopper cuter. Boy did that work so well. Nami was also intended to have a different look. Originally, she was supposed to wield a huge ax with a bionic arm. Probably the greatest change, though, was Sanji, or should we say Naruto. Since Sanji’s greatest feat lies within cooking, Oda-sensei originally wanted to bestow him the name Naruto. However, his rival, Masashi Kishimoto, also just debuted his series of the same name. That wouldn’t sit well, so his name was changed into Sanji.

Global Domination

After that, One Piece dominated the charts month after month, year after year. It took the world by storm, and its popularity continued to surge until it reached other countries, as well as other continents.

There are more than several locations in Japan dedicated to One Piece. Probably an expected one is the multiple rides and statues in Universal Studios Japan. However, the most memorable one is the real-life grave of Whitebeard and Ace that depicts a thicker than blood familial bond they had. Plus, there’s also its annual Premier Show that showcases the Strawhats’ adventures live. There’s also a whole theme park dedicated to One Piece in Gagamori, Japan called Tokyo One Piece Tower.

One Piece even made its presence known in the world of fashion. Luffy and the entire gang appeared in fashion magazine Men’s Non-no when One Piece: Strong World came out. When One Piece Film Z came out, A|X Armani Exchange designed clothes that our favorite pirates could wear. Not only that, but these selections were also made available for purchase.

Still, One Piece’s best feat is holding a record for “most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author” in the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2014, the total tally was 320,866,000. However, One Piece had long gone broken through the 450 million mark.

When Will It Really End?

Every manga, no matter how great, must come to an end. As much as we wish it not to, One Piece will also inevitably reach that point. The million dollar question is when will it end? Although Oda-sensei had taken his guesses about the ending of his most famous work, none of it actually hit the bull’s eye. Right at the start, he said that the entire series will end in just five years, but the story just expanded on its own.

According to an interview with Oda-sensei’s editor in 2015, the time skip was around half of the series. At that point, his editor guesstimated that the series was already around 70% done. However, Oda himself answered the same question back in 2016. Back then, he said that the series was only at 65% done, which was only a 5% increase since 2012. Going through the transcripts, we can only conclude that only time will tell when One Piece will end. We do hope that it ends later than sooner.

Final Thoughts

One Piece has always been on top of my favorite manga. It’s a pure masterpiece that has accompanied from childhood up to the present. Personal biases aside, it is undeniable that One Piece and Eiichiro Oda have already etched their legacy in history books. Looking back to their exploits and following the Mugiwaras’ adventure is and always will be a pleasure. This is the time we raise our right hands with an X marked on it.

one-piece-wallpaper-02-667x500 A Pirate Mangaka's Journey - The History of One Piece


Author: Christian Markle

I am a copywriter, proofreader, and editor. I love watching anime, reading manga, and writing my own stories. Watch out in the future as you may see one of my works one day. Manga and anime were big parts of my childhood. I grew up watching Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk, One Piece, and Dragon Ball Z. Those were probably one of the happiest and most carefree days of my life. In fact, most of my values are probably molded by manga. No, that's not an exaggeration.

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