Since it was published for the very first time in July 1997, One Piece has captured the imagination of millions of manga and anime lovers globally. But what makes One Piece the best-selling manga of all time, exactly?
The YouLovePrint team, who appreciate good manga, have done some research to uncover exactly what makes One Piece so influential. You never know; it might inspire you to do some art printing of your own! Without further ado, let’s dive into the many reasons why One Piece is the best-selling manga of all time.
Why is Manga Popular?
So, what is it that makes it so popular? Here’s what we think:
Genres and themes
Manga covers a diverse range of genres and themes, including but not limited to action, adventure, drama, fantasy, romance and horror. For this reason, there is a manga out there to suit all tastes and interests. There are hundreds of titles to choose from, but some of the most popular manga include Naruto, Dragon Ball and Attack on Titan.
Manga typically focuses on complex, multi-dimensional characters who undergo major character development throughout the manga series. Who doesn’t love untangling the web of a complex character? Working out their motivations and what makes them tick keeps readers engaged with the story, as they are desperate to learn what happens next.
It goes without saying that manga is popular because it is aesthetically pleasing. Artists put a huge amount of time and effort into making each page a delicious treat for the eyes, and the result is an immersive world that sets the scene for manga’s compelling narratives.
The Interesting Origins of One Piece
Few stories have captured the imaginations of readers in the unique way that One Piece has. The story explores dreams, ambition and the relentless pursuit of goals. The late 1990s were something of a golden age for manga in Japan. But one manga would change the genre forever. In July 1997, a brand new manga appeared in Shueisha’s Shōnen manga magazine, Weekly Shōnen Jump, aimed primarily at teenage boys. The inspiring creator of One Piece, Eiichiro Oda, explained that he had dreamed of being a manga artist since he was just four years old. His dream had come true by the time he was in his mid-20s when One Piece became a sensation.
Oda explained that his biggest manga influence was Dragon Ball, created by Akira Toriyama. But that’s not all; a popular TV animation series called Vicky the Viking sparked his interest in pirates. These influences inspired Oda to craft the masterpiece that is One Piece.
What Makes One Piece a Global Sensation?
So, why is One Piece as popular as it is? Several elements make the manga the global success it is today:
Unique art style
Eiichiro Oda has a unique art style that makes his work particularly compelling. His distinct style differed significantly from other Shōnen series at the time, giving One Piece the unique identity that made it stand out.
But aesthetics can only get a manga so far. One Piece is also a masterclass in storytelling. Since its inception, the series has undergone many narrative arcs, which include romance, life-threatening danger, friendship and many more. Oda’s masterful storytelling keeps fans perpetually wanting more.
The thing that makes One Piece truly shine is the depth of the story’s characters. Monkey D. Luffy, the main character, is optimistic and sometimes foolish, with simple dreams that end up reshaping the world around him. Roronoa Zoro, the first member to join Luffy’s crew, is an impressive swordsman who wants to become the best of the best. Nami, a cat burglar always looking for a way to make more money, is an adventurous member of the crew who also provides the voice of reason. From Duffy’s unwavering optimism to Zoro’s loyalty, the manga resonates with fans on a deeper, more personal level.
No other manga masters world-building quite like One Piece. The universe is expansive and dynamic, being made up of many islands and cultures. These landscapes, backstories and political structures are a testament to Oda’s impressive creativity and masterful storytelling. Each location is unique, adding layers to what is already a gripping story.
Much of One Piece’s success lies in its relatability. While its readers aren’t all pirates navigating the high seas, the story explores relatable themes such as the value of ambition, honour, fraternal love, and the wonder of adventure. Additionally, One Piece does not shy away from addressing societal issues. Themes of justice, discrimination and the consequences of unchecked power are woven into the narrative, allowing readers to reflect on their own worldviews.
Is One Piece Still Relevant Today?
The power of One Piece lives on today. It’s been over 25 years since it was first published as a manga, but since then, it’s become a long-running anime series and, as of 2023, a live-action series on Netflix. Since its premiere in 1999, the anime has aired over 1,000 episodes!
The beloved series allows viewers to immerse themselves in the expansive world, and episodes are still being created to this day. Oda has previously suggested that the anime series may end in 2024 or 2025, but it’s important to note that nothing is set in stone.
Another pivotal development that proves One Piece is still relevant is the arrival of a live-action adaptation on Netflix in August 2023. Oda is serving as an executive producer for the adaptation. The 10-episode series will explore the East Blue saga, the introductory saga of Oda’s popular manga.
In Summary: The Timeless Charm of Oda’s One Piece
From its inception in the pages of Weekly Shōnen Jump to its global domination as an anime series, One Piece stands as a testament to the power of masterful visual and narrative storytelling. Its magical blend of unique artistry, expansive world-building and relatable narrative themes secure its position as one of the most influential mangas the world has ever known.
But its legacy extends well beyond magazine sales or the number of anime viewings—One Piece is a beacon of inspiration for fans around the world, who are fascinated by the series’ way of shining a light on humanity.