Eiichiro Oda may be the 10th best-selling fiction author in the history of the world, who’s not far behind JK Rowling’s sales, but is famously reclusive and rarely gives interviews.
The creator of One Piece, the best-selling manga and comic by volume in the world, has been writing his pirate fantasy for over 26 years with the final saga about to begin.
Since he started penning his serialised adventure about Monkey D Luffy’s quest to become King of the Pirates, the anime adaptation has spawned over 1000 episodes and counting.
Meanwhile, 15 tie-in movies have been released with the latest, One Piece: Red, becoming the fifth highest-grossing Japanese film in the country’s box office history.
As the live-action adaptation of his life’s work begins streaming on Netflix today, Oda has given a rare interview sharing how he acted as a “guard dog” of his source material on the series.
Oda secretly attended a Los Angeles special screening of the One Piece live-action series this month, being photographed from behind.
The 48-year-old, who is extremely private, only agrees to interviews if his face isn’t shown, often being edited over in filmed footage by a drawing of a fish.
Speaking with The New York Times, he was asked about the failure of recent live-action adaptations of manga and anime, like Cowboy Bebop which was cancelled after one season.
Oda said: “Various manga had been made into live action, but there was a history of failure; no one in Japan could name a successful example. Would fans of One Piece — and viewers who don’t know the manga — accept it? Perhaps it was time to search for the answer.
“Thankfully, Netflix agreed that they wouldn’t go out with the show until I agreed it was satisfactory. I read the scripts, gave notes and acted as a guard dog to ensure the material was being adapted in the correct way.”
Asked if he ever thought his manga would still be going after 26 years, Oda replied: “I never thought One Piece would last this long: When I began, I imagined it might run for five years. But it was my first time doing something serialized, and I found that as I kept writing, the characters took on lives of their own. Before I knew it, they were writing the story for me, and it just kept going.”
One Piece season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.