Eiichiro Oda (Japanese: 尾田 栄一郎, Hepburn: Oda Eiichirō, born January 1, 1975) is a Japanese manga artist and the creator of the series One Piece (1997–present). With more than 490 million tankōbon copies in circulation worldwide, One Piece is both the best-selling manga in history and the best-selling comic series printed in volume, in turn making Oda one of the best-selling fiction authors. The series' popularity resulted in Oda being named one of the manga artists that changed the history of manga.
Eiichiro Oda was born on January 1, 1975 in Kumamoto, Japan. He said that at the age of four he resolved to become a manga artist in order to avoid having to get a "real job". His biggest influence is Akira Toriyama and his series Dragon Ball. He recalls that his interest in pirates was probably sparked by the popular TV animation series titled Vicky the Viking. He submitted a character named Pandaman for Yudetamago's classic wrestling manga Kinnikuman. Pandaman was not only used in a chapter of the manga but would later return as a recurring cameo character in Oda's own works.
At the age of 17, Oda submitted his work Wanted! and won several awards, including second place in the coveted Tezuka Award. That got him into a job at the Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine, where he originally worked as assistant manga artist/assistant to Shinobu Kaitani's series Suizan Police Gang before moving to Masaya Tokuhiro on Jungle King Tar-chan and Mizu no Tomodachi Kappaman, which gave him an unexpected influence on his artistic style. At the age of 19, he began working as an assistant to Nobuhiro Watsuki on Rurouni Kenshin, before winning the Hop Step Award for new manga artists. Watsuki credits Oda for helping create the character Honjō Kamatari who appears in Rurouni Kenshin.
During this time, Oda drew two pirate-themed one-shot stories called "Romance Dawn", which were published in Akamaru Jump and Weekly Shōnen Jump respectively in late 1996. "Romance Dawn" featured Monkey D. Luffy as the protagonist, who then became the protagonist of One Piece.
In 1997, One Piece began serialization in Weekly Shōnen Jump and has become not only one of the most popular manga in Japan, but the best-selling manga series of all time. It sold 100 million collected tankōbon volumes by February 2005, over 200 million by February 2011, had 320,866,000 copies printed worldwide by December 2014, 430 million volumes in circulation worldwide as of October 2017, 440 million copies sold as of May 2018 and 450 million in print as of March 2019.
Additionally, individual volumes of One Piece have broken publishing records in Japan. Volume 56 received the highest initial print run of any manga, 2.85 million copies, in 2009. Volume 57's print of 3 million in 2010 was the highest first print for any book in Japan, not just manga. A record that was broken several times by subsequent volumes and currently held by 67's 4.05 million initial printing in 2012. In 2013, the series won the 41st Japan Cartoonists Association Award Grand Prize, alongside Kimuchi Yokoyama's Nekodarake Nice.
In a 2008 poll, conducted by marketing research firm Oricon, Oda was elected fifth most favorite manga artists of Japan. He shared the place with Yoshihiro Togashi, creator of YuYu Hakusho and Hunter × Hunter. In their 2010 poll on the Mangaka that Changed the History of Manga, Oda came in fourth.
For the tenth One Piece animated theatrical film, Strong World, Oda created the film's story, drew over 120 drawings for guidance and insisted Mr. Children provide the theme song. Additionally, a special chapter of the manga was created and included in tankōbon volume 0, which was given free to attendees of the film and also contained his drawings for the film.
Oda and Akira Toriyama created a 2007 crossover one-shot called Cross Epoch, that contains characters from Toriyama's Dragon Ball and Oda's One Piece. In 2013, they each designed a Gaist character for the video game Gaist Crusher.
When he was teenager, his favorite television show was Vicky the Viking. This started his fascination of pirates and around his second year of junior high he began drawing manga, developing ideas and sketches for a pirate serial that would many years later become One Piece.
Oda regarded many mangaka both as his friend and rival. Among these were his fellow assistants under Nobuhiro Watsuki; and they are Hiroyuki Takei, and Mikio Itō. Still many years later, they remained good friends. Another mangaka is Masashi Kishimoto. 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. Upon the release of Chapter 1000 of One Piece, several of Oda's fellow mangaka rivals paid tribute in the author's comment section of Shonen Jump by congratulating Oda for achieving this milestone.
According to Oda himself and his manga editors, he is an ardent worker, perfectionist, and sleeps only three hours per day during a typical work week.
He was hospitalized for a peritonsillar abscess in 2013 and later discharged in the hospital after two weeks. After a year, he underwent surgery for tonsillectomy to completely cure his condition.
Oda gifted Kumamoto Prefecture 800 million yen (US $8 million) in 2018 after it suffered a damaging earthquake in 2016 that had 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 a second donation of 300 million yen. Eiichiro Oda has long been a supporter of earthquake-stricken areas, writing supportive messages, contributing art for local products, and participating in the ONE PIECE Kumamoto Revival Project.