Eiichiro Oda (尾田 栄一郎, born January 1, 1975) is the creator of the long-running Shōnen Manga One Piece, which is over a thousand chapters in length and still going strong. Noted for his unusual art style and eccentric and imaginative character designs.
He got his start in drawing pictures from his father, who had a hobby as an oil painter. In middle school, Oda became a soccer player, inspired by the manga Captain Tsubasa. He began drawing manga during his second year there. At the time, Oda developed an interest in writing stories on pirates after watching Vicky the Viking. During his last year as a high school student, Oda quit the soccer club and turned his passion to manga.
While still in high school, Oda wrote and published his first work, Wanted! (1998) and won the Tezuka Award from Shonen Jump. After Wanted!, he studied at Kyushu Tokai University for one year before he dropped out to work as an assistant to various manga artists such as Shinobu Kaitani, Masaya Tokuhiro, and Nobuhiro Watsuki. In 1996, he published Romance Dawn and with its success, began work on One Piece.
One Piece, released in 1997, became a success in Shonen Jump. It sold over 440 million copies as of 2018. The success of this series led to Toei Animation creating an Animated Adaptation in 1999; as of 2023, it has aired nearly 1,100 episodes. In 2017, Oda discussed plans to develop an American Live-Action Adaptation of One Piece.
In November 2004, Oda married actress Chiaki Inaba after dating for two years and he has two children. His anxiousness over his daughter's birth is cited as the leading cause for supporting character Portgas D. Ace's backstory with Gol D. Roger, the King of the Pirates.
Despite having been in the industry for half his life, he is still known for having a fanboyish love of manga in general, especially Dragon Ball. His playful approach to his work has won him a lot of fans. He often takes breaks after a couple of weeks, either because of research reasons or because of health issues, since it's known that he does not sleep very long a day. Those breaks last usually only a week, though.
Eiichiro Oda and his works provide examples of:
- Author Appeal:
- Crossdressers. In the character design notes for Rurouni Kenshin, Nobuhiro Watsuki says that Kamatari, a cross-dressing character, was inspired by one of his assistants suggesting a character based on the pun, an "okama with an o-kama", or a "crossdresser with a large scythe". Although the assistant is not named, because of this trope, everybody guessed that this assistant was Eiichiro Oda. In a later interview, Watsuki confirmed that this guess was true. Watsuki explains that the original concept for Kamatari was a masculine looking crossdresser with effeminate mannerisms like the crossdressers in One Piece (Mr. 2 anyone?), but Watsuki had trouble drawing such a character and ended up making Kamatari a pretty crossdresser.
- Sunglasses are possibly a new appeal of his. Several characters suddenly wear sunglasses in their post-Time Skip design (Robin, Smoker, Pappug), and the same goes for unusually many of the characters introduced later in the series (though several of the "older" characters also have sunglasses). However, a reason for this may also be that the characters are drawn with sunglasses because it hides their eyes, and if he doesn't have to think of new types of eyes for every new character design, the Cast of Snowflakes tendency is easier to retain (or at least he can trick the readers into thinking it is always retained).
- Animals. Though according to himself, it's not as much that he loves animals, he just loves drawing them. That said, Oda is hardly an animal hater with how a noteworthy lot of the named characters in One Piece are animals (mostly minor characters, but also a couple of majors and one main character), and random animals are featured on 99 % of all title pages (except for the canon cover stories).
- Absurdly proportioned characters. There's no shortage of massive/tall humans that tower over people, let alone actual giants.
- Women with large breasts and impossible hourglass figures in Stripperiffic outfits. He's actually been criticized for this on occasion, as while the women in One Piece who aren't intended to be attractive can be just as wild and outlandish as men, female characters who he does intend for the reader to find cute or attractive tend to look exactly alike. This tendency is partly owed to the fact that he uses Inaba— or at least how he perceives her— as the basis for all of his intentionally attractive female character designs.
- Puns. Oda loves puns. There's a One Piece character whose entire backstory is based on one: Pappag, a starfish that learned to talk because the Japanese words for human (hito) and starfish (hitode) are near identical. Then there's the previously mentioned suggestion to Nobuhiro Watsuki about an okama (cross-dresser) wielding an o-kama (large scythe).
- Art Evolution: His art progressively became less cartoony, character designs (especially his women) are now more diverse, and his panel settings are also more detailed.
- Breakthrough Hit: It was One Piece that launched his career.
- Cast of Snowflakes: Indisputably a master of this trope, especially as One Piece went into its later years. He may be starting to slack a bit off on this tendency by drawing sunglasses on the characters (check the entry of Author Appeal above), but even if he is, he is still much better than most of his mangaka peers.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Flip to a page in One Piece, any page. Do you see that funky looking character in the background? He/She is going to be important later. Brook's introduction was cut out of the original One Piece English dub because the dubbing company assumed it was filler.
- Creator Breakdown:
- While working on One Piece, Oda's anxiousness of waiting for his daughter's birth inspired him to develop Ace's relationship with Gold Roger.
- Toei confirmed that the reason the amount of fanservice spiked upward was because of Oda getting married to a gorgeous Ex-Cosplay Otaku Girl like Inaba - and to the displeasure of fans who liked the general lack of such things in the manga early on. For a guy who prefers not emphasizing romance that's not an obvious huge joke in his stories, he sure is a massive softie for his family.
- Fanservice: He puts fan service in his manga quite frequently.
- Gonk: Some of his characters of all shapes and sizes are this.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Many of Oda's SBS answers to questions about how things work in the series. And many of the in-universe explanations, for that matter. How does Zoro talk with a sword in his mouth? His heart does the talking for him.
- The Perfectionist: At least what his interviews give away. He won’t allow his assistants to draw anything that moves since it may result in an art shift. Check. He writes a movie script, and after that starts from scratch since he isn’t satisfied with it and delays the whole production because of it. The end result? Strong World. Check. Additionally, there are several breaks around the year when a new chapter won't appear in Jump and the explanation is always "The author doing research".
- Promoted Fanboy: A fan of shonen fighting manga is now one of the biggest names in the business.
- The Rival: Sees the Pretty Cure series, specifically Fresh Pretty Cure!, as this in regards to the the anime, since his children at the time liked the show more than One Piece. He declares that he'll take down Pretty Cure.
- Also, to Toriko.
- And of course, to Naruto. Oda himself declared Masashi Kishimoto his friend and rival and thanked him for his hard work over fifteen years. In an interview, Oda states that Kishimoto called Oda "Sensei" (According to Kishimoto, it was because when they met, Oda was in Jump for two years already and made quite a name for himself while Kishimoto was still fairly new at the time), which Oda answered: "Please, never call me like that again." He also states that Naruto had, in a sense, driven him to make of One Piece an even better story.
- Ship Sinking: Oda could be an admiral himself with all the ships he sinks. Indeed, it seems he has a fondness for trolling the fanbase with false flags when it comes to any serious signs of romance, at least when it comes to the Straw Hats themselves.
- A lot to Dragon Ball Z, and to soccer.
- There's even a shout out to his shout-outs: his love of soccer is spoofed in one of the theatrical shorts, which has a character named "Odacchi" whose head sports a soccer ball pattern and is voiced by Oda himself.
- Shrug of God: Inverted. It doesn't matter what the question is, Oda has an answer. No matter how crazy it seems. Or how perverted the question is.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: When asked why a door that was broken in one scene was intact soon after, he claimed a carpenter appeared off-screen and fixed it, and it certainly wasn't a mistake.
- Trolling Creator:
- He was told by Kazuki Yao regarding what hairstyles he doesn't want Franky to have in One Piece. Guess which character inexplicably got a new hairstyle every chapter.
- Not to mention that the week-long break after the revelation of Gear Fourth left fans dumbfounded.
- Voodoo Shark: His answers generally lead to more questions. Which then lead to awesome answers, including those to questions you didn't even know you had.
- Worldbuilding: Boy does he love it! He’s been creating fictional islands and worlds for over 20 years!