A passing thought became the cornerstone for a gripping story that has entertained generations.
One Piece, the manga about a boy’s desire to become the pirate king, is one of the longest-running series in manga history. It’s been overwhelming success thanks to author Eiichiro Oda’s mindblowing commitment to a hellish work schedule for the past two decades, continually pumping out tales of adrenaline-pounding combat, heartwarming friendships, and fascinating characters.
Speaking of characters, Oda admitted in a recent author’s column that seven One Piece villains in particular transformed what would have been a considerably shorter, simpler adventure into the gigantic series it is now: (translation below)
“The reason why One Piece has been continually running for the past 20 years is because of the Seven Warlords of the Sea (the Shichibukai). One Piece was initially intended to be a tale of fighting against the Four Emperors (the Yonko), wrapping up after just five years. It struck me that having these cool Seven Warlords of the Sea in the comic would be awesome; it was just a passing thought really. And then, just like a horror movie, it’s spiraled into such a long series!!
Why couldn’t it be Five or Two Warlords of the Sea? I thought that “Seven Warlords” just sounded so much cooler!! Well, I’ve no lingering regrets since I’ve already drawn what I’ve wanted to draw.
Just a little more!!”
We have to say that we agree with Oda’s sentiment that “Shichibukai” (Seven Warlords of the Sea) does in fact sound a lot cooler than “Nibukai” (Two Warlords) or “Gobukai” (Five Warlords).
Though to say that Oda’s imagination got a little out of hand is an understatement, since these seven powerful, notorious pirates alone breathed at least an extra 15 years of life into the series. These characters’ decisions and actions influenced other story elements, the ripple effects of which took years to realize.
All good things must eventually come to an end, however, as Oda has promised an ending to One Piece in the near-ish future. But due to his tendency to implement cool ideas that extend the manga’s life, who knows how long it will end up actually going for.