It started way back in the year 1997, in Japan, when an artist named Eiichiro Oda created a whole band of fictional characters for his animated series and named them as Monkey D. Luffy (the leader of the band) and the Straw Hat Pirates (Luffy’s faithful followers). As playing the role of both writer and illustrator, Oda put his exceptional talents and nimble imagination into overdrive to create the fictional world where these charming characters live.
From the beginning, Oda created “comic books” which were serialized into weekly chapters, the title of which was “One Piece.” And all of this material fell under the name of One Piece Manga.
The imaginative plots, story lines and fictional characters all teamed up to make this ongoing and continuous animated series remarkably successful – right from the beginning.
Japanese youngsters loved the comic books and the weekly chapters were met with eager anticipation by rabid fans. So it was not surprising that the success of Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates with Japanese readers would spur interest from enterprising businessmen in other countries of the world.
And that is precisely what happened. The weekly chapters were translated into English and soon found their way on to comic book shelves in the United Kingdom and then in the United States, as well. By the year 1998, an animated television series had been created and was running on a popular American television channel. It can still be seen on American TV today.
The One Piece Manga animated series was a phenomenon that was quickly becoming global in scope and was making money – lots of it – for the producers of the comic books and the avalanche of merchandise that followed. As you might expect, it didn’t take long for toys to be created … books … videos … clothing … clothing accessories … wallets … bags … and much more stuff based on the One Piece Manga series.
And, if that were not enough, Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates were soon battling against other pirates, bounty hunters, criminal revolutionaries, secret agents and the soldiers of the World Government – on the silver screen. In the years between 1998 and 2010, Luffy and his followers managed to appear in an amazing ten feature films.
If you think that makes them superstars … consider this: Eiichiro Oda, the creator of this magical series has produced a whopping fifty-seven volumes in the twelve years since the first volume was produced and distributed. That is a lot of story lines and it speaks well of Eiichiro Oda. He obviously has a very fertile and active imagination.
But here is something else to ponder. The number of volumes sold worldwide has reached and surpassed an incredible 176 million copies. That’s a lot of print. And now, even after twelve years, the still popular series is being rewarded once again … with a new Japanese Amusement Park built around the theme of “One Piece” and the delightful characters who populate this fictional world.