One Piece mangaka Eiichiro Oda’s “sudden illness” recently resulted in One Piece abruptly disappearing from the latest Weekly Shonen Jump – an absence they reassure readers will last only a week, although neither fans nor the industry will be happy to be reminded the world’s best selling mangaka is only mortal.
Details of what exactly happened to Oda are not clear and the earliest mention of his illness came only 5 days before the affected edition was to be published, but there is as yet no indication One Piece’s long term serialisation will be disrupted.
Shonen Jump claims the fact volume 16 (published on the 18th) includes One Piece on the cover and table of contents but not in the actual tome is because “the amendment missed its printing.”
They do say One Piece “will resume” in volume 17, but given the supposed short notice with which Oda’s illness knocked off its scheduling, this may not be wholly reassuring should his health be in any real difficulty.
In its 15 year serialisation, the longest One Piece has been on hiatus is 4 weeks, due to Oda going on vacation in Hawaii, and it has also had the odd 1 week break for such informative reasons as “gathering material,” but “sudden illness” has not hitherto impacted its run.
The 38-year-old mangaka is not known to be suffering from any health problems, but is said to work “from 5AM to 2AM” and to have no real respite due to the demanding weekly schedule he faces – although the billions of yen he rakes in may make up for this.
The nightmare scenario of Oda being unable to continue work is likely to terrify publishers Shueisha, as along with selling hundreds of millions of copies and spawning a vast anime, game and merchandising empire, One Piece underpins the sales of Jump – said to be their only magazine still turning a profit.
Amongst One Piece fans (practically the whole of Japan it would seem), concern has been accompanied by plenty of flagrant speculation:
“This guy needs a break.”
“What do you expect, the anime and manga industries have black working conditions.”
“He’s only 38?”
“3 hours of sleep… he’s going to die early.”
“It’s no surprise for a weekly mangaka to die suddenly. They apparently get made to work through flu or stomach bugs, and the editors treat them as expendable – just a moving tale and some juicy unpublished material to milk if they die.”
“Oda seriously needs a rest.”
“I bet he just got bored and took a break.”
“He could at least tone down those illustrations of his. He packs too much in, it’s hard to read now – it used to be more sparse and was better that way.”
“It’s only a week, why all the fuss…”
“This is the guy who pays the wages of all Shueisha’s employees.”
“It’s too harsh to hear Jump is the only magazine they have left which makes any money.”
“This is what you get for concentrating everything on One Piece. You’re out of luck if One Piece is gone.”
“This is what they get for not rearing any new mangaka. They are just using up the ones they raised in the nineties and haven’t invested in anyone new since, why do you think so many of the big Jump manga are past 50 volumes now?”
“Seeing how much influence Oda has now, it must put him in a difficult position.”
“Anyway, I hope he takes a rest and gets well soon.”