One Piece mangaka Eiichiro Oda has given an interview explaining his dissatisfaction with the fact that there are no ranks amongst mangaka, and that there is no special title other than plain “mangaka” available to demonstrate he is no mere mangaka.
The interview, with fellow mangaka Shinobu Kaitani, author of One Outs and others:
Kaitani: I think a good thing about being a mangaka is that there is no rank. Of course, there are differences in popularity, but when everyone is a pro we are all putting all we have into our works according to our abilities.”
Oda: Well, I think the opposite. I want to have a rank. It’s like I’m trying as hard as I do, and I’m just a “mangaka” like everyone else?
Of course, if you are a long-time veteran you get called “master” [shishou], but there should be a title for younger masters. “Fantasista” or something.
Kaitani: You want an official position or something?
Oda: Right, right, that’s it! You get a title like “section chief” as a working adult. It’s like proof of how hard you tried. As a mangaka you are always just a “mangaka.”
Kaitani: You want to be able to level up from “mangaka” to “manga-sennin” then?
Oda: Yes, yes – I want to be able to level up like that. Being able to aim for that would be good.
That Oda has such authoritarian leanings is perhaps surprising – apparently being a multi-millionaire and author of the most popular manga in history is not recognition enough.
Reactions vary from considering his desires embarrassingly juvenile to sympathy at his lack of “recognition” – although it seems unlikely his fellow mangaka, most of whom languish in relative poverty at the mercy of rapacious publishers, will be too pleased.