Mysterious Pirates of the Sunday Seas (Eiichiro Oda and Gosho Aoyama interview part 2)

Hey all. Your once yearly (but not really) posting webmaster Sakaki is here with something monumentous! A lot has happened in 2022, one of which was an unprescedented event no one saw coming. Oda (yes that one) and Aoyama --the two greats of their respective magazines coming together to talk shop? I know right? Unbelievable. We've got the goods here and we're willing to share. This is part two of the interview: We'll have part one up in a jiffy! Big shout out to our buds at the WSJ_Unofficial Twitter account for getting us the raws and collaborating on this big event!

As always, I (Sakaki) am not a pro translator, so there may be small mistakes. Please feel free to point these out. Also please do not post this elsewhere without our (WSJ or WSStalkback)'s express consent first.

Without further ado: Let's sail and solve some mysteries.

– So do the two of you have any secrets regarding continuing a serialization for more than 100 volumes without taking breaks?

Aoyama: Nope. People ask me about it often, but I honestly don't have any secrets to reveal. How about you?

Oda: Ditto! To begin with it's not like it was my intention to surpass 100 volumes.

Aoyama: When Detective Conan first started I thought it'd be no more than a volume or two, but then around chapter two or so, I started to realize “It's actually getting popular?” And was surprised at how it was constantly number one in the rankings. At that point I knew it'd be trouble if I didn't expand on the story more.

Oda: I've always wanted to end the series. That being said I also think about how there's so much I still want to draw or need to do.

Aoyama: I totally get that! There's still so much story left to tell!

Oda: You're really having a blast huh? I think that's amazing. I've heard it from senior Jump artists “It's incredible you're having so much fun.”

Aoyama: Really? Why's that?

Oda: Because everyone is struggling to continue drawing.

Aoyama: What? Seriously? That can't be right.

--So if there is a secret to your success, would it be enjoying what you do?

Aoyama: Yeah, I think so. The more you enjoy drawing the faster you want to get to putting out great storyboards.

Oda: You really love mysteries! Do you ever get tired of drawing different cases?

Aoyama: I do love them. I've loved Sherlock Holmes since I was a child, y'know? Coincidentally in Elementary school I wrote in the Graduation album that I wanted to draw a manga specializing in private detectives.

Oda: What I love is the times where I draw the settings for different islands. Ever since the story entered the Grand line, I've been free to do whatever I want. Kingdoms that don't see eye to eye, fierce seas, islands with totally different cultures and climates..when the story reaches a new island I illustrate all of that. So if I were asked what I'd want to draw more of, I'd want to be able to draw islands like that unfettered, but I have to take my lifespan into account, (lol).

Aoyama: Ahh, yeah, there's some similarities to that in Detective Conan, I think? Like for example, if I want to draw soccer, then I can center a murder case around a soccer player. Though that has to be in the confines of 3 chapters or so. If I had a secret as to how I've been able to continue this long, that might be it. Detective Conan allows me to draw whatever I want. For things I like such as baseball, all it takes is finding a good opportunity to center a story around them.

--When the two of you are drawing, which do you think gives you the most trouble? The artwork or the plot?

Aoyama: Both, probably. Both can be a pain, but they can be fun too. Right?

Oda: Ohh? For me it's the plot that's troublesome. I never get tired of drawing. After the planning of the storyboards is done then it's all about drawing, so I often find myself wanting to get done with storyboards sooner. I love drawing so I wish I had more time to draw what it is I want but even when I don't have a lot of time I manage to make do somehow. It's the storyboards that I'm slow with.

Aoyama: I think I was the same way back when I was your age. If not there's no way I would have been able to keep a schedule with only three hours of sleep. I was a real mess back then compared to now where I can be calm and collected.

Oda: Though when not asleep one can keep creating and be successful, yeah? Meanwhile it's when one is at rest that they become most anxious.

Aoyama: When I was sick and admitted into the hospital I couldn't help but worry. Is it really okay for me to stop here? And such.

Oda: Yeah, I get you. It gets you totally anxious! I was sick once for a bit, and despite being in the hospital I took my color tools with me and did a color spread from the hospital.

Aoyama: It's hard to calm down. Even in my case I asked to draw a special illustration as a gift to Sunday Super readers, and the fans got angry at the publisher. “Mr. Aoyama is in the hospital and you're still making him work??” (Lol) Even though it was me who asked to do it.

Oda: Being in the hospital you'd think that I'd rest and relax. Instead I got excited and really wanted to draw, and insisted that just one color page wouldn't hurt me. Being in a serialization is like being chased in a race. Fundamentally there's no such thing as downtime, because deadlines are always around the corner.

--Generally speaking, what are meetings with editors like for you two?

Aoyama: They're usually around 2 in the afternoon. The editor comes to my house and for a while we chat about TV and magazines for a while. Discussions about the manuscripts begin in the evening.

Oda: Your editorial meetings last a while!

Aoyama: They sure do! The editor in charge usually comes up with ideas for the culprit's methods, but there are times occasionally where we can't come up with anything. We'll come back around to it the next day in those cases. A long time ago we'd stay up till dawn coming up with ideas but not so much now that we're older. How do your editorial meetings go?

Oda: All of mine are via phone.

Aoyama: Wow, voice only?

Oda: A loooong time ago we'd meet in person, but before long it just became easier to take notes and speak on the phone. After all one can tell someone's expressions through their voice, and when listening to the tone you can tell their reactions as to whether they like something or not, etc. Though getting back to me, I get through the meetings one week at a time. I just gotta get through this week to get to the next is my mentality.

(How many years until the final chapter?)

--Both of your series have reached their critical junctures together. The identity of the Black Organization's 2nd in Command “Rum” has been revealed, and One Piece has reached the final saga!

Oda: Truly at the start I thought One Piece would end in five years, and in about a year and a half Luffy's crew of ten would have gathered together. I thought of it like a video game but I was far too naive! It's not that I wanted things to keep getting longer, that's just what ended up happening!!

Aoyama: Same, (lol)

Oda: Have you thought to yourself “Okay, It's about time to end Detective Conan”?

Aoyama: This is between us, but I've already drawn the final chapter.

Oda: W—what??

Aoyama: Maybe I shouldn't have said that? I don't want someone to come and steal it, (lol) So as I mentioned earlier, I was in the hospital for a bit once. I got to thinking that people can up and die without warning, so I figured why not draw it? This was about five years ago I think? So I figured drawing the storyboard wouldn't be a big deal, though for now it's a stand in.

Oda: Sure it was just on a whim, but you actually drew least you were able to do it at your leisure?

Aoyama: You could say that, yeah. It wasn't a big deal now because I've already decided on the major details, but there are arcs I'd have to get to beforehand, though..

Oda: How long do you think until the final chapter?

Aoyama: That's a secret, (lol) I might decide to redraw the finale after this, (lol)

Oda: I've always pictured what the final chapter of One Piece would be like, Though from time to time, the situation surrounding it changes. Though really once the One Piece is found the series is over (lol) However, this next saga is the final one.

Aoyama: Seriously? It's really going to end?

Oda: Yup, to me this is really the final arc. 

--I'm just going to act this flat out. How many years until the final chapter?

Oda: In regard to how many years it'll be....well, I've given countless different answers so by now I'd have to wonder if anyone believes me anymore, (lol.)

Aoyama: Lol, yeah I think that too.

Oda: I wouldn't yell this from the mountaintops,, but I'd personally like to shoot for 3 more years.

Aoyama: But you don't know for sure. It all depends on how the characters act.

Oda: We're merely navigators in these stories.

--Mr. Oda, does your editor know how the story will go up until the end?

Oda: I'm on my 11th editor now, but I make it a point to tell every successive editor the entire story from beginning to end. Though it's become a bit of a pain lately so I've been breaking it up into parts (lol) Although some of the particulars change from time to time, the goal remains the same. There have been some outrageous plot twists during the serialization, but the flow of the story has been rock solid to the point that past editors are surprised. “Are you sure you can just do that??” They ask, but then they don't remember anyway, (lol)

Aoyama: Have you drawn the finale yet? (lol)

Oda: I've got notes of my thoughts that I've made before they reach a new island, as well as a notebook of the most profound mysteries of One Piece that I've created.

Aoyama: Maybe I should steal it, (lol) Though I've also got my notes on the Akai family and their resolution –it's about three pages-ish? When I get a new editor I let them have a look, but it's so complex they don't remember. So by the time the story reaches the serialization proper they're surprised by the events, despite me not deviating from the notes I showed them. Though well, the finale is already there. When I give that over it'll be in one go.

---Do you have any plans for after the final chapters are done?

Oda: I'd like to go on a trip and stay at a new place every night.

Aoyama: I'd like to what I would say but I also don't want to either. It's probably not much better than Oda's case but I've got a lot of stuff which makes moving a pain.

Oda: You wouldn't go on a trip?

Aoyama: I did once upon a time. I went to London for example to have a look at the British Museum for use in manuscripts for Detective Conan. I also went to Vauxhall bridge to get materials for Mary and Vermouth's showdown there. Though after that COVID happened.

Oda: I want to go overseas and travel to hot springs around the entire world until I die!

Aoyama: A long time ago, I wanted to go to Brazil to see the World Cup. Though when I was leaving Japan the passport inspection dude stared at my passport for an uncomfortably long amount of time. I asked him if anything was the matter, He said “I was just curious about what'd happen next. (In Conan.) Please have a safe trip and return.” Like seriously? Lol.

Oda: Maybe he realized who you really are. It is a fairly unusual'd probably be embarrassing to say it out loud in the hospital.

Aoyama: My name and sex are the same, is what I'd like to say, but lately I've been quietly referred to as “Mr. Aoyama.”

Oda: My name has become a big deal as of late too, so when at the hospital out of consideration for me, they've been careful in calling me out. Though I was already getting shout outs when I was only partially famous.

---Are there any highlights fans should be on the lookout for going forward?

Aoyama: A case where Rum once had both of his eyes, as well as how that connects to Akai Shuichi's father Tsutomu. Maybe that'll be interesting, I don't know, (lol.)

Oda: For me? Hmm...This is a toughie to answer. There will be lots to see for sure, but I want readers to be surprised, so I dunno if I should say it here...

Aoyama: True...

Oda: Well, for now the “past” will be a big deal. Something once happened in the world during the Void century, which will come to light which should prove interesting. What I find the most fun is when the readers are enjoying themselves. It's truly a ton of fun!

--Give us your closing thoughts, please!

Aoyama: I don't want One Piece to end before Detective Conan!!

Oda: Yeah that's what I was thinking too, (lol)

Aoyama: Good luck keeping One Piece going (lol)

Oda: Then we'll decide on ending on the count of three!

Aoyama: Lol, that'd be amazing.

--Thanks for coming.