'One Piece should be made by a young staff.'-
- Well first of all, I wonder if you'd let me ask exactly why Mr. Shimizu appointed Mr. Uda as the Series Director?
Uda: His congratulatory speech was only 30 seconds long!!
- So after
a series of events like that which led to the decision of the Staff, Sensei and
Oda: That was a pretty wild one wasn't it (laughs)
Oda: I don't know anything about the world of animation and I also had no idea about how to go about putting out animation so back then, in the start, I was really nervous too. First, I had no idea how far people were willing to think about the project for me... So at first I just had an attitude like, "I'll just say what I can.", and I was pretty nervous.
Actually, everyone was really great and I'm so happy.
'So long as you love the piece, I don't mind what you do.'- Oda
-With respect to the animation's scenario, how do you arrange it working from the original story and has Sensei been present for any of that?
Oda: For the time being yes. But, in the manga I draw scenarios which are agreed upon, after that in the animation I don't really mind how any part is handled. So long as the people really think about the characters and love One Piece, then I think they can do anything.
Oda: As expected you wanna see Luffy. You could say we want to have Luffy wow-em'first.
-For Oda Sensei, do you ever watch or check for parts [that make you think], "This whole part was changed."
Oda: Hmmm, I guess, for me, those are the times I truly enjoy the most. But beyond how this or that part is, seeing a world where my own manga is moving and talking is what I enjoy. When the animation begins, the words 'Original Creator Eiichiro Oda' come up right? When I saw that I gave myself a round of applause.
Oda: Even more than the construct of the tale, the production of it are what moved me. The episodes that are directed by Uda are just fantastic. Essentially, I believe that in manga and animation, the importance lies not in the story, but in how it is directed.
'Episode 86 is the piece where Uda-kun's
strong will was born.'-
-Oda Sensei, as you actually viewed the animation, what was, for you, the number one surprising or moving thing?
Oda: Yeah that'd be hearing sound added to it, it's mortifying. Music too. It's such an dirty trick. In manga, no matter what you do, [with respect to sound] it just can't beat animation.
Uda: With respect to the success of how we use the sound, I also worry about it a great deal.
Oda: For the parts that get used, to put it one way, they've got to use what they have to work with. The higher your degree of freedom is as a creator, the more difficult it gets, that's how it is right.
Oda: Talking about using the hymn, I'd heard it beforehand but when I listened to it I just shouted out, "Woah, is that what it sounded like!" That was a fantastic expression of music. You might think that using a hymn at a time of death is an obvious expression, but for a creator to actually use that is an amazing power. When you sum it all up, I think it's that kind of thing which is the power in beauty.
Uda: We've got the creator's model so it's no problem. I think it must be such a hassle for Mr. Oda! I mean, he's gotta start from a pure white sheet of paper!
Oda: That's because it's really nothing. You could go anywhere and have someone that could put it out.
Oda: Oh well that, that's because I'm so capricious. It's exhausting. An emotional story is just tremendously tiring! Before I make people cry I'm the one who has to cry alone. When I arrive at thinking about [the form] of the story and I think, "Wow that's what I call a good story!", at that moment the tears just start pouring out. So if I think about that moving story for as long as 30 minutes, it just gets to be that I won't be able to do anything for a day. If I actually have to draw one of those emotional stories all day, it's just impossible. It just all hits at once. A bull's-eye.
Uda: Oh yeah when it rains it pours. Even when just drawing the storyboards that happens. At the time when Bellmere passed away (Episode 36) the scene where she was shot was indeed right to the end, very difficult to draw.
Uda: Yeah, I put myself in there. [That part] Made me agonize two-fold, or three-fold・hould I show her getting shot to Nami and Nojiko, or maybe it would be best if I just tried to conceal it well・o:p>
Uda: I think that real people about to be shot would think about many things. At the very last moments, you would want to express your thoughts to someone of great importance to you and meanwhile helplessly being seen the instant you池e shot are all involved. I guess I just kind of thought, in this world at that period, this is just another one of the many circumstances. The moment you're being shot is cruel so considering the impact it would have on the mental health of children like Nami and Nojiko who were about ten years old, even if you break down your ego, it wouldn't be unusual to be in shock, however, "Before even riding out beyond that, there's something else.", is what I think Bellemere's true message probably is. The instant she was thinking that is what I drew with all my might.
Oda: Because this is a world that's a little different from real present day. When thinking about the tale, it's to move the characters along but actually one has to endlessly be grasping for what each character would be thinking in each circumstance. Do that and when you step into that character's emotions you play right into their hands.
Uda: Frankly giving the characters emotion, that is the most painful technique. To cry, to laugh, to get angry, when you say so it is so, you think about why that person is angry and you have to bring it out in yourself.
Oda: Right? [Uda is] Someone who does this and thinks on my behalf, it's really great isn't it?
'Before you know it, the characters just move about on their own'- Oda
- Speaking of Mr. Uda, when you read the manga, is there a certain point to pay special attention to?
Uda: For One Piece, isn't there always something like a highlight in each chapter? First I try to find that part.
Oda: As for my storytelling method, I call to mind that highlight and so I can make it hit home with the readers while creating it I think to myself, "What kind of story is important [for this]", Then finally I make certain the highlight ends up as a story, and after that I think about how it should move along best.
Oda: YEAH! So, since they move about of their own will there are some who just end up popping up without even being caused by my own thoughts! Man, it was around the time of Drum, everyone was so moving about by themselves! Originally that whole Drum part was in a fixed position linked to Alabasta as an introduction. It was a symbol that showed the good king of Alabasta in contrast to an evil king. It proposes a question, even in the same country, if only the king changes, can this or that be different too?
Uda: I generally think the theme of One Piece is teamwork, or perhaps that the meaning of acting in a group carries some nuance doesn't it? How the Luffy Pirate Crew came to be, it's all about who Luffy selects or doesn't select as a member, that evaluation process is all a part of it. After all, I think this was true in Alabasta, in Drum, a 'country' is the personification of the concept of a group. That plus, including this so-called Luffy Pirate Crew, what really is this thing we call a group? I have always thought that this is the biggest theme in One Piece.
Oda: A group is influenced by the waves of the times. After all, if people swarm together, it will bring birth to an unstoppable force... That is actually one big part of the theme. I uh, I write in pretty minute detail when someone makes a certain action, how the people around that individual will respond. Normally when making a story move along it's fine to simply draw the main characters. But rather than just that, I want to write about what the townspeople think by putting all feelings in their place within a scene.
Uda: Well I really like theater. When I go see a show, when the main character takes the spotlight and performs, on the side where the spotlight isn't hitting, I love to see in what way the supporting actors on the side respond. That response's action is completely different depending on the actor, "Well ain't that something! Even though it's the same scenario it can be this different I guess."
Oda: That's just how it is isn't it. When you film a location on camera, you take the biggest reaction which comes from the lead actor, but opposed to that is the response of some kind of opinion, there's synchronization too. So if I don't gather everything together and draw it out, I can't fully express the situation or the background of the period.
Shimizu: Normally if we thought about doing something like that ourselves, it would end up being either too simple or so fake that it couldn't even come together, however, in the case of One Piece each individual character stands up in the face of an emergency so there's a need for that, you don't normally do that kind of thing.
Uda: I talk with Character Designer Koizumi** about stuff like, "One Piece is really a 'Work of Characters' isn't it?" What I mean by 'Work of Characters' is that each character [acts] as an individual. That is the absolute most important point right?
- Even though you're making an animation, have you ever felt the characters moving on their own?
Uda: Yes definitely, of course. I think it's simply that the direction of the manga and animation are now naturally coming to be one in the same.
Oda: In other animation, if you take the original work and the animated one then look at them side by side, there are so many that are polarized in opposite directions. I think that among all of them, only this one consistently moves along in that fashion and it is just fantastic.
'In just one piece of work we slip in 3 themes.'- Uda
- Well then, in conclusion, would each of you please give a message to the readers!
Uda: Ah yes・hings like the messages or themes that we want to express, each time we sneak them as is into the show. Within just one story we try to slip in at least three themes. Of course you don't have to catch all of them, but I think you can feel at least one of them.
Oda: I uh, I'm enjoying making something with these wonderful people so I think if I can express just that to everyone I'd be very happy. Yeah. (laughs)
*Mr. Shimizu is referring to the Fuji Television Producer who at the time was Mr. Yoshihiro Suzuki. Mr. Shimizu is a Toei Animation Producer.
** The gentleman in charge of character design for the animation, Noboru Koizumi. He also creates the animation's original characters.