Oh ! Where does it come from ?
----First of all, would you please tell us what made you decide to become a mangaka?
That'd have to be the moment I learned there was such a job. When I was in Kindergarten I really liked the work of Fujio Fujiko but when I learned that all they had to do to make a living was draw pictures I was so jealous. At the time that meant exactly the same thing as 'Not working at all'.
Of course being a mangaka means 'working' is drawing pictures, but what kid thinks drawing a picture means work? 'Working' meant putting on a suit and heading to the office like my dad.
And so that's why I wanted to be one. Ever since that age I loved drawing and the people around me always said I was good at it so I had confidence in my work.
-----So how did you actually progress from there?
I started submitting work from when I was about 15 and actually took home an award when I was 17.
But it was from that point that things got harder. As far as drawings are concerned, well, I had no problems there but a comic isn't just a bunch of pictures. Writing stories was something that used to be really hard for me. Whenever I showed my head editor rough drafts I would get all kinds of weak points pointed out to me and I couldn't move forward.
That was the first Wall of the Professional I hit. At the time I thought people who draw great pictures become mangaka, because every mangaka I knew drew pictures really well. So that's about the time I started to seriously think about that thing called a 'story'.
So from there I continued aiming to be a mangaka and after graduating high school went to a college in Kumamoto but after a year of that I got to thinking, "This really is a waste of time.", so I headed for Tokyo.
Of course I hated studying but more than just that, heading down that path as a college student gave me this sense of impending doom (laughing) Because all college students do is party right? (laughs)
----Was there anyone in college who had the same goal of becoming a mangaka as you? [Good question!]
Nope, nobody. Actually you know I hid the fact that I drew manga from a lot of friends. I dunno about now but back then writing amateur manga meant being made fun of.
I did NOT want to be called an otaku so I decided that until I became a professional I'd secretly be a closet mangaka. (laughs) If you turn pro and you make a hit, you're just accepted as that so there's no need to do work in secret. So in that way I think it also kind of gave me this strong feeling like, "I wanna be a pro as soon as possible!"
So wanting to go to the scene the action I dropped out of college and my editor introduced me to an opening as an assistant.
----How was the first time your actually saw a professional at work?
It was 1994 and I became the assistant of Shinobu Kaitani (Liar Game, Somurie) whose Midoriyama Police Gang was running in JUMP at the time, and the thing that shocked me the most was the beauty of the original print. [I agree, having seen them at JUMP Festa, they're really amazing]
Since JUMP's pages are made of recycled paper they feel all rough and looks dirty right? But the original molds are remarkably beautiful. 10 times more beautiful than I imagined. I went to a bunch of different works places all around the same time but wherever I went the original prints always blew me away. My own work wasn't even worthy of comparison.
----Was there anything else about the professionals' jobs that moved you?
After Shinobu Kaitani's work finished its run, I went to work for Masaya Tokuhiro (Jungle King Taa-chan, Vampire) and I admired how he was able to chug along through his work exactly as he planned. He is a real professional. I always try to learn that by observing but guess I'm just not that kind of mangaka. (laughs)
----What kind of work did you do while under Tokuhiro sensei?
I drew scenery for Taa-chan and his next piece, Mizu no Tomodachi Kappaman. I was only with him for about a year and a half but he really taught me a great deal of things. How to draw the profile of a character, techiques for expression and so on... After quitting as an assistant we don't exchange much more than New Year's Cards [Japanese equivalent of Christmas cards] but he made a huge contribution to my life.
----On the topic of your life as an assistant, many people mention Nobuhiro Watsuki sensei. After you ended your time at Nobuhiro sensei's, did you go right to work for Watsuki sensei (Rurouni Kenshin, Embalming)?
Yeah pretty much. But I actually wasn't there too long. I think I managed to work full-time every week for only 4 months. After that I wanted to prepare for my own [upcoming] serial work so I worked there every other week.
----Would you tell us some special memory you have of working at Watsuki sensei's?
Yeah, I uh, I was able to make a lot of great connections from Watsuki sensei's place. Dunno if you can call friends like us Manga Buddies or Manga Rivals but that was the place where we all met. It was an fantastic place to be.
----For a while there was a time when the most popular JUMP mangaka all came from Watsuki's place.
From when we were all assistants we all wanted to cultivate ourselves with this kinda of, 'Let's all become serial authors!' attitude, I was so happy when that became a reality.
----Of all those you considered rivals, who sticks out the most in your mind?
That would have to be Hiroyuki Takei (Shaman King). From way back he just has this fantastic [art] sense. He continues to make feel like, "Woah! That's awesome!", even now. He just makes these drawings and compositions with ease that make me go, "There's no way I could possibly draw that." He also kicks ass at mecha. He's an amazing guy, really.
Part 1 End
Next part will come on the 17th. He'll talk about Romance Dawn and about.....how much more life OP has in it *gasp*
Wow, so when he first began Oda wasn't too great at making stories huh? Well that's definitely changed! Thanks for the translation Greg.
That was really interesting, thanks a lot Greg.
Can't wait to see the OP talk.
Part 2 should be interesting! Not to say this part isn't without merit. Oda's story of becoming a mangaka is pretty neat to listen to. We all start somewhere!
Sort of surprised Oda spent some time with Tokuhiro prior to Watsuki. Looking at some pics Tokuhiro have done, I do see some similarities for how much Oda picked up in his style.
Y'know, Negima WAS awesome...
For the first 18 volumes.
cheers greg, cant wait for part two of that
This is great. I really admire Oda and I want to draw comics for a profession...So seeing what he went through to become a mangaka is pretty amazing to me.
thanks bf and greg
and yeah, oda has no problems with making stories anymore
Thank you very much Greg!!!
Finally more of Oda... Can't wait for the 2nd part.
Thanks Greg :O
Awesome, thanks. Can't wait to read the rest.
whos this oda guy, anyway
Thanks for the translation =] (erm off topic but is that Rika Ishikawa in your avatar greg?)
oh wow so we'll find out how much life OP has
it'd be funny if he said "Yeah about 2 more weeks" or something XD... wait that wouldn't be funny at all ;_;
thanks for the translation. It's always neat to see how these people get their start in life
For with a closing door, another surely opens
Just you wait and see,
And when you look back on where we've been together
Wherever you may be
I hope that you remember me
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