Interview with Eiichiro Oda X Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century! (Updated!)

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  1. Owl

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    #1 Owl, Apr 27, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2015
    Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto
    The Talk of the Century

    (Source: Shonen Jump Double Issue #22-23/2015, Naruto's Shinden Fu/Rai no Sho Guestbook / Translation: Rio.D.Kaneki from the http://opforum.net)​

    [​IMG]

    The talk of the century is here, an interview with Eiichiro Oda (One Piece's mangaka) and Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto's mangaka) where the two of them talked for over 4 hours, resulting in a 13-page long interview! Enjoy!

    - At first Oda intended to defeat Naruto, but after he met Kishimoto and found that Kishimoto was a very nice and kind guy, Oda began not to care if his manga won or lost against Naruto.

    - Oda was frustrated that Naruto was more popular than One Piece in foreign countries. At the same time, he appreciated it.

    IN - Interviewer | O - Eiichiro Oda | K - Kishimoto

    IN: When did you two first meet?

    K: When... I think it was when I was still a newbie mangaka. In the Jump new year event.

    O: Is that so?

    K: Maybe. (laugh) At the time, my impression on him was like he's a great and famous sensei.

    O: What are you saying... (wry smile) (Oda was saying 'you're making fun of me' friendly)

    K: Nah... Because Oda-san started the serial run of his manga two years earlier than me. I really thought a super sugoi man had appeared. Later, I addressed him as Oda-sensei, but he said (like begging) that I must not use such a honorific.

    O: I took that for granted because we're at the same age. Why would I listen to your sensei when you're talking to me...

    K: Though we're not performers, I think people who stepped into an industry earlier are admirable. (laugh)

    O: I was always aware of Kishimoto's presence when he was a newbie. He can draw very well. To some extent, I felt we may have the same style.

    K: What style... (embarrassing smile)

    O: It's like the feeling of why you also have the gi of Kamesenryu (Master Roshi from DB). (laugh) From the beginning I've always faced that with offensive state. (Oda wanted to win against Kishimoto.)

    K: I see, you had that determination back then. (laugh)

    O: Because we're both at the stance of manga, eventually there'll be a winner and a loser. However, after I've met with him personally, I found he's really a nice and kind man. It suddenly made me think the result didn't matter. I couldn't compete with a man like him. That's what I thought.

    K: I think that's because we both understand each other's hard work.

    O: Very pleasing to hear you say that. When you're working hard, it's important to know who said what about you and your work. I sense you, who has the same standpoint as me, really understand how I truly feel, good to know.

    K: Yes I do. (laugh) But I think I'm the one who has less pressure. Oda-san, you're always at your peak. Your hard work and that pain must be abnormal (that normal people cannot bear). If I were you, I guess I would have gastrointestinal perforation due to huge pressure.

    O: It's wonderful having Naruto as an opponent. The luckiest thing was you didn't let me get complete victory. Actually, I didn't have complete victory in weekly serialization, besides and most importantly, Naruto is more popular than One Piece in foreign countries. Though a part of me was not reconciled to that truth, at the same time, I'm grateful. Because the existence of such a piece of work, is one and only in the world.

    K: Same goes for me. Instead of saying One Piece is my target, I'd rather say I always want to beat it. Seriously, I always think that.

    IN: What did you think when you heard Naruto ended, Oda-sensei?

    O: So it finally came. I sure felt lonely. Though I knew it beforehand, I didn't hope to see it end.

    K: After the serialization, I sent a message to Oda-san. Because we often keep in touch, so it wasn't special. I would feel embarrassed if I exaggerated it. (laugh)

    IN: Naruto ended in Jump issue #50/2014, One Piece's cover and other information that represented the element of Naruto has caused a big discussion.

    O: After the serialization, Kishimoto-san's media editor was my editor before, so when Naruto ended, he and I had an idea of doing something for it.

    K: Ah, that explains. I didn't know that.

    O: But that editor didn't bring anything. (laugh) I just thought drawing everything about Naruto in it at that moment.

    K: I see. It's not easy.

    IN: On the cover, if we put all the first (second) letter of the menu together, we can get the message "ナルとおつカレ三でした".
    It means "Thank you for your hard work, Naruto!

    Also, the reason to draw Nami, Luffy and Chopper on the cover is because the first letter of their names put together is Naruto (ナミ/Nami、ルフィ/Luffy (ru)、トニートニー.チョッパー/TonyTonyChopper).

    [​IMG]

    O: I wanted to draw a ramen shop, and why not hide the info there. If no one found out, I'd tell Kishimoto-san myself, it turned out it'd been soon discovered. (laugh)

    K: I didn't notice when first saw it. My brother called me and told me to read that menu carefully. And I did, wow. (laugh)

    O: On the other hand, I thought I hid it well, surprised that people all found it.

    IN: Readers seemed to notice it by seeing the 'salad of arugula'.

    O: I looked for food that contains 'ru' (Lu in Luffy), but it's not common to see that in a small restaurant. (laugh)

    K: Speaking of that cover, Luffy eating ramen and Naruto eating meat was really nice.

    O: Hard to let Luffy share his meat. (laugh)

    K: Besides, the title of that chapter is 'SMILE', it made me feel something. Though it caused a big discussion among readers, I think I'm the only one who understood that happiness.

    O: Initially, not only on the cover, I planned to hide some Naruto stuff in the main story. However, at that time, it was a flashback about Corazon, Luffy wasn't in that. I thought about adding Naruto's mark in the background, and adding Naruto's cheek marks on Luffy's face. But the time when Naruto ended, the flashback hadn't ended.

    K: Ah-ha. (laugh) When I saw that cover, I thought it'd be good if I could continue for a bit longer.

    IN: In Naruto's final chapter, Kishimoto-sensei added the Straw Hats' mark on Naruto.

    O: Oh that. Kishimoto contacted me and told me that (before publication). He asked if it's appropriate to draw Straw Hats' mark like a kid's doodle. Of course not a problem. But it's Naruto's final chapter after all, I was worried that Naruto's fans may be angry at that.

    K: Not a problem. (laugh) It would definitely cause a big discussion if I put the mark there.

    O: However, I didn't expect it to be that big. (laugh) People often think the relationship between different mangakas in the same magazine may not be good because of the competition, which isn't true at all, we're very good friends.

    K: Right, in fact, everyone has a good relationship with each other. (laugh)

    O: It's all Kishimoto-san's contribution to let Jump have two battle manga at the same time.

    K: What're you saying. (wry smile)

    O: Manga series that have the same setting and exist at the same time will easily fight for readers who have that preference. But Kishimoto-san avoided well that and did a good job not overlapping Naruto with One Piece.

    IN: Have you been affected by other manga?

    K: No doubt that Akira Toriyama-sensei has made a huge impact. Dragon Ball doesn't even need mentioning (it's too good), I like Dr. Slump as well. And I also like Katsuhiro Otomo-sensei's Akira.

    O: When I first saw Kishimoto-san's drawing, it reminded me of Otomo-sensei's impactful coloring.

    K: Oh, you noticed that. (laugh)

    O: As a mangaka, it's easy to tell by looking at his style of drawing and story who has made the influence.

    K: For myself, I've been affected by Dragon Ball in terms of story creation. Shonen style, exciting development. Things like Goku having a baby are my favorite. Also, Toriyama-sensei's drawing, its proportioning of black and white is exquisite.

    O: Even when I look at it now, Toriyama-sensei's drawing isn't old-fashioned at all. Amazing that it has excellent design.

    IN: Other than mangaka, who else has affected you?

    K: Probably many animation designers.

    O: When I'm with Kishimoto-san, I always get to know many animation designers' names who I haven't heard of. When Naruto got animated, Kishimoto-san named the animation producer himself, right?

    K: Right. (laugh)

    O: No other mangakas except Kishimoto-san who has great knowledge about animation is able to do that.

    K: The producer I asked is a man who's been awarded several times in foreign countries like France. Actually, when I was still a newbie mangaka I already thought about asking him to be the producer if one day Naruto got animated. My personal interest is one reason, I thought foreign fans may also start liking Naruto if the producer is active overseas.

    O: Naruto being popular worldwide was bound to happen.

    K: Mah, although at that time, I was only thinking that 'if only it'd be real'.

    O: Now that Kishimoto-san said it's an unthinkable thing, but at that time, Naruto only started serializing for 2-3 years, normally speaking, a mangaka wouldn't think this far. (Oda was saying it's an incredible thing.)

    [​IMG]

    IN: It's great to have that dream come true, what about you, Oda-sensei?

    O: If I really have to think of one, it'd be Hayao Miyazaki.

    K: Oda-san has brilliant originality. It doesn't seem like he's been affected by others.

    O: Probably that's because I was a normal kid who had read many manga. Now that I think about it, it's not bad. Besides, I was lucky to be born at a good time when Jump was in the middle of its golden age. I started reading it when I was at the age of being able to enjoy it.

    K: Yeah, right in the middle. Story should develop in this way so that it'd be exciting. So it's really different from buying volumes reading the chapters altogether, if you buy Jump weekly and follow the serialization bit by bit, you can deeply feel it by doing so.

    O: Our generation has enjoyed Jump's conceitedness the most. (laugh)

    IN: Kishimoto-sensei, which character or story in One Piece that you like the most?

    K: I'm saying this not because Oda-san is here, I like all of them. (laugh) As for character, I like Bellamy, both his personality and ability. But my favorite is Chopper. His meeting with Hiluluk and the sakura-snow when he went out to the sea were super touching.

    O: I appreciate that.

    K: However, though I like Chopper, he's rather timid, so he's weaker than Luffy in many aspects. Which is why I think Chopper is the 'real boss'. (laugh)

    IN: What made you think that?

    K: Hmm... let me see. Luffy is the protagonist, a beloved character, but that's because of Chopper's existence. I mean the two of them have generated strong multiplication effect. (In Straw Hats) there's sense of presence and atmosphere, actually Chopper plays a key role in the pirates. Though he's a cute one, he's also a monster.

    O: Chopper is doing something evil behind everyone's back... Stop it, nonsense. (laugh) Let me tell you a secret. Chopper grew up in a painful environment, I was going to make him a prominent funny character, reindeer walking with 2 legs. But Luffy and his first few nakamas were too popular, I couldn't find a position for Chopper. If I designed him as I initially planned, he would be covered by other characters (people couldnt see his uniqueness), so eventually I made him smaller and cuter. (This is also illutrated in Databook Green. http://i.imgur.com/8PV0iDJ.png)

    K: Really? For myself, I quite envy Chopper.

    O: You told me that before. (laugh)

    K: In fact, I once designed a mascot-like character, like a frog. I drew it on the cover of a volume and Jump issue... totally unpopular.

    O: (laugh) To be honest, there's always something that's not in the plan happening. For me, Chopper is one of them.

    IN: It happens a lot that how the story actually develops is different from what you thought it would be when first started serialization.

    O: Of course. Speaking of which, those ideas came out when I was as young as 20, now what I have come up/will come up must be more interesting than that.

    K: Yes, that's true anyway.

    O: I can't lose to the past me. (laugh)

    K: That's because you have a certain amount of accumulation in terms of ideas after years.

    IN: By the way, is there any particular aspect that's not easy to draw for the two of you?

    K: I'm not very good at drawing women. Oda-san seems to be good at everything.

    O: Right, everything.

    K: Mah, not much that I would find uneasy, but when the dealine of submission is approaching, I can't draw what has to be drawn in that short time because that will lack emotion, not to mention it already takes a lot of time to think about what to draw at the beginning...

    O: Indeed. I only draw what I want to draw.

    K: Because that's what we're interested in.

    O: It's very wrong to think that we draw because that's our job.

    IN: Kishimoto-sensei's new short series will start on April 27.

    O: How many weeks is it gonna be?

    K: What is it gonna be...

    O: Are you kidding me?

    K: Absolutely not. (laugh)

    O: I mean you have 15 years of experience, short series must be much easier. People around you and Kishimoto-san yourself aren't paying enough attention to it. It'd be much harder that you thought to re-start a new series at this time.

    K: Is that so?

    O: It's way different from weekly serialization like I'm doing.

    K: I did got away from weekly serialization for quite a while. I feel I'm a bit out of practice.

    O: Also, this is the series people are looking forward to after Naruto ended, you cant loaf on the job.

    K: You're right.

    O: I reckon the blank period of taking rest would be obvious.

    K: It's hard for mangaka to get back to work status even only after one day of break.

    O: I rested a bit in the new year, it was just a few days, I felt my hands had become slower.

    K: Indeed. (laugh) I couldn't really draw what I was thinking, and I used rubber more often.

    O: (When my hands were slower) I couldn't draw as I used to be like one-take (finish it without second time of editing) ...ah, what happened. It may sound unbelievable that I draw better when I'm busy. (laugh) Humans will be in their best form when they are focused.

    IN: What was the biggest crisis in serialization?

    K: When I had backache.

    O: That must be terrible. (laugh)

    K: There was a time my lung didn't feel well, every time when I felt a bit tired, I would cough non-stop like I had pneumonia, and when I started to cough, my back hurt. It was so hard, I once serialized with pencil drawing in Jump for a while (because of the pain). And I also fell down the stairs once...

    O: Eh? That happened before?

    K: Yeah, about 3 years ago. When my family and I went for hot spring, I was sitting on rock stairs and in a daze, next you know...

    O: That was dangerous.

    IN: Was that because you were thinking about the story?

    K: Nah, I was just tired.

    O: No one thinks about the story on stairs. (laugh)

    K: Though I didn't get really injured, I thought I was gonna die when I fell down. (laugh)

    O: If you died there like that, you would definitely become a legend.

    K: I don't want to be a legend like that. (laugh)

    O: Hmm, I understand, legend isn't as good as it sounds. I may think 'I would become a legend if I died' when I'm about to die. I don't want to have that kind of testimonials.

    K: Like Vincent van Gogh, however the praise and honor would be, it's meaningless after death, praise would be best when I'm still alive. (laugh)
     
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  2. Saami

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    #2 Saami, Apr 27, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2015
    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    Good to see that they are friends aswell as rivals.

    One question, I know that in Japan One Piece is dominating and have like three times more readers but in foreign countries then who have the most? I feel like there are more Naruto fans.
     
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  3. Sabo

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    It's really cool to see those two get along so well :D

    and I think Naruto has way more readers than any other manga in foreign countries. Other than on this forum, I know nobody who has read the OP manga, but just in my school I know tons of people who used to read Naruto before it ended.
     
  4. Tashabunny

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    I really enjoyed reading this... cant wait for the rest! It's so cool that they respect and look up to each other like this.

    Overall, here in the US, I would definitely say that Naruto is the more popular manga/anime... but it comes in second to One Piece for me. I never would have tried One Piece had it not been for Naruto paving the way as a long-running anime though... otherwise the sheer size of OP when I found out about it would have scared me off (OP, when I discovered it, was in the 500's already lol)... man, it was amazing to watch the anime without waiting week-to-week like that!!!

    Looking forward to everything still to come Oda!!!
     
  5. Zhya

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    Life goal: have a friendship like Oda and Kishimoto.
     
  6. Portgas D.Hilal

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    Great interview of two great men, I don't know much about Kishimoto-sensei but after reading this interview I realized why Oda-sensei respect him so much... he's a really good and modest guy who deserve all respect.

    and that's why Naruto is really more popular in foreign countries than OP, this was a really good move.

    #RESPECT :)

    that was a troll right ? :P

    [​IMG]
    this Chopper freaks me out :P

    Thanks @"Rio.D.Kaneki" and @"Owl" for your great work, we are looking forward for the next interview
    :)
     
  7. Gold D. Ace

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    This Interview Is legendary
     
  8. I will lose again

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    I've never read Naruto in my life but this interview seems interesting, thanks @"Owl" for uploading it for us. Need to read it sometime when I can actually pay some attention.

    That's pretty hilarious :D Though I have to say that Chopper in actual manga is freaking me out more, I have seen some reindeer in real life but never one that bore a slight resemblance to him...

    The one above actually looks like a deer. Or moose.
     
  9. arthurLinc

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    I hadn't finished reading Naruto until that yesterday I took the time, put on some nice background music and started reading the last 30 chapters that I had yet to read. I had a blast, haha. I sure felt like I was going to miss Naruto, even though I prefer OP, Naruto was the first anime I watched and since the beginning I really connected with the characters.

    When I think about that it has really ended, makes me sad. I remember all the times from the classic, their quests and missions. Reminds me of my childhood.

    They're both huge masters. I'm glad they respect and admire each other. Thanks for both of your works, Kishi e Oda :smile:
     
  10. 5kyMarshall

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    Healthy rivalry!
    I wish I could've witnessed this interview in person(and understand it).
     
  11. 16thCentury

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    i appreciat the read :p
     
  12. Artemis D Arpenleuk

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    I wish One Piece anime gets a makeover, the only reason Naruto is more famous in foreign countries than One Piece is because of its anime. If One Piece had an anime with great graphics and a producer who can make even the cartoonish design of the manga look cool then the sales for One Piece would sky rocket to unimaginable levels. The only thing lacking in One Piece is its cartoonish style which takes time getting used to..no one would actually watch that at first glance....most people don't care to read mangas..anime is the way to the hearts of most people.
     
  13. Portgas D.Hilal

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    yeah this one looks more like a moose than a reindeer (even though I've never seen any moose or reindeer in real life :P), and indeed the Chopper in the actual can freak you out sometimes with his transformations.

     
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  14. Artemis D Arpenleuk

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    Yeah, in this case Kishimoto made a very smart decision of choosing the Animation Designer for Naruto anime on his own, unlike Oda sensei. That decision alone made Naruto famous in US I guess.,
     
  15. ZakNik

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    Ok after reading this again I can see chemistriy between thoose two great creators...I would love them cooperate on one anime
     
  16. Little-miss-melody

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    that was entertaining to read
     
  17. tsudecimo

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    According to manga sales outside of Japan.

    Dragonball has 73 million print copies
    Naruto has 70 million
    One Piece has 45 million
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_manga

    One Piece popularity outside of Japan mostly comes from France, where the gab between it and Naruto became small over the years. But in the US, the gap is pretty huge in sales.
     
  18. sefat rex

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    one piece is way more better than naruto.naruto is good but one piece is great.

     
  19. JollyR

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    One Piece has a collateral expanding plot, so either way One Piece is going to rocket itself to the top or crawl step-by-step. It's already destined to be at the top, unless Oda decides to flip us all off for some reason.
     
  20. kazuko.i

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    RE: Interview with Eiichiro Oda and Masashi Kishimoto - The Talk of the Century!

    Credit: sandman_AP

    In Kishimoto's bookshelf, there are ONE PIECE volumes of 9,16,17 and Color Walk 2.

    Here is the interview between Kishimoto and Oda in Naruto guidebook called "Michi".

    -First of all, thank you for all your hard work these past 15 years, Kishimoto-sensei.

    Kishimoto: My pleasure. It does feel a little liberating to be done. But I'm still busy, what with the Naruto Exhibition and lots of interviews, not to mention the movie I'm working on. I really thought I'd have more free time.[laughter]

    Oda: The last time I saw you, just after the final chapter of Naruto, didn't you say "The sky looks different to me now?""

    Kishimoto: Yeah, it really did. It seemed brighter somehow. Blue skies you know?[laughter]

    Oda: That hasn't happened for me yet. the skies are still a little brown over here.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: Everything's changed. Even water tastes different to me now.[laughter] But I was working on the movie script the other day, and I thought, hey, maybe I don't have to do this in my office, so I tried going for a walk, but I just couldn't make much progress.

    Oda: Yeah, outside's tough. I step out sometimes for a change of pace, but I've never had a good idea come to me outside.

    Kishimoto: Whenever I go outside, it's like all these shops are vying for my attention. I see a sign for restaurant, and I think, "Hmm, maybe I should go in and check it out," you know? Or like, just the other day, I saw a movie with my kids, which was really fun. And afterwards we grabbed some food and just had fun talking.

    Oda: Nice. I wish I could do that.[laughter] When you're working on a series, though, it's tough to break away, right? Like, the longer I'm away from my desk, the more anxious and fidgety I get.

    Kishimoto: That was basically me, too.

    -Oda-sensei, how did you feel when Naruto was finally over?

    Oda: I felt pretty sad, like, So this is it, huh? I mean, I knew it was coming to an end, but deep down I didn't want it to.

    Kishimoto: I sent Oda a LINE message after it finished. We'd already been in touch, so it didn't really feel like that big a deal. I'm not one for pomp and circumstance, anyway.[laughter]

    -The title page of ONE PIECE caused quite a stir when it ran alongside the final installment of Naruto in Issue 50 of Weekly Shonen Jump in 2014. It featured numerous references to characters and symbols from Naruto.

    Oda: Kishimoto's media coordinator at the end of the manga actually used to be my editor. So I approached him in private and I told him, "I have to do something special for the end of Naruto."" Actually, I bounced a lot of ideas off him leading up to it.

    Kishimoto: Wow, really? I didn't know that.

    Oda: In the end, he couldn't decide on any sort of plan.[laughter] So I thought I'd just pencil in some elements from Naruto, and I just came up with all that on the spot.

    Kishimoto: That's incredible. It must have been a lot of work.

    -If you read the beginning of each menu on the wall of the restaurant, it spells out "Well done, Naruto"" in Japanese, right?

    Oda: Yeah, I wanted to come up with some dishes that reminded readers of Ichiraku (the ramen shop that Naruto frequents in the manga). And I decided I might as well put some kind of hidden message in it. I was hoping no one else would spot it so that it would just between us. But everyone saw it right away.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: Well, everyone except for me. My brother (fellow manga artist Kishimoto Seishi) called me up and said "Look at the menus on the wall behind them. There's a hidden message."" and that's when I finally got it![laughter]

    Oda: Still, I thought I'd hidden it better than that. Oh, well.

    -It seems like readers caught on when they saw the sign for "Arugula Salad"

    Oda: I racked my brains for something you might get at the sort of restaurant that started with the character, but it was tough.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: And it's supposed to be Naruto back there chomping on some meat, right? While Luffy has ramen.

    Oda: Luffy giving away neat is a rare event.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: Also, the title of the chapter of ONE PIECE (chapter 766) is "Smile". That put a lump in my throat. I know a lot of people enjoyed that illustration, but I was the happiest one of all.

    Oda: I haven't told anyone else, but I originally wanted to use the whole story to write you a message -not just the title page. Now, the chapter was this big flashback about Corazon, and it didn't have Luffy at all. But I was originally going to put Naruto symbols in all the backgrounds, and even draw lines on Luffy's face to make him look like Naruto. Unfortunately, the flashback sequence didn't end until Naruto was already over.

    Kishimoto: Wow.[laughter] I mean, seeing that title page, I kind of wished I had done more of that myself.

    -But you did draw the symbols of the Straw Hat Crew on Naruto's Hokage statue in the final chapter, didn't you?

    Oda: See, Kishimoto talked to me about that beforehand. He said, "I'm gonna have Naruto's kid scrawl some graffiti - do you think I could use the Straw hat Crew's symbol?"" And of course, I had no problem with that. Though I was a little worried Naruto fans might get angry, seeing as it was the last chapter.

    Kishimoto: It should be fine.[laughter] Although, I figured people would talk about it.

    Oda: I couldn't believe that you'd put it on such a big page.[laughter] A lot of people seem to think that manga artists can't be friends with each other, because they're competing in the same magazine or whatever. But that's totally not how it is -a lot of time we go way back.

    Kishimoto: Exactly. The truth is we all get along.[laughter]

    -When did you two first meet?

    Kishimoto: Let me see.. I think it was at a New Year's party at Jump, when I was first starting out.

    Oda: Was it? Huh.

    Kishimoto: I think so.[laughter] Even back then, he made a big impression on me. He taught me a lot.

    Oda: Get out of here.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: No, really. You had your first series out two years before me, and it felt like this tremendous talent had emerged. So at first I called you "Oda-sensei," but you told me to knock it off.

    Oda: Yeah, well, we are the same age. Why should I be called "sensei"?

    Kishimoto: Sure, we're not actors or performers or anything, but I thought anyone who got into the business before me was this big star.[laughter]

    Oda: I'd been aware of Kishimoto, too, ever since he debuted. His artwork was incredible. There's something familiar, like we share the same creed.

    Kishimoto: Creed?[laughter]

    Oda: Yeah, like, why did you have that Turtle School uniform from Dragon Ball?[laughter] Right from the start, i felt like I needed to take my fighting stance...

    Kishimoto: So you wanted a fight, huh?[laughter]

    Oda: Just in terms of our manga, there was a little sense of competition, right? But when I actually met you, you turned out to be the nicest, kindest person. And it didn't matter to me anymore whose manga was more popular. I couldn't possibly fight with you.

    Kishimoto: We knew each other's struggles all too well.

    Oda: That made me happy. When times are tough, you need someone who can give you an encouraging word. So when Kishimoto said he knew what I was going through, you felt like he really did.

    Kishimoto: Because I really did know.[laughter] But I still think I had it easier. Oda was always at the top, and I feel like that comes with its unique troubles and hardships. All that pressure and stress would have given me ulcers.

    Oda: I'm really glad I had the opportunity to compete with Naruto, though. The thing I'm most thankful for is that he made it so competitive. Of all the weekly comics, and all the comics in the world, the one that made me work the hardest was Naruto, hands down, So I'm really fortunate, actually, that he made it so difficult for me. That kind of experience is rare.

    Kishimoto: I had my eye on ONE PIECE, for sure -that was the one to beat. I was definitely conscious of that.

    Oda: Well, the fact that Jump was home to not one, but two fantasy-based battle comics is a testament to your work.

    Kishimoto: Hardly.[laughter]

    Oda: Usually, when you have two manga series in the same genre, they compete for the same audience. But Kishimoto figured out how to keep Naruto and ONE PIECE from overlapping too much. Take colors, for instance. Luffy uses a lot of red, so he went with a different color scheme for Naruto. There's hardly a touch of red in Naruto, is there? He went out of his way to make sure they wouldn't encroach on each other. That said, if Kishimoto had started two years earlier than me and used red first, I probably still would have gone with red.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: That's where you and I are different.[laughter] But I definitely made a conscious effort throughout the series to keep it from overlapping with ONE PIECE.

    Oda: It's one thing to talk about it, but I'm sure it must have been difficult to actually do. I mean, I had a hard enough time trying to keep ONE PIECE different from Dragon Ball.

    Kishimoto: Right.

    Oda: Dragon Ball made such a deep impression on everyone; I think fans could still remember it five years after it ended. And it was certainly one of my favorites, too. I would never have stood a chance against it. So I had to come up with something different.

    Kishimoto: I hear that.

    Oda: That's why I really tried to emphasize the adventure element for readers, rather than the fight scenes. But I think Kishimoto had it harder. He had to avoid both Dragon Ball and ONE PIECE.

    Kishimoto: It was a trial - and - error process, for sure. Oda was writing a story of high adventure, so I had to stay away from that. That's why I had Naruto come back to the village every time he left on a mission. Also, Luffy gradually enlists a lot of friends in ONE PIECE, so I thought Naruto should have his companions around from the beginning. That way I hoped the manga would already seem different from the moment it came out.

    Oda: That reminds me of the one time I had to avoid something from Naruto. Sanji's name was originally supposed to be "Naruto". But the instant your manga came out, I knew it was going to be running a long time, so I changed his name at the last moment.

    Kishimoto: What stage did that happen? Had you already come up with his crazy eyebrows?

    Oda: Sure. I mean, he has those spiral eyebrows, right? That's why I wanted to call him "Naruto" (after the spiral pattern in the Japanese of the same name). He was like that ever since my first character sketches. So I'm glad that you started Naruto before I introduced Sanji. Otherwise, that would have left you in a predicament.

    Kishimoto: It might have.

    Oda: I mean, what would you have done if Sanji had appeared as "Naruto"?

    Kishimoto: I probably would have changed it.

    Oda: Even though he's the main character?[laughter]

    Kishimoto: I would have called him (some other ramen-related word like) "Menma" or "Shinachiku".[laughter] But then I would have had to rethink the symbol.

    Oda: "Shinachiku" would probably be a tough one for foreign readers to pronounce.[laughter] Although, I did get in touch with Kishimoto before giving his "Giant Pistol" technique, you know, the one where his gets huge? Because there was a scene in Part 2 of Naruto where Choji's hand gets really big...

    Kishimoto: That's right.

    Oda: It was a surprising thing to see, so when I introduced the Giant Pistol move, I let him know, like, "Hey, I'm kind of copying your style here. Sorry."

    Kishimoto: Even though it was no big deal.[laughter]

    Oda: But it was really thanks to Kishimoto that our two manga could both run in the same magazine.

    Kishimoto: Well, the second anyone told me Naruto was like ONE PIECE, I knew I didn't stand a chance. but definitely felt Oda's influence at times.

    Oda: Yeah, right.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: There was one time, I can't remember when, but I asked you in private about your whole approach to writing manga. I wanted to know how you really felt about it.

    Oda: Can you remember what I said?

    Kishimoto: He can't remember.[laughter] You said, "It's really not about drawing well. It's about challenging yourself every time you do it - that's how you should approach it." That really impressed me.

    Oda: It's like, when your back's against the wall, that's when you're drawing with emotion."

    Kishimoto: Yeah, I think that's true. It's like how your characters' dialogue is never going to sound good unless you bring real feeling to it. It just won't have that spirit.

    Oda: Yeah, it won't convey anything. You have to think hard about it and draw with emotion.

    -Speaking of characters, what do you think about Kishimoto-sensei's drawing style?

    Oda: Anything he draws, he draws well. I mean, he has a lot of respect for animators, which is why he makes his shadows so distinct.

    Kishimoto: Yeah, I try to make them pop. Oda, on the other hand, he's more about color gradients.

    Oda: I like to paint everything in. But Luffy's phisique is a little different from normal people, so sometimes I have no idea what kind of shadows to put in.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: Oda's sense of composition and layout is great. It doesn't matter how many characters he has in a panel, he makes it all work as a picture. You feel like each and every picture is meaningful, and has this sense of furthering the story. So that makes it fun.

    Oda: Kishimoto likes anime, which is why you get all these effects you've never seen before in the manga. His style of expression is just incredible. Like when it comes to the ninja moves Naruto and those characters use, it must be a real challenge to illustrate those on such a big scale, but Kishimoto never runs out of new ways to do it.

    Kishimoto: I do like effects, and I get very particular about them.[laughter]

    Oda: The one that surprised me the most was when one of your bad guys turned invisible and went underwater. All you saw was this silhouette, and I thought that was really well done. Was that something you came up with?

    Kishimoto: That must have been in "Kakashi Gaiden." Can't quite recall the details.

    Oda: Well, I used that as inspiration for my own invisible character.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: Well, you've got an eye for these things. Still, it makes me happy to hear you say that.

    Oda: I have to mention your colors, too. You really go with the best ones. Is that something you pay a lot of attention to?

    Kishimoto: Well, not really, no.[laughter]

    Oda: You use a lot of elegant, muted colors.

    Kishimoto: I do.

    Oda: I've always liked those colors too. But since ONE PIECE has a young male audience, I thought I should go out of my way to use a lot of primary colors. And now, well, I've really taken to those primary colors, but it was a painful transition.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: Now that you mention it, your color palette really jumps out of the pages, doesn't it?

    Oda: Well, that's another difference between Naruto and ONE PIECE that was probably for the best.

    Kishimoto: The way you use colors in ONE PIECE is so complicated, I could never do that. That's your secret weapon, I think. I've read lots of manga, and I've never seen anyone use colors like you. I thought maybe it was just a natural talent you had, but it's something you've consciously worked toward. It's amazing.

    Oda: I've started drawing a lot of rainbows now.[laughter]

    -Was there anything you were striving for in your Naruto artwork, Kishimoto-sensei?

    Kishimoto: Well, the effects we just talked about are kind of an example, but in Naruto I wanted it to look like everyone's feet were firmly on the ground.

    Oda: It sounds obvious, but it's harder to achieve than it looks. You have to know exactly where the body's center of gravity is, like if someone raises their shoulders, how does that affect the position of their hips, and so on. That sense of balance is crucial. That's why when you look at Naruto, even just the way he stands, he seems solid.

    Kishimoto: You're really good at that, too.

    Oda: I tend to change the ground to match the way the characters are standing. ONE PIECE has a lot of characters who are different sizes, and I find I can't draw them the way I want if I start with the ground.

    Kishimoto: I feel the same way whenever I draw those huge Tailed Beasts. You have to bring the ground up to them.

    Oda: You're a fan of Godzilla, so you must really enjoy doing those big creatures.[laughter]

    Kishimoto: Definitely. But whenever I do a Tailed Beast, my turnaround time slows down. There are just so many panels to do.

    Oda: Yeah, whenever you draw from a big character's perspective, you get a lot of smaller characters in the frame, so you've got a lot of stuff to illustrate.

    Kishimoto: I don't think anyone puts as much detail into every panel as you, though.

    Oda: I don't know. I always thought your Shadow Clones looked pretty tough to do.

    Kishimoto: Those were really tough.[laughter]

    Oda: But that's because you're so particular about it. I mean, it's always tough when you're in the middle of drawing something, but there's nothing more satisfying than doing a really effective picture. The readers appreciate it, too. I don't care how many days it takes, I just want to put out good pages.

    Kishimoto: The problem is whether you have enough energy.[laughter] But seeing your face the work head-on makes ne feel like doing my best, too.

    Oda: But, you know, it's getting hard to put on shows like the Naruto Exhibition. These days everyone's moving toward computer illustration, so pretty soon there won't even be original drawings to exhibit. We might be the last generation who can even hold this kind of show.

    Kishimoto: Last generation, he says...

    Oda: We're practically fossils.

    Kishimoto: Living fossils.[laughter]

    Oda: Just my luck -I have to enter this new era already fossilized.[laughter]

    -Who are your favorite characters from Naruto, Oda-sensei?

    Oda: Probably Rock Lee and Might Guy. Kishimoto's really good at all that kung fu action.

    Kishimoto: Well, I grew up watching Jackie Chan movies, what can I say?

    Oda: Also, from a design standpoint, Zabuza was really cool. I feel like Naruto really took off in popularity about Zabuza storyline.

    Kishimoto: That period was really tough. I was running a fever every week, and just had to keep drawing.[laughter]

    Oda: Was that the most difficult period for you while working on Naruto?

    Kishimoto: No, that was probably the very end. The final chapter was in color, so I had to start on that really early. And because they'd already decided which issue it was going to run in, I had to pace the story fit that schedule. But the closer I got to the final chapter, the more I felt like I was running out of space to wrap things up. Normally, I could just carry a story over into the next issue, but now I couldn't get away with it. Honestly, there were times I thought I was done for.[laughter]

    Oda: It didn't feel rushed at all, though. The layout and panels all seemed to have plenty of margin. But I'm sure you had everything leading up to that final fight between Naruto and Sasuke planned out already. Was it hard to get the story go there?

    Kishimoto: Yes, it was.[laughter]

    Oda: I think it would be fun for me to end ONE PIECE on a nice, happy note, but getting there is going to be an uphill battle. I have all these ideas about how I might do it, but you're right, it's really tough.[laughter]

    -What was the most difficult part leading up to the Naruto finale?

    Kishimoto: It was how exactly I was going to depict Sasuke. Up till then, I'd shown a lot of Naruto's inner feelings coming to the fore, but I'd kept Sasuke's totally hidden. I knew I was going to have to show them in the end, but I wasn't quite sure how to get there. I mean, I decided in the beginning that the climax was going to be this battle between Naruto and Sasuke, so that more or less turned out how I imagined. But the stuff that happened in between, that didn't really go how I thought it would.

    Oda: When you're illustrating something you've had in mind from the start, you can get tired of it pretty quickly. So if you think of anything more interesting, you should really explore that. To not use something you've come up with -that's letting the reader down, too.

    Kishimoto: Exactly. When inspiration strikes, you owe it to yourself to seize it.

    Oda: And then once you go there, you have to figure out how to follow it up the week after. Like, oh, no, what do I do now?[laughter]

    Kishimoto: You try to find some justification for it. Something that makes it consistent with what's come before.[laughter] That's why I think manga artists who are good at excuses come up with the best work.

    Oda: Yeah, you have to be good at integrating everything.

    -This may be jumping the gun, but do you have any ideas for your next work, Kishimoto-sensei?

    Kishimoto: Well, nothing set in stone, but I'd like to try my hand at science fiction. I like clouds, so maybe something in the sky. When Oda came out with Skypiea Saga, I was really jealous.

    Oda: You've talked about that before.

    Kishimoto: That one felt so great to read. I wanted to do a story like that, but ONE PIECE beat me to it... Oh, well.[laughter]

    Oda: There you go again, trying not to compete with me.[laughter] Well, I hope you can take it easy for a while at least.

    Kishimoto: The thing is, when you finish one series, you just want to get started on another. I can't help thinking that while I'm relaxing you're still out there working on pages.

    Oda: Well, feel free to start a new series any time you want.[laughter] I usually tell author friends of mine who've just finished a long project to come see me again soon, but I won't pressure you. Fifteen years is a long time to work on anything. You should rest up for a while.

    Kishimoto: Thank you very much!

    Some pics

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