One Piece might not be the first manga to hit the 1000 chapter mark, but the beloved series reaching this milestone is still a monumental event in the relatively small world of manga. After all, the long running Weekly Shonen Jump title is arguably the most impactful ongoing manga today and its millions of readers will agree that it seems to only grow better with time. Longtime One Piece fans used to speculate if the series would ever get to this point and many new fans read through the manga at a blistering pace just to experience the 1000th chapter upon its release.
Shueisha, the publishing company that owns Shonen Jump, knows that this is a big deal to One Piece fans across the world and has plenty of events in store to mark the occasion. From perhaps the biggest character poll in the history of manga to making the bulk of the series available to read for free, One Piece is kicking 2021 off with a bang!
World Top 100 Campaign
The World Top 100 campaign is a global character poll where One Piece readers can cast one vote each day for their favorite characters in the hopes of having them take the top spots. This poll will run from January 3, 2021 to February 28, 2021. There’s no participation fee and anyone can vote regardless of how much One Piece they’ve read or watched. Some random voters will even receive AR character as the poll goes on. A promotion for this poll will even liven up the January 4th issue of the New York Times, and feature the 1000th chapter celebration, double wide color spread.
This is set to be the biggest character poll in manga for two key reasons. The first, is that there are more than a thousand characters in One Piece, all with their own unique style and personality. While the first few spots are fairly safe guesses, it will be incredible to see what characters end up filling out the entire list.
The second, and more groundbreaking reason, is that this will be the first One Piece character poll available to all readers, regardless of where they live in the world. The website for the poll launched alongside the release of the 1000th chapter, and is available in English, Chinese, and Japanese. While Viz, the company that localizes One Piece in western territories, ran character polls in the past, these are generally seen as less official, as only the Japanese rankings appear in the manga itself. So, this will be the first time that readers outside of Japan can have their appreciation for a character reflected in the manga itself.
The inclusion of non-Japanese readers in an official character poll is practically unheard of in shonen manga. While manga readers have enough to celebrate from this alone, we can only hope that this is the beginning of a broader trend of a greater consideration of international audiences in the manga industry.
Beyond voting for their favorite characters, folks will be able to read the majority of One Piece for free on the Shonen Jump+ app. The free offerings on the digital manga reader will include volumes 1 through 71 of One Piece, which totals a gargantuan 711 chapters. This means that new readers will be able to witness Luffy and company begin their journey in the East Blue, rocket through the Grand Line, break into the New World, and make landfall just as the Dressrosa arc kicks off.
Before this promotion, only the first three chapters and the three newest chapters were available for free on the Shonen Jump app and website, though the entire catalog is accessible with a two dollar monthly subscription. Physical copies of these volumes will usually set a purchaser back ten bucks so, either way, the promotion is saving readers a tidy sum of money.
Considering the rampant level of piracy in the global manga industry, offering two thirds of one of the most acclaimed manga in the history of the industry is a pretty big deal. The barrier to reading officially licensed manga has never been lower, and those interested now have no excuse not to at least give the official translation of the series a try. While these efforts are fighting against a steep hill, hopefully this promotion gets more manga fans into the practice of legally and ethically consuming their favorite media.
A series of videos commemorating One Piece and the impact it’s had on readers across the world will appear on the polling site as well. News focusing on the upcoming 1000th episode of the One Piece anime will also appear. Live updates on how characters are performing in the poll will also run on the site.
Additionally, One Piece author, Eiichiro Oda, penned the following letter to One Piece readers thanking them for their support and hoping that they’ll continue to enjoy the series as it draws closer to its conclusion.
I, uh, wow…Words pretty much fail to describe the whirlwind these past 23 years have been. Literally half
of my life has revolved around the almighty ‘WEEKLY SERIALIZATION’ hehe. But it’s not just me, Luffy
and the Strawhats have navigated themselves to so many different islands and found themselves caught
up in so many adventures. At this point, even I’m not sure how many lives they’ve touched along the way!
But it’s thanks to them that so many special people have entered my own life; first and foremost among
them being my family. All of these people have supported me through the years and I am deeply indebted
to each of them. Meanwhile, my readers have been leading their own bustling lives. There’s a certain
theory that exists for long-term readership in the entertainment world that states, “A given pool of readers
will rotate out of a series after five years.” And so for a while now, I’ve avoided calling my readers, ‘fans’.
It’s like they say, “Pride cometh before a fall.” I convinced myself that I shouldn’t get too full of myself
because my readers would eventually leave the series and move on with their lives. Let me say that all of
you have put me to shame for thinking such a thing. Your belief in Luffy has led me to believe in all of you,
and that is what allows me to continue drawing exactly the kind of manga I want to draw. So here we are,
ready to dip our toes into the final stages of the story. It’s taken us a long time to reach one thousand
chapters. However, it’s because I’ve completed a thousand chapters that you must believe I’ll take us to
the end. The story waiting for you will defy expectations! I mean it!!
I have a favor to ask. This is for everyone with whom —by some means or another— I’ve managed to
create a bond, in other words, the ONE PIECE FANS of the world! My story is a long one. But for just a
while longer, please watch over Luffy and his crew as they continue their adventure!”
January 2021 Eiichiro Oda