With its 500 million books sold, the pirate saga “One Piece” arrives today on our big screens. A literary phenomenon as sold as Harry Potter, but not very visible outside of insider circles.
Do you know Monkey D. Luffy? This young pirate, whose extraordinary strength is equaled only by his supernatural elasticity, has been traveling the oceans since 1997 in search of a legendary treasure, the famous “One Piece”. Its name may not mean anything to you, but it is at the center of a cultural phenomenon that the legendary Jack Sparrow would not even dare to dream of: 103 published volumes, an animated series of more than 1,000 episodes, special novels, video games, derivative manga…
Stronger than Harry Potter!
With its 515 million copies sold worldwide, the saga created by Eiichiro Oda has just exceeded the sales of Harry Potter, and will even exceed them by far since the saga is still not concluded and Oda is still working on its (long) conclusion. The victory over the young bespectacled magician is therefore unequivocal in terms of numbers, but the popularity of Monkey D. Luffy remains to be extended to the general public in the West. And for that, nothing beats a good film, even if the adaptation of manga to cinema sometimes leaves something to be desired.
On the one hand, there are cartoons. For the Belgian public, the most obvious example is undoubtedly that of “Dragon Ball”, which already has twenty-one animated films to its credit! But as with “Sailor Moon” (or “Pokémon” and “Digimon” if we extend the discussion to video games), these feature films are often made as an extension of an already popular animated series, without any real cinematic momentum. A lack of creative ambition sometimes gives these films the appearance of soulless marketing products.
The complete opposite of what many fans consider the most successful manga adaptation to date, the cyberpunk anime film “Akira”, which has traumatized several generations of moviegoers since its release in 1988. Saying of course that all that is the tip of the iceberg, because many films without the pulling power of an animated series simply do not come out here (nuggets and turnips combined).