Thursday, November 29, 2018

Interview with editor of ONE PIECE, Mr. Kohei Onishi

I had a rare opportunity to interview Mr. Kohei Onishi 大西 恒平, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Shueisha Weekly Shonen Jump during the preview of the "Hello, ONE PIECE" exhibition. He is the 5th editor in charge of ONE PIECE since 2007 and has also worked as an editor before for various popular Shonen Jump titles like Gintama, Naruto, Death Note and Hikaru no Go.
(Photo from right: Mr. Onishi, my assistant, me)

The interview was originally conducted in Japanese with a translator.

Q1: Besides Malaysia and Singapore, will you be having the exhibition at other countries after this?
The exhibition will also be held in 6 cities in China, including Chengdu and Shenzhen.

Q2: What is the key to running a long series like One Piece?
Initially Oda-sensei was only planning to run the series for 10 years, but now it is already running for over 20 years. Shōnen Jump has a 20-page deadline every week so it is extremely tedious for the artist to keep up, especially for 20 years! Therefore to achieve such a long running series, Oda-sensei must work throughout the nights and that is only possible by having a strong passion of what he wants to draw.

(We are amazed! 😮💦)

Q3: Do the editors affect the storyline too? To what extent is the influence?
The major outline and the small details in the weekly stories are all written by Oda-sensei. The editor is more like an advisor, such as when Oda-sensei wants to introduce a new character, I will advise if that is a good time or not. There is a meeting with Oda-sensei every week to discuss about the story or new character and the longest conversation we ever had was 12 hours long! But usually it’s just 4 hours.

Q4: Do you also include discussion about the anime as well?
Yes, we will also discuss about the animation and movie contents. When Oda-sensei has opinions, he will let me know and I will relay them to the production companies.

Q5: For foreigners outside of Japan, what would it take to be able to get published in JUMP? Or become an assistant to your artists like Oda-sensei? 😬
JUMP has an award for the work submitted to the publisher and there is an increasing number of entries from foreigners. In fact, there is a Korean artist serialising with us now. As for becoming an assistant, of course he/she must come to Japan and reside in Japan first, as well as able to speak Japanese because he/she would have to work closely with the artist. Needless to say, the applicant must be very good at drawing pictures.

Q6: How do they apply as assistants, do they submit their work to the publisher first?
Yes, they have to apply to the publisher and Oda-sensei will check if the work is good enough. Then Oda-sensei will provide a sample and ask the applicant to draw this kind of picture as a test.

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And that is all for the interview!

I hope my readers learnt more about the making of a successful manga series such as ONE PIECE and the important role of comic editors. Be sure to check out the exhibition and my previous blog entry about it!

"Hello, ONE PIECE"exhibition
The Maritime Experiential Museum (RWS)
Now till 1 Jan 2019
Ticket price: $15 (includes entry to museum)
To purchase online: https://www.rwsentosa.com/en/shows-and-events/hello-one-piece-exhibition

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