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Crime | Deputies in Orange County, Florida, have arrested a man suspected of committing eight armed robberies — two of which while dressed as Batman. Investigators say 26-year-old Juan Carlos Nieves Morales — dubbed the “Bad Batman” — kicked off the string of crimes on Jan. 22, targeting Dollar Stores, food stores and even a paint shop. He allegedly entered the businesses armed with a black or silver handgun, and demand cash, and sometimes even property, from the employees. [CBS12, WDBO]
Surprising virtually no one, Attack on Titan emerged as the top media property this year in Japan, selling about $60.5 million in manga, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, CDs and novels.
Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, a perennial favorite, followed closely without about $59.6 million.
Manga | Continuing its seven-year streak, Eiichiro Oda’s pirate adventure One Piece was the bestselling manga in Japan in 2015, according to the market research firm Oricon. The series sold 14.1 million copies between Dec. 1, 2014, and Nov. 30, 2015, an increase of 18 percent from the previous year. It’s followed by The Seven Deadly Sins with 10.3 million, Attack on Titan with 8.8 million, Assassination Classroom with 8.6 million and Kingdom with 8.5 million. You can see the full Top 10, as well as breakdowns by volume, at Crunchyroll. [Crunchyroll]
Manga | Nearly two decades into his blockbuster fantasy adventure, it appears creator Eiichiro Oda still has a long way to go before he completes the epic One Piece. Just ahead of the manga’s 18th birthday on Sunday, its current editor Taku Sugita revealed on a Tokyo radio show that somewhere around the 60th volume Oda estimated the story had reached the halfway point. With the release of Vol. 78 earlier this month, Sugita guesses One Piece is “maybe” 70-percent complete. “I don’t think it’s at 80 percent yet,” he said. “Something like that.” [Rocket News24]
Eiichiro Oda’s popular manga One Piece has set a Guinness World Record for “the most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author.” As of December, more than 320 million copies of the fantasy adventure have been published worldwide.
According to The Japan News, Weekly Shonen Jump Editor Yoshihisa Heishi attended a ceremony today in place of Oda to accept the certificate from Guinness. The author drew a new illustration of One Piece‘s Monkey D. Luffy to commemorate the occasion.
The 77th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece shipped today in Japan with a first printing of 3.8 million copies, marking the first time in four years the manga has slipped below 4 million.
While American comics companies would be breaking out the champagne bottles with numbers like that, Anime News Network reports One Piece publisher Shueisha released a statement clarifying that, “Aside from print publications, [Shueisha] also distributes its comics digitally, and our sales channels are increasing.” A digital edition of Vol. 77 will be released next month.
The bestselling manga in the world, One Piece first reached the 4 million-copy mark in November 2011 with Vol. 64, setting a record in Japan. The series reached a peak in August 2012 with 4.05 million copies.
Debuting in 1997, as of last year Oda’s fantasy adventure had sold more than 310 million copies in Japan alone. Despite the growing popularity of Attack on Titan, One Piece clung to the top spot last year, selling 11.9 million copies.
In the pursuit of fortune and fame, sometimes a sailing ship isn’t enough. That, apparently, is where Nissan’s new limited-edition Serena Highway Star S-Hybrid comes in.
RocketNews24 reports the Japanese automaker has teamed with One Piece to release the “Thousand Serena,” a nod to the Straw Hat Pirates’ vessel Thousand Sunny (which replaced the destroyed Going Merry). The wrap mimics the ship’s design, and features Monkey D. Luffy and other characters from Eiichiro Oda’s bestselling manga and the hit anime series it inspired. The hubcaps are a particularly nice touch.
Over the past 16 years, One Piece has planted its flag on publishing, animation, video games, fashion and even the kabuki stage. And by March, the Straw Hat Pirates will have conquered theme parks as well.
Announced in July, Tokyo One Piece Tower will open its doors March 13 in Tokyo Tower’s Foot Town, home to the Tokyo Aquarium, Tokyo Tower Wax Museum, stores, restaurants and more. Although there’s a One Piece-themed amusement park in Taiwan, this will be the first to open in Japan.
The Straw Hat Pirates of the smash-hit manga One Piece have been for television, film, video games and prose, and next year they’ll make the leap to the kabuki stage.
According to The Japan Times, the announcement was made over the weekend by publisher Shueisha, which will partner with movie company Shochiku to stage the production. One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda will supervise the adaptation.
Creators | In a new profile of Naif Al-Mutawa, the creator of the Islamic superhero comic The 99 addresses the death threats made against him by ISIS and the fatwa issued against the animated adaptation in Saudi Arabia, and reveals he recently met with Kuwaiti police “to answer the charges of being a heretic.” Mutawa also blames pressure from “a handful of conservative bloggers” in the United States for The Hub not following through with plans to air the animated series. He said that after President Obama praised his work in 2010, attacks on him escalated in the United States, where he was painted as a jihadist “intent on radicalizing young kids to make them suicide bombers. And here [in the Gulf] I became an apostate Zionist. My mother told me growing up, be careful who your friends are because you end up inheriting their enemies. And that’s what happened: I don’t know President Obama. I’m very honored he called me out. But the hate became magnified after that.” [Al-Monitor]
Manga | Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, the bestselling manga in Japan, is getting a spinoff: Starting with the January issue, which ships in December, the manga magazine Saikyo Jump will carry a series focusing on Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates. There doesn’t seem to be any information yet on who the creators will be. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | In a business-oriented interview, Mark Waid talks about the strategy behind his digital comics site Thrillbent, especially its appeal to diverse groups of readers. The key is flexibility, Waid said, in terms of platforms and content. His goal is to make the comics readable on any digital device, which he says is not difficult once the site is set up. In terms of content, he says, “Pay attention to the audience, let them tell you who you’re clearly not serving, and go after them.” [The Wall Street Journal]
Legal | A South Korea court has ruled an exhibition devoted to One Piece can be held as planned after it was abruptly canceled earlier this month following allegations that Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga contains images that resemble the Rising Sun flag, considered a symbol of Japanese imperialism in South Korea. The company staging the One Piece show, which includes life-sized statues, rare figures and Oda’s sketches, asked the court to step in after the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul pulled the plug on the event just days before its scheduled July 12 opening. The court found that One Piece can’t be considered to “[hail] Japanese imperialism” simply because it depicts a flag reminiscent of the Rising Sun; and even if those images are of the Rising Sun flag, it’s mainly shown in a negative light. [The Asahi Shimbun]
Events | An extensive exhibit in Taipei, Taiwan, devoted to Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece manga and anime has drawn more than 100,000 visitors since its opening on July 1. Overseen by Oda, the exhibition is the first of its kind outside of Japan, where it was held from 2012 to 2013 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the insanely popular manga. “One Piece Exhibition: Original Art x Movies x Experience Pirate King Taiwan” runs through Sept. 22. [Kotaku]
Publishing | Spurred by the GoFundMe campaign launched last week by Dan Vado to get SLG Publishing “back on its feet,” Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture author Rob Salkowitz wonders whether a nonprofit model might make sense for some indie/niche publishers: “Contrary to popular perception, however, being a non-profit doesn’t mean you can’t make money. Lots of successful non-profits generate revenues in the millions and pay their staff, executives and contributors salaries comparable with those in the private sector. They can also pay contractors and contributors like performers or creators full market rates. They just don’t pay shareholders, and they plow any excess revenues back into their operations.” [ICv2.com]
Not that we necessarily required an further evidence of the popularity of One Piece, but now comes word that with the release of its 74th volume, Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga has sold more than 310 million copies in Japan alone.
It’s worth noting that it was only November when Shueisha Inc. and Viz Media took out newspaper ads trumpeting the 300-million copy milestone (with another 45 million outside of Japan). Earlier that same month, it was revealed that One Piece has sold 130.15 million copies in Japan just since 2009, the year that market research firm Oricon began reporting book sales.
So what’s the secret behind the success of the world’s bestselling manga? Its sometimes-manic mix of action, comedy and sorrow, a seemingly magic formula the 39-year-old Oda attributes his short attention span. “The thing is, I get bored easily,” he told The Japan Times last fall. “So if my manga was just about the action, or comedy, or tear-jerking moments, I would get bored. I change the style of the series to keep up my motivation to draw. […] Humans can only come up with new ideas when they’ve reached their limits. When I finish a manuscript, I am completely exhausted.”
Oda, who’s been drawing One Piece since 1997, just announced that he’s placing the manga on hiatus for two weeks while he has his tonsils removed. “Since I’m having this surgery anyways, I plan to have a bazooka installed on my shoulder,” he said in a message to fans. “I’ll be back with my body stronger, so I can clear my workload in the latter half of this year. I’ll be right back, so please come play with me again.”