The “Sunday” and “Jump” of that time.
Aoyama-sensei said “It would be interesting if I can do have a talk with Oda-kun. As a comrade who will reach the 100 volumes at the same time, I want to talk about several things with him” in an interview before. Oda-sensei wrote at the end of a volume “I didn’t meet him but I feel like he is a brother in arms. I understand the difficulty of 100 volumes, Aoyama-san. Congratulations in Conan’s 100 volumes!”. And this historical conversation, is finally happening.
Aoyama: It’s an honor to see Oda-kun’s face since you never show it(laughs).
Oda: You show your face in several places after all. But I’m really happy. I never thought I would be able to meet you.
Aoyama: Me neither(laughs). I’ve always thought we wouldn’t meet in the future.
Oda: l’ve received a business card from the editor-in-chief of the “Weekly Shounen Sunday”, i was moved thinking “I’ve received a business card from Sunday! Things like this happen!”(laughs)
[I’ve tried to find common traits between the 2 of you, Oda was born in 1975 and Aoyama-sensei in 1963. Your zodiac sign is the same, the year of the rabbit]
Aoyama: Right right. Do you know about the year of the rabbit legend? Chiba Tetsuya-sensei was born in 1939, Adachi Mitsuru-sensei was born in 1951. They both are also from the year of the rabbit, 12 years after Adachi-sensei it’s me and 12 years after me it’s Oda-kun. There is still no one after that.
Oda: I would like if Toriyama Akira-sensei would fit somewhere in there but he is not from the year of the rabbit huh(laughs)… I’ve only known about the “Weekly Shounen Jump” from long ago. Do you know about other magazines?
Aoyama: Not that much. I’ve first brought it to the “Weekly Shounen Magazine” but then I was told “This doesn’t work with the Magazine, it’s better if you take it to another magazine” so I took it to Sunday, and from then until now I’ve been in Sunday.
Oda: You debuted in 1986 right? What was the success before you debuted?
Aoyama: I was more from the Magazine type so I don’t know much about the Jump but I super loved works like “12 no Sanshirou”(From Kobayashi Makoto) and “Ore wa Teppei”(from Chiba Tetsuya). From Sunday it was “Touch” from Adachi Mitsuru-sensei.
Oda: I’ve read “Touch”. I’ve also read “Rough”(Adachi Mitsuru).
Aoyama: I’ve also watched the anime of “Urusei Yatsura”(Takahashi Rumiko).
Oda: After you debuted you serialized “Magic Kaito”, “YAIBA”, “4ban third” and now “Dtective Conan” is your 4th work right?
Aoyama: Right right. Perhaps, haven’t you drawn any other serialized series besides “One Piece”?
Oda: You are right. I’m a one-hit wonder.
Aoyama: A one-hit wonder! Your one-hit is too big!(laughs)
Oda: What works were serialized when you started “Detective Conan”?
Aoyama: It was amazing. “Ranma 1/2″(Takahashi Rumiko), “Ushio to Tora”(Fujita Kazuhiro), “H2″(Adachi Mitsuru), “Kyou kara Ore wa!!”(Nishimori Hiroyuki)… It was a tremendous Line up.
Oda: I’ve read “Ranma 1/2”! It was so fun. Just because the magazines are different the things we look are totally different huh. When “Detective Conan” started in the Jump there were “Dragon Ball”(Akira Toriyama), “Slam Dunk”(Inoue Takehiko).
Aoyama: I’ve also read “Dragon Ball”! I love Toriyama-sensei’s drawings.
Oda: I was a Jump type but how did you see the Jump from back then? That was something I wanted to ask you if I could meet you. At that time the jump had overwhelming sales, but later there was a time of fight with the “Weekly Shounen Magazine” when they surpassed it.
Aoyama: Well, I didn’t care about that side. Sorry(laughs)
Oda: Ah, you didn’t see it(laughs)
[I want to hear your memories of when you started with the serialization. When you published the 1st chapter, what was going on?]
Oda: I started “One Piece””‘s serialization in 1997, 2 years before that, “Dragon Ball” ended. To us that was a shock and there was a time when the newbies started a fight for “Dragon Ball”‘s slot saying “I want that slot!”. Then for 2 years it was a repetition of being destroyed by being compared to “Dragon Ball” and I’ve finally survived.
Oda: At that time, “Dragon ball” and “Slam Dunk” ended and there was a period where people thought the Jump was in problems. Jump’s cover was published in the issue where my serialization started and at the side of “One Piece”‘s drawing there was written “Magazine surpasses Jump”. It wasn’t my responsibility at all(laughs) but I remember I thought it was really frustrating.
Aoyama: I too, when “Detective Conan” was published it was supposed to be at the center of the cover but it was just the World Cup qualifications and Gon Nakayama(Nakayama Masashi) scored an amazing goal so the cover was changed to Gon Nakayama. That’s why Conan’s cover that was supposed to be published with the 1st chapter, had the bad luck to be published with the 2nd chapter(laughs)
[THE COMPETITIVE SPIRIT THAT THE “JUMP” CREATED]
[What did the each of you think about the others who also made a great success?]
Oda: A while after “Dragon Ball” ended, in the world of the shounen manga “Detective Conan” and “Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo” were the 2 top. “Detective Conan” was always winning.
Aoyama: Is that… So? (laughs)
Oda: At least from our perspective, yes. The work that supported the jump back then were “Rurouni Kenshin”(Watsuki Nobuhiro). I went to Watsuki-sensei as an assistant. I’ll be direct, to us, we have the pride that our seniors were leading the manga world with manga focused in battles so everyone was saying “A mystery manga can’t be the top of the shounen mangas”(laughs).
Even Watsuki-sensei took a stance of “Mangas who are not right in the center like mine can’t be the Jump’s top”. That’s why during that time i always saw “Detective Conan” as an enemy so I didn’t read it at all always thinking ‘l’ll drag you down’… (laughs). No, really, until now I’ve always thought of you as an enemy!(laughs)
Aoyama: No no, an enemy!? Well(laughs).
Oda: You are making me look like I was the only one thinking of you as a rival(laughs). Say something like ‘The jump should be like this’! Don’t you have something you look as a rival?
Aoyama: Not really. If it’s a detective series like “Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo”(Amagi Seimaru, Kanari Youzaburou, Satou Fumiya) I have the thought of “I will not lose” but the genre is totally different.
Oda: We always looked at the whole manga world and when we looked at the top, “Detective Conan” was always there. I was at the position of junior so I was always aware of it but it’s true that once you are up there you can’t see it anymore.
Aoyama: But, you surpassed me pretty soon, am I wrong? (laughs)
Oda: At that time I was really desperate, I don’t know about what happened. When the serialization started I was doing the best I can which made me stop looking at my surroundings.
Aoyama: That’s amazing. It was also difficult for me. I’m doing a mystery manga alone. I have to think about the story and drawing so I couldn’t think about other mangas.
Oda: In the end, once you start with the serialization you can’t really watch your surroundings. I really respect you for being able to continue all this time!
[Did you ever think of the young mangakas as your rivals?]
Aoyama: Rivals… Others are others and I am myself.(laughs)
Oda: You are really peaceful. Since when did you reach that mental state?
Aoyama: Since the beginning I think
Oda: Really!? You weren’t the type to compete when you were young?
Aoyama: When I was young there were other mystery series since “Detective Conan” was doing well. I’ve always thought “I won’t lose to them” but that’s all. It’s weird but I don’t think I had enemies. There was “Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo” as I said before but that was a different thing.
Oda: I see, your scope of enemies are mystery series.
Aoyama: Yes, yes. But there weren’t many people who wrote mystery series so it’s something I do on my own. That’s why I think that others are others and I am myself.
Oda: I’ve been able to reach that mental state just a few years ago. Until now I’ve always knew that if “One Piece” is not published the readers will be disappointed. But lately there are young authors who are being raised in the Jump and even if I rest they support me. So I’ve been feeling the weight off my shoulders. That’s why I don’t mind others’ mangas. It feels like there is room to face my fans at my own pace.
Aoyama: Eeeehh! You’ve been too busy.
Oda: I wonder why? It’s the system of the Jump bad? (laughs). They make us compete. If you draw something bad it ends up being a one-shot. It’s the same for Sunday right?
Aoyama: Yes, it’s the same for Sunday. But the Sunday from the old days didn’t show us the rankings. So when “Detective Conan” reached the 10 chapters I told them, “hand it over” and I watched it in secret.
Oda: I think the Jump probably shows the surveys to the authors to provoke their fighting spirit. That’s something I’ve been wondering since I started the serialization. I guess it’s because everyone wants to know if they will survive.
In the last chapters of “YAIBA” the serialization before “Detective Conan”, it got the 1st position, right?
Aoyama: Yes! I was so happy that i finally got 1st position that I told them to put it in my coffin because I’ll probably die from overwork(laughs)
Oda: So you are attached to numbers! Then, aren’t you frustrated if you lose?
Aoyama: Right, but since I began “Detective Conan” I’ve always been 1st place… Although saying that it’s unpleasant, I’ll stop(laughs)
Oda: (laughs). I understand that.
[How much was the pressure of you 2 who have been carrying the face of both magazines?]
Aoyama: Pressure? Zero(laughs)
Oda: Same here!
Aoyama: I mean, I think it’s Shougakukan’s fault that makes me draw(laughs)
Oda: I’ve always thought of it as doing things in my own way. My way of thinking when my fighting spirit was strong was that everything was my own problem including where it ends or if popularity falls.
[It’s difficult to imagine]
Aoyama: Actually if there was any pressure I wouldn’t be able to draw.
Oda: Right. The amount of things I have to carry is terrifying if I think calmly about it. I think the only people who can survive are the people with that type of personality
Aoyama: Right, I think the same.
[What impression do you have about each other’s drawings?]
Oda: It’s appealing. It’s really appealing! I’ve always thought that it was really unique even when I only knew about drawings. Only unique and unusual drawings can survive in the manga world, right? But when I tried to read it, it wasn’t just that but it has a really strange appeal. It has a charm that can make not only kids but also grown man and woman like it. I’ve always thought that it’s normal it was a success.
Aoyama: I was surprised when I didn’t see Luffy eat the Gomu Gomu no mi! If it was me, just after he eats it I would put a heartbeat sfx (laughs). “Detective Conan” is also a manga that the body changes after swallowing a medicine/drug but I write those sensations, that’s why I think “One Piece”‘s expressions are fresh. Also, there are the elders(Gorousei) who appear in the levely, those designs are amazing! I can’t draw that.
Oda: I think that’s something the young me used to do. I made them appear a long time ago but even if I think about back then, I think their designs weren’t a failure. Although they are still characters who haven’t shown their true value.
[TEAM “Detective Conan”, TEAM “ONE PIECE”]
[In the animes, there are a lot of voice actors that who overlap. Kudou Shin’ichi, Kaitou Kid and Usopp (Yamaguchi Kappei), Akai and Shanks (Ikeda Shuuichi), Amuro and Sabo (Furuya Tooru), Mitsuhiko and Chopper (Ootani Ikue), etc.]
Aoyama: Well, they obviously overlap. The anime have continued for a quarter of a century.
Oda: When I saw the most recent movie, “Halloween no Hanayome” I was surprised thinking a lot of acquaintance are appearing. Even Yamaguchi Yuriko who has the role of Nico Robin appeared (She appeared in “Halloween no Hanayome” as Christine Richard). In our dressrosa arc in the anime there were a lot of voice actors that overlaped! Hayashibara Megumi who has the role of Haibara Ai played the role of a character called Rebecca.
Aoyama: Furuya Tooru-san who has the role of Amuro also have a good position too, Sabo! Also in “Film Red” Ikeda Shuuichi who plays the role of Shanks will also appear, right? In “Detective Conan” he also plays a role of the popular Akai Shuichi.
Oda: He didn’t appear in the movie right?
Aoyama: In “Halloween no Hanayome”… Fufufu(laughs)
Oda: But in “Detective Conan” they appear regularly right? In “One piece”‘s case there are times when the nakamas have to separate so even regular characters have to take breaks, it happens quite often, for example, “Sanji came to dub after 3 years”(laughs)
Aoyama: Akai also had to leave for 7 years though I thought of making a spoiler after 2 years passed. Vermouth also appeared in the TV anime after 5 years.
Oda: I didn’t think the anime would continue for this long and the voice actors are also getting old. The other day Tanaka Mayumi(Luffy) said worried “What will happen if I die” and Nozawa Masako(Kureha) told her “If you die I will take your role”(laughs), they have to stay healthy. Do you also usually talk with the voice actors?
Aoyama: Before Corona we made parties to celebrate the movies and we talk there a lot. Also a long time ago there was a display of fireworks that could be seen from the living room of my house so I called the voice actors and made a great banquet. It was super fun but also with a lot of difficulties(laughs). You keep doing it even now right?
Oda: In my case it’s usually self-service. I tell them I’m going to do a takoyaki party! Then I cook it on my own ignoring the others(laughs).
[Oda-sensei replied in a past interview that “I’m much more happy if I’m close with the anime staff” so I have the impression that you are close with the anime staff and voice actors]
Oda: Yes, all this time, it’s been such a long time since the anime started after all. So it’s normal if they become like relatives. Even my kids knows them since they were little so they associate with my family.
Aoyama: In my case it’s not that much but I can ask “This character needs to have this voice actor”. For example Yamadera Kouichi who plays the role of Akai Tustomu was my request. There are times when I change the character after hearing the voice actor’s voices.
Oda: I’ve also changed Chopper to a mascot character after hearing the anime voice. I have a policy “Not wanting to draw mascots” but Ootani Ikue’s voice was too cute(laughs)
Aoyama: Me too! After hearing Ootani-san’s voice as Mitsuhiko I thought “How cute” so since then I’ve drawn Mitsuhiko more cute.
Oda: You overlap the names of the voice actors with their roles right? Like Takagi-san and Furuya-san
Aoyama: In regards of Takagi Wataru-san, at first he didn’t have a name but when he appeared in the anime I said “Call him Takagi” and since then he has been ‘detective Takagi’ so after taking responsability, I put him in the series with his real name (laughs).
In regards to Furuya Tooru-san it was an omage to Gundam’s Amuro Ray(Rei), I separated the names and created “Furuya Rei” and “Amuro Tooru” so that Gundam fans can be pleased. Did you watch Gundam?
Oda: I watched it, I like Gundam. But I think the trend I experienced was different.
Aoyama: I see, then it’s not the first gundam(Kidou Senshi Gundam)?
Oda: No, it’s actually the first gundam. In your time it was the first gundam trend and in our time as kids the second trend came. I have the impression it was a great success after the retransmission.
[How are the 2 of you usually involved int he movies?]
Aoyama: I’m firmly involved with the movie since the beginning. From the scenario to the contents, so involved that I make people upset with me(laughs)
Oda: Additionally, there is one movie per year for “detective conan” right? I wonder if it’s because the stories of the manga are disconnected that it goes so well, in my case all the chapters are connected. I have to focus in the story of the serialization so I don’t want to think about a different story. Maybe our brains are different to begin with.
Aoyama: In “Detective Conan”, “1 incident” lasts for 3 chapters, 6 chapters at most. In “One Piece” ‘1 incident’ is too long(laughs). It might be because it’s long that it’s difficult to make movies. It looks difficult to have to make a side trip to go to different island when you are already trying to find the One Piece.
Oda: In my case, the nakamas a board keep increasing so if there is 1 incident it’s not only 1 reaction so the story keeps getting extended. Let’s say that in “detective conan” the detective boys increases, wouldn’t that give you trouble?
Aoyama: I don’t want to increase the detective team…(laughs) I’ll definitely not increase it.
[How was your experience watching each other’s movies?]:
Oda: This year’s “Halloween no Hanayome” was so cool!! I was surprised when I’ve heard that the female fans of Detective Conan were increasing since I thought it was a shounen manga where a kid resolves incidents. I wondered why and I understood why when I saw the movie. “I see, they like the people from the security police and the handsome grown man”
Aoyama: From Oda-kun’s movies I like “One Piece Film Gold”. It was fun since I love places like Las Vegas and sparkling places(laughs). I want to go to that Casino ship(Gran Tesoro)!
Oda: Realy!? Thank you
Aoyama: If I have to say a common trait it would be the outcome of the movies, in both “One piece” and “Detective Conan” end with an expansion.
Oda: That’s the right way as a classic shounen manga, right?
Aoyama: No, no, with getting expanded I don’t mean the story. In “Detective Conan” we expand soccer balls and Luffy can expand his hands and body. The bigger the more exciting.
Oda: You meant that type of expansion(laughs). Big is justice, I guess we are from Ultraman’s era.
Aoyama: In “Film God” there was a turtle moving a car, are you the one thinking about these things?
Oda: I leave the scriptwriter create the normal ideas, I only 3 check the contents and fix everything. The movies are the director’s thing so it’s something I shouldn’t do but if I don’t do at least that I can’t take responsibility. You also draw key frames right?
Aoyama: I’ve been doing that since the 1st one. “Tokei Jikake no Matenrou”. This year I’ve drawn like 20 key frames.
Oda: Even the fans can notice where it was you, right?
Aoyama: You could draw key frames too.
Oda: If I put too much into the movie I can’t proceed with the manga so it’s difficult. But in order to make it popular I know I have to bring new fans by making the world talk about a new movie once every 3 years. But it’s really difficult! If I have to do it I’ll be picky to a great extent, I know my own personality although at first I didn’t want to(laughs). In the end I ended up being involved even in the propaganda process, I check the volume of the theaters and the time it takes, I check everything. I also watch the poster’s layouts
Aoyama: You love this(laughs)
Oda: But I feel sorry for my juniors, because I’ve created one of Jump’s culture, if the author gets involved the movie will be a success. They are being recruited but unexpectedly the young ones are really enjoying it.
Aoyama: No no, I think it’s good! Everyone is enjoying it!
[What do you think about the protagonist figure?]
Aoyama: Conan is the organizer, of everyone.
Oda: To me he is the most easy to draw character. I knew that he would be the character that would stay with me the longest.
[Then, who is the character that you think you are the only one who can move?]
Oda: I think it’s Luffy. A lot of scriptwritter deal with him but if I don’t fix the sentences no one would accept him as Luffy. Doesn’t “Detective Conan” happen to have a character like that?
Aoyama: In “Detective Conan” it would be Gin! Everyone always tries to make him say “I’ll kill everyone” but I have to tell them “No no, he wouldn’t say that”(laughs)
Oda: I know I know, the character that must be fixed in the movie is the character that only us can write. It’s a weird relationship. When you are a fan you can notice the details of him being different but when you write the script it’s a different character.
Aoyama: I have to fix Gin 100%. Lately even there are times when the scriptwritter gives me the script to just fix him…(laughs). I mean it’s literally written in the love comedy scenes’s “Aoyama-sensei, save me”. I said, eeh? Really? (laughs)
Oda: Then you fix it, it’s a success and they rely on you.
Aoyama: They do(laugh). But it makes me happy that they rely on me!
[Detective Conan and One Piece’s turning point]
[If you look back from the 100 books, what story would you decide as a turning point?]
Aoyama: That’s difficult, but if I have to decide 1 place it was a chapter I wrote around when I was discharged form the hospital when I had to take a break due to an illness. It started with Akai and Amuro pointed each other with a pistol.
Oda: That’s definitely cool! From when was it?
Aoyama: 4 years ago. I was taking a long break so for my return I thought it should be something popular so I started by writting a good scene. Although until then I didn’t write anything aiming at it.
Oda: I’m the same as you, my turning point would probably be something recent. Luffy got a power up called “Gear 5th”, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
[I’m surprised that the 2 of you chose a recent chapter. In “One Piece”‘s chapter 1044 the true name of the “Gomu Gomu no Mi” was revealed. The 5th gear where Luffy can fight changing his body has finally appeared]
Oda: I drew this playing around a lot thinking that it it’s okay if people are against it. I just want be playful with battles. Since the moment I was an assistant the expressions that are the symbol of mangas have been continually lost. For example, putting a light bulb mark when a character thinks about something, or making the character’s legs go in circles as a car when they are running.
Aoyama: Right, also the eyes flying.
Oda: I loved those symbols type of expressions but it’s ceasing to be drawn. No one is drawing it even though our predecessors created and left several formulas. Battle mangas have to keep getting more and more serious in order to meet the fans expectations and I’ve always hated that. That’s why I definitely don’t want to become a serious manga in the end, I just want and decided to be playful, and I’m finally able to do that. That’s why when I drew this, I had super fun.
Aoyama: (Looks at a picture of Gear 5) Wooh, amazing! The design is so good, it’s excellent. I’m impressed you are able to draw such a face.
Oda: Thank you. For the concept, think of it as if I suddenly drew “Tom and Jerry”
Aoyama: Yes yes yes. I liked “Tom and Jerry”. I can’t forgive Jerry(laughs)
Oda: Jerry? No no no, I was Jerry’s supporter!
Aoyama: Really? Tom was always trying really hard but Jerry was sneaky. I just hate Jerry a lot. Although if I had to decide which one Conan-kun would be like Jerry(laughs)
Oda: When I tried to draw it it was actually difficult. The world of “Tom and Jerry” works because the 2 of them. I suffered because of the difference in atttitude when I looked at Luffy being the only one making pranks in battle and his opponent not. But I feel this time I was able to draw it. The older you get the more tiring drawing battles is, right?
Aoyama: There aren’t many action parts in “Detective Conan”. When I draw them I draw it in high spirits. Although it usually ends fast since it’s just shooting a soccer ball. But long time ago I was tired when I drew “Yaiba”. The Japanese islands became a dragon, it was difficult for me and the assistants. But I think drawing action is fun.