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Eiichiro Oda’s First Ever Interview at age 17 (1993)

Below you will find the translation of the very first article to include Oda, with some comments from the man himself. The article mentions the one-shot WANTED! drawn and submitted by Eiichiro Oda in 1992, which went on to become the runner-up for the prestigious Tezuka Award.

Without further ado, enjoy the very first comments given by the 17-year-old Eiichiro Oda in an article that was published on Jan. 27, 1993 in the Kumamoto Nichi Nichi Shimbun.

If you were to talk about Takehiko Inoue of SLAM DUNK, a manga series currently being serialized in Weekly Jump, everyone would know which famous author you’re talking about. But even Inoue had his beginnings with the Tezuka Award (which is held by Shueisha), a competition which is the first step up the ladder for rookie manga artists. Now, Kumamoto City High School senior Eiichiro Oda has recently won the runner-up prize.

“I’d like to aim to become a professional manga artist after moving to Tokyo in the future,” a young Oda says, regarding his future plans.

The Tezuka Award, which places emphasis on the story aspect of a manga, and the Akazuka Award [for “gag manga”], which is held at the same time as the Tezuka Award [often dubbed as “The Big Two Awards”], are competitions open to the public [twice a year] where participants undergo a harsh screening process. For the Tezuka Award, where Oda placed as runner-up, roughly 480 entries from all over the country were sent in. There was no winner but three people were named “runner-up” in that year.

“After watching the movie Young Guns I came to like westerns,” says Oda who had submitted WANTED, a “Gag Western.” WANTED tells the story of a man who became a wanted criminal and the assassin hired by the authorities to kill him. Cool? While it includes shoot-out scenes, it also includes enough goofy moments. It was a fun manga that made me laugh out loud.

Oda, who spent 4 months on the production [of this manga] reminisces, “it looked like I wouldn’t make the deadline so I drew the end in a hurry.”

But even so, a certain manga artist in the jury gave him high praise saying, “This is a piece that has the power to make you read it. There’s plenty of potential here.”

Oda has loved to draw ever since he was little, he said he “can’t even remember [how long] anymore. Back in grade school, I was constantly copying popular manga.” Oda went on to say that even now, “if I’m not drawing something I can’t calm down.” Clearly, drawing art has become a complete part of his life.

A manga artist he admires is Akira Toriyama. Dragon Ball is one manga that has had an influence on Oda’s drawing style.

“Akira Toriyama’s art is really good. Even when animals are talking, they look like humans and it doesn’t feel weird at all. Because it’s [Toriyama] he can make it work.”

While Oda, who claims to be a “totally, totally normal high school student,” may have won a prize, he’s been careful not to get too excited. In fact, “[u]ntil I become more famous I don’t want to make my face public,” he claimed.  So I asked him to draw himself.

         Oda’s drawing of himself.(source-LOGPIECE)

You can feel the everyday, average high-school student Oda was at the time, and hear how he came up with his pen name, Tsukihimizu Kikondo:

“I just didn’t want to apply under my real name. Right before the deadline, I was thinking of a name and it just so happened that the calendar caught my eye. Though it wouldn’t be that funny if you’d just read it as is, so I twisted the way to read it,” he says.

Oda won a 500,000 yen cash prize. When inquiring what he’d do with that he says, “I’m giving a bit to my parents, and the remaining 300,000 yen I’m saving.” Can this slightly eccentric and open-hearted “average high school student” really be this shrewd?!

Oda was mentioned again in an article from the same newspaper that reveals Oda was accepted to the Kyushu Tokai University‘s Architectural Planning Program, starting from April 1993. Oda would, however, not remain there for very long as he’d end up dropping out of college to go work for some famous manga artists, and later become the professional manga artist whose series we all read on a weekly basis.


I am known as NoxDRaz over the internet. I love ONE PIECE and I have been following it for more than 15 years. Get in touch with me on [email protected]

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