Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) x Eiichiro Oda (One Piece) Interview

Posted on May 10, 2015

Two big names from the anime/manga world in one room! On April 25th, the Naruto Exhibition opened its doors to the public in Japan, allowing fans to marvel over all things Naruto. One of the reveals from the event was the face of Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke’s jounin sensei, the man once known as Copy Ninja, Kakashi Hatake.

Another interesting draw from the Naruto Exhibition was a book that contained a special interview between Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto, and Eiichiro Oda, the creator of One Piece. The two talk about how they first met, their influences, each others manga, and the experiences working on Naruto and One Piece. The first question is actually from a Weekly Shonen Jump scan (above) thanks to Rio from OroJackson.

Question: When did you two first meet?

Kishimoto: When… I think it’s when I was still a newbie mangaka. In the Jump new year event.

Oda: Is that so?

Kishimoto: Maybe. (laugh) At the time, my impression on him was like he’s a great and famous sensei.

Oda: What’re you saying… (wry smile) (Oda was saying ‘you’re making fun of me’ friendly.)

Kishimoto: Nah… Because Oda-san started the serial run of his manga two years earlier than me. I really thought a super sugoi man had appeared. Later, I addressed him as Oda-sensei, but he said (like begging) that I must not use such a honorific.

Oda: I took that for granted cos we’re at the same age. Why would I listen to your sensei when you’re talking to me…

Kishimoto: Though we’re not performers, I think people who stepped into an industry earlier are admirable. (laugh)

Oda: I’m always aware of Kishimoto’s presense when he was a newbie. He can draw very well. To some extent, I felt we may have the same style.

Kishimoto: What style… (embarrassing smile)

Oda: It’s like the feeling of why you also have the gi of Kamesenryu (Master Roshi from DB). (laugh) From the beginning I’ve prepared with offensive state. (Oda wanted to win against Kishimoto.)

Kishimoto: I see, you had that determination back then. (laugh)

Oda: Because we’re both at the stance of manga, eventually there’ll be a winner and a loser. However, after I’ve met with him personally, I found he’s really a nice and kind man. It suddenly made me think the result didnt matter. I couldnt compete with a man like him. That’s what I thought.

Kishimoto: I think that’s because we both understand each other’s hard work.

Oda: Very pleasing to hear you say that. When you’re working hard, it’s important to know who said what about you and your work. I sense you, who has the same standpoint as me, really understand how I truly feel, good to know.

Kishimoto: Yes I do. (laugh) But I think I’m the one who has less pressure. Oda-san, you’re always at your peak. Your hard work and that pain must be abnormal (that normal people cannot bear). If I were you, I guess I would have gastrointestinal perforation due to huge pressure.

Oda: It’s wonderful having Naruto as an opponent. The luckiest thing was you didnt let me get complete victory. Actually, I didnt have complete victory in weekly serialization, besides and most importantly, Naruto is more popular than OP in foreign countries. Though a part of me was not reconciled to that turth, at the same time, I’m grateful. Cos the existence of such a piece of work, is one and only in the world.

Kishimoto: Same goes for me. Instead of saying OP is my target, I’d rather say I always want to beat it. Seriously, I always think that.

Below is an excerpt of the interview from the book that was available at the Naruto Exhibition. The rest of the interview can be read at OnePiecePodcast.com.

Question: So it often happens that the story continues in a different way than you planned out in the beginning of the series?

Oda: Well, yeah of course. Like, there’s the plot, it was something you thought of yourself when you were still an amateur in your 20s, so of course you’d think of something better now.

Kishimoto: Yes, that is exactly it.

Oda: You’re all like “I’m not going to lose to my own self from before!” (laughs)

Kishimoto: Because you’ve gotten more experience.

Question: While on the subject, is there anything you have a particularly hard time drawing?

Kishimoto: I’d say I’m not that good at drawing women. But you draw anything, huh?

Oda: Anything.

Kishimoto: Well me too, I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, but I would say I’m probably not good at drawing things when under the pressure of a deadline and when there’s very little time. Since I’m not “feeling it,” it already takes a lot of time to think of what to draw.

Oda: Right, you only want to draw the art you want to draw, right?

Kishimoto: You’re drawing it because you like it.

Oda: Exactly, people who think we draw because it’s our job are gravely mistaken! (laughs) If anything, this is just an extension of our hobby. Things we don’t want to draw or don’t interest us, we just don’t want to draw them! (laughs)

Question: During your serialization, what was the time you were in most trouble?

Kishimoto: Oh, that would be the time I got a slipped disk.

Oda: Oh, you were really in bad shape, that was really tough then, huh? (laughs)

Kishimoto: It was back when I was drawing the fight with Kakuzu, back then my lungs weren’t in great shape either. Whenever I’d get a little bit tired, I’d be wheezing as if I had pneumonia. When I’d cough, I could feel it hurting in my lower back. It was really tough. In the end they had to publish the pencil-version of the chapter in Jump. Other than that, I’ve also fallen down from the stairs and things like that.

Oda: Wait, you did?

Kishimoto: Yeah, about 3 years ago? When I went to the onsen with my family, I wasn’t paying attention and fell from the top of a stone stair.

Oda: Now that’s dangerous!

Oda-sensei has also drawn a picture of Rock Lee. Under the drawing he congratulates Kishimoto-sensei on the opening of the Naruto Exhibit. He also explains that he drew Rock Lee because he’s drawn Naruto already and feels as if Lee is kind of like the mascot for Naruto. In Oda-sensei’s opinion, Rock Lee is cute, yet cool and changes the atmosphere for the better like Chopper does is in One Piece.

These are two of Oda-sensei’s past drawings. The first is from 2009 of Naruto and the Nine Tails, in celebration of 10 years of Naruto.

The second is a separate tribute to Naruto where Luffy is in the Hidden Leaf Village enjoying a bowl of ramen and being a “nin-nin” while Naruto is getting angry saying it’s ninja not “nin-nin”.