TOKYO (AFP) – After 25 years and 490 million copies sold worldwide, the beloved Japanese manga One Piece is entering its final chapter, according to its creator Eiichiro Oda.
The manga, which follows the adventures of the swashbuckling pirate Monkey D Luffy, has captivated millions of fans worldwide as its characters hunt for One Piece, the treasure coveted by all pirates.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Oda announced he would be taking a month off from his usual publishing pace of one instalment per week, citing various demands, including his work on the last part of the long-running series.
“A break for me!” he wrote in a handwritten announcement posted on the series’ Twitter account.
“I want to rearrange the structure (of the manga) so that I can wrap up the final chapter as soon as possible. So… Forgive me, but I will take a short breather to prepare for it all!”
One Piece first appeared in manga form in Japan in 1997, with an animated TV series version following two years later.
Since then, the franchise has become a global cultural phenomenon, and Oda holds the Guinness World Record for “most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author”.
Last year, the 1,000th episode of the TV series was released, with special screenings in the United States (US) and France – the world’s biggest manga and anime market after Japan.
A live-action adaptation by Netflix is also in the works, with fans speculating it could catapult the franchise to global household name status, on par with Star Wars or Harry Potter.
Meanwhile, the publishers of another cult manga series, Berserk, announced on Tuesday that the cartoon would be relaunched following the death of its creator, Kentaro Miura, just over a year ago.
Miura’s friend Kouji Mori will continue the author’s work based on discussions they had about the direction of the series, the publishing house Hakusensha announced.
“I will only write the episodes that Miura talked to me about,” Mori said in the statement released by Hakusensha.
“I will not flesh it out. I will not write episodes that I don’t remember clearly. I will only write the lines and stories that Miura described to me.”