One Piece is one of the most anime and manga franchises in Japan, and has been packed to the brim with characters of all names, shapes, and sizes since it began. Long time fans have always wondered how series creator Eiichiro Oda keeps up with all of his creations.
It turns out, he just kind of forgets about them from time to time.
In an interview with Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump (which you can find here), Oda was asked how he keeps track of all of the series' side characters and whether or not he plans in advance for their appearances, Oda responded "Sometimes it's planned and other times it's not. And sometimes a character I totally forgot about ends up returning."
But while his answer may surprise you, it seems that Oda loves the allure of the randomness of his character roster and utilizes how full it is to a great degree, "The longer the series goes on, the number of characters just continues to increase. But one thing about One Piece that might be different compared to other series is that the defeated villains are usually still alive. So I can bring back anyone. Every character has the chance to return."
The larger character roster is one of the many reasons fans love One Piece as when a character returns to the story it always feel like the character is also out there living their own lives before running into the Straw Hats.
Eiichiro Oda's One Piece first began serialization in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997. It has been collected into 87 volumes, with a few chapters yet to be included. It has been a critical and commercial success worldwide with many of the volumes breaking printing records in Japan. The manga has even set a Guinness World Record for the most copies published for the same comic book by a single author, and is the best selling manga series worldwide with 430 million copies sold worldwide.
Eiichiro Oda also revealed some upcoming news for One Piece's future at Jump Festa 2018. Not only will the manga see Wano sooner rather than later, the next villain of the series is "one of the legends which lurks in the One Piece world. The greatest enemy ever for Straw Hats will hinder their way...Can you believe Marineford Summit War will look 'cute' compared to that?"
The new live-action One Piece series also got some new information as it was revealed that the series will portray the Straw Hats' adventures from the very beginning, and will take place in the East Blue.
One Piece is currently in the middle of the "Whole Cake Island" arc and is now streaming on Crunchyroll and FunimationNOW.