One Piece Creator on How Fan Service Can Empower Female Characters

The power of One Piece cannot be denied. Whether or not you like the series, its impact on the shonen genre is impossible to ignore. Monkey D. Luffy and his crew helped pave the way for manga's explosive success overseas. Their journey continues to this day under the careful eye of creator Eiichiro Oda. And now, fans are reexamining the series in light of a special Q &A with the artist.

The update comes from an issue of SBS, a magazine where Oda answers big questions about One Piece submitted by fans. In one of those questions, a reader asked about One Piece and its guidelines on fan service. After all, the trope is used gratuitously in manga of all genres, and shonen stories can be overt with such a gaze. For the most part, One Piece is tame with its fan service in comparison to others in its genre, and Oda says that is done purposefully.

"It's just something I'm not interested in myself," the creator explained (via newworldartur). "Ever since I was a child, there's been many manga that feature fan service scenes, but most of the time, it's done against the consent or will of the female characters so I feel that having females show their sexuality out of their own volition such as like with 'happiness punch' is a much-needed revolution for the representation of heroines in the manga."

Of course, this forward explanation has earned the interest of One Piece fans. For some years, the fandom has gone back and forth about the agency One Piece characters have. There is no denying the One Piece manga features exaggerated silhouettes for its heroines, and characters like Nami aren't afraid to show off their assets. But rather than forcing them to perform fan service, Oda tries to keep the trope consensual rather than voyeuristic. In doing this, Oda hopes fan service in the One Piece manga comes off as more empowering than anything. After all, there is nothing wrong with being sexy and flaunting yourself so long as it is done on your terms.

Now, there have been times One Piece has crossed the line, and manga readers freely admit as much. Sanji may be a gentleman, but even he has taken his pervy interests too far. Still, manga readers can certainly recognize the different ways in which the One Piece manga uses fan service. All of that was intended from the start, and Oda plans to carry the vision through to the very end of One Piece. 

What do you make of Oda's comment here? Do you agree with his take on fan service in anime? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB.