This is fantastic news. I'm glad Viz and FUNimation are getting more involved with each other.
Oh yeah, in one of the recent blog posts Viz made about this, they mentioned Strong World, and how they want it to come out in the US soon.
Beat me to it. Here are the two editorials from the One Piece VIZ editors:
! > As the current One Piece manga editor, this series has been ruling my life during the last few months. I'm sure you've heard already that VIZ Media is releasing a megaton of One Piece manga during the first six months of 2010. We’re going all the way up to volume 54 by July and we’ll be very close to where the anime is, especially if you are reading the series in SHONEN JUMP magazine. So be sure to check out your local bookstore and get your pirate fix!
I’m actually not that familiar with the anime version of the series, so I’d love to hear comments from the fans that follow both versions. I’ve watched the first 30~40 episodes, but that was way back in 2003 or so. I do remember that I loved the intro/outro songs. From what I see online, the anime is done very well. I don’t catch many people complaining about the filler episodes, and it just seems to me that the anime team at Toei does a great job keeping the anime as amazing as the original manga version.
One recent promotion that really got me hyped was a chapter that ran in the last Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump issue of 2009. The chapter was called “Chapter 0: Strong World” and set up all the back-story for the latest One Piece movie which is also called Strong World. The movie hit Japan over the holidays (if you’re in Japan, check it out and tell me what it’s like!). It’s so cool that the One Piece franchise can intertwine the manga and animated versions in this way and it made me really want to see the movie!
Usually theatrical versions of popular anime shows have nothing to do with the main story… but this new Strong World movie has roots in the manga story and looks like it could be an awesome experience. Hopefully we see in it the US soon!
– Alexis Kirsch (Editor of the One Piece manga)
And a much longer one from the man himself in charge of the speed up. Read One Piece yet?
! > So I did a little math, and I came up with this:
That’s how many pages are in the entire One Piece manga series at the end of the Speed Up — almost 11,000 pages of Oda-sensei’s masterpiece about grand adventure, loyalty, and a motley crew of Straw Hats Pirates. For almost seven years, we’ve been working hard here at VIZ Media to bring you the best pirate story that isn’t really about pirates. Yup, I looked up when we published our first printing of Oda-sensei’s wildly popular series. And now seven years later, we’re speeding up the release of North American graphic novels to bring it as close to the Japanese schedule as possible. That means we’re releasing 30 volumes in 6 months.
More math…30 volumes…every 6 months…counts on fingers for a moment That’s 5 volumes a month! And each one with a really sweet "Wanted Poster" sticker inside. Find the hint on the sticker to get a secret online goodie.
And now, I’d like to make a confession. When I was first asked to take on the One Piece project, I hadn’t read One Piece. Okay, so I had seen a couple of anime episodes, the first three manga volumes, and whatever else had appeared in SHONEN JUMP magazine (whoo hoo, subscription!). But, I hadn’t actually sat down and really read One Piece in all its detail.
I thought, ”I can do this… 54 volumes to date? Thirty of them in six months…” Crossing my eyes, I did a little more math:
I can read a single manga in about 40 minutes when I take my time. (Yes, I timed myself. At this job, you need to know). So let’s see here: 40 minutes x 54 volumes is….2,160 minutes, which is equal to 36 hours.
Wow. I’ve spent nearly an entire work week reading One Piece. And you know what, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
There are so many wonderful characters—I can’t decide between Sanji or Zolo as my favorite—and awesome story lines. And of course, Oda-sensei’s art is amazing. I kick myself for not picking up the series sooner. It was the best 36 hours I’d spent reading in a while.
But it seems pretty daunting, doesn’t it? There is SOOO much good stuff to read in One Piece. You get the introduction of all the characters in the East Blue Saga, the saving of a princess and her country from an evil conspiracy in the Baroque Works Saga (not to mention Chopper!), the sea in the sky with the Kami in the Skypiea Saga, Luffy’s Afro in the Water Seven Saga (well, other stuff happens, but the Afro is fantastic), the new crewmembers in…well, you get the idea. More plot than this run-on sentence can handle.
If you’re still sitting there making this face: o.O, don’t worry, there’s always one thing you can do:
Start from the beginning.
No math involved, just a whole lot of awesome adventure and great characters. We’ll even help you out: you can read all of volume 1 online for free.
So once you’ve done what the rest of us have done—read the first volume and get yourself hooked—you can then come back here to vizanime.com and actually watch the One Piece anime. See for yourself why so many people are reading 54 manga that total 10,800 pages and why they're devoting 36 hours of their lives to the most epic of titles: One Piece.
— Lex Scheuble (Online Marketing Manager, VIZ Media)