Eiichiro Oda’s extremely popular manga “ONE PIECE” is celebrating 20 years of its anime broadcast with the anniversary movie “ONE PIECE STAMPEDE” being released. In this movie Monkey D. Luffy and the Mugiwara Pirates/Straw Hat Pirates will fight for treasure and decide their fate through heated combat against pirates from all over the world who’ve gathered for a special event – The Pirates Expo.
We interviewed Mayumi Tanaka, the voice actress of Luffy, and discussed about the overall appeal of the “ONE PIECE” series so that anyone reading this can still enjoy the commemorative movie spoiler-free. We spoke with her about her interactions with Eiichiro Oda, heard about the experiences she’s had with her voice acting associates, and learned about her 20-year journey with the series.
ーーIt sounds like Eiichiro Oda, the original creator of the ONE PIECE manga, has given this movie his seal of approval!
“Thanks to the ‘Pirates Expo’ event, you can expect many characters to show up. Though getting Eiichiro Oda’s approval for this situation must have been a huge undertaking. They gave us actors and actresses great support and I believe our strong feelings will be conveyed even to those who are watching ONE PIECE for the first time. It is also encouraging to enthusiastic fans of the original manga. New people may say, ‘If Eiichiro Oda is giving the movie that much praise… maybe I should watch it!’ and we believe it’ll meet those expectations and deliver great results.”
ーーWith the animated series now ongoing for 20 years, what would you say looking back is the most charming aspect of this show?
“Without a doubt, the great story is the most charming part of this series. It’s basically a historical drama. Although the series has been going on for 20 years now, not much time has passed within the story’s timeline. At the beginning Luffy set sail at 17 years old and is now 19 years old, so it’s actually only been about 2 years (laughs). There is a part in the story which had been ongoing for over a year in real time, yet that event has been referred to as ‘this morning.’ So sometimes there are parts where we spend years on which span over just a single day or even a few hours within the story. Then I realize that fact after all this time and go ‘Oh, it’s only been that long?’ (laughs). Oops, did we go off topic? (laughs)”
ーーHaving played Luffy for so long, do you find yourself actually becoming Luffy?
“That’s a possibility, having played the same role for 20 years, even the creators might be conscious of our voices while drawing, and so our souls resonate. That’s why I don’t really have to think about acting anymore, I just play the role as usual. Having Akemi Okamura who plays Nami stay in the studio really helps me, since our positions are quite similar. She doesn’t say things quite as strong or bluntly as Nami does, but she does notice a lot of things, and like Nami she clings onto things well when needed (laughs). I’m the kind of person who suggests things without acting on it, so having Akemi around really helps me.”
ーーYou can really feel that 20 years have passed. We never imagined that those kinds of things happened.
“I am who I am, and so when I get called for an event I believe that all I really can do is do my best so that the people then and there could enjoy themselves. No one really tells me what to do anymore. They probably gave up a long time ago (laughs). In terms of personality, my character and I have a lot of similarities, so he really is a character that is easy to portray. But there will always be a gap between us, since I’m a woman playing a man’s role, and there’s a huge age gap between us as well. But as long as people enjoy that gap and those differences then I’d be more than happy to be out front and center.”
ーーWe are looking forward to what happens in the future! How would you yourself like things to see things turn out?
“I want it to have a proper conclusion. Probably because I’ve already been saying ‘I’m gonna be the king of pirates!’ for about 20 years now (laughs). Why does the One Piece exist? Will he give his hat back? There are a lot of things you can imagine happening. Can only one person become the pirate king? I’m really hoping for a definite ending. That’s why I can’t die just yet! (laughs) I want to see this to the very end, and I want to portray this role with everything I’ve got.”
The movie “ONE PIECE STAMPEDE” will be released in Japan on August 9, 2019 and October 24th in the USA.
Cast: Mayumi Tanaka, Kazuya Nakai, Akemi Okamura, Kappei Yamaguchi and others
Director: Takashi Otsuka
Screenplay: Yasuhiro Tsujioka, Takashi Otsuka
Original Creator: Eiichiro Oda
Official Site: onepiece-movie.jp
©Eiichiro Oda/2019 [One Piece] Production Committee
Check out more interviews: https://filmaga.filmarks.com/articles/2954/（Japanese）