Thursday, October 04, 2012


Permit me to nerd out. I fucking love Eichiro Oda, just fucking love him. One day oh I wish, I wish, I wish I could just sit in his studio and watch him draw. To my knowledge he has no DVD like Takehiko Inoue (the best in comics probablutely ever). But this is good, it gives me impetus to try and make something of myself so I can be the kind of person that just calls up and is all like 'moshi moshi, Oda san? hai! ore wa tohm desu. eto ne, moshi chance ga atara anata no studio ni kitemoiidesuka?'

Anyway, Eichiro Oda is the fucking best in just a totally different way to Takehiko, Vagabond, Real, Slam Dunk, these speak to the deconstructionist in me, they are very much about the human condition in a way that brings depth and understanding. Oda is all heart, both appeal to me as an animist, but the difference to reveal myself as a fantasy dorkas malorcus (as the latin scholars say) but the difference is the same as Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin, GRR is Takehiko, you feel vulnerable, art imitates life, you project all your hopes onto a character only to be confronted by the reality that nothing works out as you expect. Deconstruction of the narrative tropes that create our expectations not just of how stories are supposed to be, but how life is supposed to be. Cruel and caring at the same time. Oda is like Robert Jordan, he gives you exactly what you want.

And right now, it's just a great time to have Thursday's in the week, where I wake up and 4 times out of 5 the new One Piece has come out, and right now, there's this character Vergo that has just captured my imagination.

It's just a constant smack down. I should say, I have a really anti-intellectual bent, I don't know why, but around the time that my friends were discovering the masters of film like Kubrick and Coppolla, I had reached the resignation that I just wanted to watch Jackie Chan films and then, largely for the last 40 minutes of final fight martial art choreography.

Gesture is something that dominates my own artwork, and in the character of Vergo, Oda is just doing week on week all the shit I wish I could capture, and delivering it beautifully. Vergo is 'hard' literally 'hard' the character has an unyet unnamed ability to harden himself up into iron or something. But he's also a master martial artist, and I just like the unrelenting way he says stuff like 'I will have to destroy them', ultimately his hubris will come undone, Luffy will get to Vergo eventually. But over the past three weeks he has gone up against Sanji (always just a visual delight of gesture when Sanji fights) and the two of them fighting, it was like the best thing I've ever seen. Then Vergo took out Law this week, and it was just perfect, perfect exposition of this guy as a physical quantity, and this fight was preamble for Vergo taking on his betrayed subordinate Smoker.

You know, I just admire so much about Oda's storytelling, I can remember exactly in the Skypia arc where I just went 'woah' at his ability to foreshadow and create real emotional impact in such a tried and tested genre as 'the hero with the thousand faces'. He is really advancing a field that you just thought as one of the oldest stories to have been told, couldn't really innovate any further.

But Oda just has this incredible foresight, the late Robert Jordan got caught out by constantly expanding the WoT universe until the story got away from him and his own fanbase got frustrated with the 3 or so volumes of his epic that were just boring sidetracking. There are often times where you become convinced that Oda is doing the same, (the series has already gone double the time he imagined, but he stated he was simply 'having too much fun' and the readers are too) but every questionable character he introduces, he just makes work until I question how I can ever doubt him.

Vergo is an excellent case in point. He seemed so poorly designed, I thought he was a 'waffle' man because he just wears a quilted coat, and appeared to have some kind of waffle armour piece on the side of his face when introduced. The waffle stayed there for three weeks before another character asked Vergo if 'he liked hamburgers' and he replied 'yes they are my favorite' and it was revealed that he had a whole hamburger patty stuck to his face (which he then ate). Just the fact that an artist goes to that effort for a gag. A fucking gag, just makes me love Oda.

It's also that way of blending the visceral excitement of a 'intelligent thug' archetype (like Bane from Batman) and keeping him a light part of the universe by illustrating such a simple character flaw like forgetfulness. 'Where is my sword?! I must have misplaced it!' ... 'But Vergo, you aren't a swordsman?' ... 'Oh yeah!' I just love that ability, that accessibility Oda brings to the intricate mechanics of good narrative.

I just fucking love him, and wanted to document that right now is a great time to be a One Piece fan.

No comments: