Determining Japan’s most popular anime or manga franchise isn’t such a cut-and-dry thing, as different criteria suggest giving the crown to different series. For example, if you’re going by longevity, pirate saga One Piece has to be in the discussion, since its manga started in 1997 and its anime in 1999, with both still going strong.

However, you could also make a case that teen idol singer story Love Live! is a contender for the title, since currently no other show’s fanbase can hold a candle to the burning passion of the Love Livers, as Love Live! fans are called.

But while the main characters of both One Piece and Love Live! and friendly, forgiving, and work well in a team, the Love Livers are feeling quite a bit more animosity towards One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda for a remark he made that many interpreted as the famous manga artist throwing shade on the way Love Live! has become a pop cultural phenomenon.

The recent combined 37th and 38th volume of publisher Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump, the anthology in which One Piece is published, was filled with treats for fans of Oda’s comic. With the manga having recently entered its 19th year, the issue contained a commemorative poster and color section for the newest chapter, a luxury in the almost entirely black-and-white world of manga publishing. Rising idol star Kanna Hashimoto even appeared in a special photo section dressed as One Piece

OL 1

But even though the issue was packed with good vibes towards One Piece, things weren’t quite as cordial at the very end of the magazine. In manga anthologies, it’s customary for each featured artist to include a short comment on the last page. These are usually lighthearted one-liners or brief jokes, but this time Oda’s was decidedly more critical.

“When I went to Kanda Myojin shrine, I saw they were having a cross-promotional campaign with Love Live! Why did this happen?”

As the name implies, Kanda Myojin is located in Tokyo’s Kanda neighborhood, which is just a stone’s throw from Akihabara, the mecca of otaku culture. The shrine shows up frequently in the Love Live! anime, in which one of the idols has a part-time job as a shrine maiden. As such, it’s become common for fans of the series, and anime at large, to swing by Kanda Myojin on their frequent trips to the area. Perusing the ema (boards on which to write wishes in hope that they will be granted by the gods), you’ll find dozens on which anime style art has been sketched as well. The shrine also sells merchandise featuring the Love Live! girls in shrine maiden outfits.

OL 2

Given the busy lifestyle of a successful manga artist, it’s probably safe to assume Oda doesn’t have time to consume every bit of the extensive Love Live! media empire. Still, as someone working in the anime/manga field, it’s kind of hard to imagine he hasn’t heard that Kanda Myojin has become a pilgrimage site for otaku.

Hard-core anime fans aren’t known for their especially think skins regarding their hobby, and many Love Livers took Oda’s question of “Why did this happen?” as less “I want to know the reason” and more “Seriously? How dumb.” With their otaku rage engaged, they lit up online message boards, taking Oda to task for the perceived slight.

“Huh? You got a problem with that?”

“Listen punk, if you make an enemy of the Love Livers, your life as a manga artist is over!”

“Who does this guy think he is? I’m sending an email of complaint to Shueisha.”

“If you’ve got so much free time that you can be hanging out at shrines, why don’t you work on writing an interesting story?”

“You picking a fight with the Love Livers? You wanna die?”

“No one cares about One Piece anymore.”

On the other hand, some commenters felt the Love Livers should cut Oda some slack, and others even asserted that the One Piece creator would have had every right to be exasperated.

“Love Livers sure are sensitive.”

“Yep, Love Livers are worse than the garbage of society. It’s rude to cockroaches and ants to say they’re on the same level as them.”

“Garbage Livers.”

“Oda’s comment is an appropriate, if roundabout, criticism of current Japanese cultural standards.”

Still, not everyone was in a fighting mood. These two, for example, seem to think great things could come from increased exchange between the two franchises, even if their desired outcomes are very different.

“Wouldn’t this be a good impetus for a One Piece/Love Love! collaboration?”

“I hate both series, so I hope they ruin each other.”

Somehow, though, we doubt the Straw Hat Pirates teaming up with the School Idols is part of Oda’s endgame outline for One Piece.

Sources: Jin, Yahoo! News Japan
Insert images: Weekly Shonen Jump, Love Live! official website