Bilingual announcement from Eiichiro Oda and “Monkey Self-D.isciplined Luffy.”

When it comes to free manga, most people’s attitude is “the more the merrier.” That’s especially true when the manga in question is Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, Japan’s most popular continuing serial for well over a decade.

So when word came in March, just as coronavirus infections began rapidly increasing in Japan, that 13 years’ worth of One Piece manga was going to be free to read on the Shonen Jump + and Zebrack digital manga apps, it was something to be very happy about. However, while there’s no such thing as too much free manga, there is such a thing as too much free manga to read in just a month, which was as long as the free One Piece content was initially going to be available for.

Thankfully, the pirate saga has since decided to keep its treasure chest of back issues open for an extended period of time. The official One Piece Staff Twitter account has announced that Volumes 1 through 61 of One Piece will remain free-to-read through May 31, matching the current nationwide period of emergency as declared by the Japanese government. The tweet also contains a special illustrated message from Oda himself, updating fans on the status of the One Piece manga and anime.

One Piece Coronvirus Countermeasures

I’m continuing to draw the manga every day, just like I always have. However, One Piece is produced using entirely analog methods, and there are certain things that require staff to be in the same place together. Because of that, we’re working with the smallest teams possible, and everyone including me, has to stick to a lifestyle that keeps our immune systems in optimum condition.

This means that progress on the artwork and other aspects has become frustratingly slow. I believe any delays will be short, but please understand that we are pacing ourselves so that we can continue the manga’s serialization, and that the manga has not gone on hiatus because we have become sick or exhausted.

The One Piece anime is also currently not airing new episodes, but even with the current conditions, work is progressing for its return.

Currently, in support of all those staying at home, 61 volumes of the One Piece manga can be read for free on Shonen Jump +. It’s only manga, and not as important as food, clothing, or shelter, but when you need something to take your mind off of more serious matters, I hope you’ll be able to find some enjoyment in its silly stories, and I am praying for everyone’s continued physical and mental health!

– Eiichiro Oda & Monkey D. Self-Disciplined Luffy

In recognition of the series’ international popularity, an English-language version of Oda’s message was also tweeted (like the Japanese version, it includes a picture of Luffy dutifully washing his hands).

Considering the anime/manga industry’s less-than-stellar reputation regarding harsh working conditions, it’s heartwarming to hear Oda and his team making their health a priority, and if we’re all going to be stuck at home for a while longer, at least we can live vicariously through the open-sea adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates.

Related: One Piece on Shonen Jump +, Zebrack
Source: Twitter/@Eiichiro_Staff via Otakomu
Featured image: Twitter/@Eiichiro_Staff
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