Could Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates finally be getting their due in North America?
They're the stars of Eiichiro Oda's long-running comedy-adventure One Piece, Japan's best-selling manga that's sold more than 176 million volumes since its debut in 1997. (Publisher Shueisha printed more than 3 million copies of the series' 57th volume alone.) On this side of the Pacific, however, the series hasn't been nearly as popular, overshadowed by the likes of Naruto, Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist.
But this week, undoubtedly aided by Viz Media's accelerated release schedule, One Piece lands five volumes on The New York Times' Graphic Books bestseller list. (It's probably worth noting that nine of the 10 spots in the manga category are filled by Viz Media releases.)
Yes, the 47th volume of Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto still places higher on the chart than One Piece. And, yes, The New York Times' bestseller lists employ an arcane formula that no one seems to understand (a complex combination of numerology, calculus and chanting within a magic circle, most likely).
Still, it just may be a sign that the tide is turning for the crew of the Going Merry -- or is that Merry Go? -- on the coasts of North America.