The recent announcement of Wit Studio’s One Piece anime remake certainly had come as a surprise. The fandom was split, with a significant section vocally questioning whether the current anime adaptation by Toei warranted a remake.
The disappointment was not shared by fans alone, as even the staff working on the ongoing anime felt that their work was being undermined.
While the reason surrounding the announcement of the new One Piece remake still remains a mystery, some fans have linked this to Shueisha’s apparent dissatisfaction with the work that is done by Toei on the anime adaptation.
And in order to back this claim up, the infamous Buster Call project, which was orchestrated by Shueisha themselves, was brought up.
For those unaware Buster Call started off as an unofficial project in 2019, to collaborate with One Piece fans across the world in order to bring their vision surrounding One Piece to life using fan arts, illustrations, merchandise and other derivative works.
At that time people in charge of the project claimed that they were simply fans of One Piece volunteering for this initiative, keeping their connection to Shueisha under wraps. According to them most of the derivative work (anime, merchandise and other things) surrounding One Piece was not satisfactory at all, and it was hard for people from the younger generation “who like street music and pop culture” to like One Piece.
And so, the aim was to make One Piece more “cooler” and more appealing to the current audience.
A lot of criticism from them was mainly directed at anime productions companies (Toei Animation) and even toy manufacturers (Bandai Namco); as these companies were called questionable for not wanting to improve the content surrounding One Piece.
“They seem to be selling One Piece cheaply. I think it’s just aging over time. At first, they may have been trying hard to make One Piece bigger and reach more people. But after it became popular and big, it seems like they’re creating content with arrogance, thinking ‘This will do.’ They’re not able to keep up with the expanded readership and diversified needs,” a person in charge of Buster Call project told Kai-You in an interview.
“Even in such a scenario, if you make mass-produced things that are just copy and paste, you will earn a certain amount of money, so no matter how much time passes, [the situation] will never get better. Not only One Piece, but this is a common pitfall for large-scale content,” the person further added.
Other comments implied that companies which owned the rights for One Piece, did not put in the same effort as Oda to “exceed the imagination” of fans across the world.
“The people at the companies that own the rights seem to be of the mindset that if they just create some content and sell it, they will get some money for it. Of course, I am not saying that this is always the case, but I am angry that the people who own the rights do not have a sense of crisis, even though the authors are working hard.“
Things wouldn’t have been very surprising if all the above criticism had actually come from the fans. However, it was later revealed by Shueisha themselves that the Editorial department of Weekly Shonen Jump was running the Buster Call project.
They issued an apology for calling the project “unofficial” and also for the caustic remarks made by the people in charge, who were none other than Shueisha employees.
“We have received many comments, mainly on social networking services, criticizing our use of the term unofficial, our guerrilla-like artistic approach, and the caustic comments made by the project manager. We sincerely apologize for the confusion and discomfort we have caused to fans of One Piece and to all those involved in the media and merchandising,” a part of the apology read.
This made many question if Shueisha had actually taken a roundabout way to express their dissatisfaction at Toei and others.
While the incident died down quickly back then, Shueisha’s stealthy Toei slander has been dug up by fans again, thanks to the announcement of The One Piece by Wit Studio. Though some have drawn connections, there has been no further indication, or confirmation of Shueisha’s apparent dislike of the ongoing anime adaptation.
On top of that, Toei continues to be a part of the new remake’s production committee, suggesting that The One Piece by Wit Studio is being created with the goal of attracting newer audiences across the globe.
Both Wit Studio’s comment, and the production of The One Piece stated their determination to draw a new trajectory for the series and also to tell Luffy’s story in “a new and nostalgic way, using a different line of expression” for future generations.