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How One Piece Led To The Success Of Naruto

The comparison between "Naruto" and "One Piece" is something anime fans are already all too familiar with. Both series, now titans in the global anime industry, debuted around the same time in the late 1990s, and swiftly became two of the most popular franchises in anime history (per WatchMojo). On top of that, they were both shonen series that were published as manga in one of Japan's most popular magazines, "Weekly Shonen Jump." As their popularity grew with time, it became only natural for fans to see parallels between the two franchises.

However, there may be more to the connection than fans realize. No art exists in a bubble, and both "Naruto" author Masashi Kishimoto and "One Piece" author Eiichiro Oda were intensely aware of each others' work in both anime and manga. This has been confirmed by Kishimoto himself, who has gone so far as to say that "One Piece" directly led to his success with "Naruto."

Kishimoto names Oda as one of his greatest rivals

At a press event held during New York Comic Con 2015, Masashi Kishimoto talked about his relationship with Eiichiro Oda (via Anime News Network). Oda, who had managed to get "One Piece" published two years before "Naruto" ever hit shelves, was therefore Kishimoto's senior in everything but age. He then translated that jealousy into an urge to one-up his contemporary.

"I was very envious in the beginning and yet, at the same time, I wanted to not only be like him, but I wanted to surpass him," Kishimoto said. "In some ways I feel like the reason 'Naruto' was able to be published and was able to succeed was because of 'One Piece.' Perhaps we both kind of supported and bolstered each other over the years and led to both of our successes because we had that rivalry."

Considering that both the anime and manga industries have a crunch-heavy, cutthroat reputation (via Anime News Network), it's no surprise that the two's escalating rivalry would translate into increasing levels of popularity. But while both Kishimoto and Oda have achieved success, it seems that sales-wise Oda is winning their little rivalry. However, we shouldn't feel too bad for Kishimoto, as at least "Naruto" actually has an ending.