As mentioned in a previous post, the author of the series “Chibi Maruko-chan” -Momoko Sakura- published a Mook to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her becoming a manga artist.
The Mook was released on July 22, 2014 and featured several interviews, drawings,… as well as a write-up of Oda’s visit to Momoko Sakura’s house and how the two of them first got in touch with each other.
According to the write-up, Oda and Sakura first got in touch through a mutual acquaintance working for Fuji Television who had told Sakura about Oda’s daughters being big fans of her series “Chibi Maruko-chan“. Sakura, who had stopped reading manga since she entered the business (after coming to Tôkyô she became to busy and didn’t find the time to read manga anymore), didn’t know about One Piece until a few years earlier when she heard from several friends about One Piece. She started reading the manga herself and quickly got hooked! (Apparently her favorite manga characters is Silvers Rayleigh).
After drawing a signed drawing for Oda’s daughters, which their mutual contact handed over to them, Sakura received a signed drawing from the One Piece creator himself and they exchanged email addresses and started frequently exchanging emails after a while. (Apparently Sakura wrote to Oda using the honorific “sensei” which Oda found a bit awkward coming from Sakura so he asked her to use Odacchi instead to which Sakura insisted he’d use Momo-chan in exchange).
After a while, the two of them had thought of coming together and actually meeting face to face which ended up happening a few months ago when Oda announced it in WSJ issue #19’s Author Comments section. Oda brought along his wife, two daughters and former editor Takeru Isaka and they went to Sakura’s house for a dinner party.
Upon asking Oda whether the ending of One Piece was already determined, Oda answered:
Oda: Yes, I already decided on how it’s going to end. Should I tell you now?
Sakura: …. Well, I want to know, but I probably shouldn’t. BUT, the One Piece, it’s not something like “the growth your heart went through”, right?
Oda: Hahaha, no no, I won’t be pulling off some kind of Wizard of Oz thing like that. After having gone through an adventure like that, it wouldn’t be fair to not actually give them a reward.
So I guess now we can all rest assured that the One Piece ISN’T “a dream”, or “the bonds created among the straw hat crew” etc.
Source: Image and overview of the write-up from LOGPIECE.