While we would all very much like it to, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, cases are spiking in Tokyo, making a second lockdown in Japan all but inevitable. This is having an effect on the manga industry, among others: already, Weekly Shonen Jump and Weekly Shonen Sunday were forced to take unplanned hiatuses, and Golgo 13 was forced to take its first one ever. Unfortunately, that reality has also now come to bear on One Piece, as it was announced that the series’ latest volume 97 and several other releases were being delayed.
Coming via an official statement on the Shonen Jump website, Shueisha confirmed that One Piece volume 97, One Piece TIGER Color Walk 9, and One Piece Magazine volume 10 were all being delayed from their original release date of September 4 to September 14. Explaining the reason behind the delays, Shueisha described the situation as follows:
“One Piece is made primarily using analogue art tools, so we are taking the utmost care to avoid spreading the Coronavirus among the staff. We apologize to all of the readers eagerly awaiting the release and hope that no inconvenience has been caused.”
The fact that One Piece is made primarily using traditional methods should come as no surprise to those who have been following the series, and Oda himself even warned fans beforehand that there might be delays because of this: speaking via Twitter, he said that “the progress of the original story and other projects have been slowed down to a frustrating extent[…]That is why I think there will be more interruptions from now on[…]”
One Piece isn’t the only manga series to suffer a delay because of the effects of the Coronavirus: Kohei Horikoshi was recently forced to put My Hero Academia on hiatus because of the difficulties faced by the team in adopting digital methods. Even so, One Piece’s case is arguably much more serious as Oda has made it clear in the past that he has no interest in switching to digital or changing his work practices. And now, he is paying the price.
One Piece volume 97 and others will release after a delay on September 17.