Not a whole lot is known about One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda. Like most mangaka, he keeps his personal life under wraps, and he rarely comments on anything unrelated to his work. However, fans do know a little about the mangaka’s family life. It turns out Oda’s wife is a real-life version of Nami, one of his most popular characters.
In One Piece, Nami is the navigator of the Straw Hat Pirates. When she meets Luffy early in the series, she becomes the third member of the crew, insisting it will only be a temporary partnership. Initially, she comes across as stingy and manipulative, but she has a noble goal — buying her friends and family out of slavery. Eventually, she joins the Straw Hats properly. Nami consistently performs well on character popularity polls and is One Piece‘s most iconic heroine, inspiring fan art, memes and more. She’s known for being cunning, loyal and a prodigious navigator.
Chiaki Inaba is a former cosplayer, model and race queen. At Jump Festa 2002, Inaba was cosplaying as Nami for a One Piece stage show. It was there that she ran Eiichiro Oda, and the two hit it off. They dated for a couple of years and married in 2004. Today, the two are still together, and while Oda lives separately due to his rigorous schedule, they still see each other often.
When Oda and Inaba’s story emerged, fans were quick to point out that the mangaka had married a real-life lookalike of his character. Indeed, Nami is a popular cosplay character, but Inaba certainly stands out from the rest. She resembles Nami very closely — especially the pre-time-skip version of the character (before Nami grew her hair out).
With how private mangaka tend to be, stories about their personal livesdon’t circulate very often. When they do, it’s often for negative reasons. In 2016, Oh My Goddess! creator Kousuke Fujishima also married a cosplayer. Her name was Nekomu Otogi, and she was 20 years old. As there was a 30-plus year age difference between Fujishima and Otogi, this became a major talking point, with claims that the relationship was problematic.
Oda and Inaba’s marriage has been subject to no such controversy. They live very privately and have had two daughters. Hopefully, the two will remain together for a long time.
KEEP READING: One Piece: Predicting Every Straw Hat’s Final Battle
Believe it or not, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda met his wife when she was cosplaying one of his own characters.