TOKYO - The AI program ChatGPT has passed exams, penned news articles and produced code. So perhaps no surprise that "One Piece" author Eiichiro Oda has turned to it for inspiration.
The man behind the record-breaking manga often referred to as one of the best-known in the world seemed to have found himself struggling with writer's block last month.
"Hello. This is the author. I cannot come up with a story for One Piece next week. Would you think of a story? A super good one, please," he prompted the program, according to a video his staff posted on their Twitter account.
In seconds, ChatGPT spun a story in which heroes meet new friends and battle it out with new enemies, including "Shadow King".
The program attempted to sell the story to Oda, telling the creator that the proposed plot offers a mysterial tribe, new comrades and a renewed focus on one existing character to showcase her intellect and behaviors that his readers would enjoy.
But Oda's immediate review was unreticent: "Sorry. It's boring," he typed, demanding a better idea.
The second time around the program was rewarded for producing a storyline in which an alien joins "One Piece" characters and "pirate king" Luffy to fight a witch and rebuild its home star that had been destroyed by an evil spaceship.
"Thank you. I will draw as it is," wrote Oda in response, quipping that his next installation in the saga will be based on the new storyline.
"One Piece" follows straw hat-wearing Luffy and his team as they hunt for the titular treasure coveted by all pirates.
The last instalment began on July 25 in Japanese weekly manga magazine Shonen Jump.
The series has racked up more than 100 volumes and smashed sales records since the first installment appeared in 1997.
Oda landed a Guinness World Record for having the most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author.
The 100th volume of the series came out in France last year with 250,000 copies, a number rivaling works that have won the prestigious Prix Goncourt literature prize.
The "One Piece" universe includes cultural and geographical references that give it a universal dimension, including Ancient Egypt, Venice and medieval Japan.
Engaging characters and modern themes of breakneck industrialization, racism, slavery and geopolitical intrigues add to the appeal of the series.
Producers hope the upcoming release of a Netflix series adapted from the "One Piece" universe will help it conquer new territory, bringing the story to the global streaming platform's more than 200 million subscribers.