The manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump is widely read in Japan. While it has been active since the late 1960s, the magazine’s heyday was in the 1990s, when series like Dragon Ball and Slam Dunk, two of the most famous and influential manga of all time, was published there.
As soon as those installments concluded, the magazine went into a steady decline that lasted until the middle of the new millennium. The magazine was then serializing the “Big Three” of manga, One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach. These shows consistently drew huge audiences. In 2010, all three were still running, thus the magazine didn’t have to focus on attracting new readers in order to maintain its audience. The magazine’s current roster of series is significantly different from how it was back then, however.
The Twitter account Shonen Salto reported on August 22 that only five series have been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump this year. One new series has started since then, and another is scheduled to launch on September 12; however, this is the lowest number of new series to launch serialization in the magazine since 2010, when only eight new series made their debut. Ginka to Ryna has not yet debuted, but other new manga titles such Akane-banashi, Earthchild, Super Smartphone, Aliens Area, RuriDragon, and Tokyo Demon Bride Story have begun serialization.
The Modern Big Three
Unlike Naruto and Bleach, which concluded more than 5 years ago, One Piece is still being updated regularly. Since then, the magazine has included many other series that have effectively filled the void left by these original ones. The anime adaptations of My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, and Jujutsu Kaisen have all contributed to the series’ massive success, with the latter surpassing One Piece in sales this year.
Unfortunately for Jump, the serialization of Demon Slayer came to an end in 2020, before it could establish itself as a flagship series that would attract new readers. Because of this, One Piece, My Hero Academia, and Juttsu Kaisen are frequently considered the “Modern Big Three” of anime. It’s possible that Shonen Jump won’t have much longer to rely on those comics as its main series, but that’s not good news for the magazine.
Kohei Horikoshi, the creator of My Hero Academia, has stated that he intends to wrap up the series by the end of 2022, while One Piece has just revealed that the series, which has been running for 25 years, has entered its final saga. The two mangaka’s pronouncements could be little more than pipe dreams.
While the last arc of My Hero Academia has begun, there are still many loose ends to tie up before the series concludes and thus a conclusion in 2022 seems doubtful. The creator of One Piece, Eiichiro Oda, has been promising fans for twenty years that the story would conclude shortly. If these series do finish soon, however, Shonen Jump will need to replace them with equally impressive long-running series or risk a drop in readership like what occurred when Dragon Ball ended in the 1990s.
Black Clover, a manga similar to Naruto with more than 300 chapters, is one of the series that could serve as a flagship. Unfortunately, that series also announced that it was nearing its final arc around the same time as One Piece, so that’s out as well. Three of the other series in Jump with at least 100 chapters are comedy manga that doesn’t truly fill the hole left by more dramatic series:
Magic and Muscles, Me & Roboco, and High School Family: Kokosei Kazoku. The other two, Mission: Yozakura Family and Undead Unluck, are far more serious despite having comic undertones. Unfortunately, the plot of the manga Mission: Yozakura Family, which follows a clan of spies, is too similar to that of the far more popular Spy x Family. Moreover, Undead Unluck isn’t mainstream enough to capture the attention of Shonen Jump’s target demographic.
There are, of course, many recent series with fewer chapters that could be promising. The 83 chapters of the manga Sakamoto Days have a lighthearted tone but have also contained serious battles and stories. Veteran mangaka Yusei Matsui, author of the popular series Assassination Classroom, has written The Elusive Samurai, a historical war manga with a respectable 74 chapters.
Both of these series have the makings of successful franchises, but their ultimate success will depend on the decisions made by the creators and the level of support given by Shonen Jump. All three of these shows have potential, but neither is the game-changer Jump needs to establish a manga franchise on par with My Hero Academia or One Piece. However, the publisher’s recent treatment of its series makes it seem unlikely that readers will be able to discover this type of manga among its offerings.
Jump‘s Other Series
Most of the other series featured in Shonen Jump are comedies or niche titles that fail to reach the magazine’s target audience. A good example is a recent promotion in Jump of the manga Akane-banashi, which has the approval of manga legend Oda. Despite its excellence, the series is unlikely to find a big readership because of its emphasis on Rakugo, a relatively unknown type of Japanese performance art.
And Akane-banashi, like many other Jump manga, is still on the newer side, as the magazine has been mercilessly ending series before they truly have the time to gain their footing. Doron Dororon’s cancellation by Shonen Jump was just revealed, and Earthchild appears to be winding down as well.
After 4 months of changes, here’s a new update on Weekly Shonen Jump’s circulation numbers in 2022! Some series have left the chart, but we also have had a bunch of unexpected updates! https://t.co/GgdwD6Cmw7 pic.twitter.com/oIBRO9d9XJ
— Shonen Jump News – Unofficial (@WSJ_manga) July 7, 2022
There are fewer than 40 chapters in both of these series, which equates to less than a year of serialization. A more competitive market has resulted in less tolerance for newer shows, thus cancellations like this have become all too regular.
Shonen Jump is notoriously fast at replacing cancelled manga with new ones, and the magazine is launching two new series to replace those it has cancelled recently. However, since new shows are frequently cancelled and replaced, it is difficult for viewers to become emotionally invested in them.
So far this year, Weekly Shonen Jump has ended the serialization of five manga, which is exactly the same number as the number of new comics it has begun serialization of this year. This makes it even more discouraging that they have only released a small handful of new manga series.
However, knowing that the magazine has virtually gone net-zero in the series count is not good news for a magazine that is already struggling, especially because the addition of two new incoming series brings the total number of new serializations to seven, which is still lower than Jump’s all-time low. And to add insult to injury, it appears that this is deliberate.
The Jump Problem
Chainsaw Man was the most popular series to be serialized in the most recent issue of Weekly Shonen Jump. The first installment of the series was serialized in its entirety in Weekly Shonen Jump, and it quickly became an enormous hit. This year, however, Shueisha, the publisher of Weekly Shonen Jump, brought back Chainsaw Man for a second installment, and the story appeared in Shonen Jump, an online magazine.
Like the aforementioned Spy x Family and the revolutionary Kaiju No. 8, Shonen Jump has included some of the most popular manga series of recent years. It makes reasonable that Shueisha would prioritize the growth of the app over the publication of the print magazine, given the advantages digital platforms like this one often have in terms of reader convenience and the breadth of their potential readership. Shueisha is willing to actively hurt Weekly Shonen Jump’s chances of success in order to promote the success of its spin-off, as evidenced by the move of Chainsaw Man to Shonen Jump
The future of Weekly Shonen Jump appears bleak at this point. The magazine is probably going to struggle to find a new flagship series to support it in the future because this year is on track to have the fewest new serializations ever. No of the outcome, the new series will most likely be moved to Shonen Jump. Even if Weekly Shonen Jump folds to make way for Shonen Jump, fans will still be able to read their favorite series online, but this would mark the end of an industry titan and possibly herald a new era in the manga.
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