In the past I’ve looked at comics from Shonen Jump on here. Today I’m just going to look at the magazine and how it has evolved. This isn’t so much a review of Shonen Jump, as much as a brief, and probably ill-informed, examination of the magazine that brought about a fascination with Japanese comics for me. Jump has been around a long time, for a majority of my life anyhow, but started as a monthly print magazine. It enjoyed considerable popularity for a manga magazine introducing such hits as Naruto and One Piece. Bleach, what is often considered the other member of the “Big 3”, curiously wasn’t added to the magazine for quite some time.
As a print magazine, Shonen Jump had a considerably pool of popular series to draw from many of which would be notoriously censored especially in the early years. This would not be entirely remedied until the magazine made the switch to digital which will be covered in a bit. The other frustrating aspect of the print magazine was that many of these series would never be fully serialized in the magazine instead being finished In graphic novel form if they were lucky. These problems would be remedied once the move to digital occurred but this too came with flaws.
The move to digital brought with it changes, most of which for the better, chapters for the first year were near simultaneous with Japan (well nearer than before anyway 2 weeks behind) for the first year, Viz had to prove to Shueisha in Japan that they could put out a quality product. As odd as I find Weekly Shonen Jump today, at the time, it was standard-ish for manga serializing in English. Most serialized digital manga in the early years was as magazines as it had been in print. Even now, manga publishers cannot seem to settle on a particular model that works for everyone.
Back on topic, many of the digital serialized Japanese comic’s pioneers: Comicloud, Gen Manga, Manga Boshi, to name a few have either faded or changed drastically over time with the rapidly changing media landscape. Weekly Shonen Jump, now jaded from years of the rapidly morphing manga scene, seems to stick firmly to the formula that brought them success in the first place. They have always had a very particular type of story they would run in their magazine, more so than the magazine’s Japanese counterpart, which itself has at least some variation on its formula.
English Shonen Jump’s formula is as follows: the protagonist must overcome the odds and achieve their dream. The lower their situation is, and the greater the odds, the more it seems to resonate with readers. In some ways it feels similar to Disney’s formula which may be why it resonates with so many people. Viz is particularly formulaic at present as they tend to stick to certain genres (namely science fiction and fantasy).Will this formula ever grow tiresome for audiences or will we finally see some new ideas flow forth and gain traction from the beloved magazine we have come to know and love? Or is the answer already apparent? As a simple reviewer on the internet, I really cannot say. I suppose I will find out at some point in life anyhow.
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