In the December issue of Shonen Jump, there is a short announcement. Another manga will be joining the pages of the magazine. Tegumi Bachi, a title announced at SDCC, will start running in SJ starting in the March 2009 issue (out in February 2009). It comes from the pages of Jump SQ, and appears to be another soon-to-be big property in Japan. An anime special has already been created for it for the Jump Super Anime Tour event. Usually at these events, only popular titles from the Jump magazines are spotlighted. Dragon Ball/Z, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece have all had specials created for these tours.
Now, Tegumi Bachi will be coming over here, replacing Slam Dunk in the US Shonen Jump, and I have to wonder if this is really such a good idea. Slam Dunk is the first real sports manga to make it into the magazine. The rest of the stories are in the fantasy/action/game genres. Why take out something that was so obviously put in to build the boy audience, only to take it out after less than a year? Is this title, which is so wildly popular not just in Japan, but among older manga readers, just not cutting it in the US? It seems to fit the “boy title that appeals to girls” that shonen manga has been going toward. I didn’t care for the preview, though I do have to admit it’s starting to grow on me, but some of the chapters are still hit and miss.
Or is it the opposite? Is the manga so popular, that people are clamoring to get more chapters of it, so it’s going to be put out quicker? I…can’t say I’d believe this reason too much. Bleach was doing great coming out bi-monthy and then was suddenly thrust into Shonen Jump. I contend (without anything to back it up mind you) that Bleach was put into the magazine to increase sales of SJ. Slam Dunk on the other hand, probably started in SJ to build up an audience for the title, but I don’t think that audience has increased subscription sales. It makes me wonder if Slam Dunk had a planned obsolesce in the magazine, or if Viz higher ups weren’t happy with the performance of Slam Dunk.
I think what really bothers me is the way this new manga fits in with what’s already in the magazine. A world gone dark, illuminated only by an artificial sun. Giant insects attacking people. A boy with immense spiritual energy determined to change it all by delivering letters. When you get right down to it, there isn’t much difference between this and all the other manga in SJ with spiritual powers, fighting to change the world, etc. At least Slam Dunk was a breath of fresh air from all the supernatural powers and fighting in the other titles.
Evolutionary jumps are supposed to bring changes, not keep the status quo. I’m not say Tegami Bachi isn’t good. I don’t know, I’ve never read it. I’m questioning the reasoning of Viz to keep Shonen Jump as the same old, same old. That’s what I didn’t like about the Japanese side of Yen Plus. It was all the same type of titles. There was no variety like the Korean side or Shojo Beat. This looks more like another jump to the side, not up.