I’m a loyal reader of Shonen Jump, and every once in a while I like to give my opinion of the current titles running. I don’t really care for the articles in the magazine. They are all aimed at teen boys, of which I am certainly not one. The Bleach anime, Naruto video and card games, the Yu-gi-oh card game, not my thing. But I still enjoy many of the SJ titles. So I’m going to do this for Shonen Jump like every 3 months or so, or if anything major happens, such as a title getting switched out, or an exciting preview.
I’m sure everyone’s heard by now about Viz’s insane idea to catch up One Piece with the Japanese releases. They announced at Anime Expo that they will release 30 volumes in six months starting in January 2010. That’s 5 volumes a month! Back in May, when it was first announced that current One Piece chapters would start showing up in Shonen Jump, I wrote what I thought of that decision. Viz was nuts. I thought they would try to do it in the span before the chapters came out. I was wrong about that. But their response is no better.
I was reading the latest issue of Shonen Jump (May 2009), and though I may despise it, I do read Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo. Don’t ask me why, it’s there, so I just do. So, I’m coming to the end of the chapter, and at the bottom is says next issue will be Bobobo’s final chapter in the magazine. Hurray!
Finally Bobobo is leaving! There is really nothing funny about this manga. It’s the embodiment of “Stupid is as stupid does.” But then real question here is, what’s going to replace it? There hasn’t been any announcements (that I’m aware of) of any new titles going in. Tegami Bachi was just added, and nowhere in the issue is there any indication of what will be replacing it. Will they try to squeeze in another manga that will get only one chapter a month (like Yu-Gi-Oh! GX), or will this space just be filled with more Naruto?
In order to keep pace with the Japanese releases of the manga, Viz will have to up the chapter count in Shonen Jump, or take Naruto out of the magazine and so they don’t have to wait. I don’t see the latter happening though. Naruto is one of SJ‘s anchor titles. To take it out of SJ could mean the loss of many, many subscriptions, something I’m sure Viz doesn’t want.
Well, at least it won’t be too long a wait to find out. Sometimes falling behind on issues isn’t too bad a thing. I really hope this does turn into an Evolution for SJ. More Naruto isn’t necessarily bad, and if it means no more mass volume releases, then I’m all for it!
UPDATE: Deb Aoki of About Manga helped solve this little mystery for me via twitter. Apparently at NYCC, it was announced that Ultimo would be joining Shonen Jump in the July 2009 issue. Scroll down past the Takahashi news. Somewhere in the back of my mind I seemed to have thought about this, but at 3am, I wasn’t going to push it. Next time I’ll just tweet the question. (Thanks Deb!)
I have to say I’m a little ambivelent about this. I didn’t care too much for the preview of the first chapter. It just felt…bleh to me. Maybe it was too much superhero, and not enough manga. But I’ll give it a chance. I’m gonna read it anyway as long as it’s in SJ (see above). I think I would have preferred more Naruto though. Those chapters can be so addicting!
This just occurred to me after I read Mang Blog Brigid’s commentary on the possibly new “Naruto Nation” and then coming to blog to post about something else. Apparently there are doubts about the dates for the Naruto releases, since errors have happened before. But, when I came to my home page, my last post before this was about the changes to Shonen Jump. The new title, Tegumi Bachi, is debuting at the same time as this “Naruto Nation 2” would be starting.
To do the 11 volume release, Naruto would be taken out of the magazine again, and something else would have to fill the void. The start of a new series would fill that void perfectly. Viz did the same thing last time with the start of Bleach in SJ at the same time Naruto was taken out. Coincidence? I think not.
Viz is at it again it seems, trying to decimate our pocketbooks mercilessly, especially in this difficult economy. ANN has reported that Viz has listed 11 more volumes of Naruto for release in February, March and April. This second wave will essentially catch Naruto up with the releases in Japan, at what price? The last time Viz did this, the sales of their other titles suffered. It proved that there is a limit to what readers will buy, and that was back when the economy was still doing well. What’s going to happen this time? Did Viz plan for this with fewer releases scheduled for their other titles? And what’s the point of doing this again? The time jump in the manga made some sense the first time. But this time seems much more arbitrary.
The only reason I can think of for this is to fight against the scanalators. Viz has been criticized for not doing anything about the illegal scans that keep coming out, and as anime companies have been learning, the best way to fight fansubs is to bring out the episodes at the same time they come out in Japan. Catching up the Naruto manga will get rid of any excuses of “not wanting to wait for the official release to catch up”, a common reason given for continuing a title after it’s been licensed.
I mean, February was supposed to be the big launch month for 20th Century Boys and Pluto. These titles are just going to be overshadowed by this tidal wave of Naruto. Is that really what Viz wants? I would think not, especially after the presentations they gave for these titles at SDCC.
Now, I enjoy my Naruto manga. It’s one of the reasons I keep getting Shonen Jump. But, I think Viz may be tipping it’s hand too far this time. The first wave worked because it was near Christmas, and it was the first time. I dont’ this time will be met with as much enthusiasm. I’m certainly not looking forward to it. It’s going to mess up Shonen Jump again, and put me 11 volumes behind at most. I can’t afford to keep up like this. And I’m sure I’m not going to be the only one feeling this way. Why doesn’t Viz just take Naruto out of SJ and give it a monthly release like Rurouni Kenshin? It would make so much more sense than these “waves”.
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.
I’m almost caught up with reading my back issues of Shonen Jump. I started reading October last night. Both October issues of Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat had previews for new manga, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on them.
In Shonen Jump, the preview was for Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom. I wasn’t sure what to make of this title when it was first announced, and when I started reading it, the first thing that came to mind was that it seemed like a cross between Inuyasha and Death Note. We have a demon who can take the shape of a dog (or hell hound) that needs to be controlled. He is sent to the human realm and put in the hands of human high school student who is successful at everything and bored. I was thinking the “demon animal under human control” was also a genre that was getting old. Inuyasha, Her Majesty’s Dog, and Mugen Spiral (from Tokyopop), had all done it before, so I really wondered if this series could do anything better. By the end of the preview chapter, I was actually liking it! It doesn’t do anything new. But for some reason, I found myself liking Nora and Kazuma, and their very antagonistic relationship. I’m going to read the first volume of this title for sure.
Shojo Beat previewed a new Matsuri Hino title, Captive Hearts. I had no hope whatsoever for this title. I haven’t liked any of the other titles by her that I’ve read/previewed, so I didn’t think this one would be any different. The whole premise of a boy being controlled by a girl because of a curse sent up all kinds of red flags, and I imagined the worst. But, when I started reading it, it turned out to be the complete opposite of what I had thought. What’s more, I actually liked it! Megumi was very funny as he started to feel the effects of the curse, and Suzuka was just cute. The art is nice too. There are a lot of light moments that seem to set his manga up for some fun. I’d definitely consider buying this title.
Five and a half years ago, Viz put out a sampler at the San Diego Comic Con for a new manga anthology; Shonen Jump. Anchored by Dragonball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh!, Shonen Jump introduced us to new titles such as Naruto, Shaman King and One Piece at only $20 for 12 issues. Ah…those were the days.
The December Issue featured some important milestones. Besides heralding in the 5th year of the magazine, it had the first Naruto story Masashi Kishimoto wrote. This Naruto and his world was very different from the one we know now. A “Proto-Naruto” is you will. Instead of being a ninja-in-training with the spirit of the 9-Tails Fox Spirit in him, Naruto is the son of the 9-Tails Fox. He has been raised by the last living warrior that fought his father, who is also a Yokai. Naruto has not been able to make any human friends, as he has been a mean-spirited trickster to them. The warrior sends Naruto from the mountain temple where they have been living, and tells him he can not return until he has made a human friend and brings him back to the mountain. The rest of the story is following Naruto as he makes his first journey into the outside world, one that is like ours in many ways.
I really enjoyed this story, and this version of Naruto. While I do like the Naruto he became, the 9-Tails fox Naruto was a lot of fun too. The two are very similar, except that the proto-Naruto didn’t have the stigma Naruto has. He bears no grudge, and has nothing to prove to anyone. It seemed if the story had continued it would have been about Proto-Naruto’s journey of discovery as he meets new people, makes friends, and presumably fight some foes. I really like stories like Dragonball by Akira Toriyama and O-Parts Hunter by Seishi Kishimoto (Masashi’s twin brother), which have the same premise. I would have enjoyed following the Proto-Naruto’s adventures. I’m glad Viz gave us this glance into Naruto’s past.
The other big feature in this issue was the final chapter of Yu-Gi-Oh!. While not completely serialized in the magazine, (the entire Duelist storyline was published in graphic novels only), it did run uninterrupted for the 5 years to end here. When Yu-Gi-Oh! was announced for the magazine, I immediately wrote it off. I’d only seen and heard about the Duelist storyline which is the one that animated. Imagine my surprise when I actually started reading it, and found the first arc to be really good! The stories and use of situations to come up with Shadow Games was really entertaining. I will gladly recommend the first 7 volumes of this series.
Admittedly, I wasn’t too happy with the sudden jump to Millenium World, but enough was explained about Duelists’ end that I could still follow along. Millenium World was also good, as it was spent mostly in the Ancient Egypt of “Other Yugi”‘s memory. The final battle of the series pits Yugi against “Other Yugi”, the pharaoh Atem. The Endgame would decide the fate of the Pharoah’s soul; to remain in the real world, or move on to the next. It was hard to chose who to root for in this story. I didn’t want Atem to leave. I liked him better than Yugi. I wanted him to remain undefeated. But at the same time, I wanted to see Atem move on as he should to the next world. It was a satisfying ending anyway. When it’s not only about the Duel Monsters game, Yu-Gi-Oh was a good story with a compelling plot and interesting characters. It’s worth the time to read it.
Other notes; The preview of Slam Dunk was nice, but I think I’m passing on this one. In Hikaru no Go, the pro test is finally over. The nail biting tension that the writer created was intense. It was an excellent read. This series is another must read. Bleach‘s second full issue gives us some background on Ichigo’s dad, and where Ichigo’s powers may have come from. I’m still not happy with it being moved to serialization… In One Piece, Luffy and the others are still on Drum Island, but that arc seems to be wrapping up. Yu Yu Hakusho has felt very tired to me lately. After the long fight tournament, it’s time to jump right into another fight. Fighting manga’s not my favorite. Yu Yu Hakusho has become a prine example of why. With Yu Gi Oh gone, we are left with GX. This series hasn’t done anything to endear itself to me. But it’s still better than Bobobo-bo-bobo. I don’t even want to think about that…
All in all, the December issue of Shonen Jump was a good one for not only the stories, but the milestones that it hit. Here’s hoping for another 5 years.
A few things I want to get off my chest first.
Afros are for frogs and fists get their strength from the North Star and not nose hair. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo must Gogogo-go Go-gogo!
Bleach may make your whites look good as new, but it’s not going to do the same for Shonen Jump. Recycling is for cans, bottles and newspapers, not manga!
I don’t know why, but these changes to Shonen Jump have really been bugging me. Why add these two titles? Why now? Bleach has been doing just fine on its own. It’s been making the USA Today Top 150. The only real logical reason to move it is to try to build Shonen Jump sales, if they are in fact slumping. (We don’t know SJ sales figures). And Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, I really can’t believe they had a huge amount of requests to add this to the magazine. Viz only put out one volume in 2005 (which you can’t even find on their website), and they’ve started it’s serialization at chapter 110? That doesn’t sound like a serious commitment to me. It really made me think. What was so special about these two titles? Then, it hit me. They’re both shown on Cartoon Network. With this realization, the changes suddenly made sense.
This is all about marketing. Anime showing on Cartoon Network has equated into better sales of manga, to the point that the effect has been given a name. The Cartoon Network Effect. Naruto and Bleach have seen the biggest boosts, shooting onto the USA Today Top 150 with each new volume. And here’s Viz, with a manga property that they seemingly couldn’t to get to go anywhere on its own, that suddenly has greater exposure through TV and DVD sales. The potential for sales was probably too great for them to ignore. Putting Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo in was probaby a cheaper way to get it out again and gauge reader reaction through their monthly polls. I really don’t think this manga would have made any kind of return without the anime being aired.
Bleach, on the other hand, was doing just fine before the anime, and has since exploded into a full merchandising property, like Naruto, Yu Gi Oh! and Dragonball Z. These heavy hitters launched Shonen Jump, and since, Dragonball Z graduated and finished, and Yu Gi Oh! is on the verge of ending, Viz needs another heavy hitter to keep driving the magazine. Bleach is the only title that fits this need right now. So, for the US version of Shonen Jump to continue to appear to be the home of “The World’s Greatest Manga”, Bleach had to be demoted. Now, Viz can put in more ads for other merchandising (such as toys, t-shirts and trading cards) and tie it more closely to the manga.
While I do understand companies want and need to succeed to survive, and that marketing is the best way to do that, it can also get out of hand. Inbreeding, no matter what medium only comes to no good. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo probably had to join Shonen Jump to drum up any kind of readership, and even though I don’t like it, I can’t blame Viz for wanting to get something back from their investment. But Bleach didn’t need to join the magazine. It has done just fine on its own. It should have been left to keep standing.
What Shonen Jump really needs is new blood, a new property. There hasn’t been a new series in the magazine since Hikaru no Go (I don’t count Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, as it’s just an extension of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and nothing really new). It’s new blood that gets people excited. Look at the sister publication Shojo Beat. It’s had just as many changes, but it keeps getting infusions of new series, and in long run will probably out shine it’s older brother. She’s treading new ground and evolving while He’s going in circles and devolving.
I‘m back and mostly recovered from SDCC. I was there for three days, Fri, Sat, and Sun, with my family, so I wasn’t able to hit all the panels, but I did get to go to a couple of manga related. We got to the convention center and through registration just in time for me to go to the Shonen Jump Panel, one I was looking forward to go to. Now, I’ve talked about my feelings on the changes for Shonen Jump so far here. For over a month now, Viz has been hyping the new title to be joining Shonen Jump, with Shaman King leaving, Naruto winding down to normal, and another title ending naturally. Anyone reading the magazine knew what the ending title was, Yu Gi Oh!. That was no big surprise. And Marc Weidenbaum, editor-in-chief of the magazine didn’t leave us in suspense about what the new title was going to be. As everyone has heard by now, it’s Bleach.
I was ambivalent about this announcement at first. I like Bleach. I think it’s a really fun title, and would be a good fit with the magazine. But the more I thought about it, the less of a good idea I found this to be. Yes, I know Bleach is getting close to catching up to the Japanese releases. Eight more as of June. With the current release schedule that’s still over a year away from catching up. Not a good reason to put it in the magazine, I think. If they really wanted to slow the releases down, they could go to a 3 or 4 month release schedule just as easily. I don’t take this as a good reason. The reason given at the panel was because readers has requested it. Well, readers request a lot of things, and they aren’t always good. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is a really good example.
No, what really bothered me the about this over-hyped announcement, is that it’s just recycling a Shonen Jump title already available. I was expecting something new! I was under the impression that the changing out of titles would be for something new and fresh, not something I’ve been reading for the last two years! And it’s not like they don’t have plenty of titles to choose from either. There were plenty of manga announced licensed just before and at SDCC. The Blue Dragon manga tie-in Ral Ω Grad would have been a much better choice I think. It’s been announced for a 2008 release with only two volumes out so far. They’re going to have to space out the releases anyway, may as well have a good reason to. And at least it’s NEW!
This change really feels like a veiled attempt to get more people subscribing to Shonen Jump. Bleach is enjoying a lot of popularity right now, with the anime, and toys coming out for it. It’s following the path that Naruto did. And getting two heavy hitters in the magazine is how Shonen Jump started, with Dragonball Z and Yu Gi Oh!. But this isn’t the way the get new readers in. What worked once may not work again. We need new titles to get excited about, not something we knew we’re going to get either way.
Evolution implies something new and different occuring to move forward. This is a big step backwards. There is nothing new or exciting with the change. If our ancient ancestors chose to just keep treading over the same territory instead of expanding out all over the world and evolving, you would not be reading this blog right now. Please, Shonen Jump! Start taking steps forward again!
Now, I really don’t mind the recent changes that were announced in the recent issue of Shonen Jump. This certainly isn’t the first time that a series has been taken out of the magazine to continue in graphic novels. Dragonball Z left after just over a year, and Yu-Gi-Oh! took out the “Duelist” arc to continue with the shorter “Millenium World” arc. I really didn’t mind these changes, since the series’ brought in only improved the magazine. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Hikaru no Go when it was first announced, but it turned out to be an excellent series. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is not. I’m sorry, I didn’t like this series from the preview chapter they ran a year or so ago, and after reading the latest chapter, I still don’t like it.
I really enjoyed Shonen Jump magazine because it would have entertaining, quality series, and of late, the only squabble I had was that there were so many running that I was only getting one chapter a month instead of my usual 2-3. Lately, it’s been Naruto, One Piece, Shaman King, Hikaru no Go, Yu Yu Hakusho, Yu-Gi-Oh! Millenium World, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, and Gintama (another series I *really* didn’t care for). That’s 8 series when it’s usually only 5! But Yu-Gi-Oh MW is nearly over and Gintama is temporary, just through the first volume. I was really looking forward to getting thing back to normal (except for the expanded Naruto, which I don’t mind). Instead, I lose a series that I REALLY liked and have to wait 6 months for any new chapters and get stuck with a series that just plain sucks. I’m sorry, there is just nothing funny about Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. It’s stupid characters doing stupid things using stupid jokes.
With the whole library that Viz has access to, this is the best they can come up with, a series that was already being sold as graphic novels? Were sales of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo so bad that they thought this would improve them? Sorry Viz, but just because more people are exposed to a series doesn’t mean they’re going to like it. I hope Viz come to their senses soon and gives us readers back good, quality stories instead of mindless drivel. I get enough of that on TV. I want my reading to be a step up from that, not a step down.