So around a year ago, I was interested in trying out a Shonen Jump, which is a weekly comics magazine that has run in Japan since the 1960s. We’d had an iPad for a couple months and had randomly downloaded a lot of free apps, including one for Viz Media, a company that releases translated versions of various anime and manga. Their app also offers a digital subscription to Shonen Jump, and sometime in the last few years, they’ve started to release same-day digital for both Japan and North America. Which means you’re reading the same chapter of a comic as someone on the other side of the world. Maaaaaaagic!
I’m not a big ebook reader, mostly because books don’t have book-smell if they’re digital and I like turning pages. I have a lot of Japanese comics (called ‘manga’, also known as “those books people think I’m reading backwards because they print right-to-left) in print form mixed in with my trades and graphic novels and I’m a major sucker for a classy bookshelf. But I’d read a sample of Shonen Jump and the Viz app has a pretty nice reading experience. In the sample issue I read, I found out about a series named Bakuman about two kids who were working the manga industry in Japan. I bought the print editions of Bakuman, and the more volumes I read, the more I wanted to read the actual Shonen Jump magazine specifically because it was actually in Bakuman and these kids were working as artists for them. The series made me very curious about the weekly comic industry in Japan, so we signed up for a subscription.
The comics in SJ are pretty varied: There’s some that have only been around for a few months and some series that have been running for years and are on chapter 600+ (One Piece, I’m sure you’re awesome but you would be an investment to get caught up on!). Here’s a few series that have been in Shonen Jump through the series’ end that I really enjoyed:
Stealth Symphony – This series recently ended a month or so ago and I was kinda upset that it ended so quickly! The comic takes place in a very fantasy-oriented universe filled with elves, lizards, cyborgs, and various other creatures. Jig is a young boy who’s been cursed with a large robotic egg-shaped machine that keeps him alive, but attacks anything that threatens his life (incluuuuding other people/property). The ink-work is nice and clean and the story is a great balance of adventure, comedy, and mystery. The ending? Very much a tear-jerker. I’m hoping the series gets collected together in print so I can own it all in one convenient package.
Jaco, the Galactic Patrolman – Jaco is another short series, but it’s from the great Akira Toriyama, who created the super-funny Dr. Slump comic, but is probably more well known for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. Jaco is a Galactic Patrolman charged with keeping the peace and justice in the galaxy, and manages to pose an awful lot in the process. By the end of the story (SPOILERS!) you learn that Jaco actually takes place before events that happen in Dragon Ball, almost like a prequel, but a lot funnier and sillier than most prequels. I believe this has been collected into a volume in Japan, but not yet in America unfortunately.
Bakuman – This series spans 20 printed volumes, and I have read ALL OF THEM. The gist of the story is that a middle-schooler named Moritaka doesn’t have a plan for the future and doodles in class. He gets approached by classmate Akito to be partners in making manga, with Akito writing the stories and Moritaka doing the comic illustrations. The series gives a lot of insight into the (very stressful looking) process of doing a weekly, multi-page, chapter-oriented manga for a major publication. On top of that, there’s always an extra page at the end of the chapter featuring the writer’s storyboards/layouts, the artist’s roughs, and a small image of the final page. Plus, it’s a super-adorable love story as well, as Moritaka makes a promise to a girl that they’ll get married when they both achieve their respective dreams of having an anime made from one of Moritaka’s comics with his lady providing the voice acting for the main character. Dawww.
These are just a small sampling of suggestions, but there’s plenty of other good manga I’ve read in Shonen Jump, but we’ll save that for a different day. There’s plenty of sample comics you can download on the Viz app, including a Shonen Jump sampler, in case you want to give it a test run for yourself.
As far as updates go, I’m taking a different approach and posting updates differently. Sometimes they will be a full traditional comic page. Sometimes they’ll be more like a comic strip. But overall, there will be some sort of storytelling update on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the foreseeable future. Party!
The website as a whole got some much-needed reboot-worthy updates as well, including:
- A handy “Pick a Chapter” dropdown in the comic navigation
- Cleaner site navigation
- A more blatant link to the RSS feed
- Most importantly, COLORING PAGES