|Kujira/Whale Daigo by Sachio Umemoto was Jump's 1st Cover|
In mid-1968, Japanese book publisher Shueisha decided to replace its young boy-aimed manga magazine Shonen Book, home of manga like Big X & Mach GoGoGo, after 11 years with a new publication, turning Book into a special issue. Said new magazine, Shonen Jump, debuted as a semi-weekly publication, but shortly into 1969 Jump became a weekly magazine, and with it came the end of Shonen Book (which was replaced by Bessatsu Shonen Jump, followed by Monthly Shonen Jump, followed by Jump Square). In order to compete with Magazine & Sunday, though, the editors at the newly founded Jump seemed to encourage their manga creators to eschew the unspoken rule book if they wanted; if nothing else, controversy can create cash. Combined with the magazine debuting alongside some newbie creators who would go on to become icons of the industry, the early days of the Bronze Age may be more important than most would think.
Shonen Jump debuted with a lot of one-shots & short manga, like Kujira Daigo up above, but the first issue did see the debut of the magazine's first long-runner, which was baseball manga Chichi no Tamashii/Father's Soul by Hiroshi Kaizuka, who has already been doing manga since 1957. The story was about Jotaro Nanjo, who becomes the ace of his high school's baseball team & dreams of playing at Koshien (which is a standard of nearly all high school baseball stories in Japan), and would wind up running in Jump until late 1971, lasting 14 volumes. For it's time, Chichi no Tamashii was one of Jump's first real hits, likely relying on its traditional storytelling with solid characters & engaging baseball action. As part of the original "Big 3" that Shonen Jump ever had, Kaizuka's manga was more than likely the most normal of them all, not pushing boundaries or tempting fate... Which would be the complete opposite of what would come next.
A young adult named Go Nagai got his start in manga during the 60s with his one-shot story Black Lion, but it wasn't until he was approached by Shueisha to actually do a serialized story that his name would start becoming well known. The resulting series was 1968's Harenchi Gakuen/Shameless School, which detailed the lives of the students & faculty of the eponymous school, one where things like "tradition" & "decency" were ignored. In a manga industry that was generally wholesome & respectful to the characters that were being drawn, Nagai was told by his editors to forget about any inhibitions & simply draw what he wanted to draw. The end result, after holding back slightly early on, were tales of the schoolboys looking through peepholes to see their schoolgirl classmates changing their clothes, the teachers being not just as perverted but also downright bizarre, & general debauchery being second nature. Today the manga is generally considered to be the first ecchi manga, with some even deeming it the first hentai manga (though it apparently never went beyond bare breasts & is really tame compared to today's standards), but for it's time what Nagai was doing was considered scandalous & controversial. Though it was selling like hotcakes for Jump, with live-action movies & even a TV series made from it, the PTA wanted the manga dead. Nagai's initial decision was to kill off his cast in a literal "Shameless War" against the PTA. Not long after, though, Nagai retconned the deaths, and the manga would run another two years before finally finishing in 1972, totaling 13 volumes. Today, anime & manga is filled with fanservice & hentai is a (somewhat) viable industry, & Go Nagai is essentially the man responsible for all of that.
The last of the original "Big 3", though, would be successful by not being infamous, but rather is considered Jump's first truly "big hit". The debut serialization of Hiroshi Motomiya, Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daisho/The Ideal Boy's Gang Leader told the tale of Mankichi Togawa, a rowdy boy who dreams of becoming the roughest, toughest young man in Japan. Later, he would move over to Tokyo in an attempt to take on some societal issues. Compared to Chichi no Tamashii's baseball drama & Harenchi Gakuen's dirty comedy, Gaki Daisho was apparently a much more straightforward action series, one where boys became men by showcasing how tough they were against their foes. Shueisha needed a series that would help sell Jump to new readers, & Motomiya's manga was the big attractor. It's generally considered the manga that helped get Jump's readership to over 1 million, & Motomiya's drawing style had enough of a pretty boy flair that helped draw in a noticeable female fanbase, as well. Supposedly, the door to Motomiya's studio was often crowded by female fans who loved the way he drew guys, showcasing the first indication of Jump's later success with female audiences. It was also the first manga that debuted in Jump to ever receive an anime adaptation, which ran from 1968-1969; the first "Jump anime" was technically Kurenai Sanshiro, which had originally debuted in Shonen Book. Gaki Daisho would run until 1973, becoming the first Jump manga to break (exactly) 20 volumes. For the rest of the 60s (all 1.5 years left of it), these were the only real long-runners in Jump, with every other title being a short-runner that would only last about a year or so, at most. Once the 70s happened, though, Jump really started to hit a stride.
The first notable Jump manga in the 70s was the debut of another young manga creator. Arashi/Storm! Sanpiki by Satoshi Ikezawa took place in & around Salvia Junior High & was a gag manga with a focus on sex appeal. Focusing on the rivalry between the boys lead by Daisuke Tonoyama & the girls lead by Yukari Sakurae, as well as the half-Japanese/half-American Rock Umezato, Ikezawa's manga obviously was going off of the momentum that Harenchi Gakuen started, likely being able to be as sexy & raunchy as it could possibly be for its time while Go Nagai was taking all of the heat from the PTA. The manga would run until mid-1973 & last 16 volumes. Sadly, that's the most info I could really find about Arashi! Sanpiki, as even the Japanese Wikipedia page is pretty barebones.
In mid-1970 Jump featured the debut of a series that, to my knowledge & research, has never been compiled into graphic novels, even if only in the initial tankouban format. Also, due to its relatively simple title, not helped by the fact that Kouta Hirano is presently doing a manga of nearly the exact same name, it's next to impossible to find any real info on Manga Drifters by Arima Eimoto. The only place I could even find good images of the manga refers to it as a "legendary" manga, likely due to it being more or less the equivalent of a "lost manga". From what I could tell, Manga Drifters was a series of comical interludes, and the artwork looks like it erred on the absurd side of things (possibly a Japanese equivalent to MAD magazine?). The most surprising thing about this title possibly never having been given a compiled release of any sort is the fact that this wasn't a short-lived series in Jump. Rather, Manga Drifters ran for five full years, which means that it ran about as long as some the magazine's other earliest hits. While I'm not exactly itching to ever read this series, it does make me quite curious as to why it ran in Jump back in the day, for so long at that, only to never be seen again.
The same issue that saw the debut of Manga Drifters, however, also saw the debut of what would become the second truly iconic Jump manga. Having first worked as an assistant for Hiroshi Kaizuka, likely on Chichi no Tamashii, Yasumi Yoshizawa made his debut with Dokonjo Gaeru/The Gutsy Frog. After young Hiroshi (maybe a reference to Kaizuka?) falls chest first onto a frog named Pyonkichi, the two become essentially stuck with each other because the frog is now a sentient t-shirt image (& said shirt is Hiroshi's only good one). Mixing a silly concept with the daily lives of Hiroshi & his friends with plenty of hijinks, Dokonjo Gaeru became Jump's first big comedy hit (without needing to go dirty like Nagai did). It would run six years & last 27 volumes, easily the longest title in the magazine's history at that point, and was even the first Jump manga to receive a long-running anime adaptation, let alone receive two separate shows. The first series ran from 1972-1974 for 103 episodes (each of which featured two stories), while the second ran from 1981-1982 for an additional 30; there was also a recent live-action TV adaptation last year. Both anime saw Hiroshi voiced by Masako Nozawa in her first major role for a Jump anime; a decade later Nozawa would become synonymous with another Jump character. Sadly, Yoshizawa would never see another hit manga following the end of Dokonjo Gaeru, though his daughter, Yuuko Ootsuki, would also see success by drawing the art for almost all of the Galaxy Angel franchise (under the alias Kanan).
Also sadly, Yoshizawa's reign as having the longest-running Jump manga for the time would be short lived, as the gag manga that debuted only two months later would dethrone Dokonjo Gaeru within a year. Kazuyoshi Torii's Toilet Hakase/Doctor Toilet was the last notable title to debut in 1970, and is actually the second-longest Jump manga to have never received a TV anime. A former assistant of Fujio Akatsuka (Osomatsu-kun, Himitsu no Akko-chan), Torii's manga starred the titular lead who specialized in scatology & worked out of a toilet-shaped laboratory. It was also apparently somewhat controversial for its time, as it featured a lot of violent humor & general depravity (no surprise, considering the scatology), and while there were supposedly talks regarding a TV anime adaptation it never happened, likely due to required censorship dulling the humor to the point of it being pointless as an adaptation. Interestingly enough, however, this manga is generally considered the first one to follow Shonen Jump's ideals of "Friendship, Effort, & Victory." Toilet Hakase would run until 1977 & became the first Jump manga to break (exactly) 30 volumes, a record that wouldn't be broken again until the 80s (& what broke it may never be broken by manga in general).
The middle of 1971 saw the debut of the next two notable Jump series, only a couple of weeks apart, and both were the results of team efforts. First up was Samurai Giants, a baseball series written by Ikki Kajiwara, the man who wrote the iconic Ashita no Joe, & drawn by little known artist Ko Inoue. It starred Ban Banba, a baseball pitching prodigy whose sheer power was too much for players his age. Luckily, his skills get noticed by a scout for the actual Yomiuri Giants, and he starts playing the game professionally. Debuting just a few weeks before Chichi no Tamashii saw its finale, Samurai Giants was likely the perfect follow-up (in spirit) to Jump's first notable hit, and with Kajiwara in charge of the writing the storytelling was likely also top-notch. This was also the first Jump sports manga to be made into an anime, first airing in 1973 & ending just a couple of weeks before the manga did in October 1974; the manga lasted 16 volumes. Ban was voiced by the late & legendary Kei Tomiyama, his second Jump lead role (his first was Mankichi in Gaki Daisho), already establishing that Jump anime leads would often be voiced by notable & famous seiyuu/voice actors. Ko Inoue also had an assistant for this series by the name of Masami Kurumada, but the relevance of that will have to wait for a little later...
The other co-production teamed up writer Soji Yamakawa (Kenya Boy) & artist Noboru Kawasaki, who just came off of finishing up another iconic sports manga, Star of the Giants. Together the two created Koya no Shonen/Wilderness Boy Isamu, a western about the titular boy who has to learn to survive & defeat outlaws in the wild west. Today, the idea of a wild west story being told by the Japanese has been done, though still a relative rarity, but back in 1971 the concept was more than likely much rarer, and the novelty of the setting, combined with the writing of a celebrated author & the artwork of an iconic artist, were likely what made this another popular series for Jump at the time. It would end in early 1974, totaling 12 volumes, & also receive a 52-episode TV anime adaptation from 1973-1974, with the anime ending after the manga did; there's a chance that the anime covers the entire manga story.
Still, one thing that links all of the non-comedy titles is that they all were bound by reality, and that counts double for the baseball titles. I bring this up only because the next major Bronze Age manga for Jump is the one that dug the plot & laid the foundation for the fantastical action that would come to define "shonen action"... And it did so via baseball.
Yet another team effort, 1972's Astro Kyudan/Astro Baseball Team was created by writer Shiro Tozaki & artist Norihiro Nakajima & detailed the baseball battles that J. Shuro's "Astro Supermen", nine super-powered baseball prodigies who were foretold by the legendary Eiji Sawamura, went through in hopes of being acknowledged by the pros. Whereas Chichi no Tamashii was about a boy who dreamed of reaching the highest he possibly could in high school & Samurai Giants saw a boy get the chance to play against the pros, Astro Kyudan left those two in its dust when it came to sheer spectacle. Gone were realistic portrayals of baseball, & in their place were people jumping 10-20 meters to catch fly balls, baseball bats being cracked before use so that shards of the bat could fly alongside the ball (in order to confuse the catcher), bat swings so powerful that Nakajima used images of nebulae for comparison, & baseball games so violent & rough that players literally died during them!! It was sheer insanity showcased via sequential art, and it made the series into a massive hit for Jump during the mid-70s. Eventually, though, the madness became too much, so in 1976, after 20 volumes that were only able to house three gigantic games, Astro Kyudan came to an end. Still, the seeds were sown and, come the end of the decade, shonen manga would never (EVER) be the same again. Though a TV anime was conceived by Group TAC in 1992, it never happened; a live-action J-Drama/tokusatsu adaptation did happen in 2005, however.
Two weeks following the psychotic debut of Astro Kyudan came a manga based very much in reality. Boku no Doubutsuen Nikki/My Zoo Diary by Koichi Iimori was based on the actual life & experiences of Toshio Nishiyama, a zookeeper at Ueno Zoo in Taito, Tokyo, Japan's oldest zoo. Nishiyama seemed to be the perfect model for Iimori, as after the manga's end in early 1975 he would go on to become director of the zoo in 1981, followed by becoming honorary director in 2000 before retiring in early 2005 due to poor health; Nishiyama would pass away from pneumonia in late 2006. While not exactly a true "long runner" when all is said & done, as it only lasted for a little over two years & totaled 10 volumes, the fact that Nishiyama would go on to lead Ueno Zoo proved that he had a true love for animals, making him an ideal inspiration for a manga to show kids the beauty of the animal kingdom & those who take care of them in zoos. All in all, Boku no Doubutsuen Nikki was likely a perfect way to wind down after reading a chapter of insanity featuring the Astro Supermen.
The next manga only ran for a year & lasted five volumes, and it's status as a "Jump manga" can be debated (as I'll get to in a moment), but I'd be remiss if I ignored Go Nagai's 1972 follow-up to Harenchi Gakuen; from what I can tell, it literally debuted a week after its precursor ended. Nowadays you'd likely never see a mecha title in a magazine like Shonen Jump, and that's more or less true back then, and therein lies the nature of Mazinger Z's tenuous status as a "Jump manga". You see, the tale of Koji Kabuto, his giant robot Mazinger Z, & his battles against the gigantic creations of the evil Dr. Hell was created with the intent of being a massive multi-media production form the very start. Just two months after the manga first appeared in Jump, Toei debuted a TV anime that would become much, much more synonymous with the burgeoning mech anime genre. Said anime would run for two years, while Nagai's manga version would technically run in four different magazines at the same time. Yeah, the manga first appeared in Jump, but it would also appear in Kodansha'a TV Magazine, Akita Shoten's Bouken-Oh, & Tokuma Shoten's TV Land (the last two versions apparently being drawn by Gosaku Ota), and all four of these magazines were listed in the credits from the very start of the anime. In fact, it's not easy to even find good-quality images of the original Jump tankouban covers, and (all in all) I do hesitate to list Mazinger Z as a Jump manga. Let's face it... Mazinger Z didn't need Jump to be successful, & it's iconic status has nothing to do with the magazine. Still, I'm sure that if I neglected to include it, someone will eventually bring up how I "forgot it".
Similar to Mazinger Z, Keiji Nakazawa's Barefoot Gen eventually became the iconic comic about the atomic bomb & what it did to the Japanese populace without Jump, but in this case it was simply because Nakazawa didn't accept cancellation. He was originally encouraged by his editor to draw a one-shot about what he experienced when the Little Boy bomb was dropped on his home town of Hiroshima, which became the manga now known as I Saw It. The readers were intrigued by Nakazawa's story, so he was given the go to make a longer, more detailed story about his experiences following the bomb. Barefoot Gen debuted in 1973, but it's obvious that such a down-trodden, harsh, & realistic tale just wasn't going to mesh with the likes of Dokonjo Gaeru, Samurai Giants, & Astro Kyudan, so in 1974 Nakazawa had to put his manga on hold. Thankfully, Nakazawa refused to simply let his tale end right then & there, and through other publications he eventually was able to finish his story in 1985; two animated movies by Madhouse were made in 1983 & 1986, as well as many live-action adaptations. Sadly, however, people in influential places nowadays seem to be intent on banning the manga from being made available in Japanese schools since Nakazawa's death in 2012, due to him being not just critical of the United States, but also being highly critical of Japan during that time. Barefoot Gen will seemingly always be in a battle to have its story be shared to as many people as possible, but at least Shonen Jump gave it the initial opportunity in the first place.
Believe it or not, there was a period in Weekly Shonen Jump where it had three baseball manga running simultaneously; right now, the last hit baseball manga in Jump ended a decade ago. The last entry of this 70s baseball trifecta debuted two weeks after Barefoot Gen, and was actually kind of innovative in that it was a simultaneous sequel to another manga, i.e. it ran while the original manga was still running. Akio Chiba, the little brother of Ashita no Joe's artist Tetsuya Chiba, debuted his baseball manga Captain in Monthly Shonen Jump back in 1972, but when lead character Takao Taniguchi graduated middle school & had to leave his team, Chiba did something interesting. First, he continued Captain by having another member of the team become the new main character. Second, he simultaneously continued Taniguchi's story as a high school baseball player by debuting Play Ball in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1973. The coolest thing about this simultaneous serialization was that as the new main character in Captain would then graduate to high school he would join the Play Ball cast, while another character became Captain's third lead character. In the end, Captain wound up having four different main characters throughout its run & would outlive its sibling series, while Play Ball would run until 1978, totaling 22 volumes & outlasting fellow baseball series Samurai Giants & Astro Kyudan. While Captain received an anime TV special, movie, & TV series during the 80s, Play Ball wouldn't receive its own anime adaptation until 2005 & 2006 via two 13-episode TV series. Play Ball still holds the record for longest span of time between manga debut & anime debut for Jump at 32 years.
Nowadays, the concept of cooking manga tends to be around showcasing all sorts of dishes that look amazing, smell savory, & taste outstanding, though the stories do tend to feature ingredients which aren't always readily available to the regular person. 1973's Hochonin Ajihei, which literally translates to "Kitchen Knife Man Ajihei" but is better translated simply as Chef Ajihei, defied tradition before it became just that by focusing on simple & fast food. Written by Jiro Gyu, who had worked in restaurants in the past, & drawn by Jo Biggu, the manga was about Ajihei, son of expert traditional chef Matsuzo Shiomi. Rather than follow his father's footsteps, though, Ajihei instead decided to enter the world of cheaper fast food by working at a yoshoku named Kitchen Bulldog. Gyu & Biggu's focus was to showcase various meals that could be created on the cheap & featured in smaller restaurants, and the end result was Hochinin Ajihei becoming a very popular manga for Jump during the mid-70s. Running until late 1977 & lasting 23 volumes, Ajihei would become a major influence (alongside the later Mister Ajikko) for the popular cooking show Iron Chef, and supposedly many noodle shops in Japan feature the name "Ajihei", in honor of this Bronze Age classic. Sadly, this was still a time in Jump history where only a handful of its big hits would actually be adapted into anime (look for Part 2 to see where that trend started), so Hochonin Ajihei remains exclusive to manga.
Two years after finishing up Arashi! Sanpiki, Satoshi Ikezawa would debut his next notable manga, with this being his most well known. 1975's Circuit no Okami/The Circuit Wolf was inspired by the apparent "Super Car Boom" that was going on at the time & featured the trials & tribulations of Yuya Fubuki as he went from public road racer to a name on the professional circuit. Featuring the likes of the Lamborghini, Maserati, Nissan Fairlady Z, Chevrolet Corvette, & Toyota 2000GT, with the likes of Porsche & Ferrari being driven by Yuya's rivals, Circuit no Okami raced its way into being a major hit for Jump in the second half of the 70s, topping over 11 million copies sold by 1977, before ending in 1979 at 27 volumes. Also in 1977 was a live-action movie adaptation directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Sister Street Fighter, Karate Bearfighter). Finally, if my research guided me correctly, Circuit no Okami was the first Jump manga to be given a sequel years after the original ended. Said sequel (of sorts), Circuit no Okami II: Modena no Ken, debuted a decade later with a brand new lead (Ken Ferrari) & ran in Weekly Playboy from 1989-1995 for 25 volumes. While the original manga would never be made into an anime, the sequel did see a 45-minute OVA made from it featuring animation by a still young Gainax; it's nothing special, to be quite honest.
Finishing off the first half of the Bronze Age is the series that put two men on the manga map. While Yoshiyuki Okamura, a.k.a. Buronson, had already written a few manga for Jump since 1972 (alongside various artists), it wouldn't be until 1975's Doberman Deka/Detective that he would start creating a legacy of any sort. Teaming with a debuting artist named Shinji Hiramatsu, who just came off of working as an assistant to Norihiro Nakajima on Astro Kyudan, this manga focused on Joji Kano, a hard-boiled detective who works for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's special crimes division. Armed with a .44 Magnum Ruger Blackhawk, Kano would show no remorse to any criminals in his path to justice, even if it meant that the media & people on the whole looked down on him & his division. He would show compassion for anyone who fought to do the right thing, even former criminals, however, showcasing that he wasn't heartless. Though the hard-boiled nature of the early stories would apparently give way to more lightheartedness as it went on, Doberman Deka would run for a solid four years, ending in late 1979 with a total of 29 volumes, second only to Toilet Hakase. Though it never saw an anime adaptation of any sort, it did receive a live-action movie in 1977 which saw Sonny Chiba as Kano, an in-name-only live-action TV series in 1980, & a straight-to-video movie in 1996, before eventually seeing a manga sequel in the form of the 2-volume Shin Doberman Deka, which ran from 2012-2013 & reunited Buronson & Hiramatsu.
To most manga fans, the earliest hits of Shonen Jump, especially those which debuted from 1968-1975, are going to be next-to-unheard of, but that doesn't remove their importance in any way. Harenchi Gakuen introduced scandal & naughtiness to manga, completely altering the way people looked at what manga was capable of. Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daisho was the first "true-blue" hit manga for Jump, acting as a prototype of the story of the rebellious lead that Jump would become known for. Astro Kyudan showed the first signs of the fantastical & ridiculous that would change the way shonen action would operate. Titles that are now looked at as icons of both anime & manga in Japan, like Dokonjo Gaeru, Mazinger Z, & Barefoot Gen, all happened (or at least debuted) during this era, and they still either see new productions to this day or still make for major news. Finally, these years marked the debuts of important manga creators (Go Nagai, Hiroshi Motomiya, Buronson), all of which would further cement their legacies as the years go on.
Still, there are numerous Jump titles from the "pre-Golden Age" that most manga fans already know of, so check back for Part 2 of the Bronze Age, where we see the titles that truly set the stage for Jump's most successful era to happen.