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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Bronze Age of Jump Part 2: Turning Bronze Into Gold

The first half-ish of Weekly Shonen Jump's Bronze Age was definitely a time that was all about establishment. Shueisha needed to bring in readers for its new magazine, and its manga creators did so by a variety of means. Go Nagai challenged the establishment, Hiroshi Motomiya stuck to his guns while also helping bring in a solid female fanbase, & the duo of Shiro Tozaki & Norihiro Nakajima showcased sheer insanity in ways that were never seen before in a story-driven, action-oriented fashion, among other writers & artists. Still, all of the titles I brought up in Part 1 began & ended in the Bronze Age. In Part 2, we'll not only examine the titles that truly set into motion the gears that made Jump's following era so successful, but about 3/4 of them would wind up existing to some extent in said following age.

But first, let's get one more trio of unknown (outside of Japan) manga out of the way.

Debuting at the tail end of 1975 was a gag manga named 1•2 no Ahho/Idiots!! by Kontaro (real name: Takashina Mitsuyoshi). Doing something never done before, Kontaro took a generally serious genre, in this case baseball manga, & made it into a full-on comedy; in fact, this manga is considered the foundation of the "baseball gag manga" genre. As for the title itself, it followed a man named "Kantoku/Director", who had lived on Morong Island for the past 20 years since the end of the Pacific Front of World War II, & his work with a boy named Teioka (named after Shouji Teioka, a promising rookie for the Yomiuri Giants at the time) as they work to improve Friendship School's baseball team. 1•2 no Ahho!! earned a nice bit of notoriety by also featuring a lot of satire about current events of the time, likely focusing on actual events that were happening in baseball. It would run for just slightly shy of three years, ending in mid-1978 after 10 volumes, but it would return in a small way with Shin 1•2 no Ahho!! in 2001, though obviously not run in Jump the second time around. Still, Kontaro showcased a way to mix genres together successfully, and that would be something that manga would wind up doing a lot in the future.
Speaking of the Yomiuri Giants, the beginning of 1976 saw the debut of another baseball manga that focused around that team, in a sense, this time in a more serious manner. The first major work of Yoshihiro Takahashi, a former assistant to Hiroshi Motomiya, Akutare/Rowdy Giants is a manga that I sadly was barely able to find any real information about. It focused on young Murase, a rowdy & unbridled pitcher with problems when it comes to aiming, but with help from his friend & catcher Kobo the two plan on taking their little league Giants team all the way, with the little league Hanshin Tigers team being their main rival. Sadly, that's all I can really find out about this manga, which is kind of odd. Takahashi would later have a much more iconic work to put his name towards, but this title was no slouch, either. It ran for a solid four years, totaling 22 volumes, which actually makes it longer-running & larger than his most well known manga from the 80s, yet this manga is so obscure that it doesn't even have a Japanese Wikipedia page. I'm kind of amazed that it took this long for me to find a Bronze Age Jump manga that didn't even have a Japanese Wikipedia page, but it's proof that this is still a time that isn't celebrated as much as it could or should be.
Mid-1976 then saw the debut work of a man who would actually go on to become fairly infamous in Japan. Todai Icchokusen/Beeline to Tokyo U by Yoshinori Kobayashi followed Tohru Todai, a junior high student with dreams of making it to Tokyo University (the "Tokyo U" of the title), even though no one believes he can do it because he looks like a dummy. A gag manga that also acted as social commentary about the education system, Kobayashi actually started serializing this manga while he was still in school, which likely helped with the writing & grievances he had at the time. While the title was about making it to Tokyo Universtiy, it actually only followed Todai (get it?) up through high school, with a 1980-1981 Young Jump sequel, Todai Kaishingeki/March Forward to Tokyo U, actually detailing his college life. The original manga ran until late 1979 for 13 volumes, but what followed made Kobayashi infamous. In 1993 he debuted Gomanism Sengen/My Arrogant Declaration, where he portrayed himself as an intentionally arrogant & opinionated conservative person, similar to what Stephen Colbert did with The Colbert Report. Unlike Colbert, however, Kobayashi is very much someone who wants to rile the generally calm & non-confrontational Japanese society, and it's gotten in some trouble before. In fact, his criticism of doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo actually got the cult to try to kill him back in 1993! While Todai Icchokusen itself wasn't controversial, Yoshinori Kobayashi certainly doesn't have any trouble if he's become that in his home country.

It would seem odd to talk about a manga that's directly relevant to the modern day this early, but such is the case with Osamu Akimoto's Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen-mae Hashutsujo/This is the Police Station in Front of Kameari Park in Katsushika Ward, or Kochikame for short. Debuting in late 1976, the manga follows Kankichi Ryotsu, or Ryo-san to most people, as he lives his daily life as a beat cop in the Katsushika ward of Tokyo, constantly trying to come up with get-rich-quick schemes while also rarely doing any actual police work (though he's supposedly the best at catching crooks). Often considered the Japanese equivalent to The Simpsons, Kochikame is a comedy manga that pokes fun at itself as well as whatever is popular in Japan at the moment, maintaining a sense that it constantly takes place in the "present", and it's that very timelessness & relatability that has allowed Akimoto to draw the manga for as long as he wants. Yes, Kochikame is still running in Jump to this very day, being exempt from Jump's popularity order (i.e. the more popular a manga is, the earlier in the issue it appears), and while there are presently-running manga that are longer than it in terms of age (like Golgo 13 or Dokaben), no manga in history can beat it in terms of sheer length. Due to Akimoto being known as one of the most consistent people in manga, rarely taking breaks or missing a date, Kochikame beat Toilet Hakase's Jump record of 30 volumes back in 1984 & today is at 197 volumes, with no signs of slowing down or ending. It will likely take Akimoto's death to stop this goliath of manga, and he turned only 63 last month. It also had an anime pilot made back in 1985, followed by a TV anime from 1996-2004 (plus two anime movies during that time), which ran for over 300 episodes.
One of the people Astro Kyudan helped inspired during its 72-76 run was a young man named Masami Kurumada, who was an assistant to Ko Inoue during the run of Samurai Giants at the time. While Kurumada's debut serialization, 1974's Sukeban Arashi/Delinquent Storm, didn't make any splash, his follow up would take what Tozaki & Nakajima started & mold it into a style that is still seen to this day. 1977's Ring ni Kakero/Put It All in the Ring detailed the journey of Ryuji Takane, the son of a pro boxer who died before becoming champion, and his rise through the junior boxing ranks, taking on rivals both domestic & international, with the goal of one day facing his rival Jun Kenzaki for the world title in the professional world. While Jump had numerous big hits up to this point, Ring ni Kakero was something different; it was Jump first "mega hit". It's generally considered the title that brought Jump's readership to over 3 million, used existing ways of storytelling & refined them in a fashion that's still done today & is considered the norm, and Kurumada's use of exaggerated physics (while still staying true to the sport of choice, something with Astro Kyudan didn't do) would go on to revolutionize action manga in ways no previous title had done. It would eventually end in 1981 with a total of 25 volumes, and for all that it did for Jump, Shueisha did something special to send it off. First, the last few chapters leading to the finale all had color pages at the start. Second, Shueisha published the entire final chapter in full color; to this day, such a feat has only been repeated three times in Jump. Today, Shueisha calls Ring ni Kakero the "Hot-Blooded Fighting Manga Bible", i.e. every single action manga that succeeds today owes something to Kurumada's boxing hit. Finally, RnK did inspire actual people who are now renowned in some sort of physical combat sport, like Yuji Nagata & Kazushi Sakuraba (who even named one of his blows after a move in RnK). While it didn't receive an anime adaptation back in the day, it would eventually see one in 2004, followed by sequel series in 2006, 2010, & 2011 (for a total of 36 episodes), & a sequel manga (Ring ni Kakero 2) would run in Super Jump from 2000-2009 for another 26 volumes.
While Ring ni Kakero gave 1977 an early debut, newbie mangaka Hisashi Eguchi gave the year another notable debut at the very end with Susume!!/Go On!! Pirates. Whereas seemingly every notable baseball manga before it featured the Yomiuri Giants as an inspiration or direct plot point, Eguchi instead made up a pro team based out of his home prefecture, the Chiba Pirates. Starring Ippei Fuji & his fellow Pirates ball player Kentaro Inui, the manga debuted not too long before 1•2 no Ahho!! came to an end, carrying on the idea of the "baseball gag manga" after it finished in mid-1978; now, both titles are considered pioneers of the genre. The main difference between the two series, though, was that Susume!! Pirates was still about playing baseball, where Kontaro's manga was more of a straight-up comedy, with baseball being the theme. While the likes of Chichi no Tamashii, Samurai Gaints, & Play Ball were about serious gameplay, & Astro Kyudan was about fantastical feats of ridiculousness, Eguchi instead told his baseball games through absurd comedy. From what I can tell, though, Eguchi did push the envelope somewhat by using offensive words like "kichigai" (which I guess is a mean-spirited way to call someone crazy), though later reprints did keep the terminology intact to respect the original way it was made. Regardless, Susume!! Pirates ran until late 1980, and thought it never saw an anime adaptation (& possibly not even any live-action products, either) it was still a manga that helped lay the foundation for future comedic sports titles.

Following 1977, Jump would hit a bit of a status quo, with each of the following two years only seeing one new long-runner each; that said, both would be giants. First up was Buichi Terasawa's (Space Adventure) Cobra, which debuted at the very end of 1978 & took Jump to an environment that it was mostly unfamiliar with: Space. Combining Phillip K. Dick's short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, the basis behind the Total Recall movies, with some James Bond (plus others various sci-fi stories), Terasawa, who had worked under Osamu Tezuka before moving to solely manga, told the interstellar travels of Cobra, a legendary space pirate who was the most wanted man in the galaxy. Cobra tried to hide himself by blocking his memories & becoming a regular joe named Johnson, but he would soon recover his memories & rejoin his partner, the female cyborg Armaroid Lady. Cobra mixed together shonen manga with both a big sci-fi influence as well as a strong homage to old pulp fiction, giving it a swagger & style that simply couldn't be replicated. If Ring ni Kakero showcased how to stretch realism in order fascinate, while still keeping things influenced by reality, Cobra showcased that shonen manga didn't even have to be set on Earth, let alone do whatever the storyteller wanted to do. The manga would eventually end in 1984 after 18 volumes, but Terasawa would continually return to his debut work & tell new stories. Also, in 1982 an animated feature film was made followed by a TV anime adaptation than ran from 1982-1983, both of which were directed by the late, great Osamu Dezaki, and most recently were a pair of OVA series (both featuring Terasawa in a director's chair) & a new TV anime which came out from 2008-2010.
The next year would debut another of Jump's most iconic tales. Working under the pen name Yudetamago ("boiled egg" in Japanese), writer Takashi Shimada & artist Yoshinori Nakai made their debut with 1979's Kinnikuman/Muscle Man. Originally conceived as a parody of Ultraman, in which Kinnikuman was the hero no one wanted to call upon, Yudetamago quickly saw how successful Masami Kurumada was being with Ring ni Kakero. Since they were friends with Kurumada, the duo decided to follow his lead & not too long after debuting changed Kinnikuman into a slapstick pro wrestling manga, where the real-named Suguru Kinniku would team up with & also go up against various chojin/supermen in the wrestling ring. Where Kurumada simply gave his characters super-strong special attacks, though, Yudetamago had their characters deliver all sorts of crazy wrestling holds, slams, & blows, truly showcasing their abilities as "superhuman". Kinnikuman wound up becoming another massive success for Jump, running until mid-1987 for a total of 36 volumes (second only the Kochikame at the time), & would receive a long-running TV anime from 1983-1986 for 137 episodes (plus a variety of movies), followed by a second TV anime to finish the rest of the manga story from 1991-1992 for another 46 episodes. In the real world, some of the moves first shown in Kinnikuman, such as the Kinniku/Muscle Buster, were actually utilized in one way or another in actual professional wrestling! After a series of failed follow-ups, though, Yudetamago would create a sequel, Kinnikuman II-Sei, which starred the children of the original generation & ran in Weekly Playboy from 1998-2004 & saw its own TV anime adaptation; this anime would be released in North America under the name Ultimate Muscle. Kinnikuman II-Sei would receive a sequel/prequel from 2004-2011 which had the younger generation face off with their parents. Finally, Kinnikuman is the first Jump manga to actually be continued after its original ending, with new chapters continuing where the original left off at returning in 2010 & it still runs as a digital manga to this day. The new chapters are compiled in tankouban that continue off of the original numbering, complete with the Jump Pirate-emblazoned "Jump Comics" label, so as of today Kinnikuman is now technically at 53 volumes, with the last 17 all being from the past few years.
Entering into 1980, however, everything would change for Jump when it came to stuff outside of manga, and it's all because of a man who loved nothing more than to make poop jokes. Dr. Slump by Akira Toriyama debuted at the very start of the year, and it was a comedy starring Arale, a little girl robot created by the scientist Senbei Norimaki. The best way to describe Toriyama's debut work is to call it simply unpredictable, with nothing being off limits. Arale has no problems taking her head off & loves poking fresh poop with sticks, there's a Superman parody named Suppaman who's just as pathetic & weak as Superman is brave & strong, and Toriyama was seemingly allowed to make whatever silly & juvenile joke he wanted. The manga became a runaway mega hit, with Arale even making a semi-cameo (or at least her hat does) in the final fight for Ring ni Kakero, and when the TV anime adaptation came out from Toei in April of 1981 it, too, became a smash. While the manga would end in mid-1984, due to Toriyama feeling he had run out of ideas, & lasted 18 volumes, the TV anime would run until 1986, totaling 243 episodes (nearly double that of Kinnikuman or Dokonjo Gaeru), would receive a series of movies during that, see new movies & TV specials during the 90s, & then return to TV with a reboot anime from 1997-1999 for another 74 episodes. To this day, Dr. Slump is usually the oldest (finished) Jump property that is still brought up whenever an anniversary comes up (Kochikame is still running, so it's kind of an outlier at this point), and the main reason why Jump manga are usually adapted into anime the most out of any shonen manga magazine to this day is because of the insurmountable success of Dr. Slump. It may not have been one of the longest-runners, but it is one of the most important titles to have ever been serialized in the history of the magazine.

Akira Toriyama debuted with absurd humor at the start of 1980, but another person gave Jump another dosage of that at the end of the year. San-nen Kimengumi/Third Year Funny Face Club by Motoei Shinzawa was a zany gag manga revolving around the titular Kimengumi, a middle school club comprised of a bunch of oddball guys who all have weird-looking faces, and the two girls who wind up hanging with them. To properly understand the kind of humor Shinzawa used, you have to understand that every member of the Kimengumi (including the girls) had a name that's a pun when said in Japanese. Therefore, lead character Rei Ichido's name, when done in Eastern style (last name first), sounded like the Japanese phrase for "All together, bow!", or lead girl Yui Kawa's name sounding like a childish way to say "kawaii/cute". Still, it was a different enough style of gag manga to let it co-exist alongside Dr. Slump, and when the original "third year" story ended in 1982, after 6 volumes, it received an immediate continuation called High School! Kimegumi, which ran until 1987 for another 20 volumes. Kimengumi also received a TV anime series & film from 1985-1987, which ran for 86 episodes, & Shinzawa did make a couple of returns to his big hit from 2000-2005.
While Ring ni Kakero was in its last year of serialization in 1981, another sports manga debuted that took its game to the next level, and in this case is one of the most iconic sports manga of all time. Captain Tsubasa by Yoichi Takahashi (a student of Shinji Hiramatsu) followed young Tsubasa Oozora, who loved soccer more than anything else, as he advances from little schoolboy to a potential force to be reckoned with on the soccer pitch. Similar to what Kurumada did with boxing, though, Takahashi's utilization of "The Great Game" erred more on the spectacular than the realistic. The pitch during games would feel like they went on for miles for dramatic effect, for example, & the various shots made by the young players would do all kinds of things & be given special names, ala the "Superblows" in RnK. One character would train to strengthen his kicks by trying to shoot a soccer ball through waves on the beach, just to showcase how far these kids were willing to go in order to top each other. The end result was Captain Tsubasa becoming not just another giant hit for Jump, but also an inspiration to children all around the world (minus North America, natch). Players like Hidetoshi Nakata, Alessandro Del Piero, Fernando Torres, Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, Alexis Sánchez, & Andrés Iniesta all took up soccer because they were fans of Captain Tsubasa, and all of them became world-renowned players in one way or another. It would eventually end in mid-1988 after 37 volumes, barely outrunning Kinnikuman. Naturally, the manga would receive a TV anime (& some movies) from 1983-1986, running for 128 episodes, followed by a 13-episode OVA series (Shin Captain Tsubasa) from 1989-1990. There is more to Yoichi Takahashi's soccer epic, but we'll get back to it in another era.
Suddenly, the very end of 1981 saw the debut of three more notable Jump manga of varying length. First up was Cat's♥Eye, the debut serialization of a young man named Tsukasa Hojo. The manga focused on the Kisugi sisters, a trio who work at their café during the day, but at night they steal valuable art as the infamous thieves known as Cat's Eye; they specifically only steal art that once belonged to their missing father. Cat's Eye's biggest "foe" is a clumsy police officer named Toshio Otsumi, who is also in a relationship with the middle sister Hitomi, but Toshio is so inept that he can't even realize that his girlfriend is a notorious thief, even when the girls' café is literally also named Cat's Eye! Cat's♥Eye was a notable debut for Hojo, showcasing what is usually his strongest aspect as an artist, which is that he knows how to draw sexy women. While not one of the biggest hits of its time, this manga still entertained the Jump audience & made people know the force that Tsukasa Hojo would end up becoming. The manga ended in 1985, after 18 volumes, & received two TV anime series from 1983-1985 for a total of 73 episodes. It would be remade from 2010-2014 with story by Sakura Nakameguro & art by Shin Asai under the name Cat's Eye (with the kanji for love, "Ai", in place of the katakana for "Eye").

A year after finishing Susume!! Pirates, Hisashi Eguchi debuted his other notable Jump manga. Oddly enough, though, it's less than half the length yet the seemingly more iconic work. Stop!! Hibari-kun! debuted in late-1981 & revolved around Kosaku Sakamoto, who moves in with the Oozora Family after his mother died, as the patriarch Ibari was an old friend of hers. What Kosaku doesn't know, however, is that Ibari Oozora is the head of a notorious yakuza group, and, even worse for Kosaku, the beautiful daughter that he immediately becomes smitten with, Hibari, is actually the only son! Yes, Hibari-kun! was a comedy manga that mainly dealt with Kosaku's attempts at keeping himself from falling for Hibari, not helped by the fact that Hibari loved dressing & behaving like a girl, not to mention had the hots for Kosaku. Around the time Eguchi debuted this work, Japan was having a romantic comedy boom, no doubt started by Rumiko Takahashi's Shonen Sunday manga Urusei Yatsura in 1978. Eguchi, however, didn't like how plotless manga in this genre tended to be, so he gave his manga a more sarcastic tone. After two years & four volumes, though, Eguchi seemingly had enough with it all, with the final chapter in late 1983 ending with a character crying tears of blood to the reader & screaming, "Shonen manga is dead!", before belittling readers about how they don't know about classics like Gaki Daisho. Still, Stop!! Hibari-kun! found an audience of some sort, because it did receive a 35-episode TV anime from 1983-1984, ending a month after the manga did; I doubt the anime ended the same way, though. As for Hisashi Eguchi, he would continue to do some short manga for Shueisha & Jump before eventually creating alternative manga anthology Comic Cue in 1994, which ran yearly until 2003. Eguchi would also become known for drawing lots of pop art, as well as doing the character designs for anime movies Roujin Z, Spriggan, & Perfect Blue.
After finishing up Doberman Deka in 1979, artist Shinji Hiramatsu would venture out on his own, but a solo hit would elude him for two years until he debuted Black Angels in late 1981. Starring Yoji Yukito, a professional assassin who only wants to rid Japan of any & all scum & villany, I can only guess that Hiramatsu seemed displeased with how Doberman Deka became lighthearted as it went on, because Black Angels, from what I can tell, was a dark manga. This was a series that was all about cutting evil down by the knees, with all of the violence & remorselessness that one could likely get away with in a shonen magazine at the time. Hiramatsu was allowed to make the manga that he wanted to make, seemingly, and the end result was a dark, bleak, & violent one, one that would last just shy of four years, ending in mid-1985 after 20 volumes. Not surprisingly, it never received an anime adaptation, though there were live-action movies, even as recently as 2010. Following that, Shinji Hiramatsu would continue to make manga about people who violently take down evil, such as Murder License Kiba & Gedoubou/Heretic Monk, and he would even create manga where the leads from each manga would team up. Not surprisingly, one of Hiramatsu's assistants during the following years, Tetsuya Saruwatari, would go on to create similarly rough & violent manga as well (Riki-Oh, Dog Solider, & Tough, for example). The concept of taking down evil violently via Shonen Jump would see a more iconic manga during the run of Black Angels, but that's a story for another time...
A couple of months after Ring ni Kakero ended in full-color, Masami Kurumada returned with his anticipated follow up, early 1982's Fuma no Kojirou/Kojirou of the Fuma. Detailing the battles a young ninja named Kojirou went through alongside his Fuma brethren, the manga helped take shonen action further into the fantastical without relying on a sport to be the basis. Mixing together various ninja techniques, psychic abilities (for a couple of characters only), and even utilizing the Buddhist concept of Saṃsāra (the cycle of life, death, & reincarnation) as a way to question the concept of destiny itself, Fuma no Kojirou went in a direction that hadn't really been seen that much in shonen manga, especially action titles, which tended to be fairly straightforward & based in reality in some way. Where Buichi Terasawa's Cobra showed that Earthly concepts didn't need to be used at all for shonen manga, Masami Kurumada showed that one can utilize all sorts of ideas, mythologies, & beliefs to expand the breadth of storytelling via FnK. Though the manga did seem to be very popular during its run, with many chapters during the middle arc of the manga featuring color pages originally, Kurumada still decided to end his third series in late 1983 after two full years; it would eventually be adapted into anime via a trio of OVA productions from 1989-1992. My personal guess is that he felt ready to finally make his magnum opus, but said follow up, 1984-1985's Otoko Zaka/Man's Hill, would bomb hard by relying on the older action concepts that Kurumada himself largely made outdated via RnK & FnK. Following that, he would decide to make his next work appeal to the masses, but let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Following the end of Circuit no Okami in 1979, there was a lack of car racing manga in Jump, one that would be filled in by a debuting Ryuji Tsugihara with late 1982's Yoroshiku Mechadoc/Best Regards, Mechadoc (short for "Mechanical Doctor). Focusing mainly on tuning up traditional, commercial vehicles for racing, the manga dealt with Jun Kazami as he goes up against rival tuners by fixing up various cars & racing them. Compared to the extravagant super cars that Satoshi Ikezawa showcased in his racing epic, Tsugihara's cars were mere jalopies that were made into true-blue racing machines. If I had to make a guess, I'd say that Yoroshiku Mechadoc helped inspire people to focus on improving their regular old vehicles into something more, instead of simply dreaming to one day drive the new hotness that would normally be out of their reach. It ran for a solid four years, ending in late 1985 after 12 volumes, and would receive a TV anime adaptation by Tatsunoko from 1984-1985 that ran for 30 episodes. Nowadays when people think of racing manga that focus on using seemingly everyday vehicles the instant answer would be Initial D, but that manga may not have been able to exist in the first place had Tsugihara not introduced the concept first.
While Jump's most successful era technically started in 1983, the title that truly started it debuted very late into the year. That being said, though, there were two notable manga that did debut before it. The first was at the start of the year, which saw the debut of a young artist named Masakazu Katsura via Wingman. Combining Katsura's love of both romantic comedies & superheroes, the manga told the adventures of Kenta Hirano, a boy who loves superheroes & tokusatsu shows so much that he dreams of one day becoming a transforming hero himself. After running into a mysterious girl named Aoi Yume, though, his dream actually comes true. Aoi is the princess of a universe called Podreams, and with her magical Dream Note gives Kenta the ability to transform into the hero of his dreams, Wingman; now he must save Podreams from the dictator Rimel, who wants the Dream Note. For the rom-com concept, Katsura had Kenta work with not just Aoi, but also his classmate Miku Ogawa, adding a love triangle element to the superhero storytelling. While Wingman only ran for about 2.5 years, ending in mid-1985 after 13 volumes, it was only the beginning for Masazaku Katsura, who would go on to become one of Jump's most prolific creators; we'll be seeing more from him in later parts. As for his debut work, Wingman did see a 47-episode TV anime, Yume Senshi/Dream Warrior Wingman, from 1984-1985 by Toei, which featured the debut of a young voice actor named Ryo Horikawa; much like Katsura, Jump would bring about more success for Horikawa in the future.
The final manga to debut during the Bronze Age started in mid-1983, & was yet another debut serialization. Shape Up Ran by Masaya Tokuhiro was a gag manga revolving around Ranko Kotobuki, a girl who was previously obese before taking up weight training & becoming a super-fit & muscular junior high student. While the likes of Dr. Slump featured a lot of poop jokes & juvenile humor, though, Tokuhiro decided to bring back the more raunchy humor that the likes of Go Nagai brought to manga for his debut. The end result was the use of a lot of "extreme" jokes & a heavy focus on sex appeal, not to mention being the manga that introduced Jump to the idea of "mokkori" (a.k.a. an erection) humor; this phrase would become more associated with a title that would debut a couple of years later. Still, Shape Up Ran didn't take the easy way out & simply be a perverted gag manga. Instead, the manga would also become a bit of a revolutionary one for comedy by also taking the time to tell the occasional serious & even humane story about its characters. Tokuhiro showcased that even gag manga can have a message to it, that it was okay to move towards serious storytelling if the characters were resonating with the readers. Running a little shy of three years long, Shape Up Ran would end at the very start of 1986, after 14 volumes, and thought it never saw an anime adaptation of any sort, Masaya Tokuhiro helped expand where gag manga could go if the author truly wanted to take it there.
The second half of the Bronze Age was truly the point in Shonen Jump's history where the first signs of the magazine's future status as an icon were shown. Kochikame is still running to this day, something that I'm sure no one at Jump back in 1976 would have ever conceived was possible. The seeds that Astro Kyudan laid when it came to showcasing shonen action saw their first growth with Ring ni Kakero, which essentially wrote the fantastical blueprint that seemingly every single action manga has followed to this very day. Kinnikuman & Captain Tsubasa followed RnK's lead, becoming icons of manga that still exist to this very day. Cobra, in turn, showed that one didn't even need to focus on any sort of reality the tell an engaging story; there was a whole universe that could be created. Finally, Dr. Slump was the first real smash hit when it came to Jump anime, and single-handedly made the magazine the place to look for when it came to adapting shonen manga into anime. In between all of those titles were debut works from many manga creators who would go on to even greater success, a number of which would be big impetuses for what would come next.

With the Bronze Age out of the way, it was time to move onto the only age that has been given an official title... And it started off by letting all of the competition know that they were already dead.


  1. Murder License Kiba is interesting alone, just for the fact that the protagonist has the ability to change his gender and trick his enemies. It gives new meaning to the word "trap".

    1. Yeah, I read about that when I looked up quick info about Kiba. At the very least, Hiramatsu knows how to mix up his evil killing.