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Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Silver Age of Jump Part 2: Let's See How Far We've Come

We have finally made it. At the start of January we started this journey through the annals of Weekly Shonen Jump's biggest hits (plus some of its most infamous experiments), and I decided to do all of this for two main reasons. First, the whole "Ages of Jump" concept was really just a greatly expanded version of some panels I had done at Anime Boston, AnimeNEXT, & Otakon in the past where I showcased Jump's history to people by way of their anime OPs, plus some basic info on their relevance. From those panels I had always considered doing one final, massive overview of as many manga as I could come up with, especially those that were notable but did not receive anime adaptations. Second, I simply wanted to see how interconnected Jump's history as a whole was. If you've been reading each part of the Ages of Jump you'll have likely noticed that many notable manga creators throughout Jump's history had originally started as assistants to other people who were working for Jump before them. Whether it was Masami Kurumada working for Ko Inoue, Takehiko Inoue & Haruto Umezawa working for Tsukasa Hojo, Yusuke Murata working for Takeshi Obata (who himself worked for Makoto Niwano), or the infamous "Watsuki-gumi", there has always been a continual passing of the torch from one creator to another by way of assistants, some of which would become big names in their own rights & then teach others, who may become future big names. We've also seen a general "Jump Style" come about, starting from the earliest signs via Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daisho & Astro Kyudan to the basic blueprint that Ring ni Kakero established to the codifying that Fist of the North Star & Dragon Ball did to the refining & continuous homage that series like One Piece & Naruto have done. I'm a sucker for history & seemingly pointless trivia, so any opportunity to combine them together is something I'm always up for, & while I am feeling silly for having to write so much these past two months, I'm glad I finally did it for "all" (i.e. anyone who stumbles across this blog) to read.

So, to finish up, let's see what came about in the latter half of the Silver Age of Jump & find out just how far we've come.

Kenta Shinohara started his adult life as a salaryman, but found the life to not be for him. He worked an office job for two years while planning his move to the job he really wanted to do, which was to make manga. When he started upon his new life he worked as an assistant for Hideaki Sorachi during Gintama's earlier years, learning a lot during his short time there. After some one-shots in 2006, Shinohara made his serialized debut with mid-2007's Sket Dance, which followed the three-person high school club known as the Sket Dan, with "SKET" standing for "Support, Kindness, Encouragement, and Troubleshoot". True to that name, the trio of (supposed) leader Yusuke "Bossun" Fujisaki, former female delinquent Hime "Himeko" Onizuka, & quiet tech whiz Kazuyoshi "Switch" Usui dedicated themselves to improving the overall quality of campus life, though since the school wasn't all that bad off in general, the club was generally looked at as nothing more than useless handymen. Considering where Shinohara came from, it's no surprise that Sket Dance was very similar to Gintama is a few ways, especially in the basic concept of both series starring trios (with two guys & one woman who could kick both of their asses, naturally) who help the people around them at all times; it could be argued that both were similar to Hareluya II BØY, if you want to be technical, too. In fact, the similarities actually resulted in crossovers between the two series, both via manga & anime, with both trios poking fun at said similarities. Beyond that, though, Sket Dance was still an overall different type of series than Gintama, with Shinohara relying less on madcap references & toilet humor than his teacher, though there was still a mix between silly comedies & character-focused, dramatic, & serious stories. In the end, Sket Dance wound up having a very healthy life, ending in mid-2013 after 32 volumes & receiving a TV anime adaptation by Tatsunoko from 2011-2012 that lasted 77 episodes, plus a single OVA in 2013. Following the end of his debut series, Kenta Shinohara is taking a break from manga, most recently doing the original character designs 2014 anime Battle Spirits: Burning Soul.
When it comes to manga creators, you can categorize them in three ways: Those who become icons, those who stay relatively unknown (maybe reaching cult status, though), & those who just can't seem to get a break. Toshiaki Iwashiro is someone who is definitely in the third category. He debuted with 2005-2006's Mieru Hito, which only lasted seven volumes (i.e. not an absolute bomb, but not quite notable), but things seemed to look up with his follow-up, Psyren (stylized as PSYЯEN), which debuted in the first issue of 2008. It starred Ageha Yoshina, a high school student who gets involved in the mysterious game called Psyren, where chosen contestants are transported to another world & do battle against each other to the death. Soon enough, Ageha & his new friends learn that Psyren is actually their world's future, so they decide to try their hardest to make sure the world of Psyren doesn't come true. The mix of shonen action with an element of time travel, while also adding in ESP of some sort (each Psyren player has some sort of psychic power) earned the manga an audience that loved every new chapter as each came out, but Psyren never seemed to really become a major hit. Sure it ran for a solid three entire years, ending in 2010's final issue of the year & lasting 16 volumes (which is nothing to sneeze at), but when all is said & done there was just something about Iwashiro's second series that kept holding it back from being a longer, more successful manga. Adding to the feeling of it being intensely underrated is the fact that, like Mr. Fullswing & Muhyo & Roji, Psyren never received any sort of anime adaptation. Toshiaki Iwashiro would give a serialized series another go a few years later, but 2015's Kagamigami would only run throughout most of that year, ending after only five volumes; similar to Psyren, it too had a passionate fanbase that lamented it's short run. Will Toshiaki Iwashiro's dedicated fanbase one day expand to a size that may one day give him a giant hit to match the quality of his works? Who knows, but I can guess that plenty of people will be anticipating his next work.
While there were various manga is Jump that utilized supernatural elements or the concept of yokai, they tended to be about people who fought back against these elements, like Hell Teacher Nube or the short-lived Yokai Hunter from 1974, rather than use these elements as a complete positive. Early 2008's Nurarihyon no Mago/Nurarihyon's Grandson, known abroad as Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, differed from the pack in that regard. The debut serialization of Hiroshi Shiibashi, a literal student of Kazuo Koike (during his time as a teacher at Osaka University of the Arts) as well as former assistant to Hirohiko Araki for Steel Ball Run, the manga told the story of Rikuo Nura, a human/yokai child (1/4 yokai, to be precise) who changes between his different forms during day & night. At first, Rikuo refuses to follow his grandfather's wish of becoming the Third Head of the Nura Clan, but eventually agrees to take the succession, upon which he & his friends (human & yokai) have to fight back against the various factions that wish to either stop Rikuo or usurp him as the next Head. Being someone who was under the tutelage of an artist as skilled as Araki, it's no surprise that Shiibashi's artwork was one of the big appeals for Nura, allowing for the use of all sorts of yokai & mysticism. As if to show off how nice his artwork was, Shiibashi drew each new volume cover so that they could be lined up side to side & create one giant stretch of continuous artwork that showcases all of the major characters. In the end, the manga ran regularly in Jump until mid-2012, where the final three chapters were moved over to the quarterly Jump Next!, with the final chapter coming out that December; the manga totaled 25 volumes. From 2010-2011 two TV anime adaptations were made by Studio Deen, each of which were directed by skilled anime veterans (Junji Nishimura for the first, Michio Fukuda for the second), totaling 52 episodes & three additional OVA episodes. In a magazine that featured over-the-top sports & all sorts of wild worlds, it's a little surprising that it took so long for a series that utilized yokai so heavily to appear in Jump at all, let alone become a hit.

When we last saw Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro, he suffered an infamous fall from grace by way of his underage indecency conviction in 2002, which put a quick & unplanned end to his debut smash hit, Seikimatsu Leader-den Takeshi!. He was allowed to return to manga via seinen magazine Super Jump's 2004-2005 short manga Ring, & in 2005 was allowed to given Takeshi! a more proper ending in the same magazine. Shimabukuro returned to younger audience manga in 2007 via the one-shot Eriya in Akamaru Jump's Spring issue, but it required the good word of his friend Eiichiro Oda for Shueisha to allow Shimabukuro to return to Shonen Jump proper. Luckily for him, Shimabukuro showcased that he still knew how to make a manga for the Jump audience when he debuted Toriko in mid-2008. Taking place in a world inundated with all sorts of wild & crazy animals and vegetation, which in turn allows for the greatest food to be made, the manga follows the eponymous lead, a "Gourmet Hunter", as he & his friends aim to create their individual "Full Courses", which best represent what they each feel is the best food they have ever eaten. Toriko is very much a throwback series, utilizing a super-built, manly aesthetic that had not really been used in Jump since the 80s, making it both nostalgic for older readers as well as different enough (in a "what's old is new again" sort of way) for the younger generation. Another part of what has made Shimabukuro's second major work a hit is the wild use of imagination, where he creates all sorts of made up & crazy flora & fauna in the world he has created, one truly befitting of the "Gourmet Age" it takes place in. The end result is that Toriko has become another notably large hit for Jump, with some even deeming it as Bleach's replacement in the "Big 3", or at least for some period of time. It also received a TV anime adaptation by Toei Animation, following a 2009 Jump Festa pilot by Ufotable, that ran alongside One Piece from 2011-2014 for 147 episodes & two anime movies (one short 3D CG film & one traditional production); matching the old school style, the anime's two OPs were performed by anison legend Akira Kushida. In fact, the first episode of Toriko's anime was an hour-long crossover with One Piece, which was followed by a sequel crossover in 2012 & then a triple crossover with One Piece & Dragon Ball in 2013. Currently, Toriko is at 38 volumes & though its current placement in the Jump rankings hover between the upper-middle & the lower end, there's no doubt that Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro has made the best of his second chance, giving Shonen Jump an iconic Silver Age manga.
After Death Note saw its infamous ending in mid-2006, Takeshi Obata made his return (with writer Tsuneo Takano) at the end of the year with Blue Dragon: RalΩGrad, which was based on the world of the Xbox 360 RPG Blue Dragon; the manga ended in mid-2007 after four volumes. After some one-shots, Obata reunited with the mysterious Tsugumi Ohba to make another manga, this time tackling a subject that manga readers rarely get to find out about: How to make manga. Mid-2008's Bakuman. technically told the story of two high school students, artist Moritaka Mashiro & writer Akito Takagi, who wish to become manga creators, teaming together to make their manga. There's also a secondary plot where Moritaka tells his crush, Miho Azuki, about his dream, only for her to tell him her dream of becoming a voice actor; the two agree to get married, but only if she one day gets a role in an anime adaptation of his manga. Bakuman. became a very big hit for Jump, but not simply because Moritaka & Akito's journey of creating manga just so happened to operate like a traditional shonen manga. Rather, Ohba & Obata actually made a manga that showcased a lot of the inner workings of how Shonen Jump operated as a whole. Various characters were based on actual manga creators & editors at the magazine, any & all manga of the past that were referenced tended to be actual iconic Jump manga, and the story itself gave readers an actual sense of why something is a success in Jump & why others fail (or, at least, a basic idea of such concepts), making it a truly one-of-a-kind series in the magazine's history. In fact, it's from Bakuman. that fans have started guessing who Tsugumi Ohba's really is. In the story, Moritaka's uncle was established as having been a manga creator whose only success was a superhero gag manga, & some storyboards done by Ohba have been shown in the past, all of which showcased an artstyle that was similar to that of Luckyman. This has made most people guess that Ohba is actually Luckyman creator Hiroshi Gamou, with Ohba having never given an answer about this.

Though some have called out the series for its sexism, as women in the story are either power-hungry snakes or helpless damsels, and many found the ending as an example of dropping the ball, the manga was still the closest thing to an exposé on the inner workings of Shonen Jump as fans will likely ever get. The manga ended in mid-2012, totaling 20 volumes, & J.C. Staff adapted the entire story across three TV anime series that ran from 2010-2013 for a total of 75 episodes. Said anime actually ran on NHK-E, which is Japan's equivalent to PBS, which matched the semi-educational nature of the manga's concept. Most recently, in late 2015,  a live-action film adaptation debuted in theaters. Since the end of Bakuman., Takeshi Obata drew the 2014 manga adaptation of the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill, to go alongside the Hollywood adaptation End of Tomorrow, & drew the art for Nobuaki Endo's short-lived Jump series Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgement. As for Gamo...Ohba, he worked with an artist named Robico for a one-shot named Skip! Yamada-kun in 2014, & in late 2015 debuted a new series with Obata in Jump Square titled Platinum End, which is still running.
Every now & then a manga series will (for various reasons) run for a length of time that is relatively longer than its total content length, & the same applies to the Silver Age. Mid-2008's Inumarudashii wasn't the first serialization that Koji Oishi (not to be confused with the MMA fighter) ever did, that would be 2006-2007's Maison du Penguin, but it is his longest, both in length & time. An episodic gag series of short chapters, usually around nine pages or so each, the manga followed Inumaru, a little kindergartner who tended to always make trouble, usually by way of his odd knowledge of celebrity gossip & Jump history, or his constant tendency to not wear any pants. Obviously, this was meant to be a bit of nice way for readers to transition from one manga to another in a regular issue, likely operating as a nice transitional manga if it followed one that just had an intense chapter involving action or drama. The manga itself would also be parodied or paid respect to via various other Jump manga or their respective anime adaptations, whether it was Gintama, Sket Dance, or even Psyren, for example. If anything, the half-length chapters may be the reason why Inumarudashii's length isn't representative of how long it ran for, because even though Inumaru's kindergartner life ran until mid-2012, or nearly four solid years, the manga as a whole only totaled 11 volumes. Unfortunately for Oishi, his second serialization never received an anime adaptation of any sort, though it did receive a Vomic (or "Voice Comic") adaptation in 2009, followed by a "Flash comic" version in 2011. While it likely won't go down as an all-time classic in the history of Jump, Inumarudashii had its reason for existing & did it well enough to have a respectable run in the magazine's modern era.

Ever since Slam Dunk's full-color finale dropped the curtain on the Golden Age of Jump, it seemed like no manga creator was going to even try to make a spiritual successor to Takehiko Inoue's iconic story. It wouldn't be until the second issue of 2009 until one appeared, which came in the form of Kuroko no Basuke/Kuroko's Basketball, the serialized debut of Tadatoshi Fujimaki (a former assistant to Tatsuma Ejiri, creator of 2006-2007's P2! -let's Play Pingpong!-). The series followed the titular Tetsuya Kuroko, a short little nobody that no one ever notices, but therein lies his special skill on the court: Kuroko gives off such little presence that he's the perfect player to pass the ball to, because the opposing team will continually forget to put a player on him. In fact, Kuroko, true to his namesake, was the unknown sixth member of the middle school quintet known as the "Generation of Miracles", all of which went to different high schools. Alongside brand new transfer student Taiga Kagami, who went to middle school in the US, Kuroko will not only help make his Seirin High team even stronger, but will also have to eventually take on his old "Generation" teammates. While some people would obviously copy Inoue's manga to some extent in homage, Fujimaki more or less went the opposite directions for his series, which is likely what helped make it Jump's second basketball smash. Kuroko's use as misdirection was totally unlike Slam Dunk's Sakuragi, & even Kagami was already established as a skilled b-ball player due to his time in the US. To give the two (& their team) real challenge, then, Fujimaki did another thing different than Inoue by making his series operate on the fantastical side of the sports spectrum. From the start, each member of the "Generation" already had pretty wild skills, like copying an opponent's style or being able to make three-pointers from anywhere on the court, but as the series went on the players' abilities became crazier, even utilizing laser-like imagery for effect. Even if some people who prefer realism found such acts to be ridiculous (personally, there's a place for either), there's no denying that it helped keep Kuroko's Basketball from being a simple modern-day copy of Slam Dunk, & in the end Fujimaki wound up ending the series in late 2014 after 30 volumes (only one shy from its predecessor); you can also categorize the manga as "Neo-Shonen", due to its notable female fanbase. The manga also received a trio of TV anime adaptations by Production I.G. from 2012-2015 that totaled 75 episodes & covered the entire story. Presently, Tadatoshi Fujimaki is making a sequel, Kuroko's Basketball: Extra Game, in Jump Next ever since December 2014.
Ryuhei Tamura started off doing one-shots in Shonen Jump in 2003, and wound up becoming an assistant to Toshiaki Iwashiro for some portion of Psyren's run. After making a one-shot version in 2008, Tamura would expand that into his debut serialization, early 2009's Beelzebub. Starring Tatsumi Oga, a first year student at delinquent-filled Ishiyama High, the story details Oga's life after coming across a baby floating down the river (inside of a man's chest, to boot). Turns out the child, Baby Beel, is the youngest child of the great demon of the underworld, & Oga has been chosen to raise Baby Beel, with Beel's maid Hilda helping whenever she deems it necessary. Though Oga initially tries to pass off Beel to someone else (Beel's habit of emitting powerful electrical shocks when annoyed doesn't help), the two wind up forging an honest father/son relationship & eventually have to take on not only other delinquents but also other demons who wish to take Beel's place as heir to the throne. Beelzebub was the closest thing to a modern-day equivalent to Sakigake!! Otokojuku but utilizing deliquents & either showcasing them as utter badasses (usually Oga & his rivals/friends) or as utterly pathetic & useless (like Oga's friend Furuichi). Similarly, Tamura's manga would switch between comedic antics & serious action whenever necessary, allowing it to appeal in multiple ways; plus, Baby Beel was just too adorable to not instantly like. The series maintained a nice amount of popularity, allowing Tamura to do it until early 2014 for 27 volumes, followed shortly by a year-long continuation in Jump Next titled Beelzebub Bangaihen/Extra Edition. The manga also received a TV anime adaptation by Studio Pierrot (specifically the Pierrot+ division), that ran from 2011-2012 for 60 episodes; it wasn't exactly well received by manga fans, though, due to an abundance of early filler. Still, considering that Jump had not seen a notable delinquent manga since the end of Rookies in 2003, it was great to see the genre receive another entry, even if it was just as much a comedy as it was an action title.
Nisio Isin (who usually writes his name as NisiOisiN to showcase how it's a palindrome) is best known as the writer of his Monogatari series of light novels, though he has also done novel spin-offs of manga like Death Note & xxxHolic. He has also written for manga on rare occassion, though, with his most notable work in that medium being mid-2009's Medaka Box, which he made with artist Akira Akatsuki, a former assistant of Katsura Hoshino who's prior Jump serialization, 2007's Contractor M&Y, ended after only two volumes. The manga focused around Medaka Kurokami, a charismatic & popular first year student at Hakoniwa Academy who is elected Student Council President with 98% of the vote. Her first action as President is to enact a suggestion box, where she & her friends can solve any issues that the students have. True to NisiOisiN's style, though, the series would become much, much more than it first seemed. Isin's writing for the manga seemingly went through the full spectrum in terms of whether to respect shonen action traditions or to criticize them. At first, Isin was simply poking fun at them, but as the series would go on he would eventually transition to outright insulting the tropes, ideals, & traditions of shonen action, no doubt annoying a good number of readers in the process. After that, though, Isin's writing would apparently pull a complete 180 & start to embrace the very ideas that he had just denigrated; whether this was Isin's intent from the start or was editorially mandated is hard to tell. Throughout all of this, Medaka herself would go from a seeming perfect icon of her school to supposedly one of the all-time most powerful lead characters in all of Shonen Jump history, maybe even giving Dark Schneider notice (though, let's face it, D.S. would simply try to sex up Medaka, because he's an equal-opportunity sexual offender). Combined with Akatsuki's well done artwork, though Isin's writing was hard to beat in terms of attention-grabbing, Medaka Box wound up having a wild run that would end in mid-2013 after 22 volumes. Across 2012 the manga would receive a TV anime adaptation by Gainax that was split up across two halves (or cours, if you prefer), totaling 24 episodes. Bringing in a light novel author who was (& still is) notorious for his intensely dense writing style & having him write a shonen action manga was no doubt a curious idea, but it wound up making Medaka Box a truly unique entry in the genre. NisiOisiN currently is still writing his various light novels, with the occasional manga one-shot, while Akira Akatsuki is currently doing two manga. One is online via Jump+ (Ruger Code 1951, which is written by Ryoto Hani), & the other just started up in Jump Square, Shonen Shojo, which reunites Akatsuki with Isin.

After some one-shots in 2007, Naoshi Komi made his serialized debut with Double Arts, a shonen action manga that quickly found a fanbase that was loving it from the start, but wound up becoming a victim of the extremely cutthroat nature of Jump's ranking system & editorial cancellations; it lasted only three volumes. Following that, Komi went in a different direction for his next series, making it a comedic rom-com that wound up becoming a big hit. Late 2011's Nisekoi: False Love follows Raku Ichijo & Chitose Kirisaki, two high school students who are both children of rival yakuza factions who are forced to act like a loving couple for the next three years in order to maintain peace between their respective families. Unfortunately, Raku & Chitose vehemently hate each other, & Raku in particular has a deep-seated crush on his classmate Kosaki Onodera. Mixing together an artificial love triangle with various other complications as the story advances, Nisekoi twists the shonen romance formula just enough through its basic concept to make it different enough from the likes of I"s & Kimagure Orange Road that came before it. It's also a series that has managed to live on longer than its spiritual predecessors, as it is still running to this day & is presently at 21 volumes. Two TV anime adaptations by Shaft have since been made across 2014 & 2015, totaling 32 episodes & four OVA episodes. Just to point out an example of the Gintama anime title parody I mentioned in Part 1, the second anime for this manga is titled Nisekoi:. Yes, the colon is in fact part of the title for no major reason, hence why Gintama does it as a joke. Regardless, it's impressive that Naoshi Komi managed to go from a seemingly underrated action manga creator to this generation's shonen romance king, but it's that type of unpredictability that makes manga interesting.
Let's see what kinds of sports have been utilized via the Jump manga covered (or at least mentioned) so far: Baseball (oh so much of it...), Racing (both car & even motorcross), Boxing, Pro-Wrestling, Soccer, Basketball, Horse Racing, MMA (kind of/sort of), Golf, Tennis, American Football, & (if you want to count them) Card & Board Games... So why not add volleyball to the list? Debuting in early 2012, Haikyu!! was the second manga serial by Haruichi Furudate; his first, Kiben Gakuha, Yotsuya Senpai no Kaidan., ran during the first half of 2010 for three volumes. After seeing a national championship match on TV, Shoyo Hinata becomes fascinated with volleyball & wants to do nothing but play it. Even though he's pretty short, he hopes to follow in the steps of the "Little Giant", the star player of the championship game. While in junior high he manages to scrounge together a team for a tournament, but is quickly trounced by a team lead by the "King of the Court", Tobio Kageyama. Vowing to one day beat Kageyama, Hinata manages to enter Karasuno High in order to join its volleyball team, only to realize that Kageyama is also looking to join the team. Much like the other sports manga before it, Haikyu!!'s focus was not just on telling an interesting story of adversity & "battle" through sporting events, but also on making the sport look appealing to everyone, including those who may not have cared about volleyball before. In most of the world, the sport tends to be a bit underrated & mainly stereotyped through its beach variant, but Furudate's manga focus on the indoor variant & treats the sport with much respect. Featuring quick action, beloved characters, & an art style that falls into the "Neo-Shonen" category, Haikyu!! has become another beloved sports manga in Jump history, and its use of volleyball makes it stand alone among the others. It's still running as of this post, with 19 volumes to its name, and doesn't seem to be anywhere near ending just yet. It has also seen two TV anime adaptations by Production I.G., with the first airing in 2014 & the second debuting in late-2015 & is still airing, with a planned 52 total episodes so far.
Shuichi Aso first made his mark in Shonen Jump with 2007-2008 gag manga Boku no Watashi no Yusha Gaku/Our Hero Studies, which lasted six volumes. His follow-up, Shinseiki Idol Densetsu: Kanata Seven Change/New Century Idol Legend: Beyond Seven Changes, ran for slightly over 10 chapters & only lasted a single volume. Luckily for him, the third time was the charm, as it's become a true dark horse gag hit for Jump for the past few years. Mid-2012's Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan/The Disaster of Psi Kusuo Saiki follows the daily life of Kusuo Saiki, a high school sophomore who has various psychic powers, but after an incident as a child nearly blew his cover (he could never lose in Rock-Paper-Scissors, no matter what) he decided to be a loner & never speak in order to hide his secret abilities. Since Saiki never talks, all of his dialogue is in fact through thought balloons & inner monologues, which alone makes him a very different type of lead character from what is usually found in Jump. Sadly, the manga has become a bit of a cult favorite, even in Japan. Though reliably popular enough to still stay in Jump today, there hasn't been much in terms of non-manga productions. There were two light novels made in 2013 & 2014, a Flash anime adaptation in 2013, & Saiki was a playable character in 2014/2015's anniversary game J-Stars Victory Vs., but a traditional TV anime adaptation still eludes the series, making Saiki Kusuo the longest manga in Jump that's still currently running to still not receive a TV anime. Outside of Japan, the manga received a short-lived fan translation effort, which received a similarly short-lived revitalization following J-Stars' release, but otherwise remains the least-known long-running Jump manga today.

Following the end of Neuro: Supernatural Detective in mid-2009, Yusei Matsui took a break from serialized manga & did a couple of one-shots. He made his long-run return with mid-2012's Assassination Classroom, which took the usual school setting & turned it completely on its head. After a mysterious alien destroys 70% of the Moon & threatens to destroy Earth in one year, it gives humanity one last chance at survival... By becoming a homeroom teacher named Koro-sensei (a pun on "korosenai/unkillable" & "sensei/teacher") at Kunugigaoka Junior High. While also being the absolute best teacher the kids have ever had, Koro-sensei is also teaching the kids how to kill, because these children are the only hope for Earth's salvation; the Japanese government is also offering 10 billion yen to the child who can kill Koro-sensei. Taking an idea similar to that of Hell Teacher Nube but going in a completely different direction, Matsui wound up creating another notable hit by being downright bizarre compared to the usual type of story that is told in Jump. By making an enigmatic character that both want to cheer for, due to his superb teaching skills, yet also want to see destroyed, if only to see if it can truly be done, "AssClass" (as it's often amusingly shortened to) has become one of those series that you can point at & say, "Yeah, that's a Jump manga, because who the hell else would approve of such an idea?" It's been successful enough, in fact, to spawn more than just anime. Sure, there are two TV anime, one from last year & one still-running, both of which come from newer anime studio Lerche, & there was a Jump Festa pilot OVA from Brain's Base in 2013. Alongside those, though are two live-action movies, one from last year & a sequel coming this year. Still, such a concept, with such a strict time limit, is only meant to run for so long, & it's already been confirmed that Assassination Classroom will be ending in a few chapters next month, ending after about 18 volumes. In fact, both the currently-airing anime & upcoming movie will be adapting the manga's finale for their respective conclusions, which is generally rare to happen so quick. Still, Yusei Matsui now has two iconic manga under his belt, so there's no doubt that Jump readers will be curious as to what his next series will be like.
While Hochonin Ajihei was a major food manga for Jump in the 70s, it looked to be the only notable title in that genre for the magazine for decades. In the meantime, the genre was revolutionized form the 80s on via titles like Mister Ajikko, Chuuka Ichiban (a.k.a. Cooking Master Boy), & Iron Wok Jan!. It wouldn't be until 35 years after the end of Ajihei that Shonen Jump received another major food manga, which came in the form of late-2012's Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma (translating the Japanese is more or less redundant here). The creation of author Yuto Tsukuda & artist Shun Saeki (who was previously known for doing H-manga, which Shueisha wisely ignores), with recipes concocted by collaborator Yuki Morisaki, the series follows Soma Yukihira, who learned how to cook by his talented father & works full-time at the family restaurant, but after his dad decides to travel the world to fine-tune his skills, Soma is sent to Totsuki Academy, a cooking school so tough that only 10% of the students manage to graduate. Ever since Mister Ajikko, cooking manga tended to focus more on specific types of cuisine (Iron Wokf Jan! was chinese food, Yakiatae!! Japan was bread, etc.), but Food Wars is more of a general cooking manga, with various characters excelling in different types of cuisine & Soma being more of a jack-of-all-trades type. Similar to Ajihei's ideal, though, Soma's focus is on making food that utilizes more easily-accessible ingredients, making a lot of the food featured not just tasty but also accessible to readers. Of course, Shun Saeki's previous expertise has also been a major aspect for Food Wars' success, as Saeki utilizes sensual artwork when he feels its needed, & the initial few chapters were very much heavy on looking as close to porn as tasting reactions could get. Ever since that start, though, Saeki has been able to keep his artwork down to more reasonable levels, though his cover art sometimes goes sensual. Overall, Food Wars is another notable success for Jump, currently at 16 volumes & it received a 24-episode TV anime adaptation by J.C. Staff in 2015; there are also light novel & manga spin-offs, as well.
The final long-running Jump manga to debut utilizes a very traditional sci-fi setting & slyly mixes in the style of another genre, which has netted it a fast following. The second series from Daisuke Ashihara, following 2009-2010's short-lived comedy Kashikoi Inu/Wise Dog Rilienthal, early 2013's World Trigger details the battle between the mysterious Border & the being from another world called the Neighbors that take place in Mikado City. Things get tricky, though, when Yuma Kuga, a humanoid Neighbor, comes to Mikado & eventually becomes friends with Osamu Mikumo, a new agent of Border. While the series does utilize a heavy sci-fi aesthetic & focuses on the mix of the Neighbor/Border battle & the potential attempts to have the two come to terms starting with Yuma & Mikumo's friendship, those who read the manga have actually noticed a neat twist in how Ashihara tells the story. Seeing as the main characters are mostly young member of Border & are always training to become better, World Trigger handles itself similarly to that of a sports manga, creating an interesting mix of genres that's a little unlike what has come before it; while sports manga have operated like action manga, the reverse is almost unheard of. It became a very fast success, earning fans both in Japan & internationally (due to it being simul-published from the very beginning), and Toei took advantage of that fast success. A little less than two years into World Trigger's run, Toei debuted a TV anime adaptation in October 2014 that is still running to this day & is at 65 episodes currently. Unfortunately, most fans feel that the anime debuted much too soon & is a poor adaptation because of it, relying on a lot of "filler" in order to keep from catching up as well as using a slower pace to do the same; there are also complaints of the animation itself, but nothing out of the ordinary for a Toei production, honestly. Right now, World Trigger is at 13 volumes & doesn't seem to be anywhere near ending just yet, making it something to look out for as Jump enters a new age.

The last three series I'll be covering debuted less than two years ago, for the most part, but are all seemingly becoming new hit manga for Jump, and they all debuted before Naruto's full-color finale, making them Silver Age manga. So let's end with a look at some of the future of Shonen Jump.

Ryo Nakama grew up loving gag manga in Jump like Gag Manga Biyori (a Monthly Jump title), Seikimatsu Leader-den Takeshi!, & Luckyman. Nakama wound up making his own gag manga, debuting in Jump in mid-2013 with various one-shots revolving around the same character; the first two stories took the place of One Piece during a hiatus, in fact. At the end of the year he would wind up making a serialized version of his story, titled Isobe Isobee Monogatari ~Ukiyo wa Tsurai yo~/The Story of Isobe Isobee ~Ukiyo is Painful~. Paying parodic homage to the ukiyo of Edo-period Japan, & utilizing the visual style of ukiyo-e, the manga follows Isobe Isobee, a lazy wannabe samurai whose loving mother doesn't know about his love or porno or his habit of sleeping during classes. Still, Isobe dreams of becoming a respectable samurai. Though the only real work of a very young artist (Nakama's only 25 as of this post), Isobe Isobee has become a bit of a surprise gag hit for Jump, and in early 2015 it apparently did something that has only happened to Kochikame previously by becoming exempt from Jump's rankings, meaning that Ryo Nakama can apparently do the manga for as long as he wants; currently, every issue of Jump ends with a chapter of Isobe Isobee on purpose. In fact, of these last three titles I'm covering, this is the first two receive an anime of any sort. Said anime was an ONA that debuted two months after the manga became serialized, and at the end of last year came news that another anime adaptation would be coming this Spring, in the form of a "mame/bean anime" ("manime" for short) made up of 30 second episodes, as well as a stage play adaptation. It's obviously way too soon to even consider whether Isobe Isobee no Monogatari will one day become the next Kochikame, but being exempt from the ranking system (if that indeed is the case) is definitely a great start for such a young upstart.
Though sumo wrestling is such an iconically Japanese sport, there have been historically few manga based on it, and even less that became truly notable, partially due to a gradual decline in popularity & partially due to fixing controversies. Shonen Jump would see its first (potentially) successful sumo manga 46 years after its debut in the form of mid-2014's Hinomaru Zumo/Hinomaru the Sumo, which is the debut serialization of a man known only as Kawada (a former assistant to Tadatoshi Fujimaki). It stars Hinomaru Ushio, a short & skinny (relative to most sumo, at least) high school student who joins the Odachi High sumo team, which is notoriously weak. Alongside his personal goal of reaching the title of Hinoshita Kaisan (similar to the rank of yokozuna), Hinomaru & his teammates now aim to be the top junior sumo team in the country. In an magazine that has seemingly featured more & more of the "Neo-Shonen" look, i.e. a visual style that's attractive enough to bring in a notable female audience, Kawada instead goes for more of a throwback look. Purposefully hot-blooded in execution & looking more like something from the 90s, Hinomaru Zumo almost feels like it shouldn't succeed nowadays in a magazine that has, for the most part, eschewed that look & feel. Instead, Kawada's manga has become similar to Toriko in that it's managed to succeed with its old-school aesthetic, even more so since it's using a sport that has lost a lot of the luster it once had. Currently, the manga is at eight volumes & though it hasn't received an anime adaptation of any sort yet, a Vomic adaptation started up just this month & is (as of this post) currently at four episodes. Should Hinomaru Zumo continue to momentum it currently has, a TV anime adaptation can't be too far behind. Who knows, maybe it can pull a Slam Dunk or Hikaru no Go & inspire a resurgence in sumo, too...
We end the Ages of Jump with what's looking to become Jump's next (potential) smash hit. Kohei Horikoshi got his start at an assistant to Yasuki Tanaka (creator of short-lived Jump series Hitomi no Catoblepas) before making making his debut in 2007 via one-shots. He made his serialized debut with 2010-2011's Oumagadoki Zoo, which only lasted a year & five volumes. He followed that up with Barrage (Sensei no Barrage/Barrage on the Battle Star in Japan), which was notable as being one of the earliest newly-debuting Jump manga to be simul-published in English; it only ran during 2012 & lasted two volumes. For his third attempt, Horikoshi would try his hand at making a story of superheroes, resulting in mid-2014's My Hero Academia. In the world of the manga, most of the population are people with "Quirks", superpowers that are specific to each individual. Izuku Midoriya, however, is one of the super-rare who was born without any Quirks, though he still dreams of one day becoming a hero. After being the only person to actually try to save his classmate, the explosion-based Quirk user Bakugo, from a "Villain" & then later finding out that his idol (& the world's greatest hero) All Might is actually a man who was given his Quirk, One For All, by another (which is a giant secret known only to a handful of people), Midoriya winds up becoming the new heir of All Might's Quirk, & fulfills his dream of entering U.A. High School, where heroes are made. Though at only six compiled volumes currently, Academia is already looking to be a title that may actually have a chance at filling in the gap that Naruto's end left Jump with. The concept may have been seen before, but the characters are instantly likable, the story is compelling from Chapter 1, & the variety of superpowers is great. In fact, a TV anime adaptation is already in the works from Bones, scheduled to debut this April, & a spin-off manga (My Hero Academia Smash!!) has already debuted in online magazine Shonen Jump+. Some of this may feel a little like a case of too much too fast, as some have argued happened to World Trigger's anime, but time will tell whether My Hero Academia will be the next icon of an age for Jump.
And with that we have come to the end of the Ages of Jump. It's been a long, long, everlong journey from Shonen Jump's beginning in 1968 to the most recent batch of notable manga that's still in the magazine today. What have we learned through all of this? Well, snarkiness about learning more than necessary aside, I hope that all of you who managed to last through all of these posts have managed to see some sort of evolution of how Weekly Shonen Jump went from a simple replacement to Shonen Book to being the almighty king of shonen manga magazines to a survivor that, though nowhere near the readership numbers it once had (current numbers seem to be around 2.5 million, i.e. early-to-mid Bronze Age numbers), still has the adoration of fans all around the world. Why Jump in particular? I guess because, though I am a fan of many manga from its rivals, there is just something to Shonen Jump that makes it different & iconic, & I wanted that history to be known in some fashion. I hope you all enjoyed this giant overview, because I am done.
Seriously, don't go expecting me to do an "Ages of Sunday", "Ages of Magazine", or "Ages of Champion", because this series of posts was annoying enough to do!


  1. Really interesting series of posts. I don't follow manga as much as I do anime, so it was helpful to get introduced to a bunch of cool Jump manga I probably would've never discovered otherwise (although the fact that many of the older titles will likely never get translated into English is a bummer). Also I knew how several hit manga authors often get their start by working as assistants on other manga, but I never knew how extensive and historic of a trend that was.

    A pleasure to read as always.

    1. Thank you. This entire series is really more of a history lesson than an actual promotion for the works I've brought up, really. I just wanted to finally go all out & cover this history, so I'm glad someone found it interesting & worth reading.

  2. Thank you for writing this comprehensive and highly informative series of posts! As a huge Shonen Jump fan, it's so fascinating to see how the magazine has changed over the years, the relationships between authors, and the evolution of styles and genres. Your posts have also informed me of lots of classic, historically important manga titles that I really want to check out someday, even if I have to learn japanese to do so. While there are classics from all the major manga magazines that stand the test of time, I think Weekly Shonen Jump is still far and away the king in terms of quantity and quality. "World's Most Popular Manga" indeed!

    It's interesting to consider Naruto the end of the Silver Age, considering how strong a year Jump had in 2015 even without it. But, it seems really fitting that the Silver Age ended with the series that, ostensibly, began it. More than last year, I think 2016 is going to prove really uncertain time for Jump. A lot of major series are either confirmed to or supposedly will reach their conclusions this year (Assassination Classroom, Nisekoi, Toriko, Bleach, & Gintama), so it's going to be really interesting to see whether stuff like My Hero Academia, Black Clover, and whatever other new hits that might start up can hold an audience and create another strong era of Jump, or whether it will enter another (but hopefully short) dark age. It feels like it could go either way, and I find it very exciting to speculate and watch how it will unfold first-hand.

    All of this has really re-motivated me to resume writing reviews of new Jump issues again. Considering tomorrow's issue will be such a rarity (a release on Leap Day, something that only happens once every 28 years), it'd be a crying shame if I don't cover it. So another thanks for re-igniting my fiery passion for Jump manga!

    There is one last thing I'm curious about, if you're willing to answer...what are some your favorite Shonen Jump titles? Or are there just too many for you to choose? ;)

    1. What else can I say to this but "You're Welcome". As for where I chose to end the Silver Age, I will admit that it's not a rock solid kind of thing, but I do think it's a fitting point.

      I'm honored that my work here has prompted you to return to what you had done before. I hope you keep doing it as long as it makes you happy to do so.

  3. Wow! Now that was a fantastic and highly informative read; granted, I still need to finish reading all of it, but I love what I have read. You did a great job of really highlighting how long and rich of a history there is to Weekly Jump.

    I'm aware that Shonen Jump isn't looked too favorably upon by many anime critics and certain other audiences (which I can certainly understand, even though I am personally a fan, having grown up with the anime adaptations of certain golden-age Jump manga), but I've always felt it unfair to see others dismiss the publication in its entirety solely based on their distaste for some of its more popular output from the past couple of decades, without acknowledging that its history and importance extends well past just a few iconic series. Perhaps not all of it is high art, but that doesn't at all diminish the amount of talent and hard work that it takes to make a successful series in this publication, and at the end of the day I suppose I'm just a sucker for the recurring themes and values present in a majority of shonen serializations.

    I also love how you were so passionate about each entry that you wrote in this series of articles. Just like the above poster mentioned, I too am really interested in finding a way to explore many of the older classics that helped push the publication to where it is today. While I'm fairly well-versed in the bigger series to come out of Weekly Jump during the mid-to-late 80's to the present, there is still over a decade-and-a-half of material which I am largely ignorant of, outside of certain iconic series like Barefoot Gen and Ring Ni Kakero. Of course, I'll probably need to learn Japanese first, so it'll take me quite some time to get around to the Bronze-Age of Jump.

    Anyways, I've rambled on for long enough. As I am working my way through the rest of your articles, my passion for Jump Comics only continues to grow. I can't imagine the insane amount of work that you must have put into researching and writing about all of these manga and their role in Jump's history, but I highly appreciate you for putting it out there. Well done!

    1. Thank you for the kind words.

      How much work & research did all of this require? Too much, I'd say, but I somehow managed to push my way through. I'll agree that most of what's in Jump isn't "high art" that will be looked at with unending praise by critics who are exact in their preferences, but a the same time I'm not one of those. I'm a self-admitting plebian compared to them, but that's okay; it's just another side of the coin when it comes to critiquing.

      Trust me, there are only so many Jump series that I covered that I actually read, but I still can tell if something had some sort of an impact by doing the research, which I do find that a lot of anime & manga fans just don't do. Therefore, I'll try to do it for them every once in a while.

  4. "Seriously, don't go expecting me to do an "Ages of Sunday""

    Awww... Oh, well, I can see that.

    Anyway, this was a great series. As an older fan of more classic manga and anime it was certainly nice to see the transition between ages and where Jump is currently at now. I certainly added a bunch of series to check out on my list.

    Thank you for this!

    1. No, thank you for managing to make it through the entire thing.

      As for that last bit at the end, it's mainly because something like Sunday & Magazine have been around since the 50s, which adds a lot more years to cover. Also, it was easier to compile & organize Shonen Jump because there was more info about how big its successes have been, and I've never really heard of a "Golden Age" for the other magazines. Not saying that there weren't, but at least with Jump I had some sort of starting point to go off of.

  5. I loved reading all your JUMP ages chronicles, so thanks a lot for writting it up.
    I have got some questions th

    1-About the 70s manga DRIFTERS, I too wasn't able to find any info on it.. Can you give me the link to check the pictures you found? I'm just too curious lol.

    2-I'm from Mexico and Dai no Daiboken was broadcasted here in the mid 90s.. Anyway because of the sudden cancellation of the anime there were lots of rumors, like they cancelled it because the director had died, then I heard it was something like a falling between Shueisha and Enix (Though that seems dumb because at that time surely the manga would have been cancelled..) Anyway did you get any info on why this anime was cancelled?? Or was it just a normal cancellation for lacks of ratings??
    I mean I think it was shown in a time when Dragon Ball, Yu Yu Hakusho and Slam Dunk were running, so tons of other Jump properties like Sakigake, Nube and probably Dai didn't have time to shine..

    3-I seem to recall that when I read the shaman king tankobon one volume said that Shueisha wouldn't print the final volume unless at least 50,000 (or was it 5,000?) people wanted it.. You mentioned it too in you article, but I can't find where I read it..
    Can you tell me where you got that info from? I'm pretty sure it was in a Shaman King volume, right?

    4-As for Hikaru no go's ending, I heard rumors that there was some problem with how korea was portrayed, did you get any more info on this?

    1. 5-That Shomei TV thing seems like fake.. I think it was just an internet rumor/hoax because back in 2010 lots of anime had 'Shomei tv' propaganda, whatever Shomei tv was..
      E.g. Ranma also had a 'if 10,000 people sign we will make a remake' IIRC.

      6-I don't know if you just didn't put this info in purpose but in 2007 Takeshi Obata and Masanori Morita did a one shot together 'Hello Baby' .. Anyway in 2008 Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba started Bakuman, thing is, the main character Mashiro Moritaka is pretty much based from Masanori Morita, the names are pretty much the same, and he also got a debut when he was a high schooler.. And maybe when they did the one-shot Obata got interested in doing a story about manga and told Ohba to use Morita as a base for Mashiro.. Though that's just speculation from me, but it all lines up.

      7-Shokugeki no Soma will get a second season later this year. That to have been left out?? Perhaps while you were writting the Soma part the 2nd season hadn't been announced?

      8-Isobee and Kochikame aren't the only series that weren't affected by rankings, Jaguar was always the last manga in the TOC back when it was running... I also remember reading somewhere that Outer Zone was allowed to continue even if it didn't rank too well, It has a lot of of last ranks, other mangas would have been probably cancelled, but JUMP allowed Outer to continue because it was a different kind of manga.. Or so I read/heard somewhere
      You can check it here:
      Just go to 1991 and Ctrl+F アウタ

      You can see Outer Zone started in Issue 14, but it didn't get the magazine cover which is pretty rare.. it got last ranking in its 8th, 9th, 10th week..

      Anyway Outer Zone was run from issues 14 to 24, the kanji it has next to it in issue 24 is: 最終回 which google translate says is 'final episode' (Yeah I dont know japanese lol)

      It got another chapter in issue 38, the kanji is this which google can't translate.. 読切 But when I put it in google images it shows me lots of one-shots, so I assume maybe that kanji means one-shot or something like that..
      Then Outer Zone is restarted in issue 51.. So my guess is maybe JUMP saw the first rankings and it got canned after its first 10 weeks, but saw the potential of having a series like this, or maybe got a lot of reader's letters complaining.. so basically jump gave Outer Zone a free pass in rankings, that would explain why I had heard/read somewhere that Outer Zone was basically excempt from the ranking system (as in it wasn't getting cancelled because of TOC ranks) You can see the series had pretty bad rankings through its serialization span.

    2. Now some personal questions:

      Question 1: Do you have a Jump property you would like to see either fan translated or oficially released?
      Mine is Midori no makibao, after playing JUS I just wanted to know more about the manga, and this video made me so much more interested in it
      (I think the video contains spoilers though lol)

      Anyway I have started watching the RAW episodes (The complete series was uploaded to youtube) and I kinda understand the basic plot.. Though I obviously can't understand all the jokes and stuff..

      Question 2: Have you ever considered doing something like a book or dvd or something? I seriously enjoyed this article, and would love to own it as a book of sorts..
      Maybe try a kickstarter or something? Though I don't know if it would be legal to use all the images you would need in order to make a book.

      Sorry for the long post lol :s

    3. Oh, wow... That's a lot of questions. Let me see if I can get through all of them:
      1. Manga Drifters, huh? Here's where I saw if referred to as a "Legendary Manga":

      2. I got asked about this before my someone else, and all I can guess is that Dai no Daibouken was either only planned to be as long as it ended up being (with a non-ending simply being the chosen way to stop it), or it simply lost ratings as it went on. I doubt it was anything more than that. I would imagine that Square-Enix & Shueisha being publishing rivals may be what's keeping the anime from being put out on DVD in Japan, though.

      3. I could have sworn I linked the ANN article about Shaman King's last volume, but oh well. Here it is:

      4. I know nothing about how or why Hikaru no Go ended the way it did. I know that many fans, including my friends, aren't big on it, but them's the breaks sometimes.

      5. I can't verify whether the Shomei TV thing with Hoshin Engi was real or not, but I thought it was still a neat little bit of trivia to include.

      6. I heard of the Masanori Morita homage in Bakuman., but there's simply way too much homaging done in that series to bring up all of them, hence why I excluded it. The "Hiroshi Gamou is Tsugumi Ohba" theory is just too intriguing to ignore, however.

      7. Yes, Soma's 2nd Season was announced just a few days after this last part came out, though I should have mentioned that a second season was likely on the way at the time.

      8. Didn't know that about Jaguar & Outer Zone. Quite frankly, I didn't know about Isobee, either, until I started writing it up. I thought Kochikame was special for the longest time in that regard, but I was sorely mistaken.

    4. As for your personal questions:
      1. My answer, unless it miraculously happens, will always be Ring ni Kakero 1. Other picks would be Astro Kyudan, Hareluya II BOY (anime, since the manga is fully scanlated), & maybe Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daisho & Harenchi Gakuen (both for historical purposes).

      2. I honestly don't think there would be enough info from these Ages of Jump posts to make a real book of any sort. Also, yeah, images would need approval & would be way too much trouble to have included. I appreciate the thought, though.

  6. I found your list a very interesting read, specially the info on old series and the work network of assistants that become artists. Kurumada being one of the pilars of modern popular culture and the endurance of baseball as a setting surprised me.

    So weird to read this in a Post Kochikame world, until the post One Piece world then!

    What is your perspective on the current lineup of the magazine?

  7. Hello. First of all, congratulations for all this work. This has been a very amazing reading for Shonen Jump fans.

    I wanted to ask, since Jump is getting 50 years old next August, if you are going to update or doing a new post with the newer stuff that has came since this post (Black Clover is the great manga I find missing here; it already is well established and with anime running).

    1. I keep seeing people asking this. If I was to make a new entry in the Ages of Jump, I'd make it a compilation of notable series that I "missed", both older titles & any new titles that look to be making their mark. Not sure if I'd make such a post this year, since I have a lot planned already, but we'll see...