"Still, at least I completed this foolish journey, and that means that I'll never have to do it ever again, so there."
Hi, I'm George J. Horvath... I'm a dumbass.
|Hey, Shueisha finally acknowledged a manga that predates Kochikame!|
Of course, with this year being the 50th Anniversary of Jump's very existence, how could I NOT come back to what will likely be my most successful series of posts? Seriously, while none of them have entered most-read of all time territory yet, the "Most Read of the Week" sidebar almost always features at least one part of The Ages of Jump in it, and to this very year I still get the occasional response to it. So, to follow this year's theme of "Unfinished Business", let's celebrate Weekly Shonen Jump's Golden Anniversary (yes, I know that the literal 50th Anniversary was on July 11... I was busy that month) by giving credit to the other notable manga that I neglected to properly include in the original 2016 overview... And how about we just split this up across two parts, just to keep things consistent?
So, for Part 1, let's do the time warp again & see what I "forgot" from the Bronze & Golden Ages!
Can you believe that I went through the entire original Ages of Jump, and NEVER brought up Osamu Tezuka, by name, even once? Now, to be fair, I did mention Big X at the beginning, but that was just one of the series that the "God of Manga" wrote for Jump-precursor Shonen Book, and it's those series that are Tezuka's legacy with Shueisha's manga lines. That being said, he did do a single series in the history of Shonen Jump, and that was Lion Books II, which debuted in March of 1971. As the title indicates, this was the continuation of Tezuka's original Lion Books manga, which ran in Omoshiro Book, the precursor to Shonen Book, from 1956 to 1957. I don't say that it's a "sequel", however, since Lion Books was simply a collection of single-volume short stories that Tezuka drew. What's probably most interesting, & insane, is just how much content Tezuka made across both Lion Books runs. Tezuka was infamous for being (possibly) a crazed workaholic, his last words were "I'm begging you, let me work!" to a nurse who had tried taking his drawing equipment away from him, which resulted in the entire Lion Books series lasting 35 volumes across only 3 years in total! Lion Books II, in particular, only ran two years, ending February of 1973, but totaled 24 volumes; Tezuka was averaging an entire volume every month. While this would be Tezuka's last hurrah with Omoshiro/Shonen Book/Jump, he would continue working with Shueisha as the original Committee Chair for the Tezuka Award, a semi-annual award that debuted in 1971 & is given to new artists who work with "Story Manga"; the "Comedic Manga" equivalent is the Akatsuka Award, named after Fujio Akatsuka. Tezuka would remain Chair until until his death in early 1989, with Akatsuka taking the reigns until illness made him incapable of doing so, though he was still officially Chair until his death in 2008; since then, Akira Toriyama has become the de facto head of the committee, as there is no official "Chair". As for Lion Books, it would receive a series of six OVAs & movies from 1983 to 1993, but only two of them actually adapted from the original manga, one from each run: 1983's The Green Cat, from the Book run, & 1991's Adachi-ga Hara, from the Jump run.
When doing the original Ages of Jump, I tended to stick to a (mostly) strict set of prerequisites for a manga to see inclusion, one of the biggest being that it had to run for at least two years, which would equate to roughly 10 volumes-worth of content. I did have exceptions, however, but those came about mostly from my own experience. Unfortunately, this single-volume manga escaped me when I was compiling my list together, and it wasn't until after I finished the Bronze Age that I realized that I should have included it; I would mention it by name much later during the Silver Age. So what is so special about Yokai Hunter by Daijiro Morohoshi that it deserves recognition, despite only running for a scant five chapters in mid-1974? Really, it comes down to Morohoshi himself, who has since become a bit of a cult legend in the manga world. After working for the Tokyo metropolitan government for three years following high school, Morohoshi would debut in manga in 1970 with the one-shot Junko - Kyokatsu for Osamu Tezuka's avant-garde magazine COM. In 1974, after being nominated for the seventh Tezuka Award, Morohoshi made his serialized debut with Yokai Hunter, which told the tales of Reijiro Hieda, a former archaeology professor who was expelled for asserting that yokai exist, only to become one who hunts yokai himself. Though not running for long, Morohoshi quickly became known for his unique drawing style, which was done in such a fashion that his own assistants didn't know how to help him, and even Osamu Tezuka apparently once stated that he could not possibly imitate Morohoshi's style. Combine that with his use of allegory, pseudohistory, & even Cthulhu Mythos, and it's likely that Yokai Hunter was just a bit too nontraditional for Jump, even back in the mid-70s. That said, Morohoshi would still work with Jump for the rest of the 70s, producing two more short manga, 1976's Ankoku Shinwa/The Dark Myth (which would receive an OVA adaptation in 1990 & even a video game in 1988) & 1978's Koshi Ankokuden/The Dark Biography of Confucius; likewise, neither would run for more than ten chapters. Morohoshi would leave Jump after that, continuing to make manga to this very day, winning the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Grand Prize in 2000, & even bring back Yokai Hunter a few times for some more, self-contained stories. As for his influence on others, Hideaki Anno constantly told Toshio Okada during their time at Gainax about how he wanted to imitate Morohoshi for a specific scene involving a giant, which he finally got to do during Neon Genesis Evangelion, & even Hayao Miyazaki originally wanted Morohoshi to draw the originial manga version of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Still, it was in the pages of Shonen Jump that Daijiro Morohoshi got his start as a professional mangaka, and that shouldn't be ignored.
Here's another series that I only brought in as a mention in the original Ages, but I really should have included properly, in retrospect. As I said during the Dark Ages of Jump, golf manga has generally never really been a forté for Shonen Jump, just look at what happened to Robot×Laserbeam recently, but aside from Nakaba Suzuki's late-90s/early-00s debut Rising Impact, which remained his longest work for years until The Seven Deadly Sins, there was one other notable golf manga to come from Jump, and that was mid-1977's Hole in One by the duo of Jouji Kagami (writer) & Tatsuo Kanai (artist). The series followed Yaichi Tobashi, who enters Akira Hanagakuen, a junior high school that's renowned for its prestigious sports program. He winds up joining the Tokyo Akira Golf Club & competes in cups across the country, and from what I can find out, a major focus of the story was how Yaichi clashed with the well-to-do & pompous members of his own club; he's even kicked out through nefarious means at one point, resulting in him taking on his old team. While not quite reaching the length of Suzuki's 17-volume series from twenty years later, Hole in One did run until the very end of 1979, totaling 13 volumes, and in 1983 would even see a short sequel in the form of Ore no Round, focusing on mixed matchplay golf, which ran in Monthly Shonen Jump for three volumes. As for the creators, Kagami would at least continue writing manga up through the 90s, while Kanai is actually still in the business to this very day, having made manga about a wide variety of topics, like boxing (Mad Dog Ken), bass fishing (Bass Hunter Wataru), soccer (MF/Midfielder Kohei), baseball (Odaiba Barbarians), & even making manga (Manga no Hanamichi). In fact, Kanai must have been the primary driving force behind making a golf manga in 1977, as he would debut another golf manga, Hana? no Koukou Joshi Golf-bu/Hana's? High School Girls' Golf Club, in 2006, almost thirty years after the manga that, arguably, made his career debuted; the manga would run until 2015.
This next series is one that, for some reason, always stuck in the back of my mind after I decided to not include it in the original Ages, and it wasn't until Shueisha included it as part of its Jump 50th Anniversary art exhibits that I decided that I probably should include it here; it also didn't help that Wikipedia has the incorrect end year listed, so I thought it was much shorter than it really was. Predating The Prince of Tennis by nearly twenty years to the issue (seriously, there's just a single issue difference between when each of these manga began, respectively), mid-1979's Tennis Boy by Yu Terajima (story) & Kenichi Kotani (art) followed the games that Sho Hiyou competed in, and similar to its golfing compatriot, there was a focus on showcasing tennis as more of a game for those in higher-class lives, as Sho came from Karuizawa, a popular summer resort area filled with villas & the like. A the same time, however, Sho was described as like a "feral child", and to match that descriptor, Tennis Boy apparently followed the influence of Ring ni Kakero by having its characters deliver all sorts of superblow-esque tennis moves. There were a pair of twins who played doubles & had a move called Twin Beam, where they would return the ball in unison (and others would also create double-handed & "Dunk Smash" variants), & a rich girl had moves called Queen Bee Dynamite & QB Serve. Others would base their moves off of other sports, like basketball, and Terajima & Kotani obviously copied Masami Kurumada's naming sense, with names like Peacock Diamond, Ultra Loop Swing, & Bullfight Attack; you can check out this link for other examples, with plenty of images. In the end, Tennis Boy would run until the very beginning of 1982, not 1980 (as our Wikipedia says), totaling 14 volumes. I'm actually rather shocked at this manga's existence, because it seems to have been very blatantly influenced by Ring ni Kakero, even ending just a few issues later, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little curious about it now. After Tennis Boy, Yu Terajima would continue writing manga into the 90s, while Kenichi Kotani would eventually find another notable success with Desire, a series about sexual desires of all types, which would run in Super Jump from 1997 to 2010 for a total of 32 volumes, across two "seasons".
Hiroshi Motomiya effectively made Shonen Jump into a legitimate competitor to take seriously with his debut work, Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daisho, and the end result of that success was him seemingly being able to make whatever manga he wanted. This resulted in Motomiya making seven different series for Jump across the next ten years, following Gaki Daisho's finale in 1973, though most wouldn't run for longer than a year. The sole exception to that was Obora Ichidai, which ran for two years, & 11 volumes, from 1973 to 1975. Still, I feel that Motomiya should be given one more proper mention with this revisit, & I've decided to give credit to mid-1983's Tenchi wo Kurau/Devouring Heaven & Earth. The manga was Motomiya's interpretation of the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, based on the Three Kingdoms Era of Imperial China during the 200s that came about following the end of the Han Dynasty. Specifically, it focused on the side of what would become the Shu Han, which was founded on a promise of brotherhood made between Liu Bei (a distant relative of the Han monarchy), Guan Yu, & Zhang Fei to unite China under a single leader. Naturally, being a Jump manga, there was some embellishing to be found, like having Liu Bei meet a heavenly being who gave him the power to one day conquer & unify the country, & Motomiya did make his lead more of a hot-blooded rapscallion than how he's usually portrayed. Sadly, by the time this manga debuted, Shonen Jump had already started changing a lot from how it was back in 1968, and only 14 issues later saw the debut of Fist of the North Star. While Motomiya had likely been given some slack when it came to being allowed to make the manga he wanted, Tenchi wo Kurau was perfect proof of how different the Bronze & Golden Ages of Jump were going to be. In fact, this would be the last truly notable manga to debut before Fist, it debuted one week after Shape Up Ran, so one could argue that this is the final manga of the Bronze Age of Jump, even though it mostly ran in the successive Age, ending after just barely over a year in mid-1984, totaling seven volumes. Three years, & two more series, later, Motomiya would move over to Super Jump in early 1987, putting an end to a 18+-year career with Shonen Jump, though he's been active in manga to this very day, and many of his works were adapted into OVAs during the 80s & 90s, plus a 2001 TV anime for his 90s manga Salaryman Kintaro.
Still, Tenchi wo Kurau would wind up having a short resurgence a few years later, due to a different medium: video games. In 1989, Capcom released an RPG for the Famicom based on the manga, which would see release on the NES in North America under the name Destiny of an Emperor, with the setting & all of the names unchanged; a sequel, Tenchi wo Kurau II, would see release only in Japan in 1991. That same year, technically a month before the Famicom game, also saw the release of an arcade beat-em-up of the same name, using Capcom's CPS-1 board, that would also see release worldwide under the name Dynasty Wars. Finally, in late 1992, a sequel to the arcade game, Tenchi wo Kurau 2: Sekiheki no Tatakai/Battle at Chibi, would see release in arcades, and internationally would be known as Warriors of Fate. Oddly enough, while the first arcade game's English release maintained accuracy to the manga, the sequel would change everyone's name to that of Mongolian origin, & change the Three Kingdoms setting into a completely fictional world. Why did Capcom make four Tenchi wo Kurau games from 1989 to 1992, years after the manga was cancelled? My guess would be that it relates to classic franchise Strider, which also came out in 1989 & was co-created by Motomiya's studio, Moto Kikaku/Planning. It's possible that the deal that lead to the creation of the multimedia Strider project required Capcom to also produce games based on one of Hiroshi Motomiya's various manga, & Tenchi wo Kurau wound up being the chosen property. In the end, Warriors of Fate has gone down as one of the best beat-em-ups Capcom ever produced, & Strider is still beloved to this day, so I think everyone (Capcom, Moto Kikaku, & gamers) came out of it happy.
This brings an end to our revisit of the Bronze Age, so let's see what I overlooked from the venerable Golden Age!
Speaking of manga that truly illustrated how Jump had changed over the past 15 years or so, look no further than the fourth serialization to come from Masami Kurumada. The works of Hiroshi Motomiya were a major inspiration for Kurumada to take up being a mangaka, and there is word that he maybe have even been an assistant to Motomiya at one point (though this is neither outright confirmed nor denied), so even though he made his serialized debut with 1974's Sukeban Arashi, Kurumada had already started planning out what he wanted to be his magnum opus. He continued working on this concept while he became a major name in Japan with Ring ni Kakero & Fuma no Kojirou, and even seemingly put an end to the latter early, after only 10 volumes. I would imagine that Kurumada did this on purpose, as he finally felt ready to make his magnum opus, the title that would make himself a true "mangaka", instead of simply a "mangaya" ("creator" vs. "drawer"). The end result was mid-1984's Otoko Zaka/Man's Hill, which told the story of how Kujukuri's Jingi Kikukawa went from simply being the toughest in his neighborhood to a leader of Japan's youth gangs, especially when word of an invasion from the Junior World Connection, a group of gang leaders from around the world, starts becoming a reality. Ostensibly meant to be Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daisho for a new generation, Kurumada more or less dropped a lot of what helped make his prior two series popular when it came to Otoko Zaka, especially when it came to over-the-top spectacle. His previous works featured characters that could punch five times in the span of a single second, boxers who could deliver punches with so much force that the boxing ring's mat would get scorched, ninja with all manner of mystical abilities, & "sacred swords" that could literally rend the Earth itself... But the most exxagerted Otoko Zaka would get was when Jingi lifted a giant with a single arm, or stopped a sword with just the palm of his hand. Sure, Jingi in particular still followed the same "fight until you die" mentality that his predecessors lived by, but this was a story told in the way Jump manga used to be executed; it adhered to an "oldest-school" methodology that didn't appeal to young readers of the 80s. Ironically enough, Kurumada spent so long getting Otoko Zaka ready that he actually outdated it before it even debuted, due to how he helped revolutionize action manga beforehand. In fact, this series debuted close to a year after Fist of the North Star began, and during its run Dragon Ball would then debut, delivering a double-team that Kurumada just couldn't take on.
Not surprisingly, Otoko Zaka wound up getting cancelled in early 1985, after only three volumes. Even then, Kurumada refused to accept that the manga he had always dreamed of making was done with. The final page of the manga's serialization saw Kurumada use the kanji "未完", or unfinished, instead of the standard "完", or end, a sign of rebellion & that it would return... One day. Well, it took a long while, but in 2014, to celebrate Kurumada's 40th Anniversary as a mangaka, Otoko Zaka finally came back, continuing right where it left off back in 1985, this time via Weekly PlayNews, Sheuisha's digital front for manga that originally ran in Weekly Playboy magazine. From 2014 to 2016, Kurumada would do three 8-chapter runs, which produced three more volumes of content, and in 2017 the manga moved over to a digital run via Shonen Jump+, effectively returning Otoko Zaka back home after 32 years; all new volumes since 2014, however, have retained the "Jump Comics" labeling, to match the original three volumes. As of this writing, Otoko Zaka now has seven volumes to its name, with a new short run in Jump+ planned to debut sometime later this year. While it may never receive an anime adaptation, a video comic take on the last chapter of the original Jump run was produced by Shueisha as part of Jump's 50th Anniversary & released on YouTube last year. In a world where quick cancellation usually means swift & permanent death to a manga, Masami Kurumada showed with Otoko Zaka that there can always be a second chance.
Today, Hirohiko Araki may be one of the most iconic mangaka to come from Shonen Jump, with his long-running, multi-part series JoJo's Biazrre Adventure, but this recognition only came after floundering about the magazine's roster. After some one-shots from 1980 to 1982, Araki made his serialized debut with Mashonen/Magic Boy B.T., a.k.a. Cool Shock B.T., which only ran for a couple of months in late 1983; it showed aspects of his soon-to-be-iconic style, but not much else. Following that, Araki decided to make something different from the rest of the pack, which resulted in late 1984's Baoh the Visitor. The manga told the story of Ikuro Hashizawa, a young man who was kidnapped by the mysterious Doress Laboratory & experimented on with a new bioweapon named Baoh, which invades itself into its target & transforms into a nigh-unstoppable monster. Unlike other experiments on things like dogs, though, Ikuro manages to maintain his humanity, & can even change between himself & Baoh at will, & escapes with Sumire, a nine-year old psychic who he befriended at Doress, while Prof. Kasuminome of Doress sends assassins after them. With Fist of the North Star now a year into its run, Araki decided to follow Buronson & Tetsuo Hara's lead by making Baoh into a violent & gory manga, or at least as much as he could show in Shonen Jump... Which was still way, WAY more than what you can get away with nowadays. Combined with Araki's heavily stylistic drawing, which was becoming more defined at this point, & his penchant for memorable insanity, like all of the wild abilities that Ikuro has as Baoh (& let's not even get into Walken...), Baoh did have some potential to it. Unfortunately, Araki suffered yet another failure here, with Baoh ending only four months later in early 1985, having been forced to give it a finale after just two volumes; at the very least, the ending was a conclusive one. Still, even after JoJo made Araki a star, Baoh has gone on to become an insanely strong cult classic, receiving an OVA adaptation by Studio Pierrot in 1989, predating JoJo's first OVAs, international releases by Viz (manga) & AnimEigo (anime), also before JoJo, & even Shaman King's Hiroyuki Takei has cited Baoh as a personal favorite of his when he was young. In fact, 2013's JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle, a PlayStation 3 fighting game featuring characters from all eight Parts of JoJo, even added Ikuro (in his Baoh form) as a DLC character! It may have technically been a failure back when it was being serialized, but Baoh is a fine example of how something can still make its mark with a limited amount of time.
This is... This is... This is... Baoh!
In 1979, Koji Maki dropped out of college to become a mangaka, finding his first break with Shonen Gahosha's Shonen King magazine, where he did a couple of one-shots. In 1983, he moved over to Shonen Jump, becoming an assistant for Tetsuo Hara during the early parts of Fist of the North Star, before making his serialized debut with Mecha Battler Gilfer, which only lasted a couple of months into 1984. After another short-lived series called Metal K in 1986, Maki decided to go in a different direction with his next series, which would be mid-1987's God Sider. The story was about Reiki Kikoku, the titular "God Sider" who was "born between the world of gods & demons", as he fought against the Devil Siders, who wish to revive Satan, after his defeat & sealing by the gods eons ago during the War of Armageddon, & control the universe. To go with this story about fighting against the forces of Satan himself, & no doubt inspired by the man he assisted, Maki made God Sider a notoriously violent & grotesque story, utilizing his interest in things like the occult & ero guro to help make it stand out in an insanely strong Jump roster. Unfortunately, said gamble didn't quite pay off in the long run, especially since Hirohiko Araki was doing a lot of the same with JoJo, and God Sider wound up being cancelled after a 1.5 year run, ending in late 1988 after 8 volumes; some even argue that Maki got the axe because he was competing with Araki. Still, God Sider did manage to exist with some notoriety during Jump's 20th Anniversary, which got it a spot in crossover RPG Famicom Jump: Hero Retsuden, with Reiki even being a recruitable character. After leaving Shonen Jump in 1990, Maki has since continued making manga featuring his love of the occult & ero guro. In fact, he's even been able to bring back God Sider, first via 2004 to 2008's God Sider Second in Shinchosha's Comic Bunch, & then again from 2010 to 2013 with God Sider Saga: Shima Sangokushi/God & Devil's Romance of the Three Kingdoms, giving the series another 21 volumes of content. In fact, some of Maki's work, including the complete original God Sider, is actually being offered officially in English by Beaglee digitally, with each volume being sold at at around $4.99!
In Part 2 of the Golden Age, I included Makoto Niwano's Jinnai-ryu Jujutsu Butoden Majima-kun Suttobasu!!, with my reasoning simply being that it was the longest-running manga he did with Shonen Jump, which it was. Still, I shouldn't ignore Niwano's debut work, late 1987's The Momotaroh. I once read that Niwano was a pro-wrestler before entering manga, but that's not exactly true; he did apparently train for it, though. Still, it was that love of wrestling that made him want his first serialized manga to be about the sport, a story about a masked man, Momotaroh the 2nd, who claims to be a descendant of "The Legendary Momotaroh", and takes on all challengers as the "Hope" of Taihei Pro Wrestling. Unfortunately, a lack of any sort of translation leaves me unable to properly judge how exactly Niwano executed The Momotaroh, but I'd imagine that his first-hand experience at wrestling, even if limited, helped give the action more of a "legit" feel than other wrestling manga. Also, the timing for the manga was perfect, as Kinnikuman had ended earlier that year, meaning that there would be no direct competition from the iconic duo of Yudetamago. Unlike Masami Kurumada, Tetsuo Hara, Hirohiko Araki, & Koji Maki, Makoto Niwano's debut work, though not a smash hit, did succeed well enough, ending right at the very end of 1989 & totaling 10 volumes. Arguably, The Momotaroh would be the last successful wrestling manga for Jump, unless you want to count Hinomaru Zumo, though that involves a very different type of wrestling. As for Niwano, he would go on to make Majima-kun, and would see his first internationally-released manga via the infamous Bomber Girl, which did run in Weekly Shonen Jump for 11 weeks in 1994; eventually, he'd receive another chance in English via his mid-00s manga adaptation of Deltora Quest. Not just that, but one of Niwano's assistants during The Momotaroh's run was a young man by the name of Takeshi Obata, who'd go on to become one of Jump's most iconic artists. As for Momotaroh the 2nd himself, there was the eventual crossover featuring him & Majima-kun, as I mentioned in the original Ages, but there were actual sequels for Niwano's original main character. From 2003 to 2004, The Momotaroh Part 2 ran in Business Jump for a single volume & saw the masked hero compete in an "MMA vs. Wrestling" competition, & just last year in Grand Jump Premium, as part of Shonen Jump's 50th Anniversary, Niwano debuted a brand-new one shot, The Momotaroh: Fukkatsu wa Totsuzen ni!! no Maki/The Sudden Revival Chapter!!, where a mysterious masked man appears, "X years" after Momotaroh took off his Momo Mask for good.
See, it was a good thing that I didn't cover The Momotaroh back in 2016, now was it?
Following the end of Ring ni Kakero, it seemed like Shonen Jump would never receive another notable boxing-focused manga... But you'd be wrong in thinking that. After graduating from high school, Shinji Imaizumi moved to Tokyo to learn about art & graphic design, eventually becoming an assistant to Buichi Terasawa, Akita Miyashita, & Tetsuo Hara at various points. In 1986, Imaizumi made his serialized debut as a mangaka with Sora no Canvas, a gymnastics manga that ran for a year before ending in late 1987 after seven volumes. The following year, Imaizumi would debut his next series, mid-1988's Kami-sama wa Southpaw/God is a Southpaw, which followed Dan Hayasaka, who had been raised in a monastery in the United States, before heading to Asahi, Japan to follow his deceased father's boxing dreams. There, he meets Akira & Misuzu Inoue, the children of the man who was the rival to Dan's father back in the day; after their final fight, Akira's father died, while Dan's went to America. If that sounds familiar, that's because this manga effectively copied the basic concept of RnK, but in an inverse fashion, i.e. the main character was the Jun Kenzaki counterpart, effectively. Unfortunately, there's little information to be easily found regarding this manga, but I'd imagine that, considering the men Imaizumi worked under, the story followed a very dramatic execution, but possibly without the over-the-top nature of Kurumada's smash hit. In the end, Kami-sama wa Southpaw would run until mid-1990, with a total of 12 volumes to its name. While soccer, baseball, tennis, wrestling, & even golf have since seen later successful Jump manga, boxing has more or less eluded the magazine ever since. Okay, sure, you can technically count Rokudenashi Blues, but that was primarily more of a yankii manga than strictly about boxing. Plus, that series would end in 1997, so the point still stands that there hasn't been a notable boxing manga for Jump in decades. As for Shinji Imazumi, he's go on to make other manga, both sports-related & in non-sports genres, and from 2009 to 2010 he'd return to his boxing classic with Kami-sama wa Southpaw Diamond, which ran for three volumes in Nihon Bungeisha's Manga Goraku, home of other sequels to old-school Jump titles, like Ginga: The Last Wars, Shin!! Otokojuku, & Jinnai Ryu Jujutsu Rurouden Majima, Bazeru!!.
Since we started this return to Jump's Golden Age with a Kurumada manga that had an infamous non-ending, I think it's only appropriate to end with another. At the end of 1990, Masami Kurumada was forced to put an end to Saint Seiya, due to declining ratings. Now the general word is that Shueisha "forced" Kurumada to prematurely end Seiya so that the magazine could have a brand new "heroes in armor" manga to attract a new generation of readers & become yet another massive hit. The validity of this can be debatable, though, as the next manga Kurumada would make would be Aoi Tori no Shinwa/Legend of the Blue Bird, a two-chapter prologue for a baseball manga that never went into production, which appeared in Jump in late 1991 & early 1992. To be fair, however, the rumor is not without merit, as the next series that Kurumada would actually make was, effectively, exactly what people tout Shueisha as having wanted in the first place. Mid-1992's Silent Knight Sho starred the eponymous lead, who winds up getting involved in a battle with the mysterious Neo Society, an organization filled with armored "Demigods" who "evolved" from the "roots" of various creatures, ranging from existing ones, like the wild boar, to extinct ones, like various dinosaurs, to even mythical ones, like the fairy; Sho, in turn, would get his armor via the sacrifice of his pet falcon. Without a doubt, there were a lot of similarities between Sho & Seiya, like the similarly-crafted titles, how the various warriors had a hierarchy (Bronze, Silver, & Gold vs. Pawns, Silent Knights, Midknights, Holy Knights, etc.), or how, once again, Kurumada modeled the lead after Ring ni Kakero's Ryuji Takane. That being said, Kurumada did try to spice things up, like having some characters literally change size & shape when donning their armors, so Fairy Shirin would actually shrink to the size of a fairy, or a Pawn with the Tyrannosaurus Rex armor would actually transform into a T-Rex! Also, some argue that Silent Knight Sho features the most elaborate armor designs in Kurumada's entire career; even his later manga B't X would feature more simplistic & realistic designs. Sadly, however, Sho would only be able to run for a scant 13 chapters, before being canceled later that same year; it only totaled two volumes.
By this point, having had three consecutive manga been forced to end early in a row, Masami Kurumada finally had enough with Shonen Jump. The final page of Sho's original serialization had Sho himself stand defiant, promising to continue fighting... While, at the same time, Kurumada plastered "NEVER END" at the bottom of the page; for the tankouban release, Kurumada moved NEVER END to a two-page spread in front of the Earth. This wasn't like Otoko Zaka, where Kurumada was defiant in letting his story be forced to end early; this was Kurumada himself being tired of it all, and letting his annoyance be known to everyone. In fact, the second volume of Sho ends with Kurumada's postscript, in which he says "Thank you" & "Good bye." Silent Knight Sho would be the final manga Masami Kurumada would ever make for Shonen Jump, at least in print serialization, ending a roughly 18-year career with the magazine, similar to Hiroshi Motomiya before him, and Tetsuo Hara after him. Still, Sho hasn't been completely forgotten, as Season 2 of Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! (W) parodies the infamous NEVER END in Episode 3, & Sho himself is the namesake, right down to using the same kanji, for the main character of the female-focused Saint Seiya spin-off Saintia Sho. In fact, Shueisha even republished Kurumada's short series Aoi Tori no Shinwa, Raimei no Zaji, Evil Crusher Maya, & Akane-Iro no Kaze across two books titled Never End Heroes I & II, so I'd say that Kurumada got good mileage out of Silent Knight Sho's non-ending.
Finally, as a bonus, let's give credit to a single manga I sidelined from the Dark Age that followed the end of Dragon Ball & Slam Dunk. Yes, as short as that Age was, I still managed to miss one...
Hajime Kazu is a bit of tough egg to crack when it comes to where she fits in the Ages of Jump. Technically, she debuted during the Golden Age with Mind Assassin, which was about a man who could mess with foes' minds in order to defeat them, but that manga only ran for 27 chapters & 5 volumes in the first half of 1995 before being cancelled; oddly enough, though, Shueisha does seem to treat it with some minor reverence. What's not as well known, however, is Kazu's second series, even though it wound up running for twice as long as her first series. Debuting in the final issue of 1997 was Meiryoutei Gotou Seijyurou/Seijurou Gotou, The Emperor of Meiryou, which followed the exploits of Seijurou Gotou, the Student President of Meiryou Private High School, nicknamed "The Emperor" because of his penchant for being brutally rough, to both the students & his own council, should a situation require it. That being said, however, the character that acted as the primary narrator of the story was Hayata Aoki, a timid newcomer to Meiryou who winds up becoming Seijurou's secretary. Traditionally, a character like Seijurou Gotou would normally be portrayed as an antagonist, if not outright villain, in a school-based story like this, yet here was Hajime Kazu seemingly twisting the trope around & making him the lead, one who's rough demeanor was likely due to his own personal history, which the other characters (& reader) would learn about as the manga went on... At least, that's how I imagine this manga worked, seeing as, once again, there isn't too much detailed information to go off of with this series. The manga would run for two whole years, ending on the final #52-53 combined issue of Jump in 1999, totaling 10 volumes; it literally died with the 90s.
*Yes, I know that issues of Jump are technically a few weeks ahead of what they're listed as, so the 90s weren't technically over yet... Let me try to sound poignant*
Following this, Hajime Kazu would suffer two short-lived series, 2001's KarasuMAN & 2003's Kanagawa Isonan Fuutengumi, neither of which went beyond two volumes. After that, Kazu stuck to just making one-shots, like 2004's Luck Stealer, which starred a modern-day for-hire sweeper who can steal other people's luck, usually resulting in his (evil) victims dying in variously "unlucky" ways. In 2007, though, Kazu was invited to be a part of the newly-debuting Jump Square, which was replacing Monthly Shonen Jump, and she turned Luck Stealer into a full-on series, where it ran until 2012 & matched Seijurou Gotou's 10-volume length. Ever since then, Hajime Kazu has pretty much disappeared from the public eye, likely just enjoying her life in private, though she did contribute a new shikishi drawing for Mind Assassin as part of Jump's 50th Anniversary.
This brings an end to the first part of The Ages of Jump Redux. Without a doubt, Weekly Shonen Jump is just filled beyond max capacity with manga of all kinds, and this part shows that there were too many to continually ignore. Whether it was the final contribution from Osamu Tezuka for Shueisha, the debuts of cult artists like Daijirou Morohoshi or Makoto Niwano, spiritual precursors & imitators to more iconic works like Prince of Tennis or Ring ni Kakero, Hirohiko Araki & Koji Maki (allegedly) competing with each other in terms of how much gore & violence can be shown in a magazine for young teens, or Masami Kurumada standing both defiant & defeated at the ruthless machine itself, the Bronze, Golden & even Dark Ages of Jump still had precious stones that needing some extra mining to dig out. They may not quite be the diamonds that I showed off last time, but they're still valuable in their own ways.
Check back next week, then, as I explore some more notable manga of the most-recent Silver Age of Jump, as well as a first examination at what might very well be the first few notable manga from the newest period of all... The Iron Age of Jump.