Monday, July 31, 2023

The Ages of Jump Encore Part 2: Going Out Fighting, Allegro con Fuoco

55 years ago, Shueisha launched Shonen Jump, a biweekly magazine meant to act as a sister publication to Shonen Book, a monthly magazine launched 11 years prior that itself would eventually transmogrify into Bessatsu Shonen Jump, then Monthly Shonen Jump, & finally into the Jump Square that currently exists. In those 5.5 decades of life, Shonen Jump rose from a mere competitor to the likes of Shonen Sunday & Shonen Magazine to the industry-defining standard bearer that, to many, it still is to this day, and the name of "Jump" itself is known the world over. Over the course of over half a century, just shy of 750 different serialized manga have appeared in its pages, but only so many of them would actually achieve something even remotely close to a "legacy" or, at the very least, "recognition", whether that's via renown, notoriety, or simply cult fandom. Over the course of what will now be an 11-part series, The Ages of Jump will have covered only 178 of those manga, or roughly just 24% of Jump's entire catalog; yeah, not even a full quarter of it.

But, really, when all is said & done, one question will remain: "Why go through all of this, and why come back to it twice?"

Because I have always felt that history matters just as much when it comes to entertainment as it does to real life events... and not enough of it is easily available in English when it comes to a subject like manga, even for a topic as popular as Shonen Jump. Over in Japan you can find both manga & even written memoirs from the people who lived through it all, whether it was Shinji Hiramatsu going from assistant to his serialized debut in the 70s, Koji Maki having to deal with cancellation in the 80s, 3rd Editor-in-Chief Shigeo Nishimura recalling his time with Jump from his perspective, or 4th EiC Hiroki Goto looking back on some of the Golden Age's most iconic works. Some of these were even published by Shueisha, but you know Viz more than likely wouldn't be interested in any of this stuff, simply because, for most manga fans, it's history & that isn't what they're interesting in reading about; that's not a slight towards most manga readers or Viz, by the way, but it is a simple fact. I did the original Ages of Jump in 2016 simply because I wanted to (even if only for my own curiosity), I did the Ages of Jump Redux in 2018 because I wanted to do it again for Jump's 50th Anniversary, and the same is true of the Ages of Jump Encore in 2023 for Jump's 55th. If others out there found something cool to learn from all of this, then I am sincerely grateful for that, because it does give the feeling, even if only fleeting, that it did matter. Thank you to anyone who came across this series, & thank you to everyone who felt that it was worth sharing, even if most of it does come off as rather "Wall of Text"-like; that's just how it came out in 2016, & I'm trying to keep consistency across this entire series.

And with that out of the way, let's bring it all to an end with a coda as we re-enter the Golden Age's second half.

Monday, July 17, 2023

The Ages of Jump Encore Part 1: "Play 'Freebird'!"

Close to eight years ago, a.k.a. sometime in late 2015, I came up with the "brilliant" idea of using Wikipedia's list of every single manga that had run in Weekly Shonen Jump up to that point, making note of as many notable titles as I could from that list (either because of length, notoriety, infamy, or simply getting an anime adaptation), and giving a basic & general overview of every single one that I made note of, all in an attempt at maybe providing some context to the evolution of what is, to many, the most iconic & famous manga magazine of all time. To help organize things I relied on the concept of Hesiod's Five Ages of Man (ignoring the idea that each successive age is mostly a worse one than the last), mainly because Jump already had an officially recognized "Golden Age", so I thought it'd be neat to define what came before that point as a "Bronze Age" (Get it? Because it's essentially "third place", in overall importance? Ha ha...) & what came a little bit after as a "Silver Age", while the short period between the Golden & Silver Ages would be a "Dark Age", though later I'd retcon it as also worthy of being called a "Heroic Age", if only to maintain the Hesiod terminology. The end result of that was The Ages of Jump, a seven-part series that took up all of January & February of 2016 (because I was still mad enough to do that much writing & research in that short a period of time, & I've since aged enough to know better) in which I went over 123 different Jump manga, covering from 1968's Chichi no Tamashii to 2014's My Hero Academia. In the end, the series actually did much better than I ever expected, so much so that if you search "Ages of Jump" on Google, the top result is literally a featured snippet listing the four ages that I covered; that makes them all but official, essentially!

With a very positive overall reception, I decided to revisit this concept two years later in August of 2018, to celebrate Jump's 50th Anniversary, as well as fill in some notable gaps that the original series had not covered, but I felt really should have. The end result of that was The Ages of Jump Redux, a two-part series that covered an additional 25 different Jump manga, which also included six series that had debuted after My Hero Academia, starting with Black Clover, and since there was one more Age of Man left from Hesiod that I hadn't used I decided to call this current era of Jump that those six manga came from the "Iron Age". While I don't think The Ages of Jump Redux received anywhere near the same reception that the original Ages did, I was pretty pleased with the end result, which now totaled 148 different Jump manga that debuted between 1968 & 2017; for proper context, though, that's just 19.89% of all Jump manga that have existed, as of mid-2023. Since then, a new resource has come about for looking through Jump's entire history, & that is Jajanken: Weekly Shonen Jump Lab, a literal comprehensive database of every single regular issue of Jump that's ever been made, complete with every single serialized manga that's ever appeared in the magazine's history. Then there's also Weekly Shonen Jump Exhibition Volumes 1-3, a trio of large books that were part art book, part mangaka interviews made for Jump's 50th Anniversary in 2018 that go over a great deal of series that Shueisha itself felt were important to the history of the magazine.

Having gone through the trouble of looking over all 744+ series that have been serialized in Jump (so far) for the sake of figuring out the magazine's history of early cancellations, I came across some last little stragglers that I missed out on over the past nine parts of The Ages of Jump. Some were 100+-chapter series that I really should have included, if only because I feel every series that hit triple digits, in general, should be acknowledged & celebrated, while others were certainly shorter but still had something important worth making note of, especially in light of other pieces I've written (or even made a video of) since doing the Redux. However, I only focused on the original four ages this time around, as while it was fun to take a short peek into the Iron Age in 2018, it's still nowhere near close to ending & should be given time to fully define itself.

So, to celebrate Jump's 55th Anniversary, here's the first of two final (for real, this time!) parts of The Ages of Jump, totaling 30 more Jump manga, with this being the first 15. The concert is over but there's always time for an "Encore", so let's look back at Jump's history once again & (for the last time) see "How Far We've Come".

Monday, July 3, 2023

The Tangerine Terminator: A Look at Shonen Jump's History of Early Cancellations, By the Numbers

In the 55 years since the original launch of Shonen Jump as a biweekly magazine in July of 1968, the magazine has become the iconic origin for too many classic & influential manga to count, out of a total (as of this piece) 744 different series (not including one-shots) that have run in its pages. However, in strong relation to that history of legendary manga that have come from that magazine is also a rather infamous notoriety of early cancellations. It's something that has existed for a long time, but the advent of simulpublishing in English literally every new manga that debuts in the magazine via Viz Media's Shonen Jump subscription service, along with the proliferation of social media making it easier than ever for fans to lament the losses of seemingly promising series, has made this phenomenon more & more known in recent years. It's very easy to come across people today online bemoaning how a new favorite series of theirs has been cut from the Jump roster too soon, and that Jump is way too cutthroat for its own good nowadays; some even argue that Jump was never this harsh with new series back in the day.

But how true is this sentiment, really? Is Shonen Jump truly more cutthroat than ever, or has Jump always been one of the more stringent manga magazines out there, all in an effort to make sure that the ones that manage to stick around for a long time are indeed the strongest titles? Since 2023 marks the 55th Anniversary of Shonen Jump, I think it's time we take a look at Jump's history of early cancellations, but to make sure things are as "objective" (i.e. empirical) as possible we need some hard data...

I made this image.
It is dumb & stupid & I love it.

Before we start, though, we need to lay some ground rules. First, just as with the history of Jump giving final chapters special treatment I went over back in 2021, the information I'll be giving is sourced from Jajanken: Weekly Shonen Jump Lab, which catalogs literally every single issue of Jump from its first issue in 1968 to the most current issue that's out there. This site lists every single manga that appears in each issue & even what the title of each chapter is (& if there's an official English release there's a good chance Jajanken has them in English!), the only exception being various old one-shots; without Jajanken, it'd be nigh-impossible to get anything remotely close to true "hard data". Second, after going over literally every single manga cataloged over at Jajanken & compiling them into an Excel spreadsheet (because what's more "shonen" than collating, right?), I have categorized them across eight different stretches of length: Less Than 10 Chapters (this is mainly to sift out manga that were always intended to be short runs, as it's pretty rare for manga to get outright canceled this early on), 10 to 26 Chapters (this is the range of time most synonymous with early cancellations), 27 to 52 Chapters (i.e. up to a solid year of serialization), 53 to 99 Chapters (i.e. lasting more than one year, but not hitting triple digits), 100 to 199 Chapters, 200 to 299 Chapters, & finally 300 to 399 Chapters & 400+ Chapters (the last two of which only 25 Jump manga have ever achieved so far, so that's a good stopping point). For the purposes of what we're looking for, we will focus primarily on manga that ran somewhere between 10 & 99 chapters, i.e. roughly two to ten volumes long (or just shy of two whole years, at best), though I'll still separate them when bringing up raw numbers. With all of that out of the way, let's finally dig in deep & take a look at Shonen Jump's actual history of early cancellations!