It takes a miracle for the Japanese publisher…
The iconic Weekly Shonen Jump manga magazine is on its way to reaching a worrying milestone and it’s a dire indication of the publication’s future. At the end of August, it was reported that 2022 is on track to be the year that Shonen Jump has serialized the fewest series since 2010.. In case this name doesn’t ring a bell, this publisher is responsible for works like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Chainsaw Man, etc.
Perhaps its most important moment was when the magazine published “The Big Three”, One Piece, Naruto and Bleach, commonly known as the “Big Three”. These series were and still are immensely popular. However, now it seems that the publisher is going through a problem of creativity, the account of Twitter Shonen Jump tweeted that only five series had been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump so far this year.
Fun fact: 2022 has the potential to become the year with fewer serializations in the history of Shonen Jump (1968 doesn’t count). For the moment only 5 series have started this year. The record so far is in 2010 8 serializations.
– Shonen Salto (@ShonenSalto) August 22, 2022
The new manga that will begin serialization are Akane-banashi, Earthchild, Super Smartphone, Aliens Area, RuriDragon, and Tokyo Demon Bride Story, with Ginka to Ryūna still scheduled to premiere. While One Piece is still ongoing, Naruto and Bleach ended over 5 years ago.. The magazine has had a variety of series since then that have acted as suitable stand-ins for these flagship series. My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, and Jujutsu Kaisen have become incredibly popular both in Japan and internationally, and Demon Slayer even outsold One Piece in 2019 after its excellent anime adaptation. However, none of these series has reached the same level of popularity
One Piece recently announced that the 25-year-old series is now entering its final saga, and Kohei Horikoshi, the author of My Hero Academia, has announced that it plans to end the series by the end of 2022.. If these series end soon, then Shonen Jump will need to find similar long-running series to replace them, or else it will face a decline in readership similar to when Dragon Ball ended in the 1990s. Looking at the other series in Jump with 100 chapters or more, three of them (Mashle: Magic and Muscles, Me & Roboco, and High School Family: Kokosei Kazoku) are comedy manga that really can’t fill the void left by more dramatic series. The other two are Mission: Yozakura Family and Undead Unluck, which, while having some comedic elements, are much more serious. Mission: Yozakura Family is a manga that focuses on a family of spies, which is unfortunately too similar to the much more popular Spy x Family to allow the series to really stand out. And Undead Unluck is too unconventional to appeal to the wide audience Shonen Jump desperately needs to appeal to.
The manga industry could be in creative trouble
Of course, there are a variety of newer series with fewer chapters that have some potential. Sakamoto Days is an 83-chapter manga that has comedic character overtones, but has also featured some more serious fights and plotlines. The Elusive Samurai is a historical battle manga with a respectable 74 chapters created by veteran mangaka Yusei Matsui, who previously wrote the successful Assassination Classroom series.
Most of the other Shonen Jump series are comedies or series that, while good, are too specific to appeal to Jump’s broader fan base. This manga publisher is usually quick to replace the popular works it creates with new series. But this constant cycle of cancellations and replacements makes it hard for readers to really stick with new series, as they can be canceled at any time. Weekly Shonen Jump has stopped serializing five manga this year so far, which perfectly matches the number of new manga it started serializing this year. This makes the low number of new manga series they have released even more depressing.
The most recent series that Weekly Shonen Jump serialized was Chainsaw Man.. The series was explosively popular, and part 1 was fully serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump. However, when Chainsaw Man part two returned this year, it was published in Shonen Jump+, an online magazine also owned by Weekly Shonen Jump’s parent company Shueisha. Shonen Jump+ (known outside of Japan as MANGA Plus) has featured some of the most popular manga series in recent years, including the aforementioned Spy x Family and the groundbreaking Kaiju No. 8. Digital platforms like this are often more convenient for readable and more accessible to an international audience, so it makes sense that Shueisha would want to focus more on app development than their print magazine. Chainsaw Man’s transfer to Shonen Jump+ indicates that Shueisha is willing to actively damage Weekly Shonen Jump’s chances of success in order to increase the success of its spin-off.