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Step by Step, Jump into the Future – Weekly Comic for Everyone


Last week, we saw the reason why the comic magazine, Shonen Jump, thrived for fifty long years, and is still going strong.  The stories and characters, based on well-known yet unofficial philosophy, “Friendship, Hard Work, and Victory” never stopped attracting readers, mainly young boys, but also older boys, young and older girls, in and outside of Japan.

Many of the hit series were made into TV cartoons (as they are all very difficult to make into live-action shows), and exported worldwide.

World Famous Characters 

It has always been acknowledged that Shonen Jump comic characters are very difficult to transfer to live-action movie/TV series.  They are typically extraordinary, thrilling, and exciting.  The characters act very differently to normal human-beings, in worlds that can only be in the imagination.

Famous series include Dragon Ball (1984 – 1995), Fist of the North Star (1983-1988), Saint Seiya (1986-1990) and Captain Tsubasa (1981 to current: it was later moved to a brother publication called Young Jump as the characters got older).  Even if these names are not familiar to you, the appearance of the characters would be recognisable.  They are all transformed into animated TV Series, movies, games, and exported abroad.  The would-be newest addition, Saint Seiya, apparently is going to be a live action movie despite all the opposition and mixed anticipation from loyal fans.

Noticeably, they all started in the 1980s, and it was in 1995 that Shonen Jump recorded the highest sales, 6.5 million issues per week – which was the year that saw the end of Dragon Ball series.  After this, in 1997 the rival magazine overtook Shonen Jump with new waves of comics that are more based on human stories, no fantasies.  But this did not dampen the spirit of Shonen Jump team and saw the start of the new long-run comic, One Piece (1997 to present).  There was no pessimism, but the editing team turned it around to think that it was a great opportunity for the young authors, the opportunity to regenerate the magazines, and potentially the readership.

NEW RIVALRY – Not the other Magazines but…

At present, other comic magazines are not considered rivals.  They are considered more as allies in the fight back against other threats, such as web browsing, online games, and other new digital activities.

The readership profile has changed compared to 50 years ago.  Twenty percent of the readers are women, and the average age has become higher. However, the biggest chunk of readers is still young men of 15 to 20 years old.  The target has never shifted.

But these young generations are not the diehard loyal readers of the paper media.  They have a lot more activities on offer at their fingertips, on their smartphones. The magazine editors need to keep spinning out new stories to win and keep their attention.

The changes meant that some long-running comics sadly had to end.  Then it created the space for new stories to come through, and it can come from veteran authors or new ones.  The magazine constantly runs a competition to win space on the publications.  Anyone can tell their stories on Shonen Jump.

With the spread of the internet, it has become very easy for young aspiring authors to publish their work, but the editor believes that there is no better way than the teamwork which combines an author with an experienced editing team.  Authors bring creative ideas and stories; editors return the critical feedback based on the individual and collective experiences, and on readers’ opinions.  It is essential for them to keep the standard as high as possible to make sure that expectations are always met.  The key to the longevity is to never be complacent.

Fifty Years of Friendship, Hard Work, and Victory

Three exhibitions are currently running to commemorate the success of fifty years.  The first of the series, showing works from1968 to the 1980s, finished in October 2017, with visitors forming a long queue – so much so that entry had to be restricted to the weekends.  The second, which will run from March to June 2018, will be concentrating on its golden period, the 1990s.  The third will be the 21st century and is scheduled for the latter half of 2018.

But this is the only occasion for nostalgia. There are plans for more new comics to gain new readerhips, and of course, the current characters will continue to seek to conquer the world stage.  The honest acknowledgement of social change, adjusting the communication methods, and adhering to their core values, are the keys to the future success.

What is Shonen Jump?  It is a magazine which provides young boys and girls how to live their lives. Young people always look to the bright side of the future. Shonen Jump will demonstrate the big victories of victors, but also the small victories of losers.  It is about showing the process of growing up through different experiences.

In the end, there will be a victory for everyone, but it is always not the same.  By showing different ways, readers will be drawn to the characters’ stories, and take them as their own stories.

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