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If 50% of Weekly Shonen Jump readers are female, one can consider the magazine to be the most gender-neutral manga magazine out there today.
The Nikkei Shimbun recently took a look at Japanese women that read Jump. The results were what fans might usually expect. As you can see, female readers love series like Haikyuu!!, Gintama, Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Kuroko no Basket, One Piece, and BLEACH. The boys loved titles like Nisekoi, Kochikame, Medaka Box, Toriko, Beelzebub, and Naruto.
Nikkei also took a look at the history of Shonen Jump titles that appealed to women (which includes Captain Tsubasa, Hoshin Engi, Yu Yu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, and The Prince of Tennis).
Nikkei also goes into depth on why girls happen to love Shonen Jump and even talks about how boys might not be drawn into it because of the amount of material that’s catered to women (i.e. Kuroko no Basket, which Nikkei discussed in great detail in the 3rd page of the article). The article says that titles like Nisekoi are there to get back or get continued support by male readers.
Another interesting thing to point out is the title of the article. Here’s what it says:
You can translate it as "Crazy/enthusiastic fangirls help support Weekly Shonen Jump’s 3 million circulation!"
A friend of mine felt that the title is insulting towards fujoshi. Then again, the tone of the article suggests that the large amount of females reading Jump is ruining boys’ images of Jump. Is that really the case though? If you look at the 1st chart, everything seems to even out in the end.
Is this an obstacle to fujoshi power or something that just more people will accept over time? All we know is that relationships are essential to everyone’s (men, women, children, adults, etc.) lives and Shonen Jump titles highlight them in great detail.
Guess this is another huge reason why Shonen Jump is considered to be "The World’s Most Popular Manga" magazine, huh?
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(Rin: Not only do we got an anime that’s kicking butt, but now our manga is crushing it in Japan!)
Last Thursday while I was browsing around Kinokuniya Bookstore, I managed to see the latest Japanese volume of Kazue Kato’s Blue Exorcist (Ao No Exorcist), Volume 7, on the manga shelves. I did notice that there were more copies than usual. Later that day, I found out that Volume 7 had a print run of a million copies. Now this is pretty interesting because I’m trying to figure out what makes the series EXTREMELY popular right now in Japan. Even Japanese bookstore staff have recommended the title to consumers. Someone on the Anime News Network forums made an interesting comment: "One Piece is to Shonen Jump as Blue Exorcist is to JUMP Square". Is it really safe to make that comparison?
The funny thing is that the series hasn’t been out for a long period of time. It’s currently at 28 chapters, which is about 2 years worth of material. This rise is somewhat similar to the rise of Hajime Isayama’s Shingeki no Kyojin (published in Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shonen Magazine). The main difference is that Blue Exorcist is published in a mainstream manga magazine under the JUMP label.
Before I began following Blue Exorcist, when I think of JUMP Square, I think of Claymore, D. Gray-man, Shin Prince of Tennis, & To-Love-Ru Darkness. When I read the first volume of Blue Exorcist, I immediately thought, "Why does it feel like I’m reading D. Gray-man?" I’m sorry to fans of both, but that’s how I felt. Both stories involved demons, feature a protagonist who has some demonic power, & also take place in a exorcist organization setting. However, I did notice that Blue Exorcist is a lot more lighthearted and relatable to teen readers & young adults because the exorcist organization in this series is more like a school.
(I can imagine the HUGE amount of RinxYukio fanfiction/fanart out there in the vast landscape of the Internet.)
As much we can credit the popularity of the anime for a heavy interest in the original source material, I think it might come down to the presence of the two main characters in the series: Rin Okumura & Yukio Okumura. Both are good-looking and appeal to many fans. A friend of mine even told me that the fujoshi in Japan really love Ao no Exorcist. When I first saw Yukio on the cover of Volume 2, I immediately thought, "Wow, he looks sooooo cool! I can definitely cosplay this with no wig!"
The “twin brothers in the same school” dynamic intrigues me. You have one brother who’s calm, smart, & talented (Yukio) and you have the other who is the opposite but seems to get more attention (Rin). I think many of us have been through sibling comparisons & rivalries. In essence, siblings interacting with each other can be quite a hectic, yet educational experience for those involved.
Kato has stated that Blue Exorcist was inspired by a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. For those familiar with the Brothers Grimm stories, they are often popular fairy tales for children with heavy mature themes. One German scholar has described them as tales of the struggle to be human.
I spoke to Alex Hoffman on Twitter about the appeal of Blue Exorcist. This is what he thought about the mass appeal of the series right now:
If you think about it, everything seems balanced in Blue Exorcist. There’s something for everyone in the series. Sure, it may feel like a typical shonen manga. However, the pacing is good. Nothing really drags on for too long. The characters are all well-done (Regarding the characters, I’m especially interested in Mephisto Pheles & where his allegiances really lie). Most importantly: the story is about a child of Satan wanting to take out his father, the big baddie, himself. That’s a pretty unique concept for a shonen manga if you ask me. Kato has managed to incorporate the theme of exorcism (which can get VERY frightening) and made it fun to read about for a young audience.
So, does JUMP Square have a legitimate flagship title in Blue Exorcist? With D.Gray-man (arguably the most popular JUMP Square title before Blue Exorcist) going in a darker & more serious direction, Blue Exorcist looks to capture even more fans of all ages with its fun blend of action, comedy, & drama. It’s also an interesting look at what happens when a class of students who all have unique personalities interact in an educational environment. Doesn’t that sound just like school in real life?
(The main cast of Blue Exorcist.)
If Blue Exorcist is going to be the “One Piece” of JUMP Square, having a huge print run is a good start. The series just needs to be even more aggressively marketed in Japan & slowly take over all aspects of real life. Who knows? There might be a day when Shiemi Moriyama garden vegetable dishes are made & served to the public.
Until then, let the blade of Kurikara continue to shine bright & set hearts ablaze in blue!
Want to jump aboard Blue Exorcist? You can watch the anime at Crunchyroll. The English-translated manga is available courtesy of VIZ Media. If you want to be up-to-date with the Japanese volumes, you can buy them at Shueisha’s website here.
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The future of Shonen Jump?!? I’d like to see all the FANS who judge books by their covers to support this Jump title.
Completely redefining Bishojo…
The series above is called "Kakko-Kawaii Sengen!" Apparently, it’s a comedy gag manga. Shueisha was ok with publishing this and rejecting a title like Shingeki no Kyojin (and in the process giving Kodansha a immensely popular new title), interesting.
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Due to the earthquake that has caused so much destruction in Japan, Shueisha posted the March 14th issue of Weekly Shonen JUMP online for free to those who weren’t able to purchase a physical copy due to the many delays caused by the disaster. Kodansha also announced that they would have issues from 6 of their manga magazines online. With many publishers delaying releases of manga (& also anime) because of the tragic events in Japan, will we see them fully realize the potential of paid subscriptions to online manga/issues of manga magazines as a source of revenue?
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According to this article at Bleeding Cool, Akira Toriyama is looking to bring back Dragon Ball once more to the manga world.
The question that’s bothering me: Is the manga industry so bad to the point that we need a really old series to rejuvenate the scene?
I love Dragon Ball as much as the next person, but I’m worried that Toriyama and/or Shueisha may tarnish his legacy (if there will be a lengthy run). Then again, it can’t be as bad as Dragon Ball GT. Dragon Ball was the starting point for my love of anime & manga.
The resurgence of Dragon Ball may provide a spark, but the manga industry needs to look back at the past to develop for the future. Don’t just use past elements and place them in the present for short-term impact. Sooner or later, Dragon Ball will be gone again.
To quote from Final Fantasy X-2 (I’m sorry if you hardcore Final Fantasy fans are offended by me mentioning the game), “Knowledge of the past is the key to the future”.
**UPDATE: According to this Twitter status update by Masters of Manga, the return of Dragon Ball will NOT happen.**