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To all you folks who want to draw manga, I found an interesting post on a MangaHelpers sub-forum on Weekly Shonen Jump about how new manga should try to appeal to readers. There’s one snippet I would like to highlight and it’s this:
"I guess the main question a mangaka needs to ask themselves in order to write a successful manga is ‘Why?’. Why should we care about your manga? Why should we bother to read it beyond the first chapter? And with such a selective magazine (Weekly Shonen Jump), the mangaka better have that question answered before chapter 1 gets published. I think that’s what separates the exceptional mangaka, like (Yuusei) Matsui and (Eiichiro) Oda, from the mediocre. I guess it’s also what defines the expression ‘doing your homework’."
Which leads to another lesson regarding the importance of asking “why”: never stop learning. There’s always something deeper beneath the surface.
You can read the rest of the post as it is pretty in-depth. Makes you think about when the next worldwide smash hit manga will come.
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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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"I’ll bite you to death!"
Do you remember a time back in your school days when you met someone who showed complete loyalty to your school to a huge degree? I don’t know about you guys, but reading about Kyoya Hibari, of Akira Amano’s Katekyo Hitman REBORN!, makes me wonder about young teenagers who are exuberant about the schools they attend. Hibari is a character who loves his school so much that he uses his love to achieve a position of power at his school and to justify his actions upon others with that power.
Hibari is a student of Namimori Middle School, where he is the leader of the Namimori Middle Disciplinary Committee. Anyone he deems to be a rule-breaker at Namimori is subject to his wrath. Hibari loves his school to the point where he has his school’s anthem as his cellphone ringtone. His pet bird, Hibird, sings the ringtone to Hibari’s delight. He has an infamous catchphrase where he proclaims “I’ll bite you to death!” to anyone he feels is disrespecting his school. Hibari is also an individual who prefers to be alone and will beat up anyone that bothers him. He is one of the most popular male characters in anime/manga today and is loved by Japanese female anime/manga fans, as they have voted him #1 as the anime/manga husband they wish to have back in a 2009 “top anime husbands” poll. Women have also voted Hibari #5 in a 2011 poll focusing on anime characters women wanted to marry.
What drives students to be deeply loyal to their schools? One factor could be the uniforms that schools require their students to wear. When you wear a uniform, you might feel a sense of loyalty because everyone else will be wearing the same uniform as you. Also, wearing a uniform can teach students discipline, as they are usually required to wear one to school. They have to make sure that they follow the rules. (For more pros (and cons) of school uniforms, you can read this article on school uniforms.) Other factors are the school’s facilities, its history, the mission of the school, and the vision that the school has.
Not much is known about Namimori Middle School, except for its anthem. Usually, a school’s anthem resonates with its core values. One has to wonder if Hibari loves his school because its matches his personal view of “discipline”. Does Hibari see himself as "vigorous and gallant" as the anthem states in its lyrics? Another thing to note is that Hibari is somewhat of a juvenile delinquent. Perhaps he owes the school his life. Teenagers tend to be juvenile delinquents mostly due to a lack of parental supervision and discipline. They try to make sense of the world and struggle to build an identity for themselves.
Perhaps Hibari’s character is a good example of how schools can cure juvenile delinquency. Develop an extracurricular activity that benefits the individual, allows him/her to be themselves, and also implicitly teaches them a variety of positive traits. If Hibari never became the leader of the Disciplinary Committee, he would have never met Tsunayoshi Sawada, Reborn, and the rest of the main characters. He also would have never taken on the huge responsibility of being the Cloud Guardian of the Vongola Family. Hibari learns to be a bit more friendly from being around the Vongola. In a sense, he has a positive way to channel whatever violent urges he may have with those he considers to be his rivals (Mukuro Rokudo, Dino, Reborn, and Tsuna). While Hibari is still a bit wacky when it comes to enforcing school rules (he does this outside of Namimori Middle School), the character does become a better person as fans can see with regards to his future self in the Future Arc.
Reborn fans, what do you think of Hibari as a character? Some have argued that he’s too perfect (the main cast considers him the Vongola’s strongest Guardian) and has little character development. His past hasn’t been focused on, but it will be interesting to see how Hibari has become the person he is today. The only thing I can say for certain is that school still serves a purpose in saving delinquents to a certain degree and Hibari is a good example of that.
With regards to Hibari’s motif as the Cloud Guardian, even clouds need to be guided properly with the aid of the vast sky.
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If you’re a Gintama fan & you haven’t watched/read this storyline, you should DEFINITELY experience the Renho arc (Episodes 232-236 in the anime, Volume 41 in the manga). There is so much blatant copyright infringement, it’s not even funny.
Though most importantly, the story features the return of Tatsuma Sakamoto, a merchant who was formerly a Joi patriot alongside Gintoki Sakata & Katsura Kotaro. Together, the three of them make up the "San Baka" (Three Stooges/Idiots).
Outside of the somewhat silly feel (i.e. everyone’s wearing duck costumes) of the arc, I wonder if the arc was made to represent a second chance for all three characters to protect what they cherish as a unit. In the past, our three idiots were warriors chosen to prevent an alien invasion by the Amanto. They failed in the end and went their separate paths. With the Renho situation escalating, Gin, Zura, & Sakamoto were reunited by fate. They couldn’t save their country from aliens, but the least they could do was save their planet from aliens.
What makes the three idiots even more interesting is their ability to draw crowds. They manage to shift the tense focus of battle to something more light-hearted (a game of UNO). While this makes them considered to be idiots, the Renho troops they managed to influence became drawn to them. Gin, Zura, & Sakamoto are all charismatic and you get to see their charisma to great effect. What makes them charismatic is their ability to make others feel important.
It makes me wonder what actually happened during the Amanto War. Was there little rapport among the Japanese? Was the lack of it the reason they lost? Were the Joi lacking in effective communication skills? Interesting stuff to think about until Hideaki Sorachi decides to cover the past to a huge degree. I also wonder if the whole “Amanto taking over Japan” theme represents Japanese society in general & how they need to stand up against inequality.
Lesson learned from the Gintama Joi trio: take a genuine interest in people if you want to be loved & appreciated. Yes, you might end up a fool, but a lovable one.
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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?