How Weekly Shonen Jump Became Japan’s Most Popular Manga Publication

Weekly Shonen Jump is the home to some of the most popular manga series of all time, including One Piece, My Hero Academia, Hunter x Hunter, Dragon Ball, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Naruto, Bleach, and Death Note. Back in the 60s, Shonen Jump had a lot of competition like Weekly Shonen Magazine and Weekly Shonen Sunday. However, it managed to climb its way up to be the best-selling and longest-running manga magazine it is today.

Today Weekly Shonen Jump is 53-years-old and has a long list of iconic manga series that have called the publication home. The magazine has overseen a lot of manga history in its half-century run. The first published Shonen Jump was back in 1968, and it was founded by Shueisha Inc., a Japanese publishing company that was founded in 1949. Since then, the world has changed, but Weekly Shonen Jump has adapted and managed to maintain the status it gained over the years.

RELATED: Jujutsu Kaisen Manga Reaches Over 60 Million Copies Printed and Sold

The Origins Of Weekly Shonen Jump

The company that founded Weekly Shonen Jump, Shueisha Inc., already had a lot of successes with some children's manga best-sellers under their belt prior to establishing the Jump imprint. They had experience outside manga as well, having published magazines that focused on music, fashion, and pop culture. Out of all these publications, it would be Weekly Shonen Jump that eventually developed into the company's cash cow.

In its first year, Shonen Jump was not weekly but actually bi-weekly and changed to weekly when its sister weekly publication, Shonen Book, ceased publication. Manga that appeared in the early editions included Shameless School, Kujira Daigo, Chichi no Tamashii, and Ore wa Kamikaze. Like any shonen publication, they published stories that were aimed towards early to late teenage boys, so much of the series were comedy, action, and sports manga.

RELATED: Dragon Ball: What Happened To Goku’s Power Pole?

In the 70s, notable manga from Weekly Shonen Jump included The Gutsy Frog, Lion Books 2, Play Ball, Barefoot Gen, Mazinger Z, The Circuit Wolf, Doberman Cop, KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops, Cobra, and Kinnikuman. It was around this time that Weekly Shonen Jump started to hold annual competitions for new and up-and-coming manga artists. The two awards they started to give out included the Akatsuka Award for comedy manga and the Tezuka Award for a great story.

At this point, the manga magazine had yet to reach its golden age. While the manga were enjoyed by audiences, the stories were not internationally acclaimed. It was not until the 80s and 90s when Weekly Shonen Jump hit the gold mine in terms of content.

The Golden Age Of Weekly Shonen Jump

From 1986 and up to 1995, Weekly Shonen Jump's circulation increased every single year and peaked at about six and a half million copies. In the early 90s, the magazine had a readership of about 18 million people in Japan. Its popularity was attributed to some of the manga that ran during the time, many of which were long-running international hits. These popular manga juggernauts included Dragon Ball, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Yu Yu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, and Yu-Hi-Oh!. Some that began in the 90s still run in the magazine today such as One Piece and Hunter x Hunter. The golden age did not last, though and the publication got a wake-up call in 1998 when it lost its place as the highest-selling shonen manga magazine for the first time in 24 years.

Since the 2000s, the readership and circulation of the magazines have undergone a steady decline since its golden age. By 2017, the print circulation has gone down to under two million. However, part of this decline is due to the rise of digital distribution via Weekly Shonen Jump's app and website. Fans began to favor reading manga on their phones and computer rather than in print, which naturally brought circulation numbers down.

Weekly Shonen Jump Today

Despite not being in its golden age anymore, Weekly Shonen Jump is still going strong and remains the top manga publication in the world. The publication even got its own crossover fighting video games to commemorate certain anniversaries such as Jump Super Stars, Jump Ultimate Stars, and J-Stars Victory Vs. In 2013, the magazine got its own theme park called J-World Tokyo. In 2019, due to the popularity of manga and anime at the international level, Shueisha created a mobile app for English and Spanish readers called Manga Plus that has a ton of the magazines' published titles available to read for free.

The shonen genre that typically only targeted teenage boys has also broken the mold over the years, earning many fans outside the demographic such as teenage girls, older men, and women. Female readers were noted to especially love Weekly Shonen Jump for particular series such as Death Note, One Piece, and The Prince of Tennis. The manga stories have also won the hearts of many readers outside of Japan, making Weekly Shonen Jump an international force in countries like Germany, China, the United States, Thailand, Sweden, and Norway.

MORE: Manga Planet Subscription Service Adds Over 150 Kodansha USA Titles To Library

The 20 Best Gaming Holiday Gifts for 2021

The holidays are almost here and we round up a guide of the best items to give to gamers across all platforms this holiday season.

Related Topics
About The Author
Allison Stalberg (234 Articles Published)

Writer, author of The Awei Series, and cat foster parent. Her favorite games include Dragon Age, Pokémon, Final Fantasy XIV, Team Ico games, Ōkami, and RPG maker horror games. She also loves pasta and probably would be a Fairy/Ghost type Pokémon Trainer.

More From Allison Stalberg

You May Like Also

  • Jujutsu Kaisen Manga Reaches Over 60 Million Copies Printed and Sold
  • comedy, action, and sports
  • Dragon Ball: What Happened To Goku’s Power Pole?
  • In the 70s, notable manga
  • Manga Planet Subscription Service Adds Over 150 Kodansha USA Titles To Library
  • The Amazon ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Series Is Missing What Made The Movies Great It seems unlikely that the Amazon series will be able to capture that same magic that the films had, and it certainly feels like more of a cash grab. Read Next
  • Skyrim Player Hits Level 241 Before Leaving Helgen
  • Skyrim Special Edition: How To Make One Million Gold At Level One
  • Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons Offers First Look at the Jade Sea
  • Twitch Streamer Pokimane Reveals Her Relationship Status
  • How to Use Walmart+ To Make Getting a PS5 and Xbox Series X Easier
  • YouTuber's $10,000 Multiplayer Breath of the Wild Bounty is Being Criticized
  • The US Government Has Formed a UFO Task Force
  • Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl: 10 Best Water Type Pokemon & Where To Catch Them
  • Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl: Honey Tree Wait Time
  • Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Players Are Creeped Out By Garchomp's Follow Animation
  • New Sea of Thieves Update Will Let Players Bury Their Treasure
  • Forza Horizon 5: How to Change Name
  • Twitch Adds New Category and Amouranth is Already Its Most Popular Streamer
  • Danganronpa Creative Team Announces New Dark Fantasy Game, Enigma Archives: Rain Code
  • Half-Life 3 Reportedly Isn't Happening But a Half Life RTS/FPS Might
  • God of War Fan Shares Ragnarok-Inspired Model Of Deimos
  • What Rockstar Games Could Learn from CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077
  • Halo Infinite Tactical Ops Event Rewards Leak