If you’re an anime or manga fan, you’ve probably heard of Weekly Shonen Jump, published by Shueisha. The story behind the very first anime you ever watched may even have sprouted from the world’s most famous manga magazine. Over Weekly Shonen Jump‘s sprawling 50-year history, they’ve published some of the most globally successful manga ever, including Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto.
Weekly Shonen Jump may have reached its peak weekly circulation of 6.53 million copies in the 1990s, but the march of time and the decline of print media haven’t stopped the magazine from expanding its net of readers. Jump’s audience has steadily become more global, as Shueisha looks towards digital distribution as a means of ensuring that their titles remain accessible towards a wide audience.
In 2014, Shueisha first launched Shonen Jump+, an online platform in Japanese that sells e-book versions of Jump manga titles as well as a digital version of Weekly Shonen Jump that can be read on mobile devices. The site allows users to read a large sample of Jump manga for free, and also serializes a number of original titles separate from the print magazine, including ēlDLIVE and DARLING in the FRANXX.
Meanwhile, in North America, popular Jump titles like My Hero Academia consistently top best-selling lists for graphic novels. From 2013 to 2018, Viz Media published a digital version of Weekly Shonen Jump, releasing new English chapters simultaneously with the Japanese magazine, and last December they launched a new website giving subscribers access to over 70 catalog titles.
However, this will not be the only means through which the latest Jump chapters will be available digitally from now on. Shueisha is launching a global version of Shonen Jump+ on January 28, called MANGA Plus. Not only will the site and app provide simultaneous releases of popular serialized titles like One Piece, it will also be available in every country except China and South Korea. The app will also be completely free, like the Japanese version of Shonen Jump+ currently is.
To talk about this new venture in detail, we visited Shueisha‘s offices and talked to Shonen Jump+ editor Shuhei Hosono, who also oversees MANGA Plus. He explained everything to know about MANGA Plus upon launch.
When did you first get involved with the project? And what are your thoughts as team leader?
I’ve been with Shonen Jump+ since it started in 2014. I was also involved in the online Jump Book Store that launched in 2012. Through my work on those projects, I wanted as much manga to be available as possible. Just like in Japan, there are a lot of manga readers overseas. So I want to bring Shonen Jump+ to people all around the world.
How exactly does Shonen Jump+ work?
Through Shonen Jump+, you can purchase a digital version of each issue of Weekly Shonen Jump at the same time the print version comes out. You can also buy e-books of the tankobon versions of Jump titles. On top of that, there are original manga titles that are serialized exclusively through the service.
The service itself is completely free to use. The first chapters of every manga on Shonen Jump+ manga are available for any user to read. Also, the latest chapters that are serialized will also be available for anyone to read for a limited amount of time.
When did the idea of making a global version of Shonen Jump+ start?
We started talking about it in 2017, and we’ve been working at it right until launch.
What languages will the service be in?
For now, we just have an English and Spanish version planned. The Spanish version will launch around February/March, although it may have a different lineup from the English version. If there is enough demand, we may add more languages.
What is the difference between the Viz‘s Shonen Jump app and MANGA Plus?
Well, for starters, there will be more titles available through MANGA Plus. We plan to add as many titles as we can, even relatively minor ones that previously never had in English release.
Viz focuses mainly on Weekly Shonen Jump titles, while MANGA Plus will have titles from other Shueisha publications, like Jump Square and the Jump+ online manga.
MANGA Plus will also be available in more regions. It will available throughout the entire world except in China, South Korea, and Japan, as they already have their own separate services. Previously under-served regions like Southeast Asia will be able to read manga through this app. Up until now, Shueisha‘s titles have been distributed throughout North America, Europe, Asia etc., via local publishers or distribution lines. This marks the first time that Shueisha is expanding direct service globally.
Will every manga that is serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump be available through this service (and not just the popular ones)?
Yes. The starting lineup will be almost everything that’s currently being serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump. There will be over 30 titles being released simultaneously with Japan.
As for titles that have concluded and are not currently being serialized in the magazine, such as Naruto, we plan to serialize them through the app from the beginning so that new readers can experience them, one chapter at a time. 10 of these serializations are already planned, and more will be added gradually over time.
The full starting lineup is below:
- ONE PIECE
- The Promised Neverland
- Jujutsu Kaisen – Sorcery Fight
- My Hero Academia
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
- Black Clover
- Chainsaw Man
- Hinomaru Sumo
- Food Wars: Shokugeki no Sōma
- I’m From Japan
- Teenage Renaissance! David
- We Never Learn
- Dr. Stone
- HUNTER×HUNTER (Suspended)
- Hell Warden Higuma
- Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
- Blue Exorcist
- Platinum End
- World Trigger
- Dragon Ball Super
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V
- Terra Formars
- Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku
- Summertime Render
- Nano Hazard
- The Sign of Abyss
- Blue Flag
- Abyss Rage
- LAND ROCK
- Soloist in A Cage
- Curtain’s up, I’m off
- Spotless Love: This Love Cannot Be Any More Beautiful.
- Moon Land
- Tokyo Ghoul
- ONE PIECE Part 1
- Assassination Classroom
- DEATH NOTE
- DRAGON BALL
- Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Note that the lineup will be different in Taiwan.
For the titles that Viz shares with MANGA Plus, will the translation be the same?
Yes. As for other titles they handle, they may use different translators.
Will the interface be similar to Shonen Jump+?
Yes, it will be based on the existing app. On the home page, you’ll see the latest chapters to be uploaded underneath each day. You’ll also be able to access the full list of titles available through a drop menu.
Do you think manga itself is changing as the medium becomes more global?
Yes, there are more readers from around the world, and more manga is being born overseas. These days, the quality of manga from around the world is incredibly high. Although we at Shueisha make manga primarily to appeal to a Japanese audience, we hope that the stories can have a global appeal too. It’s one of the many things that editors take into consideration when we think about what kind of manga to publish next.
However, at the core of it, manga is always about telling interesting stories, and no matter how much time passes, that side of manga has never changed.
As the artist behind Dragon Ball Super, do you get a lot of feedback from overseas fans? How would you characterize that feedback?
When I have been to overseas events, people have spoken to me. The way people overseas perceive and evaluate my work is very different from Japan, so it’s been very helpful to me as reference for creating the story.
How important would you say the international audience is for the success of Dragon Ball Super?
Because Dragon Ball is loved throughout the entire world, I think that the sequel Dragon Ball Super must also be loved in the same way.
Are you personally excited that your overseas fans can now catch up and read your new chapters at the same time as Japan?
I am very grateful that there is no time lag for the release of the manga. If the information from Japan is conveyed in a fragmentary manner, then readers won’t be able to taste the initial emotions and surprise. I am very excited about the simultaneous release.
Masashi Kishimoto, creator of Naruto, also left a message: “Jump’s manga will now be available at the same time all over the world! Now that it’s an official service, there will be a lot to read! Wonderful!”