For my kids, Shonen Jump was the gateway to manga.
They had watched a boatload of anime on television. So when a subscription to Shonen Jump was available through the Scholastic Book Club, my eldest son talked me into it. He soon became hooked. His bedroom trunk is now covered in Shonen Jump magazines. In time, he passed his love of these stories to his younger brother.
If you have a child reading manga, the chances are good that, like mine, they were first introduced to this style of comics through Shonen Jump, an anthology magazine from Viz Media.
“Shonen” is the Japanese term for “boy’s stories” which means they are action-oriented, most feature fantasy or science fiction elements and they tend to have boys or young men as the main character. But in many cases, they also have strong female casts. I’ve found more diverse roles for women in shonen manga than I often find in DC or Marvel superhero comics.
Viz Media is celebrating issue #100 of Shonen Jump with a special commemorative issue due out next month. It includes a Heroes of Manga retrospective with many favorites from older stories, a Dragon Ball/One Piece crossover story and a special Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card.
The heroes pictorial retrospective includes Goku from Dragon Ball, Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh!, Naruto, Ichigo from Bleach, as well as recent additions Ageha from the new manga series Psyren and Yusei from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D.
Of all the heroes throughout the years, my eldest son’s favorite is Bleach, which I reviewed for Comics Spotlight last year. It’s the story of a young man who accidentally becomes a soul reaper and is thrown into a paranormal world that he didn’t know existed and doesn’t really understand. It has many of the best aspects of shonen manga: a determined protagonist, a very cool concept for the stories and complex relationships between the characters.
“We’re committed to giving fans what they’ve asked for and we will continue to do so with even more direct communication with our readers,” said the magazine’s senior editor, Joel Enos. “This issue’s Heroes of Manga gives fans a fun trip down memory lane and also lets them meet some new heroes for the first time. Plus, we are showcasing the Dragon Ball X One Piece Cross Epoch, a unique manga mash-up never before seen in the U.S. that features Goku and Luffy, as well as many of their supporting cast, together for the first time in a story written and drawn by both creators Akira Toriyama and Eiichiro Oda.”
The bonus content will be available only in the print edition, not the digital version. But there is content available on the Shonen Jump website that is available only to subscribers.