Next issue will be my 1 year anniversary reading Weekly Shonen Jump. It's always interesting looking back on the my first year on a title. Especially when that title is a weekly serial anthology, which are a very uncommon breed in English.
I'd been aware of previous versions of Jump in the past, when it was a monthly print anthology. But it's line up never seemed to appeal to me. Yu-Gi-Oh and Dragon Ball always seemed predominant. Neither of which I had any interest in, and I had no reference for One-Piece, Bleach, and Naruto. All of which seemed like more of the same. Which was too bad, because I really wanted to read another serial anthology. In particular a manga based one. Unfortunately I never found a manga anthology with a line-up that really grabbed at my tastes. Somewhat mature action/adventure.
But alas. At the time it just wasn't to be.
Fast forward to late 2012 though, I'd just bought myself a brand new iPad. With the express purpose of switching to full digital for all my comic reading. (An experiment that has pretty much been a rousing success on all fronts btw). But at the time I was still working on transitioning from one format to the other and looking for new digital reading material while I was working through the last of my print pulls. I was reading through Anime News Network and came across an article about The recently relaunched, digital only, English version of Weekly Shonen Jump. The big news is that was going day and date with Japan. The other news was that they would be printing Akira Toriyama's Kintoki one-shot in the next issue. I wasn't too interested in the day and date thing, since I didn't read any of it. But the idea of a stand alone one-shot sounded interesting. And the best part?
Weekly Shonen Jump is only one dollar an issue!
Because that's the rub, if WSJ wasn't so dang cheap, I probably wouldn't have taken a chance on it. As it were, I actually got a little impatient since the Kintoki issue wasn't out yet I wound up taking a shot at the latest issue. The first day and date issue.
What I found was interesting to say the least. Let me be clear, I don't fear coming into long running series mid stride. If I did I wouldn't be reading 2000 AD, or Savage Dragon, or Usagi Yojimbo, or (at one time) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In fact I often relish the opportunity as it means I can not only keep up with current events, but also gradually fill in the missing gaps. Double the pleasure!
To say WSJ is heavy with long running series is a bit of an understatement. At the time One-Piece was coming to the conclusion of an arc, as was Bleach, Naruto was starting one, and Toriko was in the middle of one (I think). Nisekoi and Cross Manage were the newest series, one being rather episodic and the other easy enough to follow if you've seen a sports anime before. It was certainly a strange mix of sense bombardment.
Oh, and there was one brand new series. One-Punch Man. Which, looking back, is what truly rewarded my impatience. If I had missed its first installment I'd have really been pissed at myself. Best series of 2013. Hands down.
After the Kintoki issue came out I was quickly falling in love with WSJ in general. Toriko was pure madness, in a good way. I was starting to understand the hype around One-Piece. Cross Manage was surprisingly endearing (RIP). Once Blue Exorcist rolled around I found a lot to like in it too (though it got a little bogged down mid year). World Trigger would launch and while not the most exciting comic, it's entertaining enough. In all only three strips were total dogs in my eyes; Nisekoi (so generic it physically hurts), Naruto (a year latter I still have no idea what's going on), and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal (actually is visually interesting, but a complete shill of a comic).
Which brings me to this week. Today as the release of a special bonus issue that premiered the new strip, All You Need Is Kill. Regular Jump is off this week due to a holiday in Japan, so this was a pretty welcome way to spare us another Jump-free week. I'm actually pretty excited about the inclusion of this comic. I'm a big sci-fi fan in general, and I love my sci-fi violent and somewhat thought provoking. Based on this first installment, this looks like it's going to deliver both in spades.
I just like the fact that English WSJ seems to be taking more chances with older audience material. Seraph of the End premiered a few months ago, that one also tends to push more mature themes and situations. Jump is slowly starting to become the kind of manga anthology I was looking for all those years ago. And that's what's got me the most excited for its future I think. If 2013 was anything to go by, my second year is going to be just as exciting as the first. Can't wait!