A map of the digital future for Jump manga

Let’s examine three features of the MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA digital platform, part of the Shueisha publishing world

By Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

©Weekly Shonen Jump/Shueisha

Back cover of Weekly Shonen Jump(C)Weekly Shonen Jump/ShueishaOriginal Source: 集英社

Within Japan, Weekly Shonen Jump is widely considered to be the most influential Manga periodical of all time. In 2019, Shueisha, the publishers of Weekly Shonen Jump, created the MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA (MANGA Plus as follows) platform, to provide a digital means for enjoying their manga, whilst supporting a wide variety of languages.

"MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA" Top page (C)ShueishaOriginal Source: 集英社

MANGA Plus is provided entirely free of charge, and delivers not just the serializations found in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, but also the Shonen Jump+ digital platform, thus far only available in Japanese. The MANGA Plus platform provides translations into seven different languages, and is available for use worldwide, excluding China, South Korea, and Japan itself. New works are published on the platform at the same time as their release in Japan, with no time delay. Yuta Momiyama, the deputy edit of Shonen Jump+, gives us some background information on the MANGA Plus platform and Shueisha’s digital ambitions.

Yuta Momiyama, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of "Shonen Jump+"Original Source: 集英社

“Within the Jump group, we feel we have a special kind of magic for coming up with new and interesting manga. When we were considering a digital environment, we wanted to capture some of that spirit, some of that way of thinking. Our way of doing this was to have the digital platform directly managed by the editorial department, and on top of that to change features and tools for overseas readers”.

Shueisha Jump Group Editorial DepartmentOriginal Source: 集英社

“Our ultimate goal is to create a digital platform that surpasses our paper publications. But it’s important for Jump to take advantage of the strengths of these respective platforms – paper and digital – for maximum effect to create new manga”.

Shonen Jump + Jigoku Raku CharactersOriginal Source: 集英社

To do so, three key words for how the Jump platform markets itself are “readers”, “newcomers”, and “characters”.

The Cover of Weekly Shonen Jump (C)Weekly Shonen Jump/ShueishaOriginal Source: 集英社

1. Spurred on by the readers

Perhaps the most important of these three concepts is that of the readers. Jump has a famous tradition of “questionnaire supremacy”, under which readers provide scores for the different series’ using a weekly questionnaire. The lower the score, the higher the probability of a given series being discontinued. If you’re thinking that this sounds a little Darwinian, let’s first get Momiyama’s opinion on it.

Yuta Momiyama, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of "Shonen Jump+"Original Source: 集英社

“The manga creators who contribute to Jump are well-aware of this tradition of ours. We think of the weekly questionnaire as a kind of communication with the readers. It also helps to create a healthy competition between the creators. Competition can be helpful in pushing us and creators to go the extra mile and really think about how to make our output as good as it can be. It’s tough but it really contributes to the overall quality”.

Comment section (C)ShueishaOriginal Source: 集英社

MANGA Plus follows this tradition by displaying rankings corresponding to the number of views a particular comic has had. On top of this, there is a comments section where readers can speak their mind. “Through these features, it really feels to me as though our manga are getting some real traction outside Japan. Within the editorial department, we share and discuss these kind of rankings. We’re also in the process of creating a system where comments in other languages are translated into Japanese and shared within the department. This kind of feedback is a really important indicator for both creators and editors”.

Comic book "Monster #8" (C)ShueishaOriginal Source: 集英社

“A lot of manga creators use Twitter nowadays, so we receive loads of comments on that, in a variety of languages. This also is a source of feedback and inspiration for both creators and editors. Eventually, we hope it will be standard procedure for us to monitor the reaction of readers from a range of countries, across a range of platforms, like this”.

Shueisha Jump Group Editorial DepartmentOriginal Source: 集英社

2. Dreaming of newcomers

Our second key concept, that of newcomers, means discovering new creating talent. Seeking out up-and-coming talent has been a tradition at Jump since its very first issue, in 1968. At this time, when new manga magazines were being brought to the market at a furious pace, editors were desperate to find unseen, exciting manga. The editor-in-chief of Weekly Shonen Jump at the time even asked readers to send him their own manga creations, thinking that the next great creator might be one of the existing readers.

"Shonen Jump+" App ranking page (C)ShueishaOriginal Source: 集英社

“We really think that we’re the editorial department that tries hardest to root out new talent”, says Momoyama. “The mission of a manga editor is to keep bringing new manga to the world. When it comes to betting on potential of new creators, we believe we’re more open-minded than other magazines. For example, with SpyXFamily, it simultaneously started in both Shonen Jump+, and MANGA Plus. Similarly, from the very first episode, it was put out in multiple languages. By this point, the cumulative sales are more than 26.5 million, and it’s become a major hit, that’s also been adapted into an anime”.

Shueisha Jump Group Editorial DepartmentOriginal Source: 集英社

In keeping with this idea, a manga-creating course, called Jump’s Manga School, has been set up, and one-off works by overseas creators have been published in Weekly Shonen Jump. There’s also a platform for overseas creators, called MANGA Plus Creators.

“There are still problems with language, but I personally don’t think there’s any need to draw a sharp line between Japan and the rest of the world. It would be nice if anyone, at any place, at any time, could create a manga. And, who knows, we might be able to publish them in MANGA Plus or Shonen Jump+. As an editor, I’d really like to see a platform that serves as a kind of bridge”.

Top page of the "MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA" app(C)ShueishaOriginal Source: 集英社

3. Having attractive character Digital or otherwise, the characters are at the heart of every Manga storyline at Jump. “We value our readers, and we try to fill Jump with what readers want to see, as they follow a series. But when you’re thinking about what makes Jump, it’s really the character that readers feel close to, or get inspired by. We have Goku from Dragon Ball, Luffy from ONE PIECE, Naruto from Naruto, etcetera. It’s not an absolute rule that a manga has to have at least one character that readers can identify with, but we’re all very conscious of the connection that readers form with the characters”.

Weekly Shonen Jump on the bookshelfOriginal Source: 集英社

“It’s been said that the Jump slogans, the cornerstones of our manga, are things like ‘friendship’, ‘overcoming struggle’, ‘fighting for victory’, but we don’t actually discuss those ideas within the editorial team at all. They just came up frequently in reader’s questionnaires in the past. It’s the charm of a particular character that can transcend the manga itself, and lodge in people’s memories. The characters become symbols for something larger. Unlike Japan, where manga is popular regardless of age or gender, I get the impression that manga is currently something for the hardcore fans in other countries, but eventually I think it will be great characters that bring manga to a wider audience abroad.

Shueisha Weekly Shonen Jump Editorial DepartmentOriginal Source: 集英社

Changing, but staying the same

Whether paper or screen, whether Jump or MANGA Plus, whether Japanese or other languages, the excitement of the Jump characters and artwork is unchanged. Hopefully the technological shift of MANGA Plus brings manga into a more digital, international era, bringing new fans on the journey of both enjoying and creating manga.

Credits: Story

Cooperation with:
Jump Group Editorial Department

Photos: Shinsaku Yasujima
Text / Edit / Translation: Makiko Oji
Edit: Saori Hayashida
Production: Skyrocket Corporation

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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