So what changed? Well, besides a new logo and color scheme and a new series (One-Punch Man by ONE and Yusuke Murata), the North American edition of Weekly Shonen Jump features the very latest chapters of popular shonen manga series like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and Toriko in English, released on the same day that they hit the newsstands in Japan. This is a big leap forward from the 2-week delay between US/Japan publishing in Shonen Jump Alpha, and a quantum leap forward from the months, sometimes years lag between the chapters seen in Japan and U.S. when Shonen Jump was a monthly print magazine.
A YEAR AFTER ALPHA, A NEW BEGINNING FOR SHONEN JUMP
It seems hard to believe, but it's only been a little more than a year since VIZ Media announced this transition to digital-only publishing for Shonen Jump magazine at New York Comic-Con 2011. Since then, the debut issue of Shonen Jump Alpha debuted in January 2012, followed by the final print issue in April 2012.
Several new series were added to the SJA line-up, including popular titles from other Shonen Jump magazines like Blue Exorcist and Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration (both originally featured in Jump SQ, a monthly Shonen Jump magazine). A handful of new series made their debut in the pages of Shonen Jump Alpha the same time they appeared (and eventually left) the Japanese edition of Weekly Shonen Jump, like Barrage and Takama-ga-hara.
Throughout 2012, the Shonen Jump editorial team appeared at several anime and comic conventions, organizing fan meet-ups and panels from coast to coast, including a special appearance by Masakazu Katsura, the creator of Video Girl Ai and character designer for Tiger and Bunny at New York Comic-Con 2012. They offered subscribers little extras, like Yu-Gi-Oh cards, a "yearbook" featuring exclusive artists interviews and one-shot comics, and video features on their website.
On top of all that, if you live in North America, you can now read Shonen Jump via the VIZManga.com website, on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, Android phone/tablet or Amazon Kindle Fire, for either 99 cents for a single issue, or get a year's subscription for $25.99/ year (48 issues).
WHAT'S NEW, WHAT'S NEXT FOR SHONEN JUMP? ANDY NAKATANI TALKS
After I got a look at the new Weekly Shonen Jump, I wanted to know more about the new series, and get a better idea of what's next for the SJ crew. So I sent a few questions to Andy Nakatani, Editor-in-Chief of Weekly Shonen Jump for his take on what has changed, been added and what's to come for Shonen Jump in 2013. But first, a taste of some of the readers' reactions as the latest incarnation of Shonen Jump debuted online.
ARE WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP MANGA REALLY RELEASED THE SAME DAY AS JAPAN?
No sooner than the first chapter of Weekly Shonen Jump appeared online to readers in North America, a few comments began to pop up, questioning whether the manga posted in the January 21 issue really was the very latest chapters from Japan.
"the bleach in here was the one that came out in japan last week."
- Devinedragoon (from the comments section on VIZManga.com)
So what's the deal here? Why were these readers saying that they had already read the manga that was featured in the online edition of Weekly Shonen Jump? Well, the answer is simple: these readers were talking about the scanlated (pirated/unauthorized translations) versions.
For weekly manga series that are very popular (like One Piece or Naruto), scanlators race to be the first to get their version posted online to meet the demand of eager fans who are dying to find out what happens next in their favorite series. This race to be first has lead to a situation where scanlators (gosh knows how) get their hands on the latest chapters of Shonen Jump manga before the print edition officially hits the newsstands in Japan.
So what's wrong with this situation? Plenty. I'll let this Twitter exchange between a fan and Shonen Jump's editors tell the story, as they try to explain the situation to a reader.
@iggy83x: "I read these chapters 5 days ago online. #sodisappointed "
Shonen Jump: "You read them illegally before it even came out in Japan."@iggy83x: "I thought you all were doing the simultaneous release to get the JUMP on the illegal scanlators."
Shonen Jump: "Again, those chapters just came out today in Japan. The scanlators are stealing them even before they're officially released."
@iggy83x: "wow, that's a strong word (stealing), and to be honest it made me want to shut up."
"I am a true fan so I'll always do what I can. Now try working on creating a gap between weekly Shonen JUMP and the illegal scanlators as where you are in the lead. Force them to release seven days after you or shut down site. Just an idea. BTW thanks, I know it doesn't seem like it but I've waited several years for this moment. Thanks for making one of my dreams come true."
Shonen Jump: "It's not too strong. It's the truth. But thanks for the support!"