Many, many moons ago (wow, has it really been over 2 years?), I wrote about some of my favourite series from Shonen Jump+, pointing out some great licensed ones, and imploring Viz Media to license several others.
Not a single one was licensed from my list.
But you know what? That’s ok, because suddenly, somewhat out of left field, Shueisha has launched an English (and soon to be Spanish) version of their app: MANGA Plus. And not only does it have nearly every series from Weekly Shonen Jump, but it’s also the first English release for several series from Jump+ itself.
Words cannot adequately describe how excited I am right now.
To be honest, I’m a little shocked that Jump+ beat Comico to the punch. when RELIFE and Momokuri disappeared from Crunchyroll Manga, I thought for sure it was Comico preparing to launch their own English version of their app, but it’s been over a year and nothing has happened. So, congratulations Shueisha.
Now, let’s dig in to what we’ve got.
This is probably most people’s first exposure to these series, so let me offer up some suggestions for what to check out:
The basic premise is that our main character, Shinpei, returns to the island he grew up on to attend his friend Ushio’s funeral. However, he soon discovers that something is copying and replacing the residents of the island, which he’s wholly unprepared for. To make matters worse, he’s killed by a double, only to wake up at the exact moment that he arrived on the island. Yes, this is a time loop series, and gosh is it a lot of fun. We’re up to 57 chapters now, and it’s become one of the highlights of my Sunday.
Warning: contains occasional nudity and copious violence
This is the new series by Ai Odahara, the author of one of the series I recommended before, Reese the Magic Eater. That series was known for having colour pages inserted into the middle of chapters during key points (often to make the spells look better), but this series goes all in on that, full colour all the way. A group of deadly convicts are being transported on an airplane, when it crashes in a frozen wasteland. Now our protagonist, Ryo, needs to survive not only the bitter cold, but the ruthlessness of the other convicts, all while trying to unravel where and why they crashed. We’re only 21 chapters in, so still pretty early in the story, but it’s starting to remind me of Lost in the best ways possible.
This one launched just one month after I wrote my initial recommendation list, otherwise it would definitely have made the cut. I’ve been reading this one since it launched, and I don’t think there are any other series that have quite captured the feeling of high school quite this well. It starts out simple enough: girl likes guy, girl gets guy’s friend to help her get together with guy, feelings start to develop that get in the way of that. But this love triangle doesn’t form on the sides we’ve been trained to expect by these stories, and it only gets messier from there. We’re at 40 chapters, but it also recently switched to monthly releases, so they’ve been nice and bulky of late.
And now, let’s finish this off with 3 series that I would give my right kidney to see in English. Shueisha, I hope you’re listening:
This one’s a bit of a stretch, since it’s really just a republication of the series main home in Ribon magazine, but it’s in Jump+, so I want it here. It actually did get some coverage in English when it first launched: ANN ran some articles about how the editor-in-chief of Ribon was praising it. He was right to hype it up, too; this series is great. This is the most recently launched of all these series I’m featuring today, with only 5 chapters out, but they’re long enough to know that this series is worth paying attention to. It’s about a former child idol who was attacked by a fan, and has now quit working and goes to school under a different name, dressed as a guy, to protect herself. It’s exciting, it’s dramatic... If it doesn’t get licensed soon, I’ll be shocked.
What does it mean to be an artist? What does compromising your ideals really do? That seems to be the central conceit of this series. It takes place over multiple decades, hopping around in its main cast’s lives and careers, either showing us how they came to be this way, or what their choices did to them. It’s not often you get a shonen series about working professionals, but that’s part of what makes it so exciting. It’s a big, sprawling epic, and I can’t wait to see how things come together at the end. This version is actually a re-do of the original webcomic with a professional artist (kind of like One Punch Man), but I haven’t read the original, so I can’t say how different it is.
This is probably the least likely to be picked up of all three series, because it’s so slow and already completed. But it’s also possibly my favourite manga of all time, so I don’t care, it’s making the list. Our main character, Aya, is a quiet girl, who one day discovers that she can become invisible. Eventually, things with her abusive father reach a breaking point, and she uses that power to kill him. And that’s just the first chapter. The rest of this 4 volume series is about her coming to terms with that and growing up, little by little. It’s a beautiful, contemplative series, full of two page spreads of quiet scenery, letting the reader really soak in the feelings on display. I love this series so much that I imported the Japanese volumes, and if I could have an official translation to go along with that, nothing would make me happier.
So, there you have it. Three series for you to check out, and three series for Shueisha (or really anyone) to pick up. Thank you, Shueisha, for bringing these series to a wider audience, and I hope everyone out there enjoys them.