Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ultra Jump, Feb., 2011

If you're a casual manga fan, chances are you haven't really seen the full variety of magazines on the market. For weeklies, the most well-known ones are Shonen Jump, Shonen Sunday, Shonen Magajin and Shonen Champion. Plus Evening, Morning, Young Jump, Big Comic Spirits, etc. For monthlies, there's Afternoon, Denki Daioh, Gangan, Ribon, Nakayoshi and SQ. As I said, these are the well-known ones; there are many others that don't have the same fan base, either in Japan or the U.S., that still fill up the shelves in all the stores. Of all of these magazines, most only have one or two titles per issue that are really worth following (Jump and Sunday being the exceptions, with 5-8 titles being very popular, each). The question then is how to decide which magazines to get, and which manga titles to follow, since buying every single one of them can easily total $200 a month). I kind of do an end-run around the question by sampling the stories occasionally to see what's happening (called "tachi-yomi", or standing and reading the magazine at the convenience stores), and then buying the collected volumes only of the specific books that I really, really like (I.e. - Geobreeders, Moyashimon, etc.)

Now, one way that publishers attract readers, and push sales, as is well-known, is to bundle freebies every few issues. This is a major benefit to living in Japan - you can see what the freebies are, and since you're not paying import costs, the magazines are only 300-600 yen each ($4-$7), depending on the title and the page count. I was trying to determine which stories were in Ultra Jump (pictured here), so I decided to buy a copy this month. The only titles that have gained attention on the scanilator sites are "Peacemaker" (the gunfighter story, not the silly shinsengumi rip-off), and "Steel Ball Run" (by the artist of "Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventures"). The freebie for this issue is a selection of SBR-themed post-it notes. By way of commentary, I'll say here that there's nothing in UJ that I want to read more of.

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