Starting back in 1968, Weekly Shonen Jump is now probably one of the biggest comic magazines in the world, moving an average of 1.6 million magazines last year. This is in no small part thanks to the wide variety of series that run in the magazine, including some of the most popular comics of all time, the titans like Dragon Ball and One Piece being just a few of the most famous series to run in the magazine (though let’s not forget some of the great older series like Tomorrow’s Joe, for example). However, the magazine always has been more than just the hits, as it features a constantly rotating cast of various manga in different genres, from battle series to romcoms, sports series, and comedy series as well. As a manga ends or gets cancelled, a new series comes in, keeping the magazine feeling fresh. And that’s what I’m gonna be talking about today, all of the new series that have started in Jump this year.
This year has been a big one for Jump, as several popular series have come to an end, such as Haikyuu, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba, and The Promised Neverland. On top of several other series ending within the past few years, this has left a huge amount of space in the magazine for new series, and as a result, about half of the magazine is taken up by series that have started this year, and almost ¾ by series that have started within the past 2 years. This has become a time of renewal for Jump, as the old guard of the magazine has mostly gone away and a new set of talent takes their place. But at the same time, this leaves a predicament: How do you know which series are any good? Well, leave it to me, as I have just spent the past month reading every one of these new series (plus a few extra bonus series) to give you a handy ranking of the series that I find the most interesting.
Now, this isn’t a strict ranking, but rather just based on my overall impressions of the series. The order is just roughly what I found the least interesting to what I found most interesting. So don’t get upset if something you like gets ranked low, it’s just that you and I have different interests!
Now, for the manga ranking itself…
10: Ayakashi Triangle
This series follows two childhood friends, one from a family of ninjas who fight and exorcise evil spirits, and the other a spirit medium who has the ability to see and interact with these spirits. Spirit mediums are a target for these evil spirits, and so our ninja protagonist, Matsuri Kazamaki, has to defend the medium, Suzu Kanade. One day, as he’s defending her from a powerful evil spirit, the spirit places a curse on him that changes him into a woman. The spirit plans to use this curse as a bargaining chip to keep itself alive as it gains power, and this is about where the story really starts.
This series didn’t really grab my attention at all. The premise is a bit of a twist on the premise of many other battle shonen series as of late, where the setting is about a secretive group of people who fight monsters / ghosts / spirits / demons, but I’m just getting more tired of that formula in general. The art is good, but the series itself feels very fanservicey, which just isn’t something that I like that much. It’s not that this series is bad, it’s just not for me really, which is my stance towards many of the series that I find less interesting. This series is still very new, as it started running in June and has only 7 chapters out, so who can say if it won’t shift in a direction I do like, however?
9: Bone Collection
You know what I said about the last series, about how it’s a twist on the battle shonen formula of a secretive group of people fighting ghosts / spirits / monsters? This is another one of those series. Just like Ayakashi Triangle, this is also a twist on that formula. Here, our protagonist is the scion of a powerful demon-hunting family, but he himself has no real power or talent for fighting demons. However, he is able to borrow the powers of demons, and so he teams up with a leader of the demons who wishes to become a human and borrows her powers. This series has some neat writing, but it’s all very dialogue heavy and is fanservicey to a ridiculous degree (he borrows the powers of demons by touching them – so of course, he has to feel up his demon companion in order to use her powers). The basic demon hunting premise has become very popular within the last few years in Shonen Manga, and while some of those series I hold very highly – such as Jujitsu Kaisen or Chainsaw Man – in general I’ve become kinda tired of that premise. That said, this manga over the past few chapters has started to go in some neat directions, but it’s too early to tell where it’s gonna go really.
Now, this is actually a pretty interesting series, so don’t let the ranking fool you! Quite simply, if I make a list like this, sometimes I just gotta make the tough choices and put things pretty low. The premise of this series is that a little boy, Shota Aikawa, gets a pet beetle, and that beetle turns out to be insect royalty (yes, insect royalty) who rapidly evolves into an beetle-man who is part of a battle royale of other insect royalty to become the king of all insects. The misadventures of Shota and his older sister, Shoko Aikawa, ensue as the beetle-man, Moriking, fights for his title of king of the insects. It’s a fun little manga, and it’s pretty clear that it’s laser targeted towards those little kids that are obsessed with bugs. Growing up, I was more of a dinosaur kid than a bug kid, so I don’t think I’m in the target audience.
7: Agravity Boys
First off: Technically this manga started back in December 2019. However, in Jump, the 2020 year basically starts in late December, with 2020 issue 1 releasing around that time, so this just barely counts. Anyway, where do I really start with this manga? The essential premise is that a team of 4 guys have been sent on a space mission to another planet just before the earth is obliterated in a nuclear war. Arriving on the planet, they are contacted by an interdimensional being who basically toys with them by giving them advanced technology. It’s a funny little comedy series, and the premise starts to change a bit as it goes on, so don’t go in expecting exactly what it starts out with. It reminds me a good deal of Space Dandy, having a similar sense of screwball raunchy humor. But at the same time, when it comes to new comedy manga, there’s just others that I find funnier, which is the only reason this gets the ranking it does. But if you want a really odd comedy manga, then this is a good place to start.
6: Megu-Chan: God of Destruction
What happens when a schoolgirl accidentally releases a cthonic god? This is essentially the question that Megu-Chan: God Of Destruction revolves around, following an elder god that had been accidentally released by this schoolgirl and the misadventures the pair get into as they try to live regular lives. One out of many new gag comedies that are running in Jump, it’s pretty fun to read, with a sense of humor that reminds me a good bit of the better gags from shows like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, that also focus on these powerful magic beings that try to use their world-ending powers to do mundane tasks. The only real issue that I have with this manga is that compared to the other gag comedies that are running in the magazine, a lot of them feel a bit more developed than this manga. Thus, it’s a fun light read, but not something that I feel particularly invested in reading. Though, it hasn’t even hit one volume’s worth of chapters, and the premise is fairly promising.
5: Time Paradox Ghostwriter
Now we’re getting to the stuff that I really dig. As opposed to most of the other new manga this year, which are comedies, this is more of a drama. This series follows a failing mangaka that struggles to get anything published in Weekly Shonen Jump, with his series drafts being consistently rejected. However, one day, he gets a time machine that gets him a copy of Shonen Jump from 10 years in the future. Assuming that this is just from his own subconscious, he starts copying one of those manga, which is where the story really gets interesting. I’m really trying to avoid spoilers here, but it’s a fascinating manga with a great premise, and really stories like this are one of the reasons that I like reading Jump and especially trying out these new stories.
4: Me & Roboco
In the year 20XX, robotic maids have become a standard feature of everyday life in the same way that smartphones are for us right now. Everyone has them, leaving our protagonist, Bondo Taira, feeling left out as his family doesn’t have one. Eventually, his mom gets the cheapest used model to help with the housework, but this robot maid, Roboco, turns out to be some kind of ultra-powerful model of robot. Gag Comedy ensues. Shonen Jump has been adding a lot of new gag comedies as of late, and all of them are fun enough that it’s hard to really rank them all. That said, I think that out of all of them Me & Roboco is probably the one that I’m digging the most. The humor reminds me of older gag comedies, such as Dr. Slump in particular, where the basis of the jokes are pop culture references or this powerful character doing mundane tasks. And so if you know me at all, you know that I’m gonna love it because I really love Dr. Slump. It’s fun, and while it has only been running for a tiny bit, I’m hoping it gets popular enough for a much longer run.
3: Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin
The title of this manga is actually very self-explanatory, trust me. This series follows a hotblooded cop, who after making a mistake, is sent to a remote island to join their police force. When he arrives, he finds that the island is more than it seems as he teams up with a literal dolphin as his partner and fights “ocean crime”. Yes. Ocean Crime. A mysterious young girl seems to be the key to this “ocean crime”, and so the duo team up in order to protect her. You can probably already tell why this manga is ranked so high, and it’s all just on how fun the premise sounds. It also kinda reminds me of Patlabor, which is another huge plus in my book. It has a very early start, but I’m having a lot of fun with it.
2: Undead Unluck
You want to talk series with crazy premises however, nothing in Shonen Jump right now beats Undead Unluck. This series follows a girl who gives people horrible luck if she gets physically touched, and a man who cannot die and the misadventures they get into as they encounter other people with weird powers. These people, named ‘negators’, counteract or ‘negate’ some inherent rule within the world – such as that people die, or have good luck, in the case of the two main characters. This series starts to really get going when the duo encounters more ‘negators’ and the reason why these ‘negators’ exist begins to get revealed. Needless to say, it gets nuts, and it has this fast edge that makes reading each chapter just really fun, making it probably one of the best new manga that started this year. It’s also one of the ones that has been running for the longest, meaning that you have a good bit to catch up on.
1: Mashle: Magic And Muscles
I think in general I have a soft spot for characters who don’t have superpowers but kick ass anyway – which is basically 100% what Mashle: Magic and Muscles is about. This series follows Mash, a boy who has no magic powers in a world where prowess at magic is the only thing that determines someone’s worth. As a result, he instead works out and uses his physical strength to overcome the obstacles that he faces as a result of having no magical ability. It’s a kind of action parody version of stuff like Harry Potter, as the series focuses on him going to a school to learn magic, and it just executes that very well. I’m a big fan of the artstyle, which has this wonky charm that I’m just a big fan of. It’s only 20 chapters in and it’s just a consistently fun series that I’m just having a lot of fun reading.
Now for the BONUS RANKINGS
Now, this is where things might get a bit complicated. Basically: In Japan, there is the manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump – that’s what we’ve been talking about so far. It has a digital counterpart, Jump+, that runs a lot of series as well. Now, Viz Media is a manga localization company here in America who are in charge of localizing every Shonen Jump series, which they release under a service called the Shonen Jump Digital Vault that includes both currently running titles and a selection of older titles. On occasion, they pick up series that run in Jump+ and localize them, which are then also released as Shonen Jump titles here in America. Those are the series that I’m about to review, since they are technically running in Shonen Jump – just the American service, not the Japanese magazine. Got it? Good.
Bonus # 1: Kaiju No. 8
Jump+, being a digital magazine, has the ability to run a lot of more interesting and niche manga than the regular paper magazine. Kaiju No. 8 definitely feels like one of those manga. This manga is set in a not-so-distant future Japan where kaiju attacks are commonplace occurrences and a specialized set of kaiju hunters fight against them in never ending battle, this manga follows Kafka, a kaiju hunter dropout who works the cleanup detail after the epic battles against kaiju. One day, he inexplicably turns into a kaiju himself (he is fittingly named Kafka, after all), and he starts to use his kaiju powers to become a kaiju hunter himself. This is just a fun series, and I especially like the kind of mix of mundane and fantastic imagery that it pulls off, with regular people having to mop up these epic monsters. It’s just barely gotten started, so I can’t judge it too well, but the art is good and the story is off to a strong start, so I’m feeling like it’s gonna turn out to be another great addition to Shonen Jump over here.
Bonus #2: Ghost Reaper Girl
I have some complicated thoughts on this series. This is another series that focuses a lot on ghosts and spirits, so you can predict that I’m not too hot on it. And you would be kinda right. That’s not really the reason why I don’t like it so much. In fact, there is a lot that I do like about it. But I’m getting sidetracked. This series follows a struggling actor, Chloe Love, who is constantly hounded by ghosts because she is a spirit medium. After a spirit named Kai Iod saves her from another bunch of ghosts attacking her, she uses her spirit medium powers to team up with Kai and fight these demons as a duo. The art has this interesting mix of looking very real and then also having these more cartoony ghosts and the like, and it has this whole B-movie horror feel to it that is probably what I like the most about it.
So why do I dislike it? Well, it’s that it essentially starts with a casting couch grooming scene, as Chloe is almost assaulted by a director. That start gives me a really bad taste in my mouth given the long history that the Weekly Shonen Jump publisher, Shueisha, has of not punishing abusers. Just a few years ago, the author of Ruroni Kenshin, Nobuhiro Watsuki, was convicted of possessing child pornography – only to be able to continue publishing his series after a few months. More recently, the writer of Act-Age, another work running in Jump, was arrested for sexually assaulting minors. For a work published by Shueisha to then basically just play off sexual assault by an entertainment figure as well, entertainment, is just something that I can’t like. I’m not saying that fictional works can’t address or depict these issues, but I dunno. Critics have to play a fine line between their own personal thoughts and feelings about a work and everything else a work has to offer, but in this case it’s just something that I can’t just look past given Shonen Jump and Shueisha’s history of looking past these things and tolerating these exact situations. It just feels extremely tone deaf, and that has kinda colored my impression of the manga in general. There is a lot to like about this series, and at least the direction it’s going seems very promising, but as it is right now I just can’t gel with it.
And that makes up the new additions from Jump+ – there really aren’t too many being brought over from Japan.
So I’m gonna wrap this up with my thoughts on how the magazine is doing overall. Probably one of the most common things I’ve been seeing lately is this assumption that because a ton of series are ending, that means that Shonen Jump is “dying”. Really though, It isn’t that uncommon for a particular period to have many old series end, as these things kinda just move in cycles. What does feel new, however, is that almost all of the new series this year have been comedy series, while the sports and action titles the magazine is famous for aren’t anywhere to be found (note: two action series – Zipman and Guardian Of The Witch – did start out this year, but both ended relatively quickly). It’s an interesting time for Jump, but personally I’m not sure how to feel about that. I love reading action and sports series, and I have to say that part of me feels a bit disappointed in the lack of them. It’s not like I’m hurting for action series as well, as the magazine still has a great selection of those still. But it does indicate that this is new territory for Jump, as with many of their older and more popular series ending, they are trying out anything to see what might blow up and become the next big thing.
It’s certainly an interesting time to be a manga fan.