It was the golden age of Weekly Shōnen Jump (週刊少年ジャンプ) when Hiroki Goto was appointed as the magazine’s chief editor in 1986. It was undoubtedly one of his biggest accomplishments as the mid-1980s represented the era when the magazine had its highest print-run.
▲ Former chief editor of Weekly Shōnen Jump Hiroki Goto (left) joined a panel in Japan Expo
In the panel, named “Jump: at the heart of the legend, with Hiroki Goto”, which was held in Japan Expo 2019 on 4th July, Goto told the tales of the manga magazine and unveiled the secrets behind the best-selling manga at the 80s, including KochiKame (こち亀), Kinnikuman ( キン肉マン), Dr. Slump (Dr. ドクター), Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳), Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール) and Saint Seiya (聖闘士星矢).
▍The Beginning of Everything
Goto is considered as one of the modern founders of the Weekly Shônen Jump, as well as one of the makers of the boom of shônen manga. In 1970, he joined the Japanese publishing company Shueisha in 1970, where he was appointed to the editorial department of the Weekly Shônen Jump straight away.
▲ The first issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump
“When Shōnen Jump (renamed as Weekly Shōnen Jump afterward) was launched by Shueisha in 1968, it was only a magazine targeted for boys in primary school. But after making a couple of issues, we found that adults needed Shōnen manga as much as the young boys. We thus changed to publish manga that was more sophisticated,” said Goto.
Every Jump’s fans must know the magazine’s motto of creating manga: “Efforts, Friendship, and Victory”, even though the principle was indeed not been used in editorial at the very first beginning.
Goto explained: “We only tried to create manga that everybody can enjoy. There were no specific rules. Idol and tabloid magazines dominated in the Media & Entertainment industry at that time and we aimed to stand out from the crowd by using only manga as our weapon.”
The magazine drew attention after issuing the manga series, Go Nagai’s (永井潔) Harenchi Gakuen (ハレンチ学園) and Hiroshi Motomiya’s (本宮ひろ志) Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daishou (男一匹ガキ大将), which were known to be many adult’s favorites. Harenchi Gakuen was considered as the first modern erotic manga in Japan, though no explicit sexual scene was portrayed in the series.
▲ Go Nagai’s Harenchi Gakuen
“It opened the door for a series of taboo-shattering gag manga,” said Goto, “As the manga tells the story of an ordinary young boy, it evokes resonance among readers. It uses fun and comedian ways to talk about the sexual fantasy of teenagers like flipping girl’s skirt, but without getting too erotic. Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daishou, on the other hand, talked about young gangs and man fights, which speaks the romance of every man. ”
▲ Hiroshi Motomiya’s Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daishou
▍Experimenting the Road to Success – the 1970s
In 1971, Weekly Shōnen Jump sold more than one million copies and ranked top in circulation among its competitors including Weekly Shōnen Magazine (週刊少年マガジン). The serialization of hit manga, such as Astro Kyudan (アストロ球団), Mazinger Z (マジンガーZ), Kinnikuman (キン肉マン), Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo (こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所), further consolidated the unbeatable position of the magazine. In 1978, the circulation of the magazine was double, with more than two million copies.
▲ Osamu Akimoto’s Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo
“KochiKame (the short form of Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo) is really very special. Disregarding the fact that it was continuously serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump for 40 years, we never would have thought that a manga with an ojisan as the protagonist would be so popular. Ryo-san (the protagonist) should definitely take the credits. Interestingly, although he is a 36-year-old police officer, he is childish like a 12-year-old. Also, he is lazy and always hatches money-making schemes. But his flaws make him like a real person and he was thus loved by many readers.” Goto said.
Goto also manifested that Kinnikuman (キン肉マン) was originally a gag manga at the beginning of the series. But the creator Yudetamago (pen name of story writer Takashi Shimada and artist Yoshinori Nakai) didn’t want to be limited in this genre and decided to introduce professional wrestling skills in the manga. The series, which is originally a parody of Ultraman, was released as two one-shots in Weekly Shōnen Jump in 1978 and 1979. However, the manga was serialized in the magazine in the May 1979 issue after gaining huge popularity.
▲ Yudetamago’s Kinnikuman
▍Entering the 1980s Golden Era
As Goto mentioned, Weekly Shōnen Jump was a manga magazine targeted for young boys at the very beginning. But a breakthrough of the magazine was made after the issuing of Akira Toriyama (鳥山 明)’s Dr. Slump (Dr. スランプ) in 1980. The series follows the humorous adventures of a girl robot, her creator and the other residents of a bizarre village.
▲Akira Toriyama’s Dr. Slump
The manga series had attracted a lot of female readers to the magazine, which encourages them to read other shônen manga. Only eight months after its serialization, Dr. Slump was offered to be adapted into an anime television series. Goto referred it as a very rare case.
“Geniuses are made, not born,” Goto mentioned, “Toriyama worked very hard for his manga. Before becoming a mangaka, he worked at an advertising agency for three years and he never felt happy about it. After quitting his previous job, he had done all kinds of part-time jobs. But as his mother required him to find a serious job to earn money, he decided to submit a work to an amateur contest in the Jump magazine in order to win the prize money. Even though he did not win, we spotted something different in his work and later contacted him.”
▲The fun and adorable story of Dr. Slump attracted a lot of female readers to the magazine
Toriyama’s debut came later in 1978 with Wonder Island, which was also published in Weekly Shōnen Jump. However, he did not rise to popularity until Dr. Slump. It was later awarded the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen and shōjo manga in 1981 and has sold over 35 million copies in Japan.
▲ Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball
Four years after, Toriyama came out another hit manga, Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール), which drew up the circulation of Weekly Shōnen Jump to over four million copies. The series follows the adventures of the protagonist, Son Goku, from his childhood through adulthood as he trains in martial arts and explores the world in search of the seven orbs known as the Dragon Balls, which summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered.
▲ Toriyama took his reference from Hong Kong martial arts film
“As Dr. Slump is a gag manga, Toriyama said he had used up all his funny ideas and would like to try something different. At that time, he was a huge fan of Hong Kong martial actor Jackie Chan. He thus wanted to create an action manga that is just like martial arts films. That makes the battle scene in Dragon Balls extremely real. The idea of getting immortal through collecting the seven orbs is also very novel at that time,” added Goto.
As Dragon Ball became one of the most successful manga in the 1980s, Weekly Shōnen Jump continued to issue a number of well-known manga, including Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳), Captain Tsubasa (キャプテン翼), City Hunter (シティーハンター), Saint Seiya (聖闘士星矢), Rokudenashi Blues (ろくでなしBLUES) and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (ジョジョの奇妙な冒険). It was the time when everyone in Japan held a Weekly Shonen Jump in hands.
▲ Tetsuo Hara’s Fist of the North Star
▍The Tales Goes On
Unfortunately, the one-hour panel stopped here even though Goto-san wanted to continue his share on the development of Weekly Shōnen Jump in the 1990s onwards. Sadly, the time is just too short.
▲ The cover of Weekly Shōnen Jump last year celebrating its 50th anniversary
In 1986, he became the magazine chief editor and remained at this position for seven and a half years. The most important print-run which he was there rose to 6.43 million copies. He laid the foundation for the highest print-run of 6.53 million which was reached two years later. Last year marked an important year for Weekly Shōnen Jump when it celebrated its 50 anniversary. We hold hopes for the magazine to continue its legacy for another 50 years.