Are You Familar With Shonen Jump (少年 JUMP)?

Let’s talk about something fun today, something that attracts so many to Japanese culture. Let’s talk ANIME (アニメ)and MANGA (漫画)!

Have you ever heard of Shonen Jump? Well I didn’t know anything about it until I actually got to Japan. I learned about it when a training group member went to a Shonen Jump Festa, this huge manga/anime event in Tokyo. He took some really cool pictures of these gigantic anime figures. If anyone wants to go this year (if it hasn’t already happened anyway), let’s go!

I have been an anime fan since…hmm…does Tranzor Z (Mazinger Z is the Japanese title) or Voltron count? If so, since I was about four or five years old. In the mid to late 90s I really got into Yu Yu Hakusho, Little Nemo the Dream Master, Akira, and a slew of others.

Ninja Scroll, great but gruesome anime at its finest

I’m sure i mentioned it before, but In high school some one showed me that SUPER macabre, Ninja Scroll anime by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. As much as I hate to admit it, because of the incredibly graphic nature, I really liked it. It became a guilty pleasure of mine. Of course it wasn’t one I was going to be like “Hey Mom, you gotta check this out!” It was the gore that made me like it, I thought it was an incredibly creative story with action sequences that I was really feeling, especially when the lone samurai, Jubei, has to fight Eight Devils of Kimon. I’m sure if some of you may check it out, but I have to warn you…If you don’t like gore, though, DO NOT watch Ninja Scroll! It’s about as gory as it gets. During my senior year of high school I really got into other animes and started to watch a lot more. I still watch anime to this very day.

Oh yeah, sorry, Shonen Jump. What exactly is Shonen Jump? Well Shonen Jump is a weekly magazine giving you updates about your favorite manga in one convenient book. Believe it or not, it’s been going strong since 1968. The kanji characters for Shonen, 少年, actually translates to means boys or juveniles. So it’s like Boys Jump magazine or Juveniles Jump Magazine. The second English translation doesn’t sound as appealing, almost like it’s something you’d read if you were jailed at an early age.

According to Wikipedia, Shonen Jump’s target market is 10-18 year old boys (okay, so let’s say I’m young a heart :) ). Jump is like a brand or line of anime. The Jump line boasts a group of incredibly impressive comics. Bleach, Naruto, Dragonball Z, Full Metal Alchemist, Yu Yu Hakusho, Fist of the North Star, Death Note, Inuyasha, and more. Geez! Did Shonen jump completely overtake Cartoon Network’s Toonami back in the day? These were all of the ones I was watching in the U.S..

An impressive group of comics fall under the Jump Line. Here are a few...of MANY!

Sometimes the terms anime and manga get confused (well it confused me when I was living in the U.S), but let me clear it up really quickly. Manga or refers to the comic books, and anime refers to the cartoon. The two ARE usually linked though. The manga is usually produced first, and when a manga has a strong following, it become a successful anime. The animes are usually a bit behind on the story (understandably so…it takes more time to create a cartoon). Sometimes when the manga is on a break the anime series suffers for it and you get these horrendous filler episodes that have nothing at all to do with the main plot of the story. You’ll know them when you see them.

This post could probably go on forever, because manga and anime were like my first exposure to elements of Japanese culture. Let’s end with a question:

What are your top three anime or manga (or both) of all time? I know it’s a tough call, but you can only choose three and you have to say why they’re your favorites. Any other details will be cool, too! I’ll go first ;)

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  • Donald Ash


    1. Samurai Champloo- If I had to pick my favorite anime, I’m going to go with Samurai Champloo. I ABSOLUTELY loved staying up late just to catch that rap promo on the Cartoon Network back in the United States. It combined a traditional Japan and hip-hop style into a well-made cartoon. It doesn’t really sound like it would work on paper, but it did! Favorite character: Jin

    2. Naruto- The orginal series (if you take out the filler episodes) was better than Naruto Shippuden which is the current Naruto installment, but I watch and read it every week…GUILTY AS CHARGED. I like it because it’s about ninjas with these awesome powers and sometimes the stories can be really entertaining. Favorite character: Rock Lee in the original, and Naruto in the Shippuden Series

    3. YuYu Hakusho- Quality wise, I can’t say it matches up to some of the other well-crafted animes out there, but it was one of the ones I started watching early one, so Urameshi, Kuwabara, and Hiei are near and dear to my heart (I’m sorry, but I’m not feeling the rose-whip dude so much, what was his name…ah…yes Kurama…Androgynous Kurama, lol). Favorite Character: Undoubtedly Hiei. I mean he has a third eye! ‘Nuff said.

  • Hi Donald,
    First I want to say I think your blog is great. And I can tell by your anime pics that now I am officially old. Anyway, here are my pics and the reasons why.

    1.Macross, ove do you remember: I remember loving this so much that I bought it on VHS tape before I had a vcr a long time ago. I love this one so much because the music was really good, the story was solid, the mecha design was awesome. I am not talking about Robotech here, although I think it has its place, but I am speaking about the original movie. I think the flying scenes in this movie are awesome, and I loved the fact that this movie was the only one I saw that featured an interracial relationship, way ahead of its time.

    2.Cowboy Bebop series: Great story, the use of blues music throughout the series, the use of song titles for the titles of the episodes, amazing. I think this was a very solid series, and it would be hard to find anyone who would not like something in this series.

    3.Gundam Char’s counterattack: Come on, my names Char, how could I not put in one of the most influential landmark movies of all time in on this list. I like it because this is a story where it exposed to me the reality that sometimes there really are no clear winners. The ending is just something that leaves you thinking, in a good way.

    Well that is my list and I could add more but again I think your site is great and look forward to reading more.


    • Donald Ash

      Please don’t say you’re old, because I am very familiar with the picks you have (that might mean I’m officially old, too). Cowboy Bebop was/is a great series (same guy made Samurai Champloo I think), and though I didn’t watch Gundam or Macross, I had friends who swore by them. Thanks for stopping by to post your favorites! :)

      • Wow, I am soooooo humbled. You are truly awesome. I did not know that about Cowboy Bebop. I also have to look at some of the newer stuff, I hear its great. Another one that slips through the cracks and I have only seen a few episodes but thought they were great was HeatGuyJ. Don, I look forward to more posts. Also everyone here has given some great suggestions I think.

  • Ryan McGuinness

    Oh I love Yu Yu! :D

    1) Death Note: Donald, if you haven’t you must watch/read this! The plot is mind blowing. I won’t go into to much detail, but basically a high schoolers discovers a demonic book that allows him to kill people in anyway by simply writing their name and cause of death in the book. At first he intends to use book for good, however he eventually becomes overwhelmed by his power and that’s when detective “L” gets on the case. It’s a battle of wits throughout the series as both try to out do one an other. Favorite character is defiantly L. (Also I dunno if you are a dub or sub man, but the Dub for this is phenomenal!)

    2) Eyeshield 21: Simply put an anime about American Football with a good story, lots of comedic parts, some really good characters and for me as it did when it first launched in Japan: it helped me to learn the rules of the game. Favorite character: Hiruma

    3) Easily Dragon Ball Z, I really shouldn’t have to say anything here ;p Favorite character: Trunks

    I suppose the Jump fiesta will have to be added to my list of ‘Must visits’.

    • Donald Ash

      Another Death Note fan. I’ve actually never seen it, so know what I’m renting this weekend! I haven’t heard of Eyeshield 21, either. I am glad I did this post, I’m getting to hear about anime I’ve never gotten to see. I watched a bit of DBZ, but I remember the college days when students would be huddled around the TV in the rec center just to watch it in the afternoons, it was great.

  • 1. 1/2 Prince I am a bit of a gamer, so this manga is probably my favorite. It’s one of the few that has made me laugh out loud. It’s really funny and has a lot of humor to it that is unique. The characters are all pretty adorable. It’s fairly upbeat but there is action in it too so it’s a nice mix of fluff, story, and beat the crap out of something.

    2. Chobits.. because I think this is like the first manga series I ever actually owned. It’s also really really cute. If slightly ecchi. The deeper themes in the series also were pretty interesting as well. It’s much better than the anime too.

    3. Labyrinth I loved the movie back in the 80′s when I was a kid. The manga is pretty good! I always enjoyed it and need to finish off the series.


    1. Saber Marionette series = =; I have no clue why! It’s just one of those “it’s one of the first animes I watched” type of things. I loved Lime! She was really cute.

    2. MaiHime and that whole cannon.. I didn’t really like anything even remotely resembling robots until I watched this series. But I really enjoyed these.

    3. Nana probably is my #1 as far as actual “favorite.” This is probably one of the most girly animes I’ve seen but it’s pretty dark with its themes through most of it. I liked that the characters made mistakes and got hurt and not everything was “ok” all the time. It had a more realistic feel to it than I was used to. And the music in the series rocked. :)

    • Donald Ash

      I haven’t seen the animes you mentioned, but I will. I have heard of the the first two manga, but Labyrinth?!? I didn’t know they even had a Labyrinth manga. SWEET! Thanks Nana…er…Nanami.

      • -laughs- The Labyrinth manga is fairly recent. It’s pretty neat. You should definitely check it out if you come across it. :) It’s about Sarah’s little brother.. I forget his name at the moment.

        You can call me Nana or Nami. Most people do!

  • Amanda

    1) I started out with Sailor Moon when I was maybe 8 years old. It was everything an 8 year old girl could want. Actually I spent many an afternoon drawing sailor moon characters.

    2) I agree with you about Samurai Champloo. Watched it online. I do like the hip hop fusion they had going on. And the characters, Jin and Mugen, were so cool.

    3) I love death note, it’s a great psychological thriller.

    Honorable mention goes to Naruto. I used to watch it when I was in University but I’ve fallen off that bandwagon. Actually it’s the craziest thing, I’ve hardly watched an Anime since coming to Japan. I’m not sure why. I tried to get into One Piece but I couldn’t do it.

    • Donald Ash

      Sailor Moon- I can’t say I watched it, being the macho man that I am (lol), but it has to be popular for a reason, ne?
      Another Samurai Champloo fan…NICE! That show really struck a chord with me.
      I hate to say it, but I’ve never seen Death Note :O . I haven’t heard a single person say anything bad about it. Nice picks!

  • Ceci

    3? Just 3? Gah! Ok, but if you ask me again in a week, it might be another set. :)

    1) Moribito. Awesomeness…pure awesomeness. This anime was made from the 1st book of a 7 part series. Two have been translated to English and I’ve read them. They’re extraordinarily well written. I was riveted by both the anime and the books. This series in the reason I want to learn Japanese. The rest of the series isn’t translated and probably won’t be any time soon.

    2) Haibane-Renmei. Starts out as a slice of life (albeit a life that starts from strange circumstances)…then the questions start to pile up deep enough that it gets the metaphor and analogy center of your brain working overtime. This was originally a doujinshi manga by Yoshitoshi ABe. I don’t think it got translated into English.

    3) Serial Experiments Lain. Done by the same artist who did Haibane Renmei. Talk about getting your metaphor and analogy brain areas working. If Haibane Renmei gets the car rolling, Lain makes ‘em burn rubber. Much darker than HR.

    Dang…I have more! Just about anything by Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon. Some of Kon’s stuff can be really dark, but wow…I love it when people create stories that are really “out there”.

    I haven’t read much manga yet. But I have a feeling that the stories I’d like the most aren’t the ones being translated. I’m betting that the seinen style might be more my cup of tea. Especially if they have something with some of the energy of shonen with the “maturity” of seinen. Despite being female, I doubt that the josei types mangas would be very interesting to me. Very few shoujo appeal. I’m just not into reading about marriage or dating. I need *action*. So things marketed towards older boys or men appeal to me more.

    • Donald Ash

      I’m not familiar with these, Ceci, but they sound amazing. Now, I’m going to have to check them out. Are your three choices addictive by any chance? That’s always my worry when taking someone’s anime advice…it’s so easy to get hooked on them.

      P.S.-The Miyazaki movies are incredibly famous, and incredibly good. That Hotaru no Haka movie, though, so very sad…OMG!

  • Anthony

    First off, let me say..Donald, your blog is awesome!

    1. Dragonball Z. Come on now, who hasn’t heard or seen an episode of it. It’s like pokemon, but with actual battling lol. I remember getting home from middle school and turning on cartoon network with friends before doing any homework XD. Vegeta is by far the greatest villan/hero of any anime, real show AND parody(DBZ abridged).

    2. Samurai Champloo. Samurai fighting…awesome OST..Jin’s suckage at fishing lol. Jin is my favorite for sure. Calm and mannered but gives you the business when you cross the line.

    3. Inuyasha. It’s just one of those animes I won’t forget. Watched adult swim one night, it came on…rest is history. I like Miroku…no matter how many times you get slapped down, get up and try again lol. Just keep your hands to yourself though.

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks Anthony :)

      Three solid choices! Jin and the fishing was pretty funny and how the Fuu and Mugen were laughing at him for it. Man, hearing the words “Adult Swim” makes me homesick.

  • Jon

    You should also try to read the manga of Naruto. The anime is a bit disappointing. :|

    Anyhow… Here are my top three picks for anime:

    1. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai
    This aired until last week, I think. But I was able to watch it thanks to the Internet and kind souls who put subtitles for people like me who can’t understand Japanese. Lol
    If you appreciate a good, substantial drama with “organic” characters, then this anime is for you. I’m a grown man but this anime made me cry. :( I’ve seen dozens and dozens of anime but I have to say… This is one of the best ever.

    2. Steins; Gate
    This sci-fi anime is based on a visual novel (they’re basically a novel that you “play” through by role-playing as the protagonist and making decisions that will affect the story– a bad decision will mean a “Game Over”). It’s about the consequences of messing with the time/space continuum. While not as mind-numbing as Serial Experiments Lain, this anime will keep you engaged and holding on for more. (I can’t wait for the next episode… I think it airs every Tuesday in Japan. Thank God for subtitles.)

    3. Noein
    Another sci-fi anime about time and space; this is like a darker and more intellectual version of Steins; Gate, but with a different story, of course. If you enjoy physics and discussing the Theory of Relativity (I kinda do… yeah, I’m a nerd), you will LOVE this anime.

  • One piecefan

    ONE PIECE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE ONE PIECE. Sadly i am only up to the alabasta arc but i know alot of spoliers… and i mean alot…..

    • thejapanguy

      I think I’m going to have to become a Once Piece fan. I only know a little bit about it, but it’s CRAZY popular.

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