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Fairy Tail and Japan's Shonen magazine

Sunday 20th May 2012

Matt Kamen on Japan’s Weekly Shonen Magazine

Shonen magazineMystic action abounds in the second thrilling collection of Fairy Tail, as flame-spewing Natsu, ice-mage Gray, summoner Lucy and the rest of the gang take on sorcerous threats across the world of Earthland. The series is based on the long running manga by Hiro Mashima, and as the anime closes in on its 150th episode in Japan, it’s clearly shaping up to be the next Naruto or Bleach, delivering ongoing adventure to a devoted audience. Unlike a certain orange ninja or black-garbed grim reaper though, Fairy Tail’s roots do not lie in the pages of the famous Weekly Shonen Jump anthology.

Covering everything from the likes of Masami Kurumada’s boxing drama Ring ni Kakero to Akira Toriyama’s world-conquering Dragon Ball, Shueisha’s boys’ manga serial is – to western fans at least – near-synonymous with lengthy action sagas. However, while Weekly Shonen Jump first saw print in July 1968 and is now indisputably the top selling boys comic in Japan, it was actually preceded by almost a decade by rival publisher Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine.

Shonen magazineFirst published in March 1959, Weekly Shonen Magazine has been a staple of the manga industry for almost seven decades. Generations have grown up reading it, thrilling to the adventures contained within. It’s no surprise the comic has been such a persistent success story – poring through old issues of Weekly Shonen is like turning the pages of manga history. The publication is littered with works by luminary creators – Shigeru Mizuki’s supernatural Spooky Ooky Kitaro; Kazumasa Hirai and Jiro Kuwata’s Eightman, the world’s first cyborg superhero; a whole wealth of work from the “King of Manga”, Shotaro Ishinomori, including Skull Man, Kamen Rider and Cyborg 009; Go Nagai’s Devilman; Tohru Fujisawa’s Great Teacher Onizuka; the list is nearly endless.

Unlike its upstart rival, Kodansha’s anthology often skewed towards an older audience, offering a broader range of content as a result. Though Shonen Jump overtook it in sales and exposure by the mid 1990s, Shonen Magazine has consistently featured some of the best received and fondly remembered series.

Shonen magazineIn fact, Hiro Mashima’s career as a manga creator has been entirely at the legendary title. His debut work, Groove Adventure Rave (better known as Rave Master in the UK and US) premiered in Weekly Shonen Magazine in 1999. A globe-hopping story of superpowers and a quest for mystic stones, the story ran consistently until 2005, racking up 296 chapters and spawning a 52 episode anime series in the process. After a year off, Mashima returned in August 2006 with the first chapter of Fairy Tail which, at 270 chapters and counting, is looking to smash the 34-year old artist’s previous record.

Between Mashima’s works, sci-fi street skating strip Air Gear and a fictionalised manga based on the hyper-popular girl group AKB48, Weekly Shonen Magazine is on the rise again and the people in charge no doubt have their eyes on reclaiming the top spot once more. Naruto, Bleach? You’ve been warned.

Fairy Tail Part Two is out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment on 21st May.

Fairy Tail and Japan's Shonen magazine


Fairy Tail Part 2 (episodes 13-24)

was £29.99
Across the Fiore kingdom, wizards join guilds and make their pay by filling magical needs - but one guild has a reputation as the roughest, rowdiest, most dangerous of all: Fairy Tail!
In the midst of a mission to break the curse over Galuna Island, Natsu and the gang face a band of deranged mages trying to resurrect the monstrous demon Deliora. Gray's determined to put the freeze on the sinister plan in a frigid battle with a rival from his past - even if it takes his own life!
Back in Magnolia, the city becomes a warzone after sorcerers known as Element 4 destroy Fairy Tail headquarters and kidnap their beloved rookie, Lucy. A bone-crunching, skin-charring fight between fire and iron erupts when Natsu squares off against another Dragon Slayer wizard!



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Tom Smith rings the ch-ch-changes…
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If you liked that, you might like this…
Redline and Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine showcase the talent of Takeshi Koike, a rising star in the anime firmament. While the two titles are very different, they’re both brash and arresting, the obverse of any safe house ‘style’...

The Films of Shinya Tsukamoto

Jasper Sharp is in a Tokyo state of mind
The hyperrealism of the “cartoon” Akira and the cartoonishness of the live-action Tetsuo struck Western viewers unaccustomed to such mould-breaking cinema with equal force, and it is no real surprise to note that Manga Entertainment was responsible for the subsequent releases of both Tsukamoto’s big-budget colour rerun of his debut, Tetsuo II: Bodyhammer (1992) and his later Tokyo Fist.


It's back on the magic carpet for the second box set
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Turning Point 1997-2008

Hayao Miyazaki's 2nd volume of writings reviewed
Turning Point offers invaluable peeps at Miyazaki’s mind at work, including the way he grows his imagery out of lyrical ideas. “I am experiencing old age for the first time in my life,” he comments at one point, managing to be both wise and dotty at the same time.

Cosplay: Dragon Ball Z

Paul Jacques goes on the prowl at the London Super Comic Con
Cosplayer Kasey Wolfe goes for a beardy version of Gohan from Dragon Ball Z, caught by our roving photographer Paul Jacques at the London Super Comic Con. Dragon Ball Z is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

Eureka Seven Ao Part Two

Spoilers for part one ahead, as Andrew Osmond gets timey-wimey
The show’s finale is squarely in anime traditions, combining heartfelt child-parent reunions, a boy’s resolution to ‘lift the curse’ of his origins, and an orgasmically explosive deus ex machina that lets a character write the end he wants – one that happens to have shades of another Gainax anime classic, Gunbuster. There’s fanservice for you!

One Piece Cosplay: Madame Sharley

Paul Jacques nets the best anime costumes
Elizabeth Coombes cosplays as Madame Sharley, the sharky mermaid to be found far off in the 500s of the One Piece anime. Also known variously as Shyarly and Shirley -- even the subtitles sometimes change their mind. Shirley some mistake?

Soccer heroes in anime

Helen McCarthy on anime's football crazies
Sports have been around in anime from very early in its history, but the first identifiable sports anime, Yasuji Murata's Animal Olympics in 1928, didn't feature soccer. In fact, the beautiful game was a latecomer to the anime sports world. Compared with baseball, soccer had few fans.
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