FEV, Written Down: Smoky B.B. & Baseball Comics pt.2 1986-2006

art by yuuya kawada

art by yuuya kawada

And so we return to our ongoing retrospective on the history of baseball comics in Weekly Shonen Jump in advance of Smoky B.B.‘s serialisation in the issue due out today (May 27th). Last time we covered some of the older material from the first decade and a bit of the anthology’s history, so this time we’re gonna jump ahead a bit past a whole bunch of series that didn’t stand out enough in the early 80s straight to 1986, looking at the best of the titles to come out between then and 2006, which is when baseball decided to take its leave from Shonen Jump for some seven years.

But first, a quick mention of why baseball is even such a popular topic for manga in Japan (I mean, Shonen Sunday author Mitsuru Adachi has even created a new baseball comic every decade since the 80s, a level of dedication to the sport above most others). Baseball was introduced in Japan in the 1870s, and after an initial slow burn spread like veritable venereal diseases, infesting the whole country with a fever for baseball that endures to this day. It has such has a long history in Japan, and even has suitable shonen fodder in high school baseball, which not only fits into the demographic that would be reading shonen magazines (that being anywhere between 8 and 18, traditionally), but also gives the base plot of most baseball comics out there, as characters aim to reach the finals at the Koshien in both the spring invitational tournament and the summer baseball championship.

So it’s a double whammy, in both subject matter and popularity, and makes a lot of sense for shonen publishers to be fond of as it’s basically a marketable product MADE for their magazines. Sure, it doesn’t always work, but the audience is already there, just waiting for a good series. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at a whole load of series that managed to tap that vein (or fail to in one instance) over the years.

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FEV, Written Down: Smoky B.B. & Baseball Comics pt.1: 1968-1980

art by yuuya kawada

art by yuuya kawada

The next issue of Weekly Shonen Jump, due out on the 27th of May, is a little bit special. It features the sophomore serial from the creative team of Yuuya Kawada and Kenta Komiyama, who debuted in Jump some three years ago Kikai Banashi Hanasaka Ikkyu. But it’s not the fact that they’re returning that makes this special. No, rather it’s because of the sort of series they’re doing. The comic in question is called Smoky B.B., and is the first baseball comic Weekly Shonen Jump has had since Over Time, way back in 2006. Seven years might not sound like a long time to you and me, but this drought in good ol’ bat, ball and base action is notable as the longest period Weekly Shonen Jump has gone without such a title, putting a certain weight and importance on Smoky B.B. bringing one of Japan’s favourite pastimes back to its most popular anthology.

To help you grasp quite how important this is, I’m going to go over a few of the more notable examples of the sport from Jump’s past, and perhaps look at why baseball has been so absent of late. Hopefully by the end of this little bonus bit you’ll be as tense as I am about the return of the sport next week.

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Friendship! Effort! Victory! Episode 27 – Waq Waq

Ryu Fujisaki. I go on about him a lot. He’s all right.
2004/40, WaqWaq's Debut Cover in Weekly Shonen Jump

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What is Friendship! Effort! Victory!? – It’s a podcast about the manga and inner workings of Weekly Shonen Jump, with an eye towards accessibility and soothing camp tones.

What is this episode about? – It’s about WaqWaq, the last work of Ryu Fujisaki for Weekly Shonen Jump, and a delightfully weird failure, telling a tale of a desolate world and sci-fi battles, using a difficult religious concept as it goes along. It’s a whole thing! I talk about what was good about it, and why it probably failed despite these brilliant things.

Where are the show notes? – In the future, where we red-bloods are GODS!

-Want to buy WaqWaq? Well, it should be available anywhere good comics are sold, but failing that there’s always Amazon (UK) (US) for the english editions and also Amazon (JP) for the Japanese bunkoban editions.
-Want to know more about WaqWaq? Buy it. But also there’s a wikipedia page that gives you the basic stuff you’d want to know. There’s also a pretty okay one about Ryu Fujisaki himself.
-What is the Amesha Spenta? Well, it’s a complicated religious thing that I was too lazy to explain, despite being a pretty good Religious Studies student back in the day. So here’s a wiki page that also explains it.
-You can learn more about Weekly Shonen Jump over at the wiki page for it, which is almost slightly reliable.
-Are you in the US/CA? Go support the digital version of Weekly Shonen Jumpreleased by Viz Media.
-Want Shonen Jump manga in english, digitally? Are you in US/CA? VizManga dot com. Every time.
Friendship! Effort! Victory!’s on iTunes, where subscriptions and reviews are always most welcome. THE FEED IS FIXED (I think)
-You can find me on Twitter @Maxy_Barnard where I usually just swear and be wrong about stuff
-You can also find me on Tumblr over at The Despondent, where there’s an irregular supply of things relevant to mine and your interests
-You can also e-mail me at maxy dot barnard at gmail dot com if you’d like.
-As always the music used in this episode is from Jump Ultimate Stars. The intro is [INTO PLANET] and the outro, appropriately is ‘Loser’

Friendship! Effort! Victory! Episode 26 – Hoshin Engi

1996/28, Hoshin Engi's Debut Cover in Weekly Shonen Jump

DOWNLOAD HERE

What is Friendship! Effort! Victory!? – It’s a podcast about the manga and inner workings of Weekly Shonen Jump, with an eye towards accessibility and soothing camp tones.

What is this episode about? – It’s about Hoshin Engi, the wacky fantasy story based on a chinese literary epic, which in turn is based upon an insane bit of chines history! I mostly just tell you about that, and talk about the weirdness that is the ending. There’s a lot of ground covered, but far too much left unturned this episode, so whilst I’m still super proud of myself, this is definitely in the “redux box” I keep telling you all about. It’s just such a dense topic!

Where are the show notes? – I had them killed and turned into hamburgers!

-Want to know more about Hoshin Engi? Wikipedia has you covered for the basics, but this angelfire website sure does have a lot of information on it beyond the norm.
-Want to buy Hoshin Engi in english? Why not head over to Amazon (UK) (US) and get your mitts around it all there.
-Want to buy Hoshin Engi in the fancy Japanese kanzenban editions? Give Amazon Japan a try.
-Want to buy the anime version of Hoshin Engi, Soul Hunter? Amazon (UK) (US) is your friend for that, too. God, I should work for them, plugging them this dang much.
-You can learn more about Weekly Shonen Jump over at the wiki page for it, which is almost slightly reliable.
-Are you in the US/CA? Go support the digital version of Weekly Shonen Jump released by Viz Media.
-Want Shonen Jump manga in english, digitally? Are you in US/CA? VizManga dot com. Every time.
Friendship! Effort! Victory!’s on iTunes, where subscriptions and reviews are always most welcome. THE FEED IS STILL BROKEN
-You can find me on Twitter @Maxy_Barnard where I usually just swear and be wrong about stuff
-You can also find me on Tumblr over at The Despondent, where there’s an irregular supply of things relevant to mine and your interests
-You can also e-mail me at maxy dot barnard at gmail dot com if you’d like.
-As always the music used in this episode is from Jump Ultimate Stars. The intro is [INTO PLANET] and the outro, appropriately is ‘Loser’