Hi, everyone. I’m Mokugyo, a writer who loves manga and anime. I grew up reading Weekly Shonen Jump, one of the most popular manga magazines in Japan, with popular titles such as Dragon Ball and One Piece. Even as a grown adult, I still read every issue. Jump will turn 50 in 2018, and is holding a major exhibition to commemorate the occasion.
Let me walk through the exhibition with you!
Roppongi Hills Observatory
The official title of this exhibition is Weekly Shonen Jump Exhibition VOL.1 From the first issue to the 1980s – The beginning of the legend, and it is held at Roppongi Hills Observatory. The venue, Mori Arts Center Gallery on the 52nd floor of Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills, is conveniently located only 10 minutes on foot from Roppongi Station.
Unfortunately, photography is prohibited inside this exhibition except for certain displays, and there are no signs and guides in English. What a shame! I would really love if foreign fans had the chance to know the history of Jump. However, you can easily buy tickets to the event by using the English-language page! This is the first of three exhibitions. You can imagine how popular Jump is by the fact that they can host 3 exhibitions for a single manga magazine at a huge venue in Roppongi.
All visitors get a day ticket issued at the entrance, or if you already bought an advanced ticket you can show it to them in exchange for a day ticket. Once you have a day ticket, you can go up to the 52nd floor using the elevator.
There is a huge sign like this at the entrance. No photography is allowed from here.
What you first see inside the venue is the display of the famous Jump marketing phrase, “You can only read XX-sensei’s works here in Jump!” You wait there for a while and then get guided to a screen room called Theater Zone. This famous marketing phrase is like the symbolic figure of Jump, as it is well-known that they always make an exclusive contract with manga creators. They always retain young and potential creators exclusively for their captive products and do not allow their creators to work for different magazines while they’re running a series in Jump.
At the Theater Zone, you see video footage full of manga frames. The spine of a Jump magazine switches from that of 2017 to the older ones, and then various famous manga frames from the magazine’s history appear. It’s such exciting footage, you can enjoy checking each frame whether you know the series or not.
The Popular Series in the Early Days
After the Theater Zone you see various displays. At this installment of the exhibition, you can enjoy manuscripts of popular series. Some series had video footage with original pictures, and some even had displays of toys and various goods released in the days of their publication.
The first title displayed is Harenchi Gakuen, the first popular erotic comedy manga. It began running in the very first issue of Jump in 1968. However, the lifting up of girls’ skirts that appeared in the series became very popular among boys to harass girls with, and it became a social problem.
As a matter of fact, last July, a female lawyer saw an issue of the color spread for the manga Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san in Weekly Shonen Jump, and criticized it on Twitter. She then tweeted ‘I would not allow my son to read Shonen Jump,’ and it was met with mixed reactions on the internet. As you can see, Jump has always been controversial since its very first issue. The first display for the exhibition being Harenchi Gakuen is important in showing that pushing boundaries is the very essence of Jump.
The next title displayed is Otoko Ippiki Gaki-daishou. This title has also began in the very first issue and ran until the early 70s. It was about a delinquent boy building up his henchmen through violent fights to become a big boss. It was also the first anime series adapted from Jump. It is quite symbolic that the first anime adaptation of a Jump series was about fighting.
Popular Manga Series in the 1980s
The next display room shows one of the most popular series back in the 1980s, City Hunter and Cat’s Eye. They were both created by Tsukasa Hojo, then adapted to anime series. City Hunter is about a young male sniper and was adapted to a live action movie by Jackie Chan in 1993 as well as a Korean TV drama. It was also recently announced that there will be another live-action released in France in 2019. Cat’s Eye is about three beautiful sisters who are art thieves. It has influenced a lot of other titles.
Next comes Captain Tsubasa, the iconic soccer manga series that started in 1981. Soccer was just one of the many minor sports in Japan before this manga series. However, once it became popular and was adapted to anime, it became one of the most successful series and made soccer a popular sport too. Some even say that J-League (Japan Professional Football League) was founded under the influence of this manga series. Many great soccer players all over the world such as Iniesta watched the anime series when they were young, and you can imagine how influential it was. There are various manga manuscripts displayed, including Tsubasa facing Wakabayashi, the Tachibana brothers playing Sky-Love-Hurricane, and Hyuuga kicking a ball into the ocean waves.
Saint Seiya is about young boys who fight wearing sacred armors named Cloths. It was adapted into anime and became very popular too, not only among boys but was also successful among girls. Several spin-offs have been created after the series finished. The display for Saint Seiya also has some video footage.
Kinnikuman (Ultimate Muscle) is another old series, and its sequel is still running as a web series now. It is about super-human characters fighting wrestling matches Professional wrestling became popular among kids, with them trying to copy the techniques shown in the series. It was so influential and dangerous that adults had to warn kids not to copy them. The display had not only manga manuscripts but also had statues of ‘muscle docking’. They even had a display of Suguru’s face made from ‘Kinkeshi’, collectible erasers derived from the series. Back in those days, such erasers in the generic salmon matte color were extremely popular.
Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star) is another popular display. It shows manuscripts including Kenshiro fighting with his symbolic ‘Atatatata’ shout and an enemy dying with the unique ‘Hidebu’ sound-effect. Moreover, the end of the video footage of Kenshiro and Raou’s fight shows a statue of a standing Raou too.
That’s about half of the exhibition.
Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kouen-mae Hashutsujo, or Kochikame for short, is another popular comedy series, whose serialization began in 1976 and ended recently in 2016. It was another of Jump‘s long-running signature series. The display here shows the gradual changes of the manuscripts since the early days.
Dr. Slump is a comedy series created by Akira Toriyama. Its anime adaptation was a big hit in Japan. You might remember that its female character, Arale, recently appeared in Dragon Ball Super. Considering its popularity back then, I think they should have more to display for this series.
Of course, Dragon Ball has a very huge space with a lot of manuscripts displayed, along with Dr. Slump. I’m sure there is no need to explain this series, but this super popular battle action manga series started in 1984. The display here shows the original manuscripts from the very early days. The video footage reproduces the venue for the Tenkaichi Budokai and shows a scene of a match. It also shows the scene where Goku proposes to Chichi and fights with Piccolo. It makes you feel very nostalgic.
Popular Series From Each Decade
The last half of the exhibition has a number of displays for various popular series with their manga manuscripts. Each title has less to display than the first half part of the exhibition, but has more titles in general. You can enjoy seeking your favorite titles or ones you know. You might meet new series here that you have never seen or heard of before.
One of the series from the 1970s is Dokonjou Gaeru. It’s a comedy manga series about a young boy and a flat frog living on his shirt. It was adapted into an anime series and was recently also adapted into a live action series starring Kenichi Matsuyama.
There are also displays for sci-fi action series like Cobra. Its rich and beautifully-drawn illustrations, witty and smart dialogues, everything looks a bit different from typical Japanese shonen series. Shonen Jump has had such mature works of art too. As you probably know, the sci-fi comedy series Gintama also has a serious and hard-boiled side. You can see how Gintama is somewhat an extension of City Hunter and Cobra.
The popular series from the 1980s include comedy series such as High School! Kimengumi, Tsuide ni Tonchinkan, Moeru! Onii-san (The Burning Wild Man), and Magical Taluluto. These were all adapted to anime and became very successful. There aren’t many manga manuscripts shown there, but it is, in a way, proof of Jump having such a large stock of popular series.
You should not forget that the very last part of the display has a bit of the manuscript for Cyborg Jiichan G, a comedy released in 1989. This series had only 4 volumes and was not adapted into anime. Then why is it displayed here? Because it is the debut series of manga artist Takeshi Obata. He was not very fortunate for a long time but more recently has had consecutive big hits since the 2000s with Hikaru no Go, Death Note, and Bakuman. It enables us to get a glimpse of his talent in the 1980s. It made me smile to see a pair of young girls impressed with this display, uttering ‘Obata sensei’s works!’
I was allowed to take a photo of the very last part of the exhibition room where they display the front covers of Jump magazines. This exhibition will end in spring 2018 and the second installment of the exhibition will then be announced. I would like to visit the second one too.
By showing the ticket at the exhibition exit, you can receive a special sticker gift. I received one with Saint Seiya.
They also have a merchandise corner selling a lot of goods. I think I saw at least 8 cashier counters. It’s so popular that they need that many counters.
This is the official pamphlet. It costs 500 yen. It reminds you of what was displayed at the exhibition.
The venue is in the observatory on the 52nd floor. You can also enjoy a view of Tokyo afterward. There is also a museum cafe on the same floor, decorated specially for the exhibition, with a special burger menu as a collaboration project with popular Jump series. 1680 yen might be a bit costly for a burger set, but some of you might enjoy it to celebrate going to the exhibition.
It took me at least an hour and a half to see the whole exhibition. It is now the middle of summer and you can easily assume it will be very crowded here. But if you like the series published in Shonen Jump, I would recommend you check it out as you can learn the roots of Jump from the 70s and 80s. Those old series influenced the later generation to create masterpieces in the 1990s, 2000s, and then the 2010s, and all are connected. I hope this article will be a bit of help to you manga and anime fans all over the world.