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Shonen Sunday Retrospective (2023)

Hello Behind the Manga readers! This is Sakaki from Weekly Shogakugan Edition, also known as Weekly Sunday Edition. By the time this goes up, you would have heard me on the Behind the Manga Podcast. Every year, I write a retrospective of Weekly Shonen Sunday, and this year to spread the Sunday greatness, I'm cross posting the retrospective here.


2023 was a year of huge changes, minor and major victories and some setbacks. Let's start the serializations in the magazine first and work through the year from there.

 

Serializations



Starting with issue #20 of 2023 the magazine got five new serializations. Tatari, Super String -Isekai Kenbun Roku-, Sternbild's Road, Chiisai Boku no Haru and Te no Geka. Perhaps the biggest one of these is Super String due to the names involved --BOICHI in particular. Not to tread old ground too much, as this year also saw us writing blurbs on the new serializations which you can check out in the links above, but as far as series go there's an "old-fashioned" dark fantasy action manga in Tatari, an MCU-esque webtoon crossover in Super String, a romantic (not in the lovey-dovey sense, but the sprawling epic sense) story with Sternbild, a sports romcom series in Chiisai and hand surgery in Te no Geka. So as usual, a pretty good crop of genres to choose from.



20-odd issues later two more serials came with Shuuseki ban go 0 ban and Ogami Tsumiki to Ki nichijou This time consisted of an occult battle series for Shuuseki, and an (ab) normal slice of life series for Tsumiki.



And then merely 4 issues after that, Mizupolo began in Weekly Shonen Sunday (WSS), this one is a Water sports slice of life comedy. I've only ever seen single serialization rounds once or twice in my time with Sunday...and they're odd each time. Overall there have been way fewer series this year with the grand total coming in at eight compared to fifteen last year. Which is intriguing to say the least considering how the door for WSS has been a 'spinnin.

 

In Memorandum (The Gone)


First, let's take a look at the series that are officially no longer with us.


Starting from the top, is Chigusa Ichihara's Akatsuki Jihen which ended in issue #42, Katsuro's Vigness Type-3 which ended in issue #24, Sanshi Fujita's Kowloon jou mou ichido which also ended in issue #24, Nekoguchi's Kono manga no heroine wa Morisaki Amane desu which ended in issue #26, and last Hajime Saeki's Sternbild's road which ended in the same issue as Akatsuki Jihen: #42. These series ranged in length from 3 to 4 volumes and, as one can infer, were cancelled slightly before or after being serialized for a year. Ichihara-sensei at least mentioned wanting to get back into the fray right away with a new series, while Fujita has been posting Kowloon artwork from time to time on their twitter. It's a shame these didn't catch on, --especially Vigness which had some of the best art I've seen for a weekly manga. Though, these series are certifiably gone. Which leads into a new type of "gone" that has become a fad for WSS, for better or worse.


The Sorta Gone.


You'll note that I said "officially" in the first part of this. That's because the series below left WSS but weren't outright cancelled for various reasons.



First is Tsubasa Fukuchi's Golden Spiral which was transferred to Sunday Webry around issue #19, where it finished its serialization in September 2023. Jury's out on whether it was cancelled or not (I suspect it was) but the reason why I didn't include it with the group above is that it left WSS before ending. Now, for this, there wasn't a specific reason why stated for the transfer. I believe in its case, the series wasn't doing well enough to warrant more promotion, but Fukuchi's veteran status allowed him the grace to finish it elsewhere. Still an odd choice considering...



The next two cases have stated reasons, but they left holes in the magazine that Golden Spiral could have held onto until something else came along. The first is Erika Funamoto's Souei Sousho which ran until issue #14 of WSS where it went on hiatus due to Funamoto-sensei's poor health. It turns out that their assistant for the project moved on, and they had been doing a lot of the work on their own until they basically collapsed. Oof. Luckily, in this case, the series came back on Sunday webry later and continues now on a bi-weekly schedule.



Next is Takeru Atsumi's Chiisai Boku no Haru. Similarly to Souei Sousho this series ran in WSS until issue #40 where it went on hiatus due to Atsumi's worsening health. It has since restarted in Webry as well. It's worrying that this is an ongoing theme with WSS series, but I'm glad at least Webry is a consideration for authors who can't keep up the weekly grind. But then if you've been keeping up that means only Tatari and Super String are left from the first 2023 serialization round, and even Miyu Morishita, Ogami Tsumiki to ki nichijo's author was in a car accident recently that saw their schedule take a hit. At least in that series case, the serialization remains in WSS with time given for their recovery.


Postmortem


While we're on the subject of serializations, two series in the WSS lineup have as of this writing concluded after natural runs.



Yuuhei Kusakabe's Shiroyama to Mita-san has , and KOTOYAMA's Call of the Night's serializations have ended.. The former would have run for a little less than two years, while the latter has four under its belt. Shiroyama to Mita-san was born from a very popular oneshot Radio Boy and M-16 girl and has run its course, while Call of the Night can comfortably be considered a pillar of the magazine. I hope that Shiroyama gets some kind of media promotion, be it an anime or LA adaption later on. These are two more series leaving the magazine at a time when webry is grabbing series from WSS. Judging from the patterns outlined above, we'll likely see new serials around issue #20 or so, but in my opinion it's imperative to get something in the mag sooner.


Getting Animated



The slayer is here to stay! Frieren's anime began airing in October and has become a critical darling, and it's not surprising, with the animation staff helmed by Keiichiro Saito at Madhouse bringing their A game to even the smallest details of the series expansive world that the series would become nothing short of a megahit. I can't overstate this enough, the anime is phenomenal, which in turn has made the manga a household name. The series has grown to add 7 million more copies in print in the two months since the anime began airing, which is unheard of. Shogakukan is riding that high, releasing everything from merch to spinoff books to anthologies and art books, all of which are flying off the shelves like magic. It gets me wondering how much the anime will ultimately cover, as for a while the manga was being serialized irregularly so while there is a wealth of material left to cover what will be left in the series wake come March 2024? The future has me anticipating great things for the series, but Shogakukan has to be careful that they don't spend all of their magic in one place. For now at least you can watch the sub and the dub on Crunchyroll.



The first half of the Urusei Yatsura reboot also came and went this year with the second half airing January 2024. The show has elected to choose a hodgepodge of chapters to adapt rather than rehashing the entire series, which considering the series' episodic nature was a good choice in my opinion, even if it might disappoint some who expected a complete redo. Luckily, Diskotek media is releasing the old series on BD so there's no shortage of Lum for the fans to enjoy. One wouldn't be wrong to assume that after UY's second season ends that perhaps MAO will come next to keep the Takahashi express a chuggin, but I think I'd almost rather see a reboot of Ranma instead. I'm not sure how much longer MAO has left in its serialization, but it'd make more sense to wait until it's close to concluding to animate it especially since --and it might be blasphemous for me to say this --it's not exactly selling the way Ranma and Inuyasha did, So there's less of an impetus to get moving on it, as it might be on something newer. Season one and two are streaming on HiDive



Conan movies continue to be a sales juggernaut and this year's entry: The Iron Submarine was no exception. In fact, despite it being a movie about the depths of the ocean it's now soared highest of all the Conan feature films, reaching and surpassing a record 10 billion yen in box office revenue. The franchise is celebrating it's 30th anniversary next year with a Kaito Kid vs Heiji Hattori movie in The Million Dollar Pentagram. Can Conan take this torch and run past this billion yen record? The sky's the limit.




Tonikawa, Tonikaku Cawaii or Fly Me to the Moon is a series with lots of different names but at its core is one thing --adorable. Tsukasa and Nasa kept being the premier married couple this year too with another 13 episode season and an OVA to boot. The series seems to do well for Crunchyroll as they tout it as an original production and keep on bringing it back. Despite the opening for this season showing the decidedly less cute side of Tsukasa's backstory, there were only hints of it in the anime proper. Considering how many times Hayate the Combat Butler came back in anime form, I wonder if this marriage will get to renew its vows again soon, at least to see its surprisingly dark underbelly? In any case you can check out the series in its entirety on Crunchyroll.


 

Domestic Sunday



In the land of digital manga, Viz continues to reign supreme, shadow launching the Viz media library that provides easy access to everything the publisher has including --you guessed it, their huge WSS/Shogakukan library. Inuyasha, Magi, The Flame of Recca, and newer series like Call of the Night, Komi Can't Communicate and Frieren: Beyond Journey's End are now easier than ever to read. Not only that, but now several WSS favorites are now simulpubbed. Can you believe it? Case Closed chapters the same day they release in Japan? We've truly come a long way --and it shows that people love Sunday with the lineup above of most read series coming from the magazine. This isn't limited to just WSS series as Sunday GX titles like Zom100, Big Comic titles like Insomniacs after School and more are also released alongside their Japanese counterparts.



And then as if we weren't spoiled already, the first new WSS license since Frieren came in the form of Yutaka's Kimi to warui koto ga shitai or I Want to do Bad Things with You. This one caught me by surprise as while it's not doing terribly, the much more successful Mikadono San shimai ga angai, choroi is right there. Some have speculated this means KimiWaru might be getting an anime soon, but my thought is more that it's a quick and easy license because it may not go on too long. I hope I'm wrong, since it is a charming series despite it's raunchy sounding title. Meanwhile in other Shougakukan news, Yuki Domoto's I want to end this Love Game, is a WSS adjacent license, some Big Comic series in Keigo Shinzo's Hirayasumi got licensed along with Kasumi Yasuda's Fool Night, Daruma Matsuura's Steel of the Celestial Shadows, Taiyo Matsumoto's Tokyo These Days, And my personal favorite, the critically acclaimed Snowball Earth by Yuhiro Tsujitsugu. Speaking of Shinzo, Denpa picked up another of his series entitled Holiday Junction, and more surprisingly the manga adaptation of Oddtaxi!



There's also Seven Seas license of of Nujima's Kai to Otome to Kamikakushi to be released as Mysterious Disapperances which runs in Yarawaka Spirits and is receiving an anime adaptation in the coming year as well as Nao Iwamoto's Shojo manga Kingdom of Gold, Kingom of Water which even had a movie adaptation! The latter is out now so grab it if you're interested. Not sure? We talked about the movie and manga in our associated podcast Saturday Night Shoggy here!




 

The Future


As is customary, in issue #2 of WSS, the lineup of new authors who will either have oneshots or new series in Webry, Super, and beyond were revealed! Above is an idea of who to expect in a Sunday magazine soon. Though overall the future is looking bright with new licenses coming from US publishers, the continued success of familiar faces on both sides of the ocean, and plenty of new and exciting manga to read. In all however, 2023 was an amazing year on many fronts, and I for one hope 2024 can continue this momentum.

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