Thursday, September 10, 2020

One Year with the Shonen Jump App

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Viz Media's unprecedented Shonen Jump app. Since it's been a little over a year since I first downloaded the app, I thought I'd take a look at how the experience has been. I like reading comics digitally, but how does Shonen Jump compare to the something like Hoopla or other apps I use?

If you're not familiar with the Shonen Jump app that launched at the end of 2018, I wrote a whole article about it that you can read here. But if you don't want to do that, here's a quick recap. The official Shonen Jump app contains a massive vault of the world's most popular manga. The first three chapters of every series are available to preview for free and brand new chapters are available for free the same day they're released in Japan. You can also read every chapter of over 200 series for just $1.99 a month. It's pretty much the best deal in comics.

I signed up for the paid version of the app the moment it finished installing, so I can't speak for exactly how it's free features work. All I know is I have access to an obscene amount of manga and all it costs me is two bucks a month which I barely notice.

Once the app was all set up I binged through Dr. Stone, which Viz had sent me the first two volumes of the previous year. After that I tried Black Clover, the first volume of which I bought from a friend, but I didn't like where it was going and started looking for something else.

From there, I was actually a little overwhelmed with how much the app had to offer. The app has all of the recent hits like My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer plus plenty of popular classics like Dragon Ball and Naruto. But there's also dozens of obscure titles I'd never even heard of.

I settled on reading Bakuman next, which I absolutely love. The premise was so unique compared to the usual action adventure stuff you see in Jump. Then, following a friend's recommendation, I checked out World Trigger which features every trope I hate about popular Shonen Jump series including many that turned me off of Black Clover. Naturally, it became my new favorite series.

After getting caught up on Dr. Stone and World Trigger, I found myself impatiently waiting for more. I was thoroughly excited when the new chapters started rolling in. But still, Dr. Stone is just one of twenty other series running in Weekly Shonen Jump, so I knew I had to get caught up on more.

I'm one of those people who finds long manga series overwhelming and, frankly, I prefer a tight, complete story over something that meanders for years. I don't want Yoshihiro Togashi to continue Hunter x Hunter - I want him to end it.

So instead of jumping into long running series like My Hero Academia or god-damned One Piece, I tend to go for newer series like Zipman!!, Tokyo Shinobi Squad, Guardian of the Witch, and Time Paradox Ghostwriter. All of which were, disappointingly, canceled early. At least I still have Mission: Yozakura Family.

Since I had way more fun with Bakumon, I decided to check out the overwhelming backlog that is the Shonen Jump vault. Understanding a bit more about how Shonen Jump works - specifically in regards to series that end early with rushed, unsatisfying endings - I've avoided anything with less than 20 chapters and have looked to series that lasted a bit longer. I know I said long series can be a real turn-off for me, but that's in regards to having to buy and store over 20 volumes. In the app, everything is digital and included in that two-buck subscription fee.

In my time with the Shonen Jump app I've read all of Assassination Classroom, Dragon Ball, All You Need is Kill, The Emperor and I, The Right Way to Make Jump, and of course Bakuman. They've all been great! Next up I want to check out Claymore, Buso Renkin, and D.Gray-man.

I will say that, after a while, the vault does start to look a bit small. Even though I've read less than 25% of it I'm starting to feel like I've run out of stuff to read. I have no interest in certain series and genres, and sometimes I have to be in the right mood to start something new. There are also quite a few Shonen Jump titles that I would love to read, but they aren't in the app for numerous behind-the-scenes reasons.

So. Is the Shonen Jump app worth it? Uh... hell yeah. I have read over 1200 chapters of manga for $24. The average volume is $10 for 10 chapters, so this is a huge deal. I know a lot of people prefer to own physical media, but not everyone can afford to buy and store that much manga. With this app I can access thousands of dollars worth of manga. All for the price of a candy bar.