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‘If You Take A Break, You’ll Be Fired Immediately’: Kinnikuman Mangaka Recounts His Debut Days In Weekly Shonen Jump

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In a recent interview with Weekly Osakanichi, co-creator of Kinnikuman manga, Takashi Shimada, opened up about the immense pressure and challenges he faced when he debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine.

His revelations shed light on the demanding environment within one of Japan’s most popular manga publications and the toll it took on its young creators.

Reflecting on the early days, Shimada revealed a strict policy enforced by their editor stating that taking breaks were absolutely forbidden in the magazine, as doing so would result in their immediate dismissal.

From the time I debuted, the editors kept telling me, ‘You can’t take a break from a Weekly Shonen Jump serialization. If you take a break, you’ll be fired immediately’.

According to the mangaka, this pressure stemmed from the limited entertainment options available for children at the time, making manga a major source of enjoyment. Moreover, the rising popularity of Kinnikuman at the time only raised its stakes.

However, after six years of continuous serialization, a severe deterioration in Shimada’s chronic back condition forced a reluctant hiatus.

He also went on to reveal that upon his return to the industry, he encountered a transformed landscape. This was when Dragon Ball started serializing.

According to Shimada, Dragon Ball quickly climbed to the top of the charts, introducing elements that bore a resemblance to those found in Kinnikuman.

This uncanny resemblance, coupled with the general rise of battle-oriented manga, placed Kinnikuman at a disadvantage, leading to a decline in its popularity.

By the time I came back, ‘Dragon Ball’ had become the number one series. Before I took a break, we were winning. But at some point, elements of Kinnikuman like the Tenkaichi Budokai and quantifying battle power were incorporated… ‘Fist of the North Star’ was the same, but Kinnikuman was targeted. Because of that, we couldn’t win anymore.

Faced with these challenges and the constant pressure to remain at the top, the duo behind Kinnikuman, known as Yudetamago, made the difficult decision to end the series. They then launched a new series, Here Comes Phantom Kid!.

However, the new series did not resonate as strongly with audiences, leading to its early cancellation.

I had always been told, “If you’re not number one, you’re not a manga artist,” so after consulting with Mr. Nakai, we decided, “Let’s quit.” Instead, we started serializing “Here Comes the Ghost Kid!” But gradually, its popularity declined, and within less than a year, we were told to stop.

Kinnikuman manga, however, restarted publication in 2011 in Shueisha’s web magazine Shu Play News.

Created by the duo Yoshinori Nakai and Takashi Shimada, known as Yudetamago, the manga was originally published in Shueisha’s shonen manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump from 1979 to 1987, and was first adapted by Toei Animation into a 137-episode anime series broadcast on Nippon Television from 1983 to 1986.

There is also a sequel, the Kinnikuman: The 2nd Generation manga that was serialized in Weekly Playboy between 1998 and 2004.

A new anime television series adaptation produced by Production I.G, based on the 2011 revival manga is set to premiere in July 2024.

Source: Weekly Osakanichi

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