It's official: As of January 21, 2013, "Shonen Jump Alpha" will start releasing new chapters of all its weekly manga simultaneously with Japan.
This doesn't exactly come as a surprise, although it's nice to have the timing locked in. Back when he first announced that "Shonen Jump" was going digital, at New York Comic Con 2011, Viz executive vice president Alvin Lu said it was possible that the magazine would go to simultaneous release with Japan, adding, "We wanted to give ourselves some room for improvement. There are various factors that went into this, and if we can get this right, it leaves room to close the time gap."
The gap is closing in January, on the first anniversary of the "Shonen Jump Alpha" launch. All the weekly "Shonen Jump" series—"Naruto," "Bleach," "One Piece," "Toriko," "Cross Manage," and the new series "Nisekoi"—will go to simultaneous release with the Japanese chapters, while the monthly series—"Blue Exorcist," "Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration," and "Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal"—will be released on the Monday closest to their Japanese publication date.
With this announcement, Viz is moving one step closer to having manga be a "live" medium; just as superhero comics fans have their Wednesday ritual, manga fans now have a weekly event to look forward to—and discuss with one another.
Lu mentioned at New York Comic Con that "Shonen Jump Alpha" would be going simultaneous with Japan "very soon," and I talked to him about it the next day. Here's what he had to say:
It's very symbolically significant that we are timed to Japanese releases. It in effect means that the English readers in our territories, the U.S. and Canada, read it at the same time the Japanese audience does, and there's a tremendous symbolic and actual significance in the fact that these audiences are now experiencing the content at the same time.
You can read more of his comments about same-day publishing, and how "Shonen Jump Alpha" is helping foster a community of manga fans, in my interview with him at Good E-Reader.
And check out this trailer for "Nisekoi," the newest series in the "Shonen Jump Alpha" lineup; here's more about it, and you can also read the first chapter for free on the Vizmanga.com site or the Viz app as part of the "Shonen Jump Alpha Starter Pack."
NISEKOI © 2011 by Naoshi Komi/SHUEISHA Inc