American manga magazines have an interesting history with the rise of Shonen Jump and Yen Plus in the physical format before eventually transitioning to digital and, in Shonen Jump’s case, reforming themselves. However, an interesting manga magazine from this era which seems to have largely been forgotten was Raijin Comics. Therefore, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at Raijin Comics, what it was and to remember the path it attempted to thread.
The company responsible for Raijin Comics was Gutsoon! Entertainment which was a subsidiary of Coamix, a company founded by mangaka Tetsuo Hara and Tsukasa Hojo. Along with running manga magazine Weekly Comic Bunch, the decision was made to release a manga magazine in America called Raijin Comics. This magazine ended up debuting shortly before Viz Media released their Shonen Jump manga magazine.
It’s always fascinating how information is always relative. When I first heard of Raijin Comics, I remember numerous people telling me that the magazine was aimed at an adult audience in contrast to Shonen Jump which was targeted at teenagers. However, I remember being stunned when I finally learned that the manga that Raijin Comics were releasing were almost entirely shonen manga! Granted, it was noted in an interview prior to the magazine’s release that Gutsoon! Entertainment was targeting an older demographic audience and there are a few seinen titles as well but it’s still fascinating to realise that many of these manga were originally published in Shonen magazines in Japan.
Speaking of these manga, I should probably indicate what some of these series that ran in Raijin Comics were. Given the involvement of Tetsuo Hara and Tsukasa Hojo, it only makes sense that their works like Fist of the Blue Sky, City Hunter and Hana no Keiji were part of the lineup but other notable series included Slam Dunk, Guardian Angel Getten and Baki the Grappler. The quality of many of these manga were quite strong and it’s been interesting to see some of them gain a new interest from Western manga fans in recent years but it’s also clear that many of these lacked the recognisability that many of the manga running in Shonen Jump had.
The magazine initially started as a weekly publication but, within a year, ended up becoming monthly. Eventually, the magazine was put on hiatus, which turned out to be permanent, with the stated reason being “our publications, though appreciated by hard-core manga fans, are not penetrating a larger market.” It was a tragic end that also saw Gutsoon! Entertainment dissolved and their releases suspended.
There are many reasons that are theorised about why Raijin Comics failed such as competition with Shonen Jump, lack of recognisability, lacklustre marketing etc. However, I do believe that it should also be recognised for the attempt it made to bring more unusual manga to America. Let me know your thoughts on Raijin Comics, whether you picked up either the magazine or any of the collected editions, why you think they may have failed and any additional information you might have on the topic.
Hopefully you have found this article interesting and informative and, if you wish to seek any of the works I mentioned, don’t hesitate to use amazon.co.uk and amazon.com for all of your needs!