Weekly Shonen Jump is still Japan's most popular manga magazine, but this year its distribution dropped to its lowest numbers since the early 1970s.
Throughout the 2021 fiscal year (from October 2020 to September 2021), Weekly Shonen Jump averaged 1,422,766 copies per week in distribution. While still significantly higher than the sales of any American comics, this is significantly below the average of 1,559,000 copies per week the magazine enjoyed throughout 2020. Distribution in 2021 was at its lowest between July and September, falling to 1,371,818 copies per week. Weekly Shonen Jump's sales peaked in 1995, with 6.53 million copies per week in distribution.
Weekly Shonen Jump's two major competitors for the teen boy demographic, Weekly Shonen Magazine and Weekly Shonen Sunday, experienced smaller but similar declines in sales this year. Weekly Shonen Magazine's circulation went down from 610,661 copies per week in 2020 to 530,326 copies per week in 2021, while Weekly Shonen Sunday fell from 227,979 copies per week to 198,542 copies per week, which are the lowest numbers in the magazine's history.
Declining sales of physical manga magazines could be partly attributed to the rise of digital manga. Shueisha's Shonen Jump line already has a stronghold in this field with its online Shonen Jump+ service, which has an active weekly readership of around 2.5 million users. Weekly Shonen Jump is also distributed on digital retailers like Amazon, which don't release as much information on sales and readership.
The specific situation of Weekly Shonen Jump in 2021, however, could also be considered the result of many of the magazine's biggest recent hits coming to a conclusion in 2020 and the publication's inability to find any equally successful replacements. 2020 saw the publication of the final chapters of the long-running volleyball manga Haikyuu, the fantasy thriller The Promised Neverland and, perhaps most significantly of all, the breakout hit Demon Slayer. Chainsaw Man, another rising fan favorite, finished its first part at the start of 2021 and will be releasing Part 2 online via Shonen Jump+. With the likes of My Hero Academia, Dr. Stone, and even One Piece set to conclude over the new few years, the pressure is on for Shueisha to find the next big thing.
While manga magazine sales are down, however, the manga market as a whole improved its sales in 2021. The popularity of Demon Slayer has contributed to this growth, as the series is still selling millions of copies over a year after the story concluded in Weekly Shonen Jump.
Source: JMPA, via Crunchyroll