Viz Media announced some ambitious plans at New York Comic-Con last month: They are taking Shonen Jump from a monthly print magazine to a digital weekly—and once they do, they will be running each chapter of Naruto and five other manga just two weeks after it appears in Japan.
That means they have some catching up to do: Volume 58 of Naruto was just released in Japan last week, meaning there is a five-volume gap between the American and the Japanese releases. In order to close the gap in time, Viz is publishing the next few volumes digitally way ahead of their print release dates on both the Vizmanga.com website and their iPad/iPod app. Volume 54 is available now, and volume 55 will be out on November 21. Dead-tree enthusiasts will have to wait for January and March, respectively, for the two volumes.
The new magazine, to be renamed Shonen Jump Alpha, will carry six series: Bakuman, Bleach, Naruto, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, One Piece, and Toriko. So Viz still has some catching up to do: Volume 64 of One Piece just came out in Japan, while Viz has vol. 58 scheduled for next month. And Bleach has an even bigger lag: It's at volume 52 in Japan, volume 36 in the U.S. The other three series also have significant gaps as well.
According to the Shonen Jump Alpha FAQ, the new magazine, which officially launches on January 30, will be published 48 times a year and will run about 120 pages per issue.
Incidentally, Viz is offering current Shonen Jump subscribers a pretty sweet deal: If they sign up for Shonen Jump Alpha before January 30, Viz will throw in three free volumes of digital manga.
And what about the SJ series that don't make the jump to digital? According to the FAQ, "Anything is possible," and they will be doing surveys to see what people are interested in.
NARUTO © 1999 by Masashi Kishimoto/SHUEISHA Inc.