What's the latest news from the Japanese newsstands? We have word of a couple of series that are coming to an end, plus Black Jack will return with a different format, and Shonen Jump has two new series on deck.
Is the end in sight for Tite Kubo's long-running series Bleach? A teaser ad in Shonen Jump announced a new story arc and suggested that this could be the last arc in the series. Crunchyroll picked up on some cynical commentary from the Japanese message board 2chan, where people aren't really buying that the story will end (sure, it's the last arc, but that arc could be infinitely long); perhaps that's just wishful thinking, though.
Ken Akamatsu's Negima, on the other hand, is coming into the home stretch. AstroNerdBoy caught Akamatsu's latest Facebook post:
In Japan, everyone can read chapter352 of Negima today.
Now, I must say that Negima will end at chapter355.
It is not truncation.
Please expect a good ending of Negima.
AstroNerdBoy takes this to mean that the end of the series is not being rushed, and that readers will be satisfied with the way everything comes out. We'll see!
Yoshihiro Sadamoto's Neon Genesis Evangelion is another long-running manga, but only in the sense that it has been going on for years—since 1995, in fact—although only 12 volumes are out. (You know a book is getting old when the future in which it is set gets close to the present day—NGE is set in 2015.) Last week, Sadamoto announced that the 13th volume will be the last. The manga is actually older than the anime, but because it was released so slowly, the anime ended first. The manga, which currently runs in Kadokawa Shoten's Young Ace magazine, will wind up with chapter 90.
Weekly Shonen Champion announced last week that it is creating a new Black Jack series to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the original, which was written and drawn by Osamu Tezuka. Since Tezuka isn't here to think up zany new exploits for the outlaw doctor, the magazine is inviting readers to send in their own real-life medical experiences, which will be turned into stories, with cash prizes for those that are use. Even with a 100,000-yen first prize (about $1,300 American) in play, it's hard to believe anyone will be able to top the original, who transplanted every body part imaginable, constructed a companion from a parasitic tumor (teratogenous cystoma, actually), and performed surgery on himself. (Note: The image is from a 2008 issue of Shonen Champion, and the figure on the left is a caricature of Tezuka.)
Yumi Unita's Bunny Drop, a gentle comedy about a single man who adopts his six-year-old half-sister, is drawing to a close in Japan; the tenth and last volume in the series, which includes a spinoff story, will be out in March. Unita is already working on a new series, provisionally titled Itohen, which will debut in the April issue of Feel Young.
And finally, the French site Manga News has word of two new series that will be debuting in upcoming issues of Shonen Jump, the magazine that serializes Naruto, Bleach, Bakuman, and One Piece. The new series are Hg!!, a volleyball manga by Haruichi Furudate, and Pajama no Kanojo, a romantic comedy with a touch of fantasy, by Kôsuke Hamada. Will one of these be the next Bleach or Negima? It's too early to tell, but it certainly looks like there will be room for some new talent in the next few months.