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Where Andy Nakatani Thinks Weekly Shonen Jump Is Heading

Posted on the 21 October 2014 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

Where Andy Nakatani Thinks Weekly Shonen Jump Is Heading

For a lot of reasons, I was only able to speak to most of the people I talked to at NYCC for a short period. Here’s another somewhat brief one that also happened unexpectedly: my interview with Editor-in-Chief of the English, or US version, of Weekly Shonen Jump, Andy Nakatani.

Where Andy Nakatani Thinks Weekly Shonen Jump Is Heading

Andy didn’t exactly know what he wanted to do back as an undergrad in college, but thanks to some help, he got the opportunity to work at Viz, and he’s been there ever since. He’s since gone on to become the guy overseeing everything going on in WSJ, which had an interesting start: it started out in print, but when that phase ended it then went digital. At first it was two weeks behind Japanese WSJ, but then last year in January it ended its “Alpha” phase and then went simultaneous. They’re still doing it, and so far, it’s been good. I spoke with Andy on Day 0 (Thursday) at NYCC about that, along with some other stuff.

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Organization ASG: Did you ever expect that you would be working as the Editor In Chief of English Shonen Jump?

Andy Nakatani: I never expected that I would be doing that, so, no *laughs*

OASG: What did you expect you’d be doing, or did you have any idea of what you wanted to do when you was growing up?

Andy: I really had no idea. I was just going through everything, from like sciences, humanities, like when I was an undergrad I had so many things that I think I wanted to major in. Every minute it would change.

OASG: How did you get the opportunity to work at Viz?

Andy: Actually, when I was in college one of my TA’s was an instructor for Japanese and later I ran into him. He was actually doing some translation for Viz, and he just kind of hooked me up and I got hired by Viz.

OASG: Were you interested in manga at the time or did you just discover it then?

Andy: I grew up reading manga. I grew up here in the United States  but I would read Doraemon, Sazae-San, stuff like that.

OASG: So ok, you’ve been at Viz for a while right? How long?

Andy: 13, 14 years, something like that.

OASG: Out of all the things that has happened at Viz, what’s been the biggest surprises for you?

Andy: I think in terms of production, we totally like used to be analog production, we used to make the manga by taking film and projecting that onto Photostat paper, and that’s what we would use to create our versions of the manga; now it’s all digital. That was like a major change for us. That was about…6, 7 years ago or so?

Maybe also doing digital, cause Shonen Jump is digital now. I used to be a completely totally like book-only person, but when we started doing digital for Jump I started messing around with the iPad and stuff and it was like, “Wow, this is really cool too!” So both have their benefits I think.

OASG: Out of all the things that have happened with English Shonen Jump, and especially when you dropped the Alpha phase, and now it’s all simultaneous, what’s been the biggest surprise for that?

Andy: That in itself was a big surprise for me because who would’ve thought that we’d be doing simultaneous same day release as Japan? It’s a pretty crazy production *laughs* like if you had asked me 4, 5 years ago if we would be doing something like this I would say no way! It’d be so difficult to do! But somehow we’re doing it.

OASG: What were your expectations with Weekly Shonen Jump after it ended the Alpha phase?

Andy: I expected that we were gonna work really hard to do this simultaneous thing! But um, I think I’ve mentioned this before at a previous panel or another interview that while we were in the Alpha phase we were two weeks behind Japan, but about six months before we actually went simul, we were working at a simultaneous pace just to prove to Japan that we could do it and with a high level of quality. So for six months before we actually went simul, we were doing it in simul production pace, we just weren’t releasing those chapters.

OASG: And how has that been like now, since you’ve been doing it a year and…I guess 6, 9 months now?

Andy: Yeah almost two years! I can’t believe we’ve been doing it for so long! I look at all those covers we’ve been doing week after week and it’s pretty amazing.

OASG: What would you say to those that say you don’t have enough Jump manga compared to the Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump, and is Jump Start a way to ease that process and say “Oh, we are bringing more manga over here.”

Andy: You know I understand where they’re coming from because they want all they can get, and if I were a fan I’d want everything that was in Jump as well. Jump Start’s kind of an experiment so we’re just releasing the first three chapters of most of the new series that come out in Japan. We’re gonna kinda see how it goes and just take it from there.

OASG: When did you guys decide to start the Jump Start idea?

Andy: I think it was a few months ago. It just came up in discussions and I can’t even remember if we brought it up or Japan brought it up but it was pretty mutual. We have quite a bit of communication with Japan Shonen Jump, so we’re actually meeting like pretty much every week via Skype and we hash everything out there. And really the simultaneous thing couldn’t happen unless we were communicating with them. If we weren’t as in-sync with them as we are, it’d be pretty impossible.

Where Andy Nakatani Thinks Weekly Shonen Jump Is Heading

OASG: How weird is it gonna be when Naruto starts to end, and Bleach is supposed to end, what do you think the future of WSJ’s gonna be then?

Andy: Well, you know there’s new series coming out all the time so I do not doubt that Shonen Jump’s gonna be a really fun read into the future.

…But I do agree, it’s gonna be kinda weird! I do the page plans every week so I think it’s gonna end 5 weeks from now when the serialization of Naruto ends? It will be weird not to put Naruto in the page plan.

OASG: How do you think this is gonna affect English SJ?

Andy: Um….it will be sorely missed. *laughs*

OASG: How did the Shonen Jump Manga Competition do for you guys and what was the most rewarding part of the contest?

Andy: Looking at all the different entries and you could really tell that the people who are submitting entries put their heart into their work. It was also really cool because I went to Japan and Heishi-san, the Editor in Chief of WSJ in Japan, as well as my counterparts from Taiwan and China, we all got together and discussed the entries and everything. So it was interesting to see all the different Editor-in-Chiefs from each of the different countries and where they were coming from.

OASG: Is there any plans to do a future manga competition?

Andy: I think there’s been some vague talks but nothing specific in the near, near future.

OASG: How would you say the manga industry has changed since you started in the industry?

Andy: I kind of mentioned this before, but part of it is the production, going from analog to digital, and now, not just production, but kind of in product right? Reading manga digitally, huge change I think. Also the closer communications and ties with Shonen Jump in Japan. That’s definitely pretty major.

OASG: There’s been communication before correct?

Andy:  Of course. But it’s also been an aspect of increasing technological developments, like Skype, that have made things happen so much quicker.

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