Throughout 2020 and 2021, Shonen Jump has had a number of new titles grace its pages. While not all of them are good (some have even been canceled already), there are more than a few interesting series running. Here, I want to highlight seven of the newer series that are worth starting while they’re still in their infancy. Whether or not any of these series end up being the next One Piece, I think they’re all worth taking a look at before they get too long. To that end, all the series I’ll be referencing are under 50 chapters.
1. Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade – Currently at 6 Chapters
The end of Haikyuu marked the first time in Jump’s history where there wasn’t a sports manga actively serialized. Luckily, Nine Dragons’ Ball Parade arrived to fill the gap and I think it’s got the potential to go the distance. The story features Tamao Azukida, a high school freshman seeking to join a prestigious baseball team. Although he isn’t exceptionally skilled, he uses his smarts to concoct strategies in order to give his team the advantage in games as their catcher. After getting rejected from his dream school, he and pitching prodigy Tao Ryudo resolve to create their own great baseball team. This series doesn’t have much in terms of content so far, and the concept of an underdog team going for the crown definitely isn’t a new idea in the genre. However, with its good artstyle and likable cast, I think this series already has what it needs to become popular down the line.
2. Sakamoto Days – Currently at 16 Chapters
What happens when the world’s greatest hitman decides to start a family? Sakamoto Days, that’s what. Sakamoto Days is what I like to think Way of the Househusband would be if it took a more shonen approach to its storytelling. Several of the gags in the series come from Sakamoto and crew doing everyday tasks with their frightening assassin skills, but there’s also an underlying narrative that puts our heroes in serious situations to give readers plenty of good fight scenes. The last arc especially really got me invested in the story and continued to shape some characters while also providing more backstory for others. At only 16 chapters, now is a great time to jump on the series as the action is sure to ramp up soon.
3. Kaiju No. 8 – Currently at 29 Chapters
In a world where giant monsters known as kaiju frequently show up and wreak havoc, there is a defense force specially trained in order to deal with them. Once the threat has been neutralized, a special team of cleaners comes in to take care of the mess. That’s where we find protagonist Kafka Hibino, a 32-year old complacent in life after failing the defense force exam in his youth. After meeting 18-year old Reno Ichikawa and learning that the defense force upped the new recruit age limit to 33, Kafka resolves to try one last time to make his dream a reality. To complicate matters, however, a parasitic kaiju invades Kafka’s body, transforming him into a monster himself. I’ll go ahead and say that Kaiju No. 8 is one of my favorite series running right now. For one, the story takes the typical shonen formula and makes it more relatable to older audiences. Maybe it’s because I’m in my late 20’s myself, but Kafka’s plight of realizing he’s growing older without accomplishing any of his goals hit home in more ways than one. On top of that, our protagonists are all likable and have motivations that evoke sympathy. The writing is both serious and fun when it needs to be, and the art is great especially during action sequences. There’s a particular colored spread in chapter 2 that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since I first saw it. But I’ll quit gushing and end with this: Kaiju No. 8 is worth your time.
4. High School Family: Kokosei Kazuko – Currently at 31 Chapters
Kotaro Ietani’s high school life is destroyed before it even begins as he learns his entire family (including their pet cat) has also enrolled in the same school. From its ridiculous premise, you can probably surmise that High School Family: Kokosei Kazuko is a gag manga through and through. In episodic fashion, each chapter deals with a new scenario taking place in the high school, from father Ichiro attempting to join a sports club to 8-year old Haruka getting a part-time job in order to hang out with her classmates. The art isn’t much to speak of, and the humor comes from the absurd scenarios in each chapter. Admittedly, this series won’t be for everyone. At only 31 chapters it’s not much of a commitment to get into, and I definitely recommend giving it a shot if you’re a fan of gag manga. If you end up enjoying the comedic style you have plenty of laughs to look forward to.
5. Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin – Currently at 35 Chapters
From the creator of Beelzebub comes a story with an even wackier premise than his previous work. Boyle Samejima is a maverick cop who, after receiving a demotion, is reassigned to Ogasawara Island. There, he discovers that there’s a war going on between humans and merfolk, with a little girl possessing strange powers at the center of it all. Oh, and Samejima’s new partner is a dolphin-man named Orpheus F. Lipper. This series is definitely weird, and much like its predecessor Beelzebub often prioritizes gags over serious storytelling in the early chapters. However, Samejima and Orpheus have great chemistry and Samejima himself is a protagonist who can carry action and comedy well. With its 35th chapter, we are currently in the thick of the series’ first serious arc, and so far it’s had a lot of action and even more intrigue. If you’re able to stick with the series and find yourself enjoying its less serious moments, you might find yourself wrapped up in the mystery of its story as well.
6. Spy x Family – Currently at 43 Chapters
Another one of my favorite series currently running, Spy x Family is a delightfully charming story about family and secrecy. World-renown spy Twilight has a mission to infiltrate the government by getting close to one of their top officials. In order to do this, he is tasked with creating a family in order to get his child enrolled at the same school as the official’s and get into the inner circle that way. Using the undercover identity Lloyd Forger, Twilight adopts young Anya and is able to convince the clumsy-but-kind Yor to pose as his wife for their mutual benefit. However, Lloyd isn’t the only one in the family harboring a secret: Anya is a telepath who can read minds, and Yor is an incredibly deadly assassin. With each character ignorant to the others’ secret (except Anya, whose telepathy immediately tips her off), the three try to be the best family they can while maintaining an image of normalcy. Spy x Family succeeds with amazing characters, an adorable artstyle, and a number of interwoven narratives that all feel compelling and interesting. Our three main characters are all extremely likable, and each new side character introduces has their own secret that adds to the humor of the story. A good chunk of the humor comes from Anya, who is both a naive child as well as the one able to see every other character’s hidden motive. Because of this, she’s often trying to assist her father’s “mission of peace” while also helping her mother be the good wife. Her reactions to seeing characters’ inner thoughts are often the punchlines of jokes, and seeing her try to interpret things that she learns is very fun. 43 chapters in, we’ve had only a few major arcs but each one has strengthened the bond of the family while also adding a new member (who, of course, also has a secret). The story is equal parts funny and gripping, and I’m fully invested in every character’s personal narratives and motivations. I love everything about this series, and I can’t recommend it enough. Pick this one up, you’ll be happy that you did.
7. Mashle: Magic and Muscles – Currently at 55 Chapters
Okay, I know I said they’d all be under 50 chapters but just hear me out. Mashle: Magic and Muscles is one of the funniest series on Jump’s pages right now and you really should give it a chance. In a world where magical ability equals status, how does a young man with no magic rise up against this society? With his muscles, of course. Because someone (I assume) dared to say “what happens when Harry Potter meets One-Punch Man?” we have Mashle. Mash Burnedead enrolls in the prestigious Easton Magic Academy in order to try and earn his way to the top and secure a position in the Bureau of Magic’s elite inner circle as a Divine Visionary. There, he wishes to change society so that non-magic people such as himself can live in peace. As I said before, Mashle is a series with constant laughs; in very Saitama fashion, Mash uses his overwhelming physical strength to catch his opponents off guard, usually in a comedic way. Also similar to Saitama, Mash often displays very deadpan expressions that are purposefully drawn simply and without much detail to express humor. Aside from the humor, the story is rather compelling and action scenes are spectacular with Mash consistently destroying elaborate magical constructs with nothing but his fists. While the side cast is a mixed bag of interesting and boring, most of the characters act as Mash’s straight man, or Mash acts as the straight man for the more colorful characters. As of chapter 55 Mash and the gang are in the midst of a tournament arc to become Divine Visionaries, so if you’re interested it’s definitely the perfect time to get involved with the series. You’ll know within a few chapters if this series is for you.