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The Ongoing Challenges of JoJo’s Strange Localization History for American Fans

U.S. Issues: JoJo’s Weird Localization Record Fans Today

Viz was not able to locate JoJo manga initially and many fans still feel its effects.

Reading manga has never been simpler. Due to the increased popularity of manga, localized digital distribution allows for more titles to be released in English. In fact, some major titles are published in English within hours after the chapters have arrived in Japan. For the cult-favorite JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, however, the American release has been delayed for years. Japanese fans get excited about part 9 ( The JOJOLands), but American viewers only just got to the end of part 6 ( Stone Ocean). JoJo has an utterly bizarre localization history. This is partially responsible for the strange situation.

JoJo’s Localizations – A Strange History

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga, part one of which was Phantom Blood, first appeared in Japan in 1987. Viz Media acquired the rights and intended to bring the manga to America in the late 1990s under the localized name, The Strange Adventures of JoJo. Although this didn’t happen, Viz Media kept exploring the idea to bring JoJoto to America.

Viz began to consider publishing the series in comic book format, which Viz had used previously for Dragon Ball. Viz had to drop the idea due to a lack of sales for this format. Americans would get their first taste JoJomanga in 2005 when Viz began to serialize Stardust Crusaders 2005. However, Viz discontinued the brand’s run in 2010 and the brand went out of business again. Viz said in interviews, that even though they wanted to localize more episodes of the series it was difficult due to American copyright legislation. Viz wouldn’t allow the series back into American serialization for the remainder of its story until 2014. Then Viz started serializing Phantom Blood. Viz has continued serialization. However, American manga releases are many years behind those of their Japanese counterparts.

American Fan Issues

JoJo still has a huge fanbase. However, its popularity isn’t as high as that of its peers partly because of the localization decisions. American releases delay hype and non-Japanese anime fans are spoilt via social media about future plot points. This makes it hard for fans not to lose interest, and for the series not to generate excitement. Because they know what is coming, this makes it difficult to maintain suspense. A lack of hype results in lower localized volumes and less promotion.

This gap, combined with the manga’s confusing history of localization makes it more difficult for new viewers to break into the series. It can be difficult to identify which chapter you should start from or whether it is available in a localized format. This is doubly true for fans who wish to buy the physical book, which is often even more expensive than digital. This isn’t a huge problem but it can still be a deterrent to those who are interested in the series.

It is easy for Viz viewers to sympathize. While it is tempting to skip the current series or rush through the backlog, doing so could be detrimental to the brand. Skipping ahead would make it harder to find the series and leave readers feeling disconnected. As many readers can’t afford to buy multiple volumes in one go, the rush production will harm sales.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s Localization History shows the power and importance of being proactive in localizing. Who knows what series may become the next big thing? Although Viz can’t blame itself for its difficulties with copyright it’s clear that Viz and other localizers have learned a lot in the past years. Publishers are also trying to speed up the delivery of manga to America due to greater demand. This will allow them to grow more mainstream fandoms.

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