Even Shonen Jump Fans Missed One Long-Running Manga Easter Egg


Playfully demonstrating how much of a mark it has left on the manga industry, Weekly Shonen Jump magazine dropped self-referential Easter eggs into several of its world-famous titles for a cheeky celebration of its fiftieth anniversary.

“Easter eggs” were first developed by video game programmers who wanted a sly way to slip hidden messages into their games to provide extra knowledge to users savvy enough to find and recognize them. Since then, they have evolved into an excellent and useful means for creators to provide secret messages or winks to their audience. One manga series notorious for making use of Easter eggs is Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece. Over the course of its 25-year run, Oda has dropped a plethora of Easter eggs that not only work to expand the story on occasion but also gave praise to other creators, manga, and characters he likes. Easter eggs normally stay within the context of the main content. Oda’s One Piece Easter eggs, for instance, will only reference the title itself, and the manga/comic universe in general and tend to stay connected with information that fans will find relevant to manga.

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For the celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2018, Weekly Shonen Jump took the Easter egg idea to a whole new level with the announcement that it would integrate its iconic pirate logo into every Japanese language manga and selected English translations, scheduled to be published in its July 18, 2018 issue. The issue coincided with the publication of his first issue in 1968. The campaign, which included some of the most popular titles of the last half-decade such as One Piece, Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, and Jiujutsu Kaisen, invited fans to try their hand at locating the logo. To help them out, the magazine provided a guide on the various iteration of the logo that artists would use in their individual manga stories.

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Weekly Shonen Jump not only tweaked the Easter egg idea by making it a purely fan-focused exercise but also in how it broke the fourth wall by making itself, a real-life manga publishing enterprise, a canonical part of multiple manga universes. In a way, this can be seen as Weekly Shonen Jump‘s self-congratulatory pat on its own back. Indeed, as one of the leading gateways for fans to access manga, the magazine, along with its publisher Shueisha and its American partner Viz Media have been instrumental in the development of manga both in Japan and globally. It’s reasonable to say that without Weekly Shonen Jump, manga would not be as popular as it is today, and the titles that are published are unlikely to have been as successful as they are.

The logo campaign was not the end of Weekly Shonen Jump in-comic promotion. Indeed, In Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 181, aspiring manga artist Charles Bernard visits the Weekly Shonen Jump offices in the Shueisha building before he’s empowered by Kenjaku with sorcerer abilities and forced to participate in the Culling Game. It’s a great Easter egg that continues the sly wink to the fans that began with the pirate logo. Given the impact that Weekly Shonen Jump has had on the manga industry and comics publishing as a whole, it only makes sense that it would have a significant presence within the worlds of its most popular series.

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