‘act-age’ Embraces Shoujo Appeal With New Cover Designs

'act-age' Embraces Shoujo Appeal With New Cover Designs

It’s been almost a year since Tatsuya Matsuki and Shiro Usazaki’s act-age began serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump. In that time, it’s managed to succeed in avoiding the cancellation that destroyed many of its contemporaries – including our most tragic loss of all, Noah’s Notes. Many have argued this is because the series has always enjoyed readership outside of Weekly Shonen Jump’s traditional base of young boys, crossing over into the female demographic thanks to the many elements it utilizes from traditional shoujo manga.

It seems as though the editorial team behind act-age have finally realized this and are finally ready to market the series as such, as new designs for the first volume revealed. Check them out below:

The new design (left) incorporates the original illustration of protagonist Yonagi Kei for the first volume (right) into a new design that closely resembles the simpler and more uniform designs that many publishers of shoujo manga use for collected volumes of their properties.

This new design was produced for a new campaign organized by Shueisha that aims to market the publisher’s properties to a female audience. Series such as Kaguya-hime: Love is War and ONE OUTS have also been chosen alongside act-age for this task, presumably because market research shows that they contain elements which female readers might enjoy. Many of the manga included in the campaign are available to read for free or are available for purchase at a reduced price.

act-age’s inclusion in the campaign alongside these series is not exactly surprising. As stated, the series incorporates many elements of classic shoujo manga into its story, despite being serialized in a shonen magazine. These include having a female protagonist, having lots of pretty boys as side characters, as well as a Cinderella-esque narrative throughline.

That being said, it wouldn’t exactly be accurate to call act-age a shoujo manga through and through. It might have some elements that are unusual for the type of serializations that Jump usually carries, but its career-focused narrative fits right in with previous Jump manga of the same ilk – most notably Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Bakuman.

Yet expanding the reach of Jump properties outside of their traditional demographic is a smart move. Sales of the Jump magazine have been consistently dropping since the 2000s, which shifts the burden of marketing from the magazine to serializations themselves. These days, it hardly matters if act-age attracts a female audience despite being serialized in a male magazine – if it’s good, it’s good. I suppose that’s fair enough.

act-age is currently available to read in English via VIZ Media’s English-language Shonen Jump.

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