©Paolo fromTOKYO 2019


Have you ever wondered how your favorite mangaka started in the industry? All artists went through a strict selection process before they got serialized. A serialization is when a title is published regularly in a magazine on a weekly or monthly basis. There are many ways a mangaka can debut in a magazine and get serialized. But among the most popular are these two approaches:

Pitching the Manga

©BBC News 2015


One way is to directly pitch a story to an editor of a manga publisher. It’s a straightforward process. An artist shows a one-shot, and the editor reviews it. If the work has potential in a magazine, it can get serialized. Hopefuls would target the industry’s Big 4:

  • Kadokawa Shoten
  • Kodansha
  • Shogakukan
  • Shueisha

Not every work will get accepted, especially first-time submissions. Hajime Isayama, for instance, was rejected several times because publishers thought that his drawings were poor. 

When he finally approached Kodansha, an editor got interested in his work. And the rest is history.

Manga Contests

©Shonen Jump 2021


Another way is to enter manga contests. Editors may suggest joining a pitched manga to a contest. Japanese publishers, particularly Kodansha and Shueisha hold such competitions wherein artists submit one-shots.

Shueisha, the publisher that owns Weekly Shonen Jump, holds two of the most popular competitions semi-annually: the Tezuka Award (named after the Godfather of Manga, Osamu Tezuka) and Akatsuka Award (named after Fujio Akatsuka, a successful gag manga artist). The former is given to the winners of the story manga category, while the latter is awarded to the winners of the comedy manga category.

Money prizes are awarded to the top winners. Entrants who place first and second place get the chance to be published in a magazine. The first placer is usually awarded a contract.

All one-shots are gathered and judged by a selection committee during the selection process, which consists of Shonen Jump’s prominent authors. Members of the panel include:

  • Hiroyuki Asada (author of Tegami Bachi)
  • Takehiko Inoue (author of Slam Dunk and Vagabond)
  • Masashi Kishimoto (author of Naruto)
  • Masanori Morita (author of Rokudenashi Blues)
  • Eiichiro Oda (author of One Piece)
  • Kazuki Takahashi (the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!)
  • Akira Toriyama (the author of Dragon Ball)
  • Tezuka Productions (a Japanese animation studio)

If the judges are not satisfied with the submissions, no winner may be declared for the particular contest. Even for other manga competitions, this selection process is similar.

The Serialization

Serialization is just the beginning of a more significant challenge for a mangaka. That’s because the survival of a series relies entirely on popularity, which is gauged by its ranking.

Let’s take Weekly Shonen Jump as an example. When a reader purchases an issue of the magazine, there is a voting card attached with instructions on where to send it. Readers vote for their favorite manga, and that is the source of the rankings.

©Nachttalk 2016


A mangaka’s work is always in competition with the other series running in a magazine. The artists strive to keep their stories interesting to keep readers hooked. When the popularity of a series declines, there is a good chance that it will get canceled, leading to rushed endings.

Sources: Honey’s Anime, Wikipedia (12), Jamie Lynn Lano via How to BAM, Tankobonbon Podcast