After a recent announcement that the series will end, net users are buzzing that a sudden 2014 change in the comic actually predicted its conclusion.
Comedy manga series Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen Mae Hashutsujo (こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所/”This is the police station in front of Kameari Park in Katsushika Ward”), affectionately shortened to “Kochikame,” by Osamu Akimoto has been continuously serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump since September 1976. To give you some perspective, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda was only one year old when the first chapter was published!
KEI_Fこち亀よ永遠に (@Fukulele_Kei) September 05, 2016
As if having the double distinctions of being the longest-running continuously serialized manga series of all time and the manga series with the highest number of published volumes (199 as of June 2016) wasn’t enough, it also consistently ranks as one of the most popular and best-selling manga titles in history. Not bad for a story about a somewhat bumbling, perpetually middle-aged cop nicknamed “Ryo-san” (whose eyebrows look fabulous on Hello Kitty) at a neighborhood police station in downtown Tokyo, if we do say so ourselves.
However, all good things must come to an end, and it was announced that Kochikame would (almost unbelievably) be ending in the September 17th issue of Shonen Jump (No. 42) in commemoration of its 40th anniversary. The series’ 200th collected volume will also be released on the same day.
▼ Congratulations on 40 years of published material, Kochikame!
▼ A look at the artwork evolution of some of the series’ main characters over the decades
Since the announcement that the series would be ending, Japanese net users have been speculating that a sudden change in the way that publisher Shueisha collected and published Kochikame‘s individual manga chapters back in 2014 possibly hinted at its impending conclusion. While casual readers of Shonen Jump would not have known of the change, purchasers of the collected volumes had suspected that something was looming in the horizon ever since.
Case in point, for Kochikame‘s collected manga volumes 1-190, each volume contained either nine or ten chapters. However, beginning with volume 191 in August 2014 and continuing through 193, that number substantially increased to 14 chapters per volume. Longtime fans were puzzled at the change, which also included a price increase from 400 yen (US$3.90) to 500 yen per volume. Furthermore, additional confusion ensued when volume 194 was revealed to contain 15 chapters, volume 195 to contain 16, and volumes 196-199 to contain 17, but with no additional price hike. What was going on with the increasingly thick volumes?
By all accounts, it seems that net users’ speculations are correct in assuming that Shueisha was simply following Akimoto’s wishes for the series to end during its 40th anniversary and after 200 collected volumes, which meant that the final ten collected volumes had to be increased in size in order to accommodate the remaining chapters and still conclude at exactly 200 volumes. Did any of our astute readers also pick up on that trend?
On a final note, the Kindle versions of Kochikame volumes 1, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120 are free to download through Amazon Japan until September 23 (original Japanese only). Now is a better time than ever to sample a story which has already carved out its place in manga history.