Original Japanese cover
Kodansha Comics has licensed the classic manga Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow’s Joe), which has sold 20 million copies and had a major impact on Japanese culture but has never been officially translated in English until now.  Kodansha will publish the manga under the title Ashita no Joe: Fighting for Tomorrow.  The series, by Asao Takamori and Tetsuya Chiba, was originally published as 20 volumes in Japan.  Kodansha will release it as eight oversized hardcover volumes, beginning in December 2024, with an MSRP of $59.95.  It will also be available in digital form.

Ashita no Joe: Fighting for Tomorrow centers on Joe Yabuki, a young man with few prospects but a talent for fighting who lives in the Tokyo slums.  A washed-up former boxer offers to train him, but Joe wants nothing to do with it.  Later, after he is arrested and winds up in prison, he meets a boxing prodigy, Rikiishi, and the two develop a rivalry that continues after they are released and become professional boxers.  The series, which originally ran from 1968 to 1973,  touched a chord with working-class people and college students, who likened Joe’s struggles to their own.  When a major character died, a theater group held a funeral that drew 700 fans, and when members of the Japanese Red Army hijacked an airplane in 1970, they shouted “We are tomorrow’s Joe.”

The manga has been adapted into multiple different media, including two anime films that were released in English and two anime series that have not.

“Kodansha believes that the manga market is maturing, as well as looking for past manga classics that have never been translated into English,” said Kodansha Publisher Toshihiro Tsuchiya in a statement accompanying the announcement.  “This work is a true masterpiece that Japan is proud of.  This year marks the 50th anniversary since its completion in 1973.Because of this, we think that now is the best time to bring Ashita no Joe: Fighting for Tomorrow to English-reading manga fans worldwide.  We consider it an honor and a labor of love to introduce such an important manga masterpiece to a new generation of fans.  And we hope that this new edition will be as much of an inspiration as it was when it originally debuted in Japan.”