Proper Japanese Title: ビッグコミックスピリッツ (Biggu Komikku Supirittsu)
Big Comic Spirits began in 1980 as part of the emerging seinen manga market that also launched Weekly Young Jump and Young Magazine. However, instead of using the new "Young" branding in its title, it used Shogakukan's decades-old "Big Comic" branding. As part of Big Comic's four main magazines (Big Comic, Big Comic Original, Big Comic Superior and Big Comic Spirits), Spirits is a significant outlier from the others. Aimed at a younger audience than the others, it also has limited author crossover.
At the time of its beginning, Spirits was not as much the outlier in the Big Comic brand as an even younger Big Comic magazine started the year before (Shonen Big Comic) but when it was decided in 1987 that the smaller audience following the book were young adults, it was rebranded as Young Sunday (later becoming Weekly Young Sunday) which made that magazine the direct comparison magazine to Young Jump and Young Magazine for decades. When Weekly Young Sunday was cancelled in 2008, much of the material was merged into Big Comic Spirits which has somewhat conflated their histories and authors. One of the longest serializations in Spirits history for example (Mogura no Uta) was a transfer from the cancelled Young Sunday.
Spirits was originally published monthly (1980-1981), then twice a month (1981-1986) and finally started its current weekly publication rate in early 1986. Very early covers from the brief monthly era had a sci-fi theme but from 1981-2001 the covers featured anthropomorphized vegetables and fruits. This made it distinct from other seinen manga magazines and was more in line with the Big Comic magazines which used non-manga covers from a dedicated cover artist instead of actually featuring the manga on the cover. There were a few exceptions since the 80's where the cover actually was a serialized manga or a human model but in 2001 these classic covers were phased out completely to adopt the more common gravure trend of the other seinen weeklies. Around the time of Young Sunday's end, Spirits attempted to more consistently feature the serialized manga on the cover but this didn't last.
Many of its early prominent authors came from Weekly Shonen Sunday (Umezu, Rumiko, Rokuda, Hosono, Ikegami) but most of its authors including those who were published as rookies (like Takashi Iwashige and Naoki Urasawa) are associated with many other magazines and publishers as well. In recent decades, some of its prominent creators also work(ed) in shojo/josei manga. Spirits has also had a number of spin-off magazines with the published authors crossing over between them. Major spin-offs include Spirits Zōkan Ikki (later becoming independent as Ikki), Hibana and Monthly! Spirits. Hibana and Monthly! as well as the first thirteen issues of Ikki are officially counted in the ongoing numbering of Spirits itself.
Some of its most popular serializations include: