As with most of my license requests, these are more 'far flung fantasy' than anything else. That said, I have been growing nostalgic lately for old-school Jump shonen, pre-Naruto. The series of that period aren't necessarily lighter or goofier (in fact, there's far more bloodshed in these than there is in today's Jump), but they have a rawer, less refined quality that I quite enjoy.
For the record, I'm excluding 80s Jump series ALREADY out in North America, even partially. The series are still good - you should track them down. That's Dr. Slump, Fist of the North Star, Dragon Ball, City Hunter, Saint Seiya (aka Knights of the Zodiac), JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Bastard!!, and Video Girl Ai. And I'm not talking KOR as I already did a post on that one.
What does that leave? Well, how about High School! Kimengumi? It pretty much is everything one could want in a bestselling series for North America. It has old-fashioned, goofy shonen art that looks sketchy. It's multiple volumes, with the three series stretching to 27 volumes at Shueisha and 5 for a revival at Square Enix. It's a manga filled with obscure Japanese puns about virtually everything. And it's a shonen romantic comedy. As you can see, all these things are HOT BEST SELLERS in the west, and would be unbeatable here. :) Seriously, though, it looks fun, cute, and goofy - a great combination for me.
No, huh? Want more action? And some babes who are actually somewhat above the age of middle schoolers? Well, I said I wouldn't talk City Hunter, but what about Cat's Eye? This 18-volume series about a group of 3 sisters who run a cafe but moonlight as thieves, stealing famous paintings in the hope of tracking down their collector father. It also stars a headstrong young detective who is determined to catch those evil thieves!... having no idea he drinks in their cafe every day. Again, old art, but in my opinion that actually is the only thing stopping this from being a good license. Well, that and the fact that Hojo was one of the Gutsoon/Raijin mangaka, and rumor has it they were pissed off at how that ended up and want to avoid the West. Regardless of that, Cat's Eye is great fun.
Also, as long as Viz was forced to slog through Whistle!, they may as well go back and publish the really GOOD soccer manga from the 1980s (and far more famous, even over here), Captain Tsubasa. The first series (it's had endless sequels) ran in Jump for 7 years and 37 volumes, and runs from Tsubasa's start in elementary school through his national championships, ending with him joining Brazil. Perhaps a sponsorship deal can be worked out with a soccer league to promote it here, similar to how the NFL promoted Eyeshield 21 in Japan.
For those who loved Saint Seiya and Bt'X, there's Fuma no Kojiro. It's... a ninja manga! Old-school ninja manga, the sort that Naruto's author grew up on. And best of all, it's only 10 volumes long! Something reasonable! I feel I should note, for those who have read Even a Money Can Draw Manga, that this is in fact just a ninja manga. There are no psychics in it. However, he did move from ninjas to Spirit Warriors for his future series, as fans well know.
Lastly, and possibly least likely, is Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin. This is a badass, awesome 18-volume series about... well, dogs. But this is not Chi's Sweet Home by any means. These are wild dogs, who our hero (an Akita puppy) joins in order to band together and take down an insane giant bear. We see Great Danes, German Shepherds, Weimaraners, French Spaniels... and a couple of humans as well, but this is about DOGS FIGHTING A BEAR. It's wildly popular in Northern Europe, as you might expect, and has had some anime released in the West, though heavily, heavily edited. I can only imagine the blogger love that would pour forth if this were licensed. Especially from me.
I've only covered from 1980-1984, too. Anyone have any favorites I missed?