The series ran in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1988 to 1990 as Jungle King Tar-chan, and then from 1990 to 1995 as New Jungle King Tar-chan. It first appeared as a short prototype story in the 1986 Autumn Special as Tar-san (ターサン).
At first, the series was a simple gag manga parodying Tarzan with single chapter adventures. At this time most chapters were only 7 pages in length and were usually about Tar-chan protecting the peace of the jungle, Jane, and his animal friends, often with comedic results. After Tar-chan began, Super Jump became a monthly publication, and Tokuhiro ended Ken-chan and Chako-chan in 1990.
Two years into serialization, the stories began to run 13-15 pages, New was added to the title, and the simple episodic gag premise were switched to a fighting manga premise. Although long battles and emotional development began to unfold, after the end of these battles, the series would return to its gag style, switching back to the fighting manga style with each new battle.
Although the story is called Jungle King Tar-chan, Tar-chan and his friends actually live on a savanna, and a jungle setting is never actually used.