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Tag: manga (Page 1 of 4)

Pour One Out For JManga

jmanga_shutdownI’m pouring one out for JManga. Today, May 30, 2013 is the last day of the service before its complete shutdown. Can’t really say why exactly it failed. I’ve read elsewhere that even its most popular titles only sold in the hundreds of copies. And I’ve read speculation that the marketing was not as good as it could be, or that there were just too many pirate manga sites to complete with.

In any case, I was a paying customer who will miss them. Thank you JManga.

eManga Revamp Brings Mature Manga to the Tablet

In the early days of eBooks, I marveled at the abundance of yaoi manga titles on the Amazon Kindle. And I wondered when more mainstream manga would make its appearance there and on other tablets. I did not have very long to wait before the collapse of large bookstore chains like Borders, coupled with the popularity of the iPad, pushed most popular manga and comics to digital formats.

At the same time, mature genres like yaoi were coming under fire. Amazon banned a number of titles from the Kindle store. And, of course, hentai was not to find a home in any of the major digital storefronts. Anyone wanting to read more adult themed manga, not necessarily anything sexually explicit mind you, had to resort to scanlations. Not the best choice if one actually wanted to support and reward the manga-ka for their work.

eManga on iPad

eManga PDF manga looks pretty good on my iPad!

This began to change with the arrival of web sites like eManga, and JManga, where many manga not likely to ever see print releases in the United States, could be purchased and read online. JManga carries a wide variety of titles including some yuri and yaoi, but no hentai. eManga, however, is very yaoi heavy with a sprinkling of other genres including hentai and some photobooks.

I’ve read many manga on JManga over the last year, but never really paid much attention to eManga until I recently received news of their site revamp in my email. Of particular interest was the news that many of their titles, previously only readable online or in print, would be available for download in a variety of formats. This included hentai titles from the recently launched Project-H. While I’m not a big hentai fan, I had followed the Project-H story with some interest because it, like the Digital Manga Guild program, appears to be an effort to license and publish manga that has been popular as illegally distributed scanlations. And in the process, harnessing the talents of many of those responsible for the scanlations in the first place.

So I updated my eManga account, found some interesting stories, and then started looking for the reader app. I looked and looked… Then I reread the email, and read the site more carefully. There is no app! GASP! I was a bit frustrated, then took a deep breath and started thinking about why eManga does not have a reader app for Android or iPhone.

*facepalm* Of course! Apple and Google are not likely to approve reader apps for hentai, or yaoi any more than they would for straight up live action pornography. That’s why readers have to download book files from the eManga site directly after making their purchases.

Currently, the downloadable formats include, EPUB, PDF, PRC, MOBI, and CBZ. And note that they have EPUB optimized for Apple and Kobo tablets as well. These are not encumbered by DRM or encryption of any kind, but the buyer’s ID is encoded into the file in some manner to discourage piracy. I’m a big fan of EPUB and it’s my publishing format of choice, so I chose this for my first download. But that turned out to not be the best choice for the Kindle readers on my Nexus 7 and iPad.

I like using the Kindle readers because of the cross platform support and the option to upload books to your document library so that they are available on all of your Kindle devices. But I couldn’t upload EPUB to the library without first converting it to MOBI using Calibre. The resulting eBook had pages that were about 75% the size of my reader screen. Not a good thing for graphic novel reading especially on the smaller Nexus tablet.

Fortunately, downloading another format was only an additional $1. So I chose the PDF option, which is also the format that eManga says gives the greatest flexibility across readers. This was much better, looking great on my Mac, iPad, and Nexus 7. I’d recommend PDF format to anyone who, like me, reads their graphic novels and manga on multiple devices. The eManga online reader also works in Safari on the iPad and Chrome on the Nexus 7, but it wasn’t what I’d call a great reading experience. You’ll want to stick with downloads for your tablets because the web site is not optimized for mobile devices.

Manga on eManga are generally more expensive than JManga, or Viz, but I expect that this is the mature content premium at work. And for DRM free titles that you can legitimately own and read on your tablet forever, it’s worth a few dollars more. So if your preferred manga fare is on the spicy side and you rock the tablet, give eManga a look.

Kore Wa JManga Android App Desu Ka?

Is this the JManga Android app? I was greeted with the news of the release of the JManga Android app in the morning email and eagerly clicked through. And, now armed with the Android powered Nexus 7, I was looking forward to taking the new app for a test drive. Instead, I encountered a page full of one star ratings and negative reviews. I was disappointed and was not planning to install the app at all given the many reviews that said that the app flat out did not work. Still, I had to see for myself. So I installed the free app.



The best thing I can say about the JManga Android app v1.0.6 is that it is a quick download. Do not bother installing this application. Right now, when the app loads you’re taken to a starting screen where you may choose either JManga or JManga7. In my testing, tapping the JManga button opened the Chrome browser on my Nexus and then took me to a blank page which from the URL appeared to be intended to be a mobile version of their web site. Tapping the JManga7 button just took me to the full JManga7 site. This is both a broken app and a broken design. If the intent of JManga is to merely launch a mobile site, then why bother with an app at all? In light of comic and manga reading apps already available from Viz, Comixology, Dark Horse, and others, this is a shameful effort. I can only hope that the upcoming iOS app does not share the same design. This is not the app that JManga readers have been looking for, move along.

Update 2012-10-17: Since this initial release, the app has been updated to v1.0.8 and apparently a lot of issues on the server side have been worked out so that I could finally use to app to read manga.

Cutting to the chase, the reading experience so far is just average. If you like the manga you are reading, for the most part you will not notice the shortcomings of this reader all that much. Those shortcomings include occasional page turn failures wherein the page bounces back when swiped or doesn’t turn at all when tapped.

I think there are definitely still issues with gesture sensitivity as it took on average 2 or 3 taps to get the page header and footer to display. And as for pinch and zoom, forget it. There is not currently a way to freely zoom in on text and of course there is no panel to panel mode.

On the plus side, continuous reading from chapter to chapter does seem to work well. Image quality of pages is very good, and they load quickly.

The app still needs a lot of work, most of all, it needs bookmarks! On the main site, lack of bookmarking capability continues to be a sore spot as well. But other than that, the app is usable now and given the progress I’ve seen from JManga over the last year, I think there is good reason to believe that their Android app will improve as well.

Does JManga Comic-Con iPad Give-Away Herald App Announcement?


JManga iPad Give-Away: Is App Far Behind?

A couple of days ago I received a curious bit of news in my JManga newsletter email. JManga announced that a lucky person attending their panel at this week’s San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) would receive a free iPad. Anyone using the site knows that currently  manga cannot be read there on an iPad because the JManga online reader is Flash based. Flash doesn’t work on iPads, but a native JManga  iPad app has been in the works for some time now.

While I was able to come up with a work-around to reading JManga titles on an iPad, I and many other JManga members, still hold out hope for native apps for our tablets. I can only hope that their iPad give-away tomorrow will signal the arrival of the JManga app at last!

Update: JManga announced that apps for iOS and Android will be available in October!

OMG Kawaii Desu!: A parent’s guide to anime, manga, and cosplay

OMG Kawaii Desu! CoverAs I prepare for Anime Central this weekend, I am pleased to announce the publication of OMG Kawaii Desu!: A parent’s guide to anime, manga, and cosplay! This book has been in the works for the last year or so, somewhat later than I had first planned. So thank you to everyone for your patience!

About the book:

Your kids are watching cartoons with apple loving demons and magical schoolgirls, mixing Japanese words you don’t understand with their English, reading black and white comic books backwards, and wearing strange costumes. What’s a parent to do? First don’t panic, it’s okay. Your kids are just fans of Japanese anime, manga, and cosplay. This guide is intended to give you an educated look into the world your kids have embraced.

Read it on your Kindle today!

Reading Manga On The Nook Color

Viz manga on Nook Color Tablet

Viz manga on the Nook Color looks pretty good!

Honestly, I was not a big fan of the 7 inch tablet. That screen size is just too small for most of what I do with my 10 inch iPad. So when I learned that Viz manga was available for the Nook Tablet and the Nook Color, my first question was, how readable is that going to be?

Viz has yet to support panel mode viewing for its manga on the iPad, but the large screen of the device makes that unnecessary. And while I have enjoyed manga on my eInk based Nook, I found that often the bottom edge of the page is cut off and smaller text can be a challenge to read. So how would this play out on a 7 inch screen?

The short answer is, wonderfully! I bought Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden, Volume 1 by Yuu Watase, to read on my wife’s Nook Color. The Nook Color has the same size display screen as the Nook Tablet, so my observations should be valid it too.

The art work looked great and the text was quite readable. The smaller screen is only evident for double page spreads. You can turn the Nook to landscape orientation to see the full image, but it scales down a lot leaving  a fairly large black border. And you can tap to zoom anything you want to get a closer look at which came in handy for some of the author’s notes.

So if you love Viz manga, and don’t have the budget for an iPad, the Nook Color ($169) or Nook Tablet ($199) are great alternatives. And both Nooks can add up to 32GB of additional storage via microSD card which is important if you’re reading a lot of multi-megabyte graphic novels like manga. This expandability gives the Nook tablets a decisive edge over the Kindle Fire for this use case. That, and the fact that Viz manga is not available in the Kindle store right now.

Viz Manga Now On Nook Tablet/Color

One Piece on the Nook TabletI was pleasantly surprised today by an email from Viz proclaiming the arrival of Viz Manga such as One Piece, Naruto, and others on the Nook. Viz manga has been available on their web site and the Apple iPad for a while now. The iPad makes an especially good platform for reading manga with what I think is the perfect sized display. So I really wasn’t expecting to see Viz support the Nook.

I might also add that the email seemed to imply that the eInk Nook might also be supported. However a quick visit to the Barnes & Noble web site put that notion to rest. The site clearly indicates that Viz manga titles require the Nook Tablet or Nook Color with software version 1.4. And don’t get any ideas about reading these titles in the Nook reader software either. I tried reading a sample in the Nook reader on my iPad and Mac only to be informed that the title was not supported there.

Viz Manga on Nook Tablet

Popular Viz manga comes to the Nook Tablet and Nook Color. Sorry, none for eInk Nook!

Honestly, I cannot see any advantage to Viz in locking these Nook titles to the hardware like that. The primary beneficiary would be Barnes & Noble if the availability of Viz titles drives some Nook Tablet sales. The price drop to match the Kindle Fire, a price point that seems to be costing Apple at least a few iPad sales, along with some compelling content may be just the thing readers need to give the Nook color tablets another  look. Especially the younger, manga reading demographic who can’t afford iPads. And I might add that Viz manga is not yet available on the Kindle Fire.

Hopefully we’ll see some joint marketing from Barnes & Noble and Viz to promote this like crazy!

How To Read JManga Titles On The iPad

Girlfriends on JMangaI’ve been reading manga on the JManga website on my laptop while patiently waiting for an iPad app for a few months now. The current JManga reader is Flash based which will not work on the iPad.

I don’t really like reading manga on my laptop, as a result I really haven’t been finishing many titles. Not only that, because there’s no way to save a bookmark in the current reader, I always lose my place if I have to stop reading before completing a chapter.

So I started wondering how I might get around the restrictions and read JManga titles on my iPad using the current reader. Remote desktop apps immediately came to mind. I’d heard that there were such apps for the iPad, so I decided to see what the available options were.

The iTunes App Store has a fair number of remote desktop apps listed, but I decided to go with the Splashtop Remote Desktop app  for iPad because of its high ratings and low cost ($4.99 as of this writing).

Installation was pretty easy on the iPad of course. Next I needed to download the free Splashtop Streamer for my Mac. I installed the streamer, started it, and then set an access code for the remote connection from the iPad.

The iPad app easily detected my Mac and I had no trouble connecting using the access code I’d just set. I was greeted with a cheat sheet of gestures to interact with the desktop. The desktop looked great on my iPad and I had no trouble at all accessing JManga in my desktop browser. I opened Girlfriends in the reader and then went to full screen mode just tapping the left or right to turn pages.

JManga Girlfriends on iPad

Girlfriends looks pretty good on my iPad!

Before I knew it, I’d finally finished volume 1! To escape full screen mode, I just tapped the keyboard icon on the lower righthand corner and then tapped the escape key. It all worked like a charm! Quite readable and very responsive page flips.

This method should work with other tablets as long as similar remote desktop apps are available. I still want that JManga iPad app, but this workaround will do for now.

Is Print Manga In Full Retreat?

Sailor Moon Vol3 Cover

Sailor Moon Volume 3 was easily found at retail, others manga titles, not so much.

A few days ago, I made a visit to the Barnes & Noble bookstore at DePaul University Center in Chicago. I just wanted to see how big the store was compared to the large one on North State Street. And I also wanted to see what their manga collection consisted of and how extensive it was.

Given that the larger bookstore doesn’t have the greatest manga collection to begin with, I wasn’t expecting very much. I had hoped that being at the university, the manga collection might reflect the interests of a manga reading college demographic. Sadly, this was not the case. What I found instead was a small collection that seemed to consist of random volumes and orphaned Tokyopop titles. It looked like a clearance shelf whose only notable new titles consisted of Sailor Moon volumes.

Disheartened, I decided to stop by Graham Crackers, a comics shop, to see what manga they might have. I already knew from previous visits that manga was not to be found in large quantities there, but I was hopeful of finding a few interesting titles. What I found sunk my heart further as there was even less manga there than my last visit of perhaps a year ago. The only new titles I saw were a few volumes of Highschool of the Dead.

Given that the print only title Sailor Moon topped the New York Times best sellers list for manga for several weeks, clearly someone is still buying manga in print, but my own experiences seem to imply that finding manga at retail bookstores is becoming more difficult. So it may be that the large drop in the number of bookstores, and particularly the loss of manga friendly Borders, has driven most printed manga sales online. I’ve been forced to buy most of my printed manga from Amazon simply because I cannot find it at retail anymore.

When available, I’ve been buying manga in digital format primarily from Viz and JManga. I can only wonder if sales of digital manga are making up for the loss of sales at retail. Still, not every popular manga title licensed in the U.S. is available, legally, in digital format. So lack of retail outlets, coupled with an internet savvy, but too young to easily buy online manga demographic, can only point to lowered print sales and perhaps upward pressure on piracy.

Right now it looks like print manga is in full retreat at retail. As a manga lover, I can only hope that all manga titles licensed for sale in the U.S. will also be available in digital format soon. There’s no turning back now.

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