Crunchyroll launched their manga experience with Kodansha as their (first) partner for it this week and our manga review team and others have taken a stab at it to see what it’s all about. Over the years we’ve been exposed to a variety of ways to get our hands on manga digitally (for review purposes from publishers) but there’s always been complications. With this formal service out there now with a large and established fan base, is this the catalyst that’s needed?
Q: When Crunchyroll announced that they’d be doing this, what were your initial impressions before even seeing anything?
Thomas Zoth – I was glad to hear it. As a supporter of J-manga, I was looking for a new digital solution for manga outside of Shonen Jump. And the Shonen Jump model proves that simul-publishing is at least possible, so it was great to see someone else try it.
Kory Cerjak – I was happy about it, since Viz and Shonen Jump weren’t going to pick up everything (namely FAIRY TAIL). As soon as I heard that it was a sort of partnership between Crunchyroll and Kodansha, it raised my hopes that some of the more obscure or “unsellable” titles could come out in a digital format without the cost of printing the book. The hope is that things like HAJIME NO IPPO and PRINCESS JELLYFISH will have a digital outlet through Crunchyroll, even if they’ll never find a home in print.
But what I was most excited about was the possibility of Crunchyroll possibly curbing the scanlations that still exist. When Crunchyroll went legit with their anime streaming, torrenting took a visible hit. I don’t know if hits on websites will be as visible, but it certainly can’t hurt.
Kate O’Neil – As the full impact of the announcement hit me, I was surprised. If anyone was going to partner with Crunchyroll for a digital manga solution I would have guessed smaller publishers, certainly not Kodansha! Then when I read the press release I was looking for a catch, it honestly sounded too good to be true. It’s very exciting, although I’m honestly a bit worried about monetization after the failure of some other digital models. It’s smart to leverage the large Crunchyroll user base to change the reading habits of those who have been using illegal aggregators. Hopefully they can make this work and maybe we’ll see some other companies jump on board.
Kestrel Swift – I’ve been watching various attempts to do a “Crunchyroll for manga” fail over the years, so I was very happy to see that Crunchyroll would be doing it themselves. They clearly have the expertise in various areas to make it work, and with the user base already there, they have a much stronger start than most. Kodansha is a great partner to start with and there’s great potential for catalog material just from them, and just like with anime, success from this will only inspire more companies to hop onboard until we can hopefully have a similar situation.
Mark Thomas – I thought the idea was pretty awesome. Frankly, the length of many manga series is what keeps me from buying/reading more of it. The opportunity to maybe “rent” it in this way seems like a neat idea. If done well.
Chris Kirby – I was ecstatic! I loved JManga and supported them more than enough to regret it when they went under. The idea of a subscription service for manga is exactly what we need to push forward. Also, I can finally read Space Brothers legally?! That was really all I needed. The promise of full back catalogues for the titles was also a terrific move. That alone should allow the service to succeed because people don’t have to use scanlations to “catch up” before reading legally.
Greg Smith – Even though I’m mainly an anime reviewer, the announcement stoked some interest in me, especially as they announced Mysterious Girlfriend X as one of the first available titles (I enjoyed the anime greatly, so the possibility of seeing where the story went after the anime ended is nice, since not all shows get sequel series). Since CR has done a good job with the anime and live action drama, I had a positive feeling that they would create a usable interface, so I was looking forward to seeing the service once it was unveiled.
Josh Begley – I think this has the potential to be great, especially for people like myself that haven’t had the opportunity to read a great deal of manga in the past. Like Mark, the length of manga series has kepe me from jumping in on many titles.
Mastilo von Plume – I literally squeed, and I’m not proud of it. However, like Thomas and Chris K. noted, after losing J-manga, I was chomping at a chance for a legit manga portal through which to stay up to date on titles — Space Brothers, Mysterious Girlfriend X — that were not officially available here otherwise . . . until now. I was surprised at some of the selections and thought those with anime tie-ins seemed simultaneously odd and appropriate given the platform through which they’ll be delivered. I don’t know much about the other series, but like J-manga, sheer availability will ensure exploration. Also, the library SaaS model works for me as I’d rather not fill my bookshelves with volume after volume.
Jessi Silver – The first thought that ran through my mind was “it’s about time!” Crunchyroll is my favorite streaming anime delivery service by far, and it had always puzzled me that they hadn’t already instituted some sort of companion service for manga. With the infrastructure already in place, I was really looking forward to seeing how they’d put their stamp on their new manga service.