And they’re definitely worth checking out.
So, earlier this month Kodansha Comics announced that they were finally expanding their digital content past Apple to Android, Kindle, and the Nook, a development that was hinted at during their panel at Anime Boston earlier this year. As a person who was recently gifted a Nook HD (which, sadly, B&N about a week announced the discontinuation of), and a person who has been interested in buying digital manga for a while, I was pretty happy with this development. I will note, though, that unlike other publishers who have been releasing in digital, there isn’t a difference in price-point between physical and digital releases from Kodansha Comics. As a person who trades in manga to my local comics store and also sells a decent amount online, I can’t see myself being willing to buy digital from KC given the current price model – a significant amount of the money I spend on manga comes from manga I’ve traded in or sold.
That all being said, though, I was happy to pick up a couple of “samplers” KC released to coincide with their announcement. There are two samplers available on their Apple and Android apps, and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for free currently that are each about 450 pages long and feature the first chapters from many of their publications (Sailor Moon sticks out as the absent title, but it isn’t available in digital at all, unsurprisingly). The two different volumes are “Kodansha Comics Digital Sampler – REAL” and “Kodansha Comics Digital Sampler – UNREAL” (this apparently because a tale about a pair of twins in which one impersonates the other after the first one has tried to kill herself because of a massive conspiracy in their high school class is pretty darn realistic), and they each contain the first chapters of nine different manga. The manga for each are listed below.
- Bloody Monday
- Genshiken Second Season
- I Am Here
- Kitchen Princess
- Missions of Love
- Vinland Saga
- At Full Moon
- Attack on Titan
- Cage of Eden
- Fairy Tail
- Mardock Scramble
- Ninja Girls
- No. 6
- Until The Full Moon
I’ve read all of REAL and part of UNREAL, and I can tell you that I ended up picking up a couple volumes of Missions of Love from having read the first chapter, so the marketing move was at least effective as far as I a concerned. I’m also planning to snag Danza in the near future. (I also considered picking up Arisa, but have heard bad things about the story turning to crap in later volumes, so didn’t end up doing so.)
Anyway, this is a smart move from KC, as it exposes a wide array of their catalogue to readers, and it gives a larger taste of the different series than does the standard industry approach with digital samples that only allow one to read a few pages. I myself don’t think I can tell anything, really, about a manga from a few pages – first chapter gives me a way better idea of whether something may be up my alley or not. I also like this sampler method since it gives people a better idea of what is actually available out there at all by bundling all of these chapters together. Even with the few pages available approach, one only finds them at all because they’ve looked at that particular manga in the first place; here I was only curious about a few of the titles, but ended up reading most of the first chapters anyway (Bloody Monday and Genshiken Second Season are the only ones I’ve deliberately skipped so far, and with Genshiken Second Season it was since I’d only just read the first chapter of its first series anyway).
My only quibble here is that KC screwed up the formatting in a couple of bits, so a few of the pages were distorted – stretched out and with the top and bottom missing. I don’t know that this is necessarily an issue they have with the digital volumes of the individual series themselves, but it is something to be aware of. The vast majority of pages are reproduced crisply and looked good on the screen of my Nook HD.
Anyway, given that the whole thing is free of charge, I recommend scoping it out at the very least. I wasn’t interested in most of the titles offered, but I ended up enjoying some I didn’t expect to, and I like having a chance to find other series to look into. Again, you can find these two on B&N, Amazon, iBookstore, and Google Play for download, and as most of these also have desktop apps, you don’t even need a tablet to check them out.