Today was the big launch date for new manga platform JManga, the digital solution to manga fans’ desires. Of course it’s not perfect, no one expected it to be. But for Yuri fans, the lack of…almost anything…is notable and regrettable.
The initial launch for JManga is North America only. And while they said NA includes Canada, some Canadian readers have not been able to get on the system. Others have, so maybe it was an initial glitch that was rectified.
There are a number of ways to slice and dice manga, the most common is by demographic audience. Categories for shounen, seinen, shoujo and josei are very visible on the site. Of course that leaves Yuri folks wondering where will Yuri be listed…if it ever makes it on the platform. Is Comic Yuri Hime seinen or josei? (JRB tells us that there are Yuri category labels under both seinen and josei, and sensibly concludes that Yuri will be categorized by the audience for that magazine. Which still makes me wonder where Yuri Hime will be listed. ^_^) So, setting that aside, I jumped over to…
The Publisher Page. This was a little more useful for me, because I know what publishers I care about. And while a number of the most popular Yuri-friendly publishers are listed, Ichijinsha, Hobunsha and Media Factory are all “Coming Soon.” Which means that all of the titles from those publishers and their magazines are not on the system, yet. That left Hakusensha, and my vague hope that Rakuen Le Paradis would be listed…. Unfortunately, it was not. The only Hakusensha titles listed are titles already quite familiar to US readers, Natsume’s Book of Friends, Ouran Host Club, etc. This left Futabasha, our one bright spot of hope.
Sadly, Enterbrain has yet to join. Boo-hoo, no Romae Thermae or other interesting Comic Beam titles for you. And vexingly, the only title available from Monthly IKKI is *not* GUNJO. Grr.
Okay, so there is good news out there. As I mentioned Futabasha is a beacon for us.
Click on the Magazine Pages and you’ll see our old friend, Comic High. Click the Comic High Page and lo and behold! Morinaga Miruku’s GIRLFRIENDS is one of the choices.
(Along with Towa Oshima’s Joshi Kousei and Hitohira for some other amusing, yet questionable Yuri-service.)
GIRLFRIENDS does have a free preview, so once you sign up, you can see what it looks like. It’s got a not terribly sophisticated translation, right from the get-go. But the reader is browser-based, simple and easy to navigate. I approve of not having to download anything to read the manga.
The purchase of things is on the “points” system, something I find annoying on top of the subscription. It appears that the $10/month subscription plan gives you 1000 points. An average volume of manga is priced about 899 points, so for your subscription, you can buy 5 chapters or one full volume per month. Once you have bought a manga, it stays in your account, even if you change back to the free account, so you you still “own” that copy as long as the site is in existence. If you want to buy something, but don’t have enough points you can pay for the extra points, according to the User Guide. But you can’t pay for points without having a subscription first. so you can’t just buy what you want when you want it.
As depressing as all this seems, check out the Signup Page. “Yuri” is a checkable box under Interests. I haven’t yet attempted to buy the paid subscription, but when I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.
So, while it’s a slow starter for Yuri fans, there is hope. If we all put pressure on them (i,e, check that Yuri box) to get Ichijinsha and Hobunsha (and the Hakusensha titles that are relevant to us) into the fold, it could well be worth that monthly fee. Here’s hoping!
Addendum: Some previews are relatively short, i.e., 7 pages for GIRLFRIENDS. So, you’re going to be making decisions rather quickly. At 7 pages, you’re making a decision based solely on art and tone. A major boost would be the chance to purchase (or read for free) the whole first chapter, so we could get an idea of the art, tone and story. Some manga do have the whole first chapter. I think that ought to be standard.
Also of note, Ultra Jump magazine isn’t on the system, so no Hayate x Blade for us, either. That would be a MAJOR draw for me.
So right now, it’s cool to read some off-beat unknown manga, but no good for getting any of the manga I already read and would like to get digitally.