Kase-san Manga on LINE Comics, Guest Review by Verso S

April 5th, 2017
Welcome to Guest Review Wednesday here at Okazu! We’ve had more guest reviews than ever this year and they are all so fantastic If you’re enjoying the Guest Reviews, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to Okazu, so we can pay our Guest Reviewers!  
We reported on YNN that the Kase-san manga series was being continued on Japanese phone platform LINEManga (LINE マンガ – ).  Today Verso S. is writing to us from Hiroshima to let us know how it’s working! 
For those of you unfamiliar with LINE, it’s a phone app that began as a communication platform, based in SMS, like the popular BBSs were, but expanded out past person- or group-based communication as a publishing platform. Of course there are also companies with promotions, that almost gos without saying. There is a LINE that can be downloaded in th US, but it is not as fully featured as the JP version. However, even US LINE can be used for SMS communications in Japan, which has been useful to me in the past. 
Please welcome Verso who will give us a walkthrough of the Kase-san manga on LINE!
The Kase-san series started over free of charge from “chapter 1, Asagao to…” on LINEManga, while the “Shinshokan viewer” gives free access to the latest chapter.
LINEmanga: Weekly serialisation. The second chapter, “Jitensha to” was simultaneously hosted and became immediately available to those who share it (LINE, Facebook, Twitter). Without sharing that second chapter becomes accessible after one week, on next Tuesday, when “chapter three, Love song to” will be added on the same conditions. etc. 
Chapters released appear to remain free. Operation is smooth and glorious, on computer and mobile app.  No frills. Flip pages or use of clickable arrows and a zoom function.
The series is tagged: Love story. There is no Yuri tag on the platform. The brief description on the series’ own page does include a tiny Yuri reference since it is mentioned, and also tagged Hirari in addition to tags for the names of the mangaka and the publishing company – so it appears in the lists for those respective categories in the LINEmanga catalogue. eBooks of the first tankoubon will be available for a charge, ¥864, on LINEmanga as well.
“Shinshokan viewer”:  No registration required. Gives free access to the latest chapter for a limited time (Month). As standalone or as part of the web magazine Wings. In addition, however, the publisher’s page for the series also gives free access to previews from the existing three tankoubon as ebooks. With the option to purchase them as full ebooks. They also sell their print editions. Ebook operation is as smooth and glorious, on computer, as reading the chapters. No frills. Flip pages, arrows and zoom. 
Is there a regional block on access to LINEmanga? Have you tried login in to the messaging app via either a LINEme account or with a Facebook ID to set up a LINE account? Provided there is no geo-restriction, that ID will then work with the LINEmanga readers too. The set-up is done by registering a new account within the messaging app on a mobile device. Requiring either Email or sms code verification.Once authenticated the general LINEme ID and Password will then give access to the LINEmanga readers as well.  The same geo restrictions may apply for the Shinshokan reader as well… 

LINEmanga: Kase-san stayed on schedule. “Story 3, Love Song” was posted at midnight, Tuesday. Immediately available for those sharing it or available next week for those who don’t. 

The next installment will be interesting. If the pattern from other series is followed, these first three chapters will remain free, as preview chapters. The fourth chapter and subsequent releases will eventually slip behind an individual chapter paywall, usually after one month. For that one month period the later chapters can be read free of charge, but after that first month a small fee, ¥30~50 will be charged per chapter to gain access.

This is turning into running LINEmanga software commentary rather than a readers first impression of the Kase-san series on that platform. Which has been positive for us in every regard.

The series are all well behind the actual release schedules in the official magazines, print or web, for ongoing series but for titles re-serialised on LINEmanga the last four installments will thus be free at any given time throughout the re-release period on that platform.

Each tankoubon will be made available on that platform’s schedule as well. Usually the first chapter of each volume will be offered free within that tankoboun, as a preview. For other titles the entire first volume may remain free, as a preview. Kodansha’s Chihayafuru is such a title. Currently the first three volumes are listed ¥0 and they can be downloaded or added to a cloud-like bookshelf in their entirety. Though ongoing that series is not serialised on LINEmanga, however. Just the books are offered.

A lot of different publishers are present on LINEmanga and their titles are all offered on the same software without the necessity to hunt down each publisher’s own site. Without the necessity to switch apps when you want to continue reading the “next” chapter of a different series from a different magazine or publishing company, though it won’t be the “very latest” chapter. Each company comes with their own pricing arrangement and slight variations in their conditions for access. Minor variations like any other one-stop book store before eTexts.

Kase-san and all the other series do look very good, picture wise, on our systems, crisp images, nice and easily readable text, and they all function to our satisfaction but there are slightly different experiences with the operation that I should be careful not to conflate. Some titles which are accessible on our iPad but can’t be opened on our Mac, for example, though they’re accessed from the same LINE account. As noted before, someone with a Phone Number based LINE account seems to have the smoothest experience with its operation. Which seems to have more to do with the Phone Number based set up than with the OS, based on the “error” messages … though that’s out of my league to assess more broadly.

The same is true for Kuzu no Honkai, a currently ongoing manga series with a currently airing anime and Live Action drama adaptations.

All six volumes of Octave are also available as tankoubon on LINEManga for  ¥540 per volume. One other Akiyama title is also offered.

Fx’s Aoi Hana is here too, while Shimura’s Koiiji is being re-serialzied from Kiss magazine.

A lot of Hirari titles are here as well. So are some of the Tsubomi titles, though not tagged as such. Mizutani Fuuka’s series for example. Tagged with the mangaka’s name, with Hakusensha and with TL. And so is  Takemiya Jin, represented with 12 titles, with the same tagging system, but with different pricing. Some of her tankoubon are tagged Comic Yuri Hime, publisher and TL.Steps is priced ¥648 p/volume, Omoi no Kakera ¥802, Seasons ¥864.

There is a TL tag and a BL tag but there are no Yuri or GL tags on LINEmanga, for the moment.

It seems petty to complain when confronted with such luxury but there are also the Geo-location barriers. Which place me on the other side of the wall compared to you. I can get access to previews of Kodansha USA’s recent Chihayafuru eBook release in English, for example, but I can’t buy that book nor their other English titles because of my location. I can stroll into a bookstore, brick and virtual, minutes after the latest Japanese edition in that series becomes available.

Erica here: Well, wow. That was an amazingly comprehensive review. Based on all of this, I still think Kadokawa’s Bookwlaker might have an advantage, since there appear to be no geographic restrictions, but LINEManga has made pretty fast progress in that area!

Thank you again Verso for this  detailed review of the LINEManga system!

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12 Responses

  1. Verso Sciolto says:

    Kase-san no tsugi wa yon… On Transgender Day, 4/4, “Story 4, Sneaker to Kase-san” came out -conditional on sharing. This chapter will remain free for a limited time, until May 1, 2017. No such expiration date underneath the first three instalments so they’ll probably remain free for as long as the series stays on LINE or for as long as the LINEmanga service itself remains available.

    In previous messages I forgot to mention that the title of the fourth tankoubon volume is given as “Sakura to Kase-san” in advertisement, scheduled for release in the second half of June.

    A world without borders is the ideal and in that respect Book Walker is moving ahead of the LINE service, a bit. Sounds like Japanese titles are made available to people outside Japan. For the moment it appears to be working in just that direction, however. English translations offered on Book Walker are not available for purchase from inside Japan – based on the aforementioned Chihayafuru eBook, released by Kodansha USA, on February 14, 2017.

    One other difference seems to be the availability of serialisation on LINEmanga. Weekly free instalments of chapters from many different series are uploaded everyday, whereas Book Walker appears to be focussed on making just the tankoubon digitally available… but, with Borders in mind, perhaps we can hope they both survive … rather than compete each other out of existence.

    Thank you, Erica, for maintaining this incredible site and for including my ramblings among the guest reviews.

    • Thank you for the update!

      Bookwalker does focus on collected volumes here in the US, although they are also doing subscriptions to magazines, so Wings web might be available. I haven’t checked. As it happens I prefer the tankoubon in most cases and don’t, personally, like subscribing to individual comics for updates. This echoes how I buy, generally. I get large piles of stuff at once, then don’t buy anything for months. ^_^

  2. Verso Sciolto says:

    Harukaze to Kase-san (5) has been split in half. Not to speed ahead too much but this means an extra week before finding out if the extra “Chocolate to …” will be included in this re-run. A run as fun as the first time, though a little painful… to veer off briefly into content.

    Takashima’s blog entry 4/4 also mentions the late June release of volume four and indicates that -as with previous volumes- changes will be made for the tankoubon version of the stories. That too made me curious what, if anything, will be done with the extras and altered chapters. The eText platforms such as these online bookstores seem suitable for putting such artefacts out there too. I’m interested in that. A parallel universe.

    First we’ll get the rest of the marathon. That’s all but guaranteed, for next week. Something else I forgot before. Is there a good way to link to your original previews of the series and the collected volumes?

  3. Verso Sciolto says:

    Searching Okazu for Kase-san gets us on the same page with your review of Hirari 6. Which serves as a reminder that not all Hirari content has made it onto Line, yet (?), and also connects with your detailed description of the first Tankoubon “Asagao to …”

    Perhaps that’s where I should have started. Everyone should know that: “Yamada is a completely typical Japanese girl, completely undistinguished, she thinks. On the other hand, Kase-san is athletic, attractive, popular. Kase-san’s a star long distance runner and Yamada is a nobody. There’s no way they could ever be friends …”

    With “Related” content at the bottom of those reviews connecting to what happens next. When I include the actual links to those earlier entries, the comment won’t go through though.

  4. Verso Sciolto says:

    They have their own sweet way for wrapping up Asagao.
    “Bento to Kase-san” is next in line.

  5. Verso Sciolto says:

    The second part of “Harukaze to Kase-san” became part six last week and -about an hour ago – “Obentou to Kase-san” became the seventh instalment in the Kase-san series. On the first page it is made clear this is no longer “Asagao” but the continuation is otherwise pretty seamless.

  6. Verso Sciolto says:

    … and then there were seven … hmmm … Looks like we hit a little bit of unexpected turbulence.

    In “Ichigo Drop to Kase-san” or “Story 8”, Yamada and Kase-san set off on their turbulent school trip. That was expected.

    “Story 4” is the one that has me slightly concerned. It appears to have run off to an unknown destination. “Sneaker to Kase-san” has gone missing from the list of weekly instalments. I was hoping to see the price of a pair of running shoes underneath that story this week – as an indication of the “per chapter fee”. I guess I should have seen it coming that they’re not going this route with this particular series on LINEmanga.

    The first three instalments remain in the serialisation list while subsequent chapters have an expiration date -as standalone items. The eBook for each Tankoubon volume is where those can be found beyond that date. Which is reasonable.

    This series will continue to run its course with regular weekly updates. Unless something really unexpected happens, like the publication of extra chapters, there may not be a whole lot left to say about it – at least not from this perspective…

  7. Verso Sciolto says:

    Something unexpected did happen. At least I didn’t see it coming – and based on the comments on LINEmanga apparently wasn’t the only one… Free re-serialisation came to an end last week with the release of “Ajisai to Kase-san.”
    That story will expire June 19, 2017.

    A few pages of “Taiyou to Kase-san” are available as previews of the “Shortcake to Kase-san” volume beyond that.

    • Interesting. But it’s still available, just not for free?

      • Verso Sciolto says:

        As it stands, the three compiled volumes released so far remain available for purchase as eBooks on LINEmanga. Currently listed for ¥864 each.

        For other stories re-run on LINE the chapters can be bought separately after their expiration dates, for ¥30 or ¥50 each. For Kase-san there is no such purchase option for individual chapters. The first three chapters have no expiration dates and remain accessible. The other individual Kase-san stories/chapters from the weekly re-run will disappear and no additional chapters will be added on Tuesdays. As complete books they will still be there in digital editions.

        • That seems sensible – I always approve of giving people a chance to read samples for free. Now that they have finally found a way into digital that works for them, Japanese publishers are doing a good job with it.

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