For the longest time, physical or digital books and magazines, like Viz's American version of Shonen Jump and Dark Horse's Super Manga Blast!, were the only ways to legally read translated manga. But piracy ran and still does run rampant; type the name of literally any manga you can think of into Google and chances are the first 5 results are pirate websites.
But lately, manga publishers have been finding a way to stick to scanlation pirates. Last December, Viz shocked the world and basically sank pirates where they stood by discontinuing its digital-only Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, relaunching Shonen Jump as a standalone app, with the three most recent chapters of every series available for free, while access to loads of digitally archived manga was now yours for just $2 a month. However, this app is only available in America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, the Philippines, Singapore and India, which leaves out huge chunks of the world.
Beginning today, Shueisha -- one of Viz's parent companies, and one of the largest manga publishers in the world -- is upping the game with the launch of MANGA Plus, a new app that offers manga the same day as Japan, worldwide and completely free.
Available worldwide (excepting Japan, China and Korea, who already have their own services) and available on iOS and Android, MANGA Plus is completely free, with new chapters of ongoing manga (available for a limited time) simultaneously available worldwide right after they release. This is a big deal, as Shueisha has never made its titles available worldwide without help of a licensor, and many countries have never had simultaneously-released official manga at all. But the most important thing, by far, is that a portion of the in-app advertisement revenue goes directly to the manga creators. New chapters will be added daily and be available for a limited time from ongoing series like One Piece, Haikyu!! and Blue Exorcist,as well as completed series like Naruto, Death Note and the completed arcs of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. The app is only available in English right now, but Spanish-language editions of each title will launch between February and March.
As Shueisha stated in its press release, "By gaining many new readers and receiving advertisement proceeds, authors will be able to continue writing their series, or create new works." This is a big problem here in the West, where the rampant problem of manga piracy derives creators of large portions of their income. With MANGA Plus being free, Shueisha seeks to eliminate that problem and give their authors an even bigger audience than has ever been possible.
We've tested the app, and here's how it works. While Shonen Jump's app works by scrolling from right to left (as the magazine did, and as manga is originally published), MANGA Plus scrolls vertically, like scrolling through Twitter or reading a regular webcomic. In addition, MANGA Plus preserves any pages originally published in color, while other avenues like books tend to convert them to greyscale.
The app includes several iconic and new titles from Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump, the monthly Jump Square magazine and the previously Japan-only Shonen Jump+ online service (which MANGA Plus is an expansion of), including some that have never had an English release before, like Yasuki Tanaka's mystery series Summer Time Rendering and Ai Odahara's full-color thriller LAND LOCK. The full list of titles, with the current series updating on Sundays and Thursdays and the re-released titles updating on Tuesdays and Saturdays, can be seen at the official MANGA Plus website.
Additionally, MANGA Plus is also running a Facebook contest for English and Spanish manga readers for three months. Each month, a new image will be posted; if you like and comment on the post, you'll be entered into a drawing ending the next month to win a signed poster by the author. Starting today, fans can enter to win a signed poster from One Piece author Eiichiro Oda. March's prize will be from My Hero Academia author Kohei Horikoshi, and April's will be from Black Clover author Yuki Tabata. You can find out more about that here.
In a statement released by Shueisha, Naruto & Boruto creator Masashi Kishimoto said, "Jump’s manga will now be available at the same time all over the world! Now that it’s an of official service, there will be a lot to read! Wonderful!" And he's right. Download the app and discover a whole new world of manga.