Japanese publisher Kodansha is teaming with Crunchyroll, an online platform offering legal access to streamed anime and manga, to digitally distribute 12 current Kodansha manga titles in English, including such popular series as Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail via their Crunchyroll Manga platform starting on October 30. Crunchyroll will release the latest chapters of these series to readers in over 170 countries, (including US and UK) on the same day as they’re available in Japan.
Much like Crunchyroll’s anime service, Crunchyroll Manga will offer a mix of free content (that’s available to anyone who can access their website) and enhanced access / unlimited content to paid subscribers.
Here’s how it works: readers with a Crunchyroll free membership or anime-only or drama-only memberships will be able to read only the latest chapters of the manga posted on Crunchyroll Manga. These chapters will have web ads as well. Meanwhile, Crunchyroll All-Access members (who pay $11.95/month) or members with a Crunchyroll Manga membership ($4.95/month) will be able to read all the current and archived volumes of all of the manga series posted on Crunchyroll Manga, ad-free, on an “all-you-can-eat” basis.
Crunchyroll Manga can be accessed from any PC/Mac with an Internet connection and a web-browser, or via Crunchyroll’s iOS or Android apps. While fans in over 170 countries will be able to read Crunchyroll Manga, there are several notable exceptions: readers in France, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil will not be able to access these titles at this time.
It’s also worth noting that this is NOT a download-to-own publishing model. It is a subscription model. Much like Crunchyroll’s anime content, manga content will be streamed/read online only. This makes Crunchyroll’s offering different from the digital editions of Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail from Kodansha Comics, Kodansha’s U.S. division. Kodansha Comics’ digital titles are also available worldwide, but can be purchased and read via iOS, Android, Kindle and Nook devices.
Another key difference with Crunchyroll Manga: while they have several titles that are currently published by Kodansha Comics USA like Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima, Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama, and recently announced titles for 2014 like UQ Holder by Ken Akamatsu (creator of Negima!) and The Seven Deadly Sins by Nakaba Suzuki, Crunchyroll Manga’s initial roster also includes eight titles that have not been licensed in English by U.S. publishers.
Several titles have anime tie-ins, like Coppelion by Tomonori Inoue (which is currently airing on Hulu.com and VIZ Anime), and Space Brothers by Chuya Koyama and Mysterious Girlfriend X by by Riichi Ueshiba (both series are currently streaming on Crunchyroll).
The remaining titles are a mix of current comedy, drama, action and horror manga series, including A Town Where You Live by Kouji Seo, a slice-of-life story about a city girl who moves to the countryside; Yamada Kun and the Seven Witches by Miki Yoshikawa, a high school gender-bender comedy about a boy and girl who end up switching identities; Fort of Apocalypse by Yuu Kuraishi and Kazu Inabe, a zombie action series set in a juvenile prison; As the Gods Will by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Akeji Fujimura, a horror series set in a high school, My Wife is Wagatsuma-san by Yuu Kuraishi and Keishi Nishikida, a time-traveling romantic comedy that sounds similar to US TV series How I Met Your Mother.
The initial roster of the first 12 titles from Kodansha that will be released on Crunchyroll Manga are posted on Crunchyroll News. Fan reaction to the news was largely positive but other fans immediately noted “Good start but needs manga from ALL publishers.” PW will be talking with reps from Crunchyroll and Kodansha to get more details about this new digital comics publishing initiative when it opens to all on Wednesday, October 30.