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A panel of Japanese manga editors revealed the first details about the JManga website in Friday’s JManga panel at Comic-Con. The JManga site, which was created by a group of 39 Japanese publishers to serve as a manga portal, will launch for U.S. users on August 17 and will be rolled out for other countries after that. While the panel doesn’t seem to have spelled out the exact titles that will be carried on the site, Deb Aoki Tweeted that the images on the screen behind them (apparently the same as the image above, which was taken from Crunchyroll) included Dragon Girl, One Piece, Crayon Shin-Chan, Cigarette Kisses, and Larceny Log of Zampei the Cloud Snatcher In addition to manga, the site will include original content, social networking features, wallpapers, author interviews, and even a way for readers to text questions to the manga creators. In some cases, the reader will be able to toggle between Japanese and English text.
The idea behind the site is to increase the number of releases to foreign readers and speed them up. Manga fandom is up, moderator Saki Miyata said, as measured by attendance at cons such as Anime Expo, but sales are down. While piracy was cited as one reason, panelists also noted the lack of licensees and the loss of the Borders bookstore chain, which was known for carrying a wide range of manga. The site will include some series that were licensed for the U.S. and then dropped, the panelists said, and it will include a mix of well-known and lesser-known titles, in order to bring the latter to a wider audience. Prices have not been determined yet, but the panelists said that the site will include a lot of free content.