Robot 6

Memo to JManga backers: Show us the manga

JManga is the online manga service that readers have been waiting for: Fresh manga in a variety of genres (including lesser-selling ones like sports manga), straight from Japan, on your computer, iPad, Android, or Kindle. They launched at San Diego Comic-Con with a panel, and Deb Aoki has provided us with the most comprehensive reporting on it yet by posting a transcript of the SDCC panel and an interview with six representatives of JManga and participating publishers Kodansha, Shogakukan, Futabasha, and Kadokawa Shoten.

JManga is a great idea, and there was a lot of talent in the room, but there’s only one thing that manga readers care about: The manga. And it was very troubling that in their big SDCC panel the publishers could not identify a single title that it would carry (although the Futabasha rep hinted pretty strongly that Crayon Shin-chan would be on there). When Aoki asked if the manga in the enormous banner over their heads would be included in the JManga portal, JManga rep Robert Newman answered:

My apologies, but this information cannot be disclosed at this time. We will provide you with more information regarding titles around the timing of the launch.

Are you kidding me? This is not how you deal with your audience. Remember when Kodansha USA launched under a veil of secrecy, and how well that went over? It took them a year just to put up a website; at SDCC, a rep said they would have their Facebook and Twitter up by the end of the year, causing one commenter at ANN to remark that they could have set up the Twitter during the panel from their mobile phones.

There is only one way to sell manga, and that is by telling people what the manga is and creating buzz around it. Since manga readers outside Japan tend to be young and internet-savvy, engaging them via social media is also a plus. Surrounding your publishing program with a veil of secrecy is not only counterproductive, it makes people angry—and gives them one more excuse to stick with the pirate sites that JManga was set up to combat.

The best thing the JManga folks could do is release a list, right now, of manga that will be on the site at launch and a schedule of upcoming releases. Assuming they have some decent titles in the works, people would immediately start talking and spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, LJ, and whatever way it is the kids are communicating these days. Since the majority of the audience is teenagers, that free advertising is invaluable—and ignoring it is not just leaving money on the table, it’s actively working against your brand.



Not only did they not name a single title, they had not worked out who or indeed how they are even going to localise said titles into English. It’s all very -ish.

Sounds like its going to be Long Box with manga. Lots of hype and nothing anyone wants.

*Sigh* With Borders closing, I guess I’ll just have to get all my manga from Amazon.

I see that Japanese manga publishers are still scared of the Internet in many ways. It’s like they don’t know to harness it or feel that everyone who is on it likes to pirate things on the Net.

I have a friend who works with Kodansha and she told me that she was annoyed that they are delaying their efforts having a FB & Twitter account. However, it’s because of the Japanese side who likes to keep things secret.

I don’t find this controversial or bothersome at all. If JManga launches at the originally scheduled date, then you only have to wait for what… four days to find out what launch titles they’ll have? And considering this writeup of the SDCC event only went up this morning, that doesn’t sound too bad to me.

I’ve felt somewhat alone in my unbridled enthusiasm about this JManga project. It’s ambitious for sure, but that a good thing. I’m frankly bored with the manga that gets licensed in North America, so sites like do absolutely nothing for me. I want to see the good stuff, the seinen and the tasteless gekiga and the oldschool classics that will never get printed here because the audience is too small.

So yeah, I guess I’m not really responding to this article at all but to the tepid reception I’ve detected about JManga at large. I think if people were more aware of the enormous undertaking this project is, they would be more inclined to be patiently excited, like I am.

JManga sounds like a great idea in theory, but I’m not going to get excited about a service that we know absolutely no useful information about. This is a project that could be very easily wrecked by poor implementation, especially since it’s in the downright dire position of having to compete against countless established sites offering pirated manga for free reading. Being up-front with their potential customers about what they’ll be offering does a lot more to build buzz than to say “we’re going to have some really exciting stuff at launch which we can’t comment on at this time.”

I’m glad that you can get so excited based just on a promise and a hope, Emilio, but as the saying goes, “nobody screws up anime & manga releases like the Japanese.”

Well . . . assuming that banner up there isn’t just some sort of joke they copy-pasted together, at least we have a partial list? One Piece in particular is a HUGE title, so including it suggests they’re not going to completely shy away from other big names.

Likewise, the inclusion of The Larceny Log of Zampei the Cloud Snatcher – which I’d be impressed if even .01% of this year’s jam-packed Anime Expo crowd had even heard of – shows that they’re willing to put forward more unusual and unexpected titles, perhaps some that would be too niche-of-a-niche to physically publish in the current market.

It’s only five titles, but the variety speaks volumes.

@Jeff: I will agree that simply suspending judgment until the product is available is the most rational response, but I think people are a little more proactively against JManga than that.

Even if JManga is a spectacular failure, they will have tried to do a lot of the things that need to happen to rehabilitate the manga marketplace to the 21st century, which is more than I can say for the rest of the sites I’ve seen. I’m not content to spurn the Japanese industry for being quiet and Japanese-like, and have things remain as they are.

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