I am a print baby and I would sooner read my manga in print than in front of the computer. I will admit that since I am in front of a computer most of the time due to work, I cannot help but stray for a quick fix. But that was then and now, it’s a different game.
In the last few years, manga has been shifting from print to digital. This was in many ways born in response of growing manga scanlation aggregators, but it’s also responding to the needs of some consumers. This year has been particularly exciting and let me share to you that there are now ways for you to enjoy reading manga online… legally!
For this ‘column,’ I’ll be scouting for some places where you can read legal online manga. This means these are websites that have appropriately licensed and is distributed online some manga online by its publishers. Simply put: these are websites that makes sure the money spend to their website gives something back to their published authors. Your purchase for their digital manga puts food on those tired starving mangaka’s (and friends!) table.
But isn’t it enough to read scanlations?
No. It isn’t enough.
I don’t particularly condone the act of scanlation but if you subsist on scanlations alone, then please have the heart to buy the manga of your favorite author. They lose some money with every scanlation. Take scanlation as a taste test of manga you may want to invest your money on soon. But please, don’t just depend on scanlations.
But isn’t legal manga expensive?
It is but you can find ways and means to get these titles at a lower rate or even for free (AND YES! WITHOUT LOOKING FOR SCANLATIONS!) Patience is a virtue for this one.
I guess I’ll give it a shot?
That’s the spirit! Reading manga legally online, whether it’s free or not, can go a long way! Right now, a lot of digital distributors are looking into making manga globally available. They often check their websites for some visitors and so if you can make yourself present, the publishing companies will notice your country and might just push into making these manga available locally.
I’ll be reviewing the website based on the following: Accessibility, Online Reading Experience, Cost & Ease of Payment, and Quality of Titles.
For our first feature, and rather outdated but important nonetheless, is Viz’s Sig Ikki Online Website.
SigIkki is a collaboration between Viz and Shogakukan’s Ikki magazine. Ikki’s known in Japan as one of the more upbeat manga magazines that features amazing authors such as Natsume Ono, Daisuke Igarashi, Shunju Aono, and so on. Their titles are on the mature side, ranging from cruel titles like Bokurano to light-hearted ones like Kingyo Used Books.
Accessibility: Very Accessible (4/5)
Anybody and everybody can access it online. It’s one of the first and few legal online manga readers that allowed everyone around the globe to have the first view/read of their manga. So yes, we can access this in Asia!
What they do is that they pile up on the chapters until it’s ready to be published in a volume. Once the volume is out in print, they only keep the first chapter in that volume and proceeds to publishing the next volumes online. If you’re not on your toes, you may miss the next chapters. This isn’t good for titles that follow a story line, like Bokurano or House of Five Leaves. On the other than, this is all right by books such as Kingyo Used Books that doesn’t necessarily follow a timeline.
Just a note though, upon visiting the website today I realized that they haven’t updated since December. I’m not sure if SigIkki is planning something new and related to their digital app called Vizmanga (which we can’t access in the Philippines).
Online Reading Experience: A five yr. old can browse this site (4/5)
It’s a fairly easy read and one could learn to navigate through their flash player within seconds. They size the pages automatically to your browser. So the larger your browser is, the easier it is to read the manga. The manga have fonts that are fairly easy to read as well and the options menu makes you choose whether you wish to see it in double pages or single.
That said, there are still room for improvement. I hope that you don’t need to go back to the series home just so you can get to the next chapter. I also wish they can use the mouse scroll to make it a lot easier to zoom in and out of pages. I noticed that the next button arrow disappears once you’ve zoomed in. Of course, these are minor and petty things that may be considered in the future.
Cost and Ease of Payment: Hardly spent a penny. (3/5)
It’s bloody free when you read the volume online, but as I said earlier, once the manga has been published in print, it’s taken down. It’s not a bad deal since these manga are available in the Philippines, and everywhere in Southeast Asia (I guarantee that you will find these titles in Kinokuniya SG and Malaysia!). Of course, once it’s in print, the price does go up to a PHP699 (USD14.65)/volume. But that’s a good price to pay for the quality of these titles. It may just be a little inconvenient if you missed out on some chapters and it was published in print before you even had a chance to read them.
Quality of Titles: Gold! (5/5)
SigIkki titles are manga gold. I can go on and on about how amazing they are and if you’re someone who is dabbling into the seinen genre, Sigikki is a great place to start.
Their brand of seinen is a lot more mainstream, by that I mean that these titles verge on familiar art styles if you’re coming from shounen and shoujo genres. Perhaps the oddest lot is I’ll give my all …tomorrow but even with such an unfamiliar art style, the stories can definitely pull anyone in.
The Verdict: A worthwhile visit.
So, it’s a little outdated but it’s still worth visiting. It’s not exactly the richest of online experiences, but they do offer some goodies like wallpaper, videos, and interviews which can widen your experience as a manga fan. What will definitely bring you to this site is the amazing titles that they have to offer. They may be previews but the site gives you a good idea on what the title is about and why it’s worth your money. Of course, for titles that you think is not worth your penny, you can browse it freely after every update.
SigIkki is definitely a great place to start for some awesome seinen manga reading. Seinen may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a great place to start on what manga still has to offer outside of shounen and shoujo genres. SigIkki’s other titles (e.g. Vagabond & Urasawa titles) may not be available online, but c’mon, those titles are definitely not worth missing.
So for the next few weeks or months, I’ll be visiting other places that allows you to read manga legally online. If you have a site you want for me to cover, do drop a line. I’m willing to tackle Japanese online manga sites as well. 😀