When last we left our discussion of online manga last week, I was talking about manga you shouldn’t be reading online: scanlations, manga either fan-translated from the original Japanese or copied outright from the U.S.-published books.
Yes, scanlations of licensed material are still everywhere. They’re even in places where they were allegedly removed, as About.com manga guide (and newest Star-Advertiser Sunday cartoonist) Deb Aoki recently noted. And while some series may no longer be available through regular browsing methods, savvy users can still access them through saved bookmarks. (Aoki’s full report, at www.hsblinks.com/2id, is well worth reading.)
But for the sake of garnering lots of warm and fuzzy good karma, it’s best to go through official channels online. Viz is the biggest player in free online manga with its Signature Ikki site (www.sigikki.com) for more mature readers and Shonen Sunday (www.shonensunday.com) for slightly younger ones (namely teens and up). One frustrating element of both sites is that, aside from Rumiko Takahashi’s "Rin-ne" on the Shonen Sunday site (which is being released at the same time as the Japanese chapters weekly), the series aren’t updated on a regular schedule.
Chapters are also removed as paperback volumes are released, so if you haven’t been keeping up, you’ll have to go out and buy the books.
Signature Ikki is the larger of the two sites, with 10 titles actively serialized to some degree (and two others, "Bob & His Funky Crew" and "I Am a Turtle," seemingly abandoned, their last updates being last year).
On Shonen Sunday, looks can be deceiving; While there are 16 series listed under the site’s banner, 11 offer only single- or two-chapter previews.
The largest official online manga library today is eManga (www.emanga.com), home to dozens of series published by Digital Manga’s various imprints (DMP, June, DokiDoki and 801 Media), Yaoi Press and Harlequin.
Unlike the Viz sites, titles are available only for three-day rental or rent-to-own (although free previews are available). The flip side to having to pay: The site offers full manga volumes and the cost is less than buying the books in print.
One last note: The manga readers on these sites are incompatible with Apple iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads. I don’t believe there are any official manga-reading apps available, but if there are, please let me know. (And, no, "Manga DL" does not count, as that app links to scanlation sites.)
Meanwhile, back on the local manga-inspired comic anthology front: Word comes from William "Doc" Grant of Lime Media Hawaii that the second issue of the Hawaii Star Manga Project is now available for purchase and download at DriveThruComics.com, myebook.com and via Amazon’s Kindle e-book service.
This issue features the debuts of Studio Dobutsu’s "The Tobias Wah Chronicles," a vampire-hunting adventure, and Kiiola Productions’ "Children of Aumakua," a paranormal thriller with a local twist.
As a way of introducing this column’s readers to the anthology, Grant has provided special links to the first two issues that mark the price down to 75 cents each on DriveThruComics.com. (Of course, you’ll need a credit card to order online.)