When I first looked at Crunchyroll’s new manga lineup back in October, it consisted of about 10 Kodansha titles, and its main purpose was essentially to be the Kodansha equivalent of Viz’s Jump – get the most popular titles out weekly to discourage scanlators. (Which has worked, to a degree – not necessarily for speed but for accuracy. I know a few Attack on Titan readers who wait for CR as it will be coherent.) Now, 10 months later, we have almost fifty different titles on the site. What’s been going on?
Kodansha still has the largest presence on the site, and are still adding new titles that may interest the North American reader, such as the new Onizuka spinoff/continuation. It’s still predominately Shonen Magazine and its subsidiaries, but there has been an effort to add some seinen as well, notably the Morning title Investor Z. (By the way, not all of the licensing is through Kodansha – a large number of the titles on the site seem to be licensed via ‘Cork’, including the Anno ones. Investor Z is one of those.) Most of their titles are ongoing concerns – updated weekly or monthly as their Japanese fellows are. I do note A Town Where You Live has finished, but Vols. 1-11 still seem to be absent from the site – going backwards is not Kodansha’s priority.
Moyoco Anno has agreed to let several of her more obscure titles be translated on Crunchyroll, from a variety of genres. Most originally ran in the josei magazine Feel Young in Japan, which her her primary outlet these days, though The Diary of Ochibi is a short one-pages that runs in a newspaper.
Then there’s the former heavy movers and shakers at JManga, all of whom are now involved with Crunchyroll to some degree. LEED Publishing, which is Takao Saito’s company, has put out four of its already finished volumes from JManga onto Crunchyroll, I suspect with the same translation. They’re good series, though. I particularly liked Doll. Shonen Gahosha has both old and new titles – Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru and Sun-Ken Rock are basically “license rescues” from JManga that are now on Crunchyroll – not a surprise given they’re both two of the companies more popular unlicensed in print titles – Sun-Ken Rock for its violent content, most likely, and Soredemo for its oddness. They also have Arpeggio of Blue Steel, which Seven Seas is releasing in print here, and Spirit Circle, which gives the appearance of being a fluffy comedy, but… isn’t.
And then there’s Futabasha, which now has the 2nd most titles on the site thanks to a big push these past few months. Futabasha was the biggest player in JManga as well, but we’re not seeing any of the content that was on there in the past. These are mostly new, ongoing series that run in their main magazine, Manga Action, which it’s pushing for similar reasons to Kodansha. It’s a very different genre, though – Manga Action is seinen and it shows. Even the one title they have by a shoujo author is that author’s debut in a seinen market. As you can see by the cover image of Inside Mari, which is by the author of Flowers of Evil, there’s a lot more ‘sex and violence’ in Futabasha’s titles – a number of what I’d call ‘sex comedies’ and several violent murder mysteries. Futabasha doesn’t really have much shonen, which may be why they’ve always found it hard to grab a foothold in North America, but it’s good to see them making these titles available for curious readers.
The odd title out on this list is The Tenth Prism, licensed via Cork, which is actually a seinen Shogakukan title, running in Big Comic Spirits. It’s by the author of Firefighter Daigo of Company M, so the author isn’t unknown here. Sometimes with licensing subsidiaries you can see titles in places you’d never expect, which is certainly what I’m seeing here.
What can we see from this list, now that it’s so heavily expanded? Crunchyroll Manga is very much catering to male readers. Almost exclusively, I’d say. There’s only one or two titles on there that might be classed as shoujo, and Kodansha, for all that they’re adding Magazine titles, hasn’t put up any ongoing series from Nakayoshi or Betsufure. Futabasha has a shoujo magazine as well, but we’ve seen nothing from it. And the josei we’re seeing, via Moyoco Anno, is for the adult female reader. I’d like to see a few titles for younger female readers on here. Other than that, the main emphasis for most of these series is simulpub – get them out fast to beat the scanlators. It usually doesn’t beat them, as scanlators work from illegal raws released early, but it’s a better product, so the incentive is to wait.
Will Crunchyroll have expanded even more in 10 months time? And which of their newer titles is your favorite?