Any manga fan who has peeked in on Twitter today will know that our community has been a-tweet over the sudden departure of JManga from the digital manga scene. Reactions have ranged from thoughtful analysis to indifference, from contempt to rage, and everything in between. Sean’s recent post, Some Thoughts on the End of JManga I think sums things up the best. My own reaction has been closest to plain ol’ heartbreak. So while others analyze, I’d like to take a moment to simply mourn.
I loved JManga. I loved the concept, a reasonable amount of the execution, and a whoooole lot of its manga titles. Not only did I name JManga as my “Pick of the Year” in 2012, but quite a number of its titles made their way onto my Best of 2012 lists, including my choices for Best BL and my Top Five Digital-Only Manga.
My greatest mourning is for the titles left unfinished, including my favorite BL manga of last year, Setona Mizushiro’s complex, awesome Dousei Ai, Takako Shimura’s exquisite (and just barely begun) Sweet Blue Flowers, Yukari Ichijo’s josei epic, Pride, and Haruko Kumota’s utterly adorable My Darling Kitten Hair.
I am genuinely heartbroken to know that I will not be able to finish reading these series. To the credit of JManga’s often-criticized catalogue, I loved each of these just as much as any of my print favorites. Despite their apparent lack of viability in the English-language market, they were far from B-list titles in my book. These titles are a real loss and I will miss them terribly.
I also sincerely mourn JManga as a company. I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with a number of its staff during October’s New York Comic Con, and they were as a whole some of the nicest, most genuine, and most enthusiastic folks I’ve met in the manga industry so far. They cared about user concerns and actively sought out criticism. They genuinely cared about how we used and experienced their product. I wish them all well and hope they will recover quickly from this loss. Losing a company you believe in is even harder than just losing a job, and my heart goes out to them.
I once told JManga’s business manager Robert Newman that if I could read all the manga I wanted to read in high quality on my iPad, I could essentially give up print manga forever. At the time, I thought JManga would be the company to make that happen. I’m earnestly sorry to see it go.
Goodbye, JManga, and thanks for trying so hard. You’ll be greatly missed.