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Viz’s new subscription service will deliver translated manga the same day it’s out in Japan

Viz hopes the digital service will reduce manga piracy

A graphic containing a visual of three phones. Each phone is running the Viz Manga app. It has different manga on each. You can see Inuyasha very clearly on one of the phones. Image: Viz Media
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Viz Media has released a new app and subscription service that will massively expand manga access for English-reading fans, and you can get it right now.

At its start, the Viz Manga service contains digital releases for over 10,000 chapters of manga from across a diverse list of genres, including titles from renowned Japanese publishers Shogakukan and Shueisha. Fifteen of those series will be simul-published — accessible to English readers on the same day of release in Japan. Together, the Shonen Jump subscription and the new Viz Manga subscription contain over 25,000 chapters of manga, with “further expansion in the works.”

Viz Media executives are hoping that all that expanded access will put a dent in manga piracy in the English language world.

“We hope that people will gravitate towards a platform where the latest content is free and an affordable subscription allows access to a vast library of chapters,” said Andy Nakatani, senior director of online manga and subscription manga, and Carl Hayes, senior director of consumer acquisition and retention, in a joint statement to Polygon. “All the more so, because users can trust an official platform where they know that the mangaka will get proper recognition for their work. This is really just a first step and we plan to expand in the future on to make even more manga available to more people.”

Manga and anime have long played a central role in defining the tastes of American popular culture. However, interest in manga has soared during the pandemic, as series like My Hero Academia and Chainsaw Man charted best-seller lists and took over social media platforms like TikTok. In 2021, a representative from Viz Media told Polygon that the company saw “explosive growth” in interest in manga in 2020, and reported that manga grew by 43% the same year. Viz Media’s latest news release asserts that global demand for manga remains at an “all-time high” and touted that the Shonen Jump app currently has over “35 Million average monthly reads.” Content around manga and its anime tie-ins continues to play a central role in major social media trends on TikTok.

Despite that interest, there have historically been barriers that make it more difficult for fans to access certain series outside of Japan — or in a language other than Japanese. For starters, fans might have to wait years to get official translations. Even if a translation does come stateside in a somewhat timely manner, U.S. readers might need to wait and read stories volume by volume, and not chapter by chapter like in Japan. On top of this, series that have only gotten official releases in physical volumes might now be collectibles — too pricey for the average reader to purchase.

For these reasons, “scanlation” — a portmanteau of “translation” and “scanning” — has played a central role in American manga fandoms as readers take it upon themselves to bring beloved series to English readers. To this day, websites like MangaDex, which hosts several high-quality fan translations of manga series, serve as an invaluable resource for those looking to keep up to date with certain series.

With Viz’s new app, fans will be able to access thousands of chapters of manga immediately after subscribing, and the hope is that simultaneously publishing digital manga in English with the magazines in Japan will reduce the number of readers seeking out pirated material. But an effort like this doesn’t happen overnight.

“The VIZ Manga service was only made possible because we had an incredible amount of cooperation and support from the mangaka and their publishers in Japan. And of course the driving force of this project comes from the passion and dedication that so many people at VIZ as well as those who work with VIZ have for manga,” Nakatani and Hayes said.

Fans of Shonen, a genre of manga marketed at young boys that tend to emphasize stories with action elements, the Shonen Jump app has been serving popular simul-published manga series since 2018. Now, Viz Media aims to meet the needs of a broader community of readers — the new app’s library will contain titles from genres like shojo, fantasy, action, horror, slice-of-life, LGBTQ stories, and more. There are too many additions to count, but read on for a selection of titles that will come with the Viz Manga subscription.

The Viz Manga subscription is available now for $1.99/month, and the app can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices.

Here is the full list of series that will receive simul-publication:

  • Rumiko Takahashi: Mao
  • Haro Aso: ZOM 100: Bucket List of the Dead
  • Takashi Shiina: Yashahime: Princess Half Demon
  • Tomohito Oda: Komi Can’t Communicate
  • Kotoyama: Call of the Night
  • Story by Kanehito Yamada, Art by Tsukasa Abe: Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End
  • Makoto Ojiro: Insomniacs AXer School
  • Kenjiro Hata: Fly Me To The Moon
  • Rei Toma: The King’s Beast
  • Hisato Murasaki (based on the video game by Atlus): Persona 5
  • Kagiji Kumanomata: Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle
  • Gosho Aoyama: Case Closed
  • Tamifull: How Do We Relationship?
  • Kyousuke Motomi: Queen’s Quality
  • Rei Hiroe: Black Lagoon

Other back library titles confirmed to be available on the new app include:

  • Rumiko Takahashi: Inuyasha, Ranma 1/2, Mermaid Saga, and others
  • Junji Ito: GYO, Uzumaki, and others
  • Yuu Watase: Fushigi Yugi, Absolute Boyfriend, and others
  • Inio Asano: Goodnight Punpun, What a Wonderful World, and others
  • Taiyō Matsumoto: Sunny, Tekkonkinkreet, Ping Pong, and others
  • Gosho Aoyama: Case Closed
  • Ai Yazawa: Nana
  • Arina Tanemura: Full Moon, The Gentlemen’s Alliance, and others

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