Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Shonen Jump App is the Best Deal in Comics

Comics as we've come to know them have been around for a century and the industry backing them hasn't changed much. The digital age has allowed for cheaper and faster distribution, but for the most part Western comics haven't changed much. That's why the Shonen Jump app's business model is a fresh and welcome game-changer and easily the best deal in comics today.

The mission of Shueisha and Viz Media's new Shonen Jump app is simple: the world's most popular manga are made available to read on desktops, smartphones, and tablets the same day they are published in Japan. Oh - and they're free.

There are over 200 series in the app and almost all of them feature the first three chapters completely free. No need to sign up for an account. And there isn't a single ad. You can also buy digital copies of individual volumes if you want to continue the story.

Or, you can gain unlimited access to the entire library for only $2 a month. You heard that right: two dollars USD gets you every chapter of Dragon Ball, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, and hundreds of other series.

If you want to read comics while offline - such as on a tablet while on a road trip - you can download up to 100 chapters at a time. I've seen people complain about this but I did some math. It takes about 7 minutes to read the average 20 page manga chapter. 100 chapters will take you over 11.5 hours to get through. Where are you going to be that you need manga and won't have WiFi for that long? I don't even think my tablet can hold 100 chapters at a time.

Hands down the best feature of this app is the 100% free new chapters, available same day as the Japanese publication. This includes series currently running in Weekly Shonen Jump, Jump SQ, V Jump, Shonen Jump+, and a few others.

So you can pay $2 and binge-read all of Dr. Stone or Jujutsu Kaisen or whatever you like and then cancel your membership - or just use the free trial - and then stay current with every series for as long as it runs. For free.

This is undoubtedly the best deal in comics right now. Marvel and DC have been doing their own apps for a while. They're a little pricier but have more content so it's fair. It's safe to say the app is meant to challenge piracy. It's a problem in all media, especially comics, but it's a big problem with manga. Since digital comics are still new, many readers grew up reading pirated manga and it's almost become part of manga culture. Manga piracy is so bad that the biggest manga publisher in the world is literally giving away their manga for free.

If you can't tell yet, I love the Shonen Jump app. The two bucks is great for the backlog. I've enjoyed binging series I'd previously avoided simply because the the idea of buying and storing 20 or more volumes of manga sounds like a nightmare. Plus there are dozens of series I read growing up but never finished. Not to mention I can dig up any page for a quick reference in a matter of seconds.

But it's not a perfect app. Plenty of currently running series are missing chapters with a vague promise that they will be added over time. The search isn't very robust - you have to know either the title or author to find what you're looking for. Also, since this app is explicitly Shonen Jump it doesn't include titles from Shojo Beat, Viz Signature, or Viz Kids.

Overall, $2 is nothing compared to what you get for it and if you still can't afford that you still get so much out of this app. Since it's release I've read over a 1,100 chapters of manga for the price of two. volumes. It doesn't get much better than that.

The Shonen Jump app is available on Android and iOs. International users can download the Manga Plus, which has a lot of the same content, some different content, as well as several titles in Spanish.