Kodansha, the publishing company behind popular titles like “Attack on Titan,” “The Seven Deadly Sins” and “Ghost in the Shell,” launched its new K Manga app on Wednesday for U.S. users to read hundreds of manga for free.
At launch, about 400 manga titles are available, including the three above titles we mentioned as well as “Tokyo Revengers,” “Fairy Tail,” “Battle Angel Alita,” “Rent-a-Girlfriend,” “Don’t Toy With Me Miss Nagatoro,” “Edens Zero,” “Flying Witch” and “Aho-Girl: A Clueless Girl,” among many others. Kodansha will continue to add more titles over time.
Out of the 400 titles, there will be 60 ongoing titles currently in serialization. The most recent chapters will simultaneously release on the app, the company wrote in its announcement.
Notably, all these titles have been officially translated by professionals, so English-speaking users no longer have to visit pirate sites where the free manga is often translated by fans. In fact, many of the manga titles offered on K Manga have never been translated into English before, Yuta Hiraoka, project leader for K Manga, told TechCrunch. This is the main reason why K Manga took over two years to create the app, Hiraoka added.
As manga sales continue to see an upward trend in the U.S., now is the perfect time for Kodansha to launch its U.S.-based app. In 2022 alone, there were 28.4 million copies sold, solidifying manga’s position as a major player in the comic/graphic novel marketplace. Kodansha previously reported that its manga sales in the U.S. tripled last year.
There are many manga apps — such as VIZ Manga, Manga Plus and Crunchyroll Manga — that offer a select number of chapters for free before users are then prompted to sign up for a subscription. K Manga, on the other hand, does its free option a little differently.
Kodansha’s new app has ticket and point systems, allowing readers to unlock additional chapters.
For instance, the app offers “Normal Tickets,” which are given to users daily, and “Premium Tickets,” given to users three or four times per day through login bonuses or by watching video ads. Normal tickets can only be used on one title whereas premium tickets last three days and can be used on multiple titles.
One ticket unlocks one chapter. Users can only use their tickets on titles with the orange ticket symbol next to them.
Points are another way for users to unlock chapters. Like tickets, these can also be earned by watching ads– each advertisement gives users 50 points. K Manga also grants them 5 points if they read certain titles.
Once a user unlocks a chapter with points, they can access it indefinitely through their account. And if a user runs out of points, they can always purchase them with real money. One point costs 1 cent, so users can spend $1 and get 100 points.
However, one downside is that one chapter can cost either 69 or 99 points. The number of points per chapter varies, depending on the title and when the chapter was released. (Older chapters typically require fewer points than newer chapters.)
The app also offers some titles that offer “always free” chapters, the company noted, and don’t require tickets or points.
In 2015, Kodansha launched its first manga app, Magapoke (magazine pocket), for Japanese readers only. The app currently has five million monthly active users and 20 million app installs.
K Manga is almost identical to Magapoke, including the ticket and point systems, recommendation features, update section on newly released chapters, search function, genre tabs and the option to add titles to a favorites list. However, the U.S. app doesn’t have a comment section for users to review manga and interact with one another. Kodansha plans to launch the feature in the near future, Hiraoka told us.
K Manga is available on iOS and Android devices. The company plans to eventually launch the app in other countries.