Square Enix launched the Japanese version of their Manga app in 2017 and last week just released an English version. Customers will be able to easily purchase some of the hottest manga around, such as Daemons of the Shadow Realm, Clueless First Friend, Fullmetal Alchemist, The Case Study of Vanitas, Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, The Apothecary Diaries, Horimiya, and The Royal Tutor. All of the latest issues from Japan will be quickly converted to English in a day or two. The new service will also have titles from Square Enix’s North American publishing label Square Enix Manga & Books, as well as titles from other license holders in North America, but which ran in Square Enix magazines in Japan, such as Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Goblin Slayer, and Sekirei.
The first few chapters of each series are available to read for free on the website and app, while the rest are only available to read in the app through the use of “UP” points that refresh twice daily to allow eight chapters per day. Newer chapters require the use of “XP” points, which can be purchased in the app’s Shop tab. I like how you can read right in any internet browser if you just want to see if any of the manga you want to preview is compelling enough to download the app for your phone or tablet.
One of the controversies surrounding this app is censorship. Users noticed that manga titles with more adult content like sex-positive series have censorship bars over its characters. This led users to upload screenshots from Manga Up!’s app and voice their outrage at its heavy-handed censorship. Each series on Manga Up! comes with a content warning. For example, Fullmetal Alchemist’s content warning informs readers that the series includes murder, self mutilation, religious themes, and discrimination. People are obviously not happy with lots of manga being censored, that actually doesn’t cover up any nakedness, instead bikinis are being censored or cleavage. However, this might have a silver lining, as parents could feel comfortable that their kid can use the app and not be exposed to anything too risqué.
However, Square Enix mentioned on Twitter that this app just launched and it is still early days. They assured the community that they are reading comments and will make changes to the app as necessary. They also stated “In consideration of each mobile platform’s policies, some modifications were unavoidable to release the app to the whole world outside of Japan (this is not limited to only English-speaking countries.)” Manga Up’s statement read. Some countries like Indonesia have heavy censorship rules.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.