Where and why to download digital manga in Japanese

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Last updated on June 10th, 2018

There are few situations where you feel a sudden urge to read some manga in Japanese and the only thing that you are carrying is your mobile phone. But if that should ever happen, god forbid, you will know how to tackle the problem. I’ve been downloading quite a bunch of digital manga over the past year and tried out different shops and options. Yesterday I felt that certain manga itch again and I instantly knew that I should probably download a new manga for my Ipad. It’s just nice to read some stuff in Japanese right before sleepy time but proper lightning is always a problem when I try to read in my bed. And there comes the Ipad with its glorious backlit screen which solves all my problems. I’ve been readings lots of comics on my iPad including up to the recent issue of Invincible. (Loved the hell out of this series.) And so I can assure you that the great vivid colors and zooming options can come in quite handy for us Japanese learners. Especially if there are some Kanji in some of these super tiny Jump manga. But beware the resolution, if zoomed in, isn’t all that great. I definitely prefer to read Jump manga (which are usually released in the tiniest manga format possible) with their physical versions.

What I love most about reading digital manga is obviously the ability to read the stuff on a well lit screen but I tend to forget how super comfortable it is download nearly any reading material in seconds. No waiting, just click the button and its there.

If you’re looking for physical manga check my guide on where and how to buy manga and books from Japan!

Revisited, 15.02.2015: More infos about the digital manga section at the Japanese iTunes store.

Where to buy digital manga – hassle free

If you’re an IOS or OSX user you can buy nearly every manga at the Japanese iTunes store. Creating an account is easy (just search for a guide online) but the Japanese iTunes store (like every iTunes store) only accepts native Credit Cards. Which means that we have to rely on gift cards which are always more expensive then their real value. (if you’re still looking for some) But here comes the solution: honto.jp, again. The best shop for buying real copies of your favorite manga series, sells digital versions of nearly every comic. The selection is huge and the prices are always a bit cheaper then their physical equivalent. Here is a quick list on how to get started.

1. Make an account at honto.jp
2. Get yourself a Japanese iTunes account
3. Download the honto.jp IOS App (available for Android as well)

You can then easily purchase every digital manga like you would do with a real book order. When you’ve done this, you open your honto App, connect it with your account and start downloading the manga which you bought directly on the honto website. Works like a charm.

I’m especially fond of all these so called color editions カラ版 of popular Jump manga. The coloring just looks gorgeous on a screen and is really a nice addition. These are slightly more expensive then their “normal” versions but the money is always well spend. If probably all know that I’m not that crazy about Jump manga with the exception of the exceptional Dragon Ball. But I even gave One Piece a second chance with it’s colored version and suddenly I love.

Of course this is not all due to the coloring of the manga but it’s really something that makes me consider re-buying some of the stuff I already own and want to read again.

Honto is currently hosting a promotion which will give you 200 points on each 1000¥ spend for all your digital purchases. Not a bad time to start getting into digital manga, if you ask me. But hurry up, the deal expires in a couple of hours.

立ち読む let’s you try before you digitally buy

Lately I’ve been checked out the Japanese iTunes store a bit more. The honto App is still the place where I actually buy the manga if I want to have something very quick but I love to take a peek at the Japanese iTunes store first. There is a pretty nifty feature which is called 立ち読み which means reading while standing and refers to the people in Japan who are standing around in the bookstores and read.

It’s nice to have a sample before buying just to check out the art and get a quick feel for the title. This has always been the biggest flaw when buying from honto because there 立ち読む feature is not very practical. You can’t even buy directly from inside the App. But for this I’ve found iBooks in conjunction with the Japanese iTunes store to be pretty comfortable.

japanese manga itunes-2

This is inside the iBooks App on my iPad. Every titles witht the red ribbon indicates that it’s a small sample. Usually bewteen 10-15 pages. After that a button appears which quikcly let’s you buy the whole manga. Unfortunately this is only possible with a Japanese credit card or with some credit in your iTunes account.

japanese manga itunes-4

The selection is huge. Even more than on honto if I’m correct.

japanese manga itunes-3

The Anime just started a couple of weeks ago in Japan and Assassination Classrom is as popular as ever. I bought the first two volumes two years ago in Tokyo and still remember that I had no idea what that title was about. Never heard of it before. The fantastic cover artwork alone and alone hype surrounding the manga made me buy them nonetheless. I’m pretty much up to date with the manga. It’s quite amusing but the characters are lacking. Except for the main one, the teacher who runs the show.

japanese manga itunes

An here it is, the small button that let’s us take a peak inside so we can check out the art and make sure the Japanese is manageable for us. And it let’s us check for Furigana as well. Isn’t that awesome. Just click on センプル and the small preview will download on your tablet or phone.

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