Digital Manga Service Review: Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll is usually associated with streaming anime, but the site also has a manga service. When you enter their manga section, it brings up a listing of the service’s most popular titles with a picture to accompany each title. There is a way to view all of the titles in alphabetical order, but you don’t get any pictures with this option.

Looking through what’s available on Crunchyroll’s service, there aren’t a lot of big names included. The titles with the most name recognition on the service are Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail. There are a few others that have some recognition to Western readers, such as Ajin: Demi-Human, Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Crayon Shin-chan, Insufficient Direction, The Legend of Arslan, The Seven Deadly Sins, and UQ Holder!. But there are also a number of titles that aren’t very well known outside of Japan included as well, which could turn off manga readers who are looking for currently popular titles in the West. When it comes to the site’s selection, it would probably appeal more to readers who are looking to broaden their horizons beyond the titles that are readily available outside of Japan.

Crunchyroll’s manga app is available in over 170 countries, with the exception of Japan, China, France, Germany and Italy. Depending on the country where a user lives, some of the manga on the service may be region blocked on a title-by-title basis. The most common reason for region blocking is the Japanese publisher’s relationships in a particular country and their existing licensing situation there.

When it comes to Crunchyroll’s service, free users have very limited access to chapters. At best, free users can read the most recent chapter of a series. So, unlike the anime portion of the site, which allows free users to watch a new episode a week later and be able to access that episode until the series is removed from the site, the manga side is much more restrictive as to what free users can access.

Crunchyroll’s manga reader has the user scroll to either side of it in order to bring up the navigation arrow to turn the page. I discovered that even though an arrow appeared on both side of the reader at the beginning, only the one on the left-hand side works, since the manga are to be read from right-to-left. On the bottom of the reader, there is a plus button and a minus button. The plus button gives the reader the ability to zoom in slightly, but this causes the sides to be cut off, and the minus button returns the user to the normal viewing mode. This zoom feature doesn’t seem to truly help to make the manga easier to read since the differences between the two modes are so minor. A gear button at the bottom of the reader allows the reader to choose whether they want to read a one page spread or a two page spread. This is a nice feature to have, since readers will have different preferences for how they want to read their digital manga. Another button on the bottom allows the reader to go into full screen mode. The manga is easier to read if the reader is set in the full screen mode. And an orange slider bar at the bottom of the reader allows the user to select what page they want to read instead of constantly clicking on arrows.

The reader’s interface is easy to figure out rather quickly, which is a major plus. The only major drawback to Crunchyroll’s manga app is the fact that only paid subscribers can truly get anything out of it.

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