Thanks to my partner, who is never quite as much of a cautious adopter as I am, we’re now proud caregivers of a couple of iPads. I’m still figuring out what exactly to do with it aside from coo over the fact that it’s really neat, but I’m sure I’ll be able to incorporate it into my time-wasting infrastructure without too much difficulty.

So far, I’ve only dabbled with a few comics apps and downloaded a few freebies, mostly from Archie, to see how they read. They’ve all looked fine, and my protests of being a dead-tree partisan will undoubtedly abate as more material becomes available. I won’t be quite so cautious when it comes to making unreasonable requests about just what kind of material I’d like to see.

In that direction, it’s very convenient that Kate posted the latest i-nnouncement from Viz Media over at The Manga Critic. My first reaction to the content available on the Viz app was that it was extremely cautious. That’s a sensible enough decision to make from a business standpoint, but it doesn’t exactly set my consumer’s heart racing. Their initial offerings were exactly the kind of titles I’d have absolutely no difficulty finding in any chain bookstore just about anywhere in the continental United States.

The recent round of additions is a bit exciting in that three of my very favorite current Viz titles – Children of the Sea, Cross Game and The Story of Saiunkoku – have been added to the roster, but that’s the excitement of a partisan seeing increased availability of and exposure for products he enjoys and admires. So while it’s rewarding to see Viz add more shôjo and seinen, they have a ways to go before my personal needs will be served.

One of Kate’s suggestions for Viz particularly resonated for me:

“(3) dig into their archives and resurrect out-of-print gems such as A A’, Banana Fish, Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President, Firefighter! Daigo of Company M, From Far Away, Please Save My Earth, and Urusei Yatsura.”

And since I can never resist the urge to list things, I thought I’d throw out five Viz properties that should be made available on the iPad:

Sexy Voice and Robo, written and illustrated by Iou Kuroda: Part of my love for this comic is the physical production of it, with its phone-book dimensions and appropriately pulpy paper. It’s hard to find, though, and if we can assume that the average iPad user might be a little older, I think this book might find a new audience through this device.

Phoenix, written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka: Until Vertical works out contractual agreements and unveils its own app, this is seems like a reasonable opportunity to get one of Tezuka’s masterworks available in digital form. You’re in great shape if you can read Japanese, but English-only readers are out of luck so far.

Four Shôjo Stories, featuring works by Moto Hagio, Keiko Nishi, and Shio Satô: This one is a result of pure selfishness, as the available copies of this out-of-print collection are just too damned expensive. From a more self-righteous place, I think every manga publisher should devote at least some effort to publishing challenging, off-the-beaten-path works by women for women. The iPad seems like a natural habitat for that kind of material.

The Drifting Classroom, written and illustrated by Kazuo Umezu: Seriously, is there any mass transit experience that couldn’t be improved by the ability to read deranged Umezu manga? Sure, you risk strange looks from fellow travelers as you giggle at the over-the-top violence and total disregard for the well-being of children, but come on. Tell me this wouldn’t rock. I dare you.

Monster, written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa: In spite of near-universal critical acclaim, Urasawa’s works don’t seem to have earned matching commercial success, which has always struck me as odd. He writes the kind of genre-bending, sort-of-intellectual thrillers that a lot of prose readers really love. Maybe digital availability would give those prose readers incentive to give a graphic version of their genre of choice a shot.

So what Viz titles would you like to see on one of their digital platforms?



  1. I know it’ll probabally never happan but it would be nice to see Urusei Yatsura get put out on a degital format maybe since there is less overhead it would also be nice to see some older Shojo titles like Boys Over Flowers, Basra, or Red River also but that’s just wishfull thinking.

  2. Kim Thompson at Fantagraphics recently wrote an opinion piece on how the North American comics scene lacks something of a middlebrow audience. That is to say, the audience here is split between either “art comix” or “superheroes”. There are no Dean Koontzes or Tom Clancies over here—more accurately, there isn’t an audience for those types of writers in comics.

    Urasawa is pretty big in Japan, but over here he doesn’t movemanga in large quantities as you say (though I guess they do well enough). I personally put Urasawa in the same league as those page-turning novelists. His stories may be a bit more ambitious than your common paperback thriller, but he strikes me as creator of middlebrow adult entertainment, and this comic book audience isn’t particularly strong in North America…yet.

    • Sorry, a correction—I recently *read* an opinion article by Kim Thompson. But the article was written several years ago.

      Nevertheless, I still think it applies today.

    • David Welsh says:

      I think you’re quite right. Another analog might be J.J. Abrams, who does twisty genre stuff all the time. Maybe Viz should just send Abrams some comps of Urasawa’s works. I bet he’d like them.

  3. Jade Harris says:

    Dark Horse seems to be going a little further with their content, but it’s true, publishers aren’t really taking advantage of the medium. This is surprising from Viz considering how much sigIkki went against the digital comic grain and found a measure of success. The conservative approach could definitely be on the heads of the licensors though.

    I’m surprised Monster isn’t available, it seems like a real flagship for Viz’s signature line.

    • David Welsh says:

      I just downloaded the Dark Horse app last night, and I’m quite impressed with how aggressive they’re being (and how generous they are with freebies and low-cost first volumes). I read a bunch of Litlle Lulu comics last night and didn’t pay a dime.

      • Jade Harris says:

        Ooo, nice. Coincidentally, I saw a Simpsons episode Wednesday where Alan Moore pulls out a book of Little Lulu strips. I’m not sure if that means anything to you, cosmically…hopefully not.

  4. Frustratingly, the Viz app isn’t available outside the US, or at least not here in Malaysia.

  5. Viz had to pull Four Shôjo Stories because they didn’t have any legal right to release it on paper (hence its scarcity) so I can’t imagine they’d have any more luck releasing it digitally.
    I mean, I suppose they could maybe release the individual component stories separately (since they did have the rights to publish them as stand-alone works) but most of them are already cheaply available as floppies so I’m not sure there’d be much point.

  6. I would love to see all of Naoki Urasawa work on the Viz app. I’ve completely read Pluto and Monster by him and loved them both. I’ve gotten the first 4 volumes of 20th Century Boys and would buy the rest of them in the Viz app if they were available.

  7. Matthew J. Brady says:

    For more digital Tezuka work, there’s an app for the iPhone (and thus, presumably, for the iPad) called Astro Boy Magazine that serializes Astro Boy stories and other stuff, including Adolf. It’s a subscription model, where you pay for each monthly “issue”.

    So, yeah, I vote for Viz to digitize Adolf.


  1. […] move, including using the app to bring back some out-of-print gems; this inspires David Welsh to make a list. David’s latest print license request is Sakuna Hitona, a josei manga that has already been […]