Comic books are a great part of pop culture. A fusion of the elegance of the written word and the expressive power of art. Yeah, that sounds cheesy. Count me as a fan.
Growing up on Western comic books, it’s refreshing to be introduced to a completely different comic book culture. Those of you already familiar with manga (Japanese comics) will agree on the demonstrable abundance of stories in this comic book industry. And what better companion to travel through the manga landscape than your trusty iPad?
Previously, Jessica Cam Wong rounded up excellent comic reading apps for your tablet. We also talked about the best free websites to read manga online. Five sites where you can read manga online for free. Today, I’m making a case for bridging the two. With its portability, touchscreen interface, and robust (maybe even Retina) resolution, your iPad is the ideal way to enjoy digital comics. This, of course, includes manga. In fact, there are several manga-specific apps that make amazing use of your tablet’s features.
Manga Rock 2 (full version $4.49).
Manga Rock, which started with a classic, has long dominated the iOS App Store as one of the great tablet manga readers. Recently, Manga Rock 2 came on the scene promising an even better manga reading experience.
Manga Rock 2 introduces a number of scanlation sources. For English readers, these include MangaReader, MangaHere, MangaFox, and MangaEden. International readers, however, can rejoice as Manga Rock 2 offers manga to Seven different languages; English, German, Spanish, French Italian, Vietnamese and Chinese.
The reading interface is easy on the eyes and carries all the standard whistles and bells you’d expect from a comic book reader. You can read your manga from right to left, or make things more complicated by reading from left to right. For those who want to read in landscape mode, you can pan the images both vertically and horizontally.
Although some titles might be left out due to licensing issues, Manga Rock 2 offers a very large selection of manga. You can start streaming these scanlations immediately, with very fast loading times. Purchasing the full version (priced below a very reasonable USD 5) removes the ads, allowing you to download a number of manga chapters to your device for offline reading.
Manga Rock 2 is great if you want quick access to a large database of comics. If you have access to an internet connection, it doesn’t matter what comics you wanted to bring with you. You can still read everything. If you want a reliable, offline database of comic books, you can either spend the money on the full version or go the old route. If you still like to download your manga in zippers, you can use a number of qualified comic reader apps to enjoy them on your tablet.
Last year, we reviewed ComicBookLover for the iPad. I still recommend it as one of the best universal comic reading apps for iPad. It has a smooth interface, feels good to use, and lets you switch between English and Japanese with the touch of a button in the upper right corner. It also doesn’t hurt that the app is free.
The iPad ComicBookLover app lets you transfer a number of comics using iTunes file sharing, FTP, WebDAV, Box, Dropbox, SkyDrive, or Google Drive. However, if you have a Mac, you can manage your manga (and other comics) in an iTunes-like app on your desktop and transfer them to your iPad over a local network.
VIZ Manga [No longer available.]
VIZ Manga intends to offer the counterpart to these comic marketplaces. at least for American users. Unfortunately, VIZ Manga is not available in all app stores worldwide. For now, it seems to be focused on the American market.
VIZ Manga lets you purchase licensed titles like Naruto on your iPad, usually for around $4.99 USD. That sounds like a lot of money, but you get what you pay for. The user interface of VIZ Manga feels incredibly well suited to the iPad. The manga you are reading feels right for your tablet. Free previews of some manga are offered, so you can check out the app with no obligation to buy. All in all, this is an app that I hope will spread to more international markets.
Your iPad’s browser
A very basic manga reader is already present on your iPad. That’s right; the browser Although it’s not as closely tied to your iPad’s touchscreen capabilities, there are many great websites where you can read manga online. My personal favorite is Kissmanga, because it lets you create all the pages of a manga chapter at once – or you can just hold it and take it to one page at a time.
In fact, most websites work pretty well on the iPad once you give up tapping to type and tolerate the ads. Some of these sites even allow you to tag your favorite manga, so you can create a seamless reading experience across all devices. Once you’ve selected a site you want to visit, one of Safari’s key features lets you create a button for the site on your home screen.
What’s your favorite way to read manga on your iPad? Tell us why in the comment section below the article!