Crunchyroll Manga – A Review of the New Crunchyroll Manga Section

With Crunchyroll getting into the manga business, I thought I should do a review of the Crunchyroll manga section.  Within this context, I will also be providing tips to help folks avoid pitfalls I encountered.

Crunchyroll’s foray into the world of legal, online manga publishing is one I highly welcome, especially since they are doing “simulpub” work, meaning that for the manga they’ve licensed which is currently being published in weekly/monthly/whatever magazines in Japan, we are getting them on the same day in West and beyond to some 170 countries.  While there are only twelve manga titles currently licensed by Crunchyroll, should they add to this count, the service will only become better and better.

One does NOT need to be a member of Crunchyroll in order to read the most current chapter of their simulpub titles. As such, those simply wishing to read the most current chapter in Crunchyroll’s collection can do so for free.  You do have to watch an advertisement prior to being allowed to read the manga though.

Navigation is quite simple, and I think most will find it better than the scanlation aggregation sites standard manga viewers. Readers are given an option of either a 2-page spread (recommended for those times when the manga artwork spreads over two pages) or a single page at a time. Moving between pages is as simple as either clicking the left side of the panel to advance (Japanese style), or the right side to go back. There’s also an option to zoom in/out, and one can go full screen if one wishes. On my 28″ screen monitor set to 2560 x 1440, the manga page is crisp and clear at full screen mode, even on the free side. Very nice for seeing more details in the artwork.

For those wanting to sample more of the manga goods beyond just the most current chapter, you’ll have to become a premium member. Crunchyroll offers a two week free trial just for that purpose. If you’ve never been a member of Crunchyroll, you could even select their top premium account tier, thus giving you unlimited access to not only all of their manga, but anime and drama too.

IMPORTANT NOTE!!!!  When going for a free trial, you will be DEFAULTED to the “Anime Premium” plan, meaning your free trial will only allow you to watch anime.

If you want to change your premium membership plan, you have to change it at the top, which is easy to miss because the whole notion of a “free premium membership” means you get it all, not what they default you to.

In my opinion, Crunchyroll should have a better system in place for this, whereby they make it CLEAR that you have a choice of membership options, not just what they default you to.  Make a point of saying, “Pick a plan” first thing before choosing a ID/password.  Every other place I’ve ever signed up for makes things really clear on what you are getting. While I did see the “Anime Premium Membership” when I initially signed up, I just figured that this was what they called their free trial, or that it was all they gave away, but I’d still get free manga access as well.

If you do screw up, customer service is not the greatest. It appears that Crunchyroll uses one of those hideous systems whereby some computer application scans the submitted e-mail for key words, then formulates a response for the customer service person to send back. As a result, it took quite a few back-and-forth e-mails to Crunchyroll before someone actually bothered to read my e-mail, then told me I’d accidentally chosen the wrong option.  Technically, Crunchyroll chose the option, but I didn’t realize I had the ability to choose something else. But I digress…

I did my free trial via PayPal, and this is another ding I’m putting on Crunchyroll, though I doubt they’ll change how they do things since they could score a few extra dollars doing it their way.  The free trial puts you on a PayPal subscription plan automatically. So, when I chose “All Access Premium Plan,” Crunchyroll was then authorized to immediately deduct the $11.95 subscription fee the moment the free trial ended.  I would rather that have been a non-subscription free trial, but if you sign up and then forget about it, they just score $11.95.

Changing my subscription plan from “All Access” to “Manga” was easy enough by accessing my account settings. Switching from a monthly subscription to yearly one saved me nearly $20.

It should be noted that if one doesn’t have a credit card, one can get premium access for free by  going through various sponsor links and getting credits (like many online games have an option to do).

Even after making a premium manga (or “All Access”) purchase, you’ll notice that for a title like Fairy Tail or Attack on Titan, Crunchyroll only has the chapters that Kodansha Comics currently hasn’t published, or scheduled to have published.  As a member, they’ll give you a discount to sell you a copy of the printed edition of the book. Frankly, I found this disappointing, but not unexpected since the fear is you wouldn’t buy a printed copy (or a DRM-infested ebook copy) if you could read the old volumes online for a subscription price.  I expect that when Kodansha Comics publishes volume 1 of UQ Holder, the first chapters that are in that volume will be removed as well, though I could be wrong. We’ll see since UQH started from scratch, unlike Fairy Tail and Attack on Titan.

Much like Crunchyroll’s anime section, the quality of the manga translations solely depends on the whims of the translator. So for UQ Holder, the Twins are keeping the translations in line with how they handled Negima!, which for me, is a pure win. For Coppelion, no offense to the translator for this manga, but I kept cringing because of the lack of Japanese honorifics and insertion of “superior” Western honorifics at times. ^_^; Most of the manga titles appear to retain Japanese honorifics though, and I do plan on giving these other titles a try since I’m paying for the privilege.

Since this piece is already long enough, I’ll write another article stating how I think Crunchyroll’s manga section can get even better.

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3 Responses to “Crunchyroll Manga – A Review of the New Crunchyroll Manga Section”

  1. arimareiji says:

    As ridiculous as it probably sounds, I was already on the all-access plan, not for the dramas (which I don’t watch)… but because I felt guilty about what I perceive as being undercharged. For $7 a month, you get a vast library of anime that puts the 2-5x as expensive Netflix to shame. But at least IMO, this comes back to bite them in the butt on the pricing for manga. Even though objectively it’s not unreasonable, by comparison it seems like an overcharge when they want $5 a month for only 12 manga titles when $7 a month gets you so much more for anime.

    On another note… at least to me, the viewer controls are much more clunky than the standard viewer scanlation sites use. (More controls, true, but less intuitive and the extra controls aren’t necessarily useful.) And for a smaller monitor like mine, it actually loses even more detail than a scanlation. But YMMV – I’m glad to hear that it was actually a better experience on your end.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I only went for manga-only as a means of limiting my expenses while supporting the Crunchyroll effort.

      >And for a smaller monitor like mine, it actually loses even more detail than a scanlation.

      Well, they do have the zoom function, which I use on my laptop.

  2. […] recently wrote about my experiences with the new, Crunchyroll manga section.  I find Crunchyroll’s foray into manga to be a good […]

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