MangaBox is the free manga service that…has not managed to make any progress since it debuted in 2014.
Back then, a high number of titles were available to read on the service. You had a fairly good yaoi manga in In a Heartbeat; a super, messy, violent manga in Peephole; and even a spinoff of the super popular Attack on Titan series, Spoof on Titan.
Yes, 5 titles for an app that once housed 15-20 new manga consistently. If you check the website, you’ll see numerous manga made available in English, and none of them are now. Some like Billion Dogs, Red Blood Legacy and Fling Girls ended conclusively, but others like Schoolgirl Landlord Honoka, Old Man Frog, and Tawara Cat were dropped during its run.
The big issue is the lack of manga on the service. It’d be one thing if Japan was in the same boat, but Japan’s MangaBox has over 30+ titles since 2015. Did you know that there was a Ghost in the Shell and Space Dandy manga on MangaBox? Only for Japanese MangaBox!
So, what gives? I can only suspect a few things:
I would have to believe DeNA sees the numbers for their manga titles. They must’ve seen that some titles just weren’t read much, so why pay translators to translate them?
Simply put, they can’t find enough translators to actually translate all the manga. It seems to be an issue in general for manga publishers (after all Seven Seas and Yen Press put out a call for more translators in the past year), so it would make sense that DeNA can’t find many translators after all.
I wrote years ago that Peephole was banned on Android, and within the article I noted translators had to consider other factors while translating titles:
I had talked to Abby Lehrke, who’s the translator on Hideki’s Can’t Ride a Bicycle and Kazuhiro Urata’s My Grandpa’s Stories Can’t Be This Weird! (to name a few), and she let me know how much work she’s had to do (though it was fine after the initial start), how she was surprised that people were reading MangaBox in the US, and how she’s had to redo some manga. “The Android market is apparently more strict about stuff like raunchy jokes (and later on added, “d*** jokes) and stuff,” she told me over email. That made me ask her about some tweets I saw about Google Play removing some stuff a few weeks ago, and she essentially confirmed that; they even took out a couple of comics from Yoko Sanri’s Milk on The Farm 4-panel comic.
Well I decided to randomly look back at Peephole on my iPad, and found this atrocity in the Digest section:
I knew that something like this was happening, particularly with titles like Love and Lies and High-Rise Invasion. But this was not there when I read it years ago. Combine that with the differing restrictions between Google and Apple, this must’ve been a factor with regards to further releases.
So my guess is that they are planning on phasing out the MangaBox service in English. It’s a popular app in Japan, yet it must not be reaching the numbers it needs and the restrictions are hampering it. It has a number of ratings (and reviews) on Android, but it has none in the Apple App Store and it seems like no one I know is even following the service.
…So I have to ask: is anyone still reading the service? Have you been reading it since it started? Do you think this service is going to be done this year or maybe there’s some hope?
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I’ve to say I totally forgot about this service and so I haven’t been visiting or using it. I used to read In a Heartbeat and I followed it till the end. I wasn’t really interested in any of the other titles offered, so I was only reading that one title.
Since there’s no talk about this service in what seems like ages, I’d say it won’t be around for long and as you mentioned, if people aren’t using the service, why would they hire translators to work on more series to begin with?
Aw, there were a few other decent titles, and for free it was fine. I think.
But look at all the Mangabox manga Japan has been getting!..ok, maybe phone restrictions play a role, but still! And yeah, I’ve mostly noticed this on twitter. It could be popular somewhere on the internet. Or, uh, not.
I still have it on my iPad, but the only one I read is Holiday Love. I don’t even really like it. I’m just waiting for the inevitable catfight or attempted murder. For a lot of the series, seemed like chapters were too short to wait 2, sometimes 3 weeks for.
Hey, Holiday Love is fine!…and uh, I don’t think it’ll go the way of Fling Girls lol
But you actually bring up another point: certain MangaBox titles were (and still are) scheduled weirdly that’s for sure. Like this was definitely the case for Kindachi Case Files: The Vacation…
Dolly Kill Kill is a fantastic series imo since it has fantastic art. The main issue about Mangabox titles is that you cannot legally support some series if you want to catch up (like nothing on Bookwalker for volume collections… which is a major issue for any fans of any series).
Seven Seas licensed the print version of High Rise Invasion and hopefully they will redo the whole edits. The typesetting for Mangabox titles are pretty bad tbh
Dolly Kill Kill is nuts lol but the art is definitely good.
Yeah I was talking to someone on twitter about that — the fact that you can’t actually read all of what was on the service is a major flaw in the service. That was definitely something I brought up years ago, and it’s a shame they weren’t able to do anything about that.
I imagine they’ll definitely do some fixes for High Rise Invasion, it’s definitely needed in some areas.