Anime News Network featured a news story about Voice Bank, a software company based in Japan, that wants to put manga at your fingertips. Back in July, Voice Bank demonstrated software to convert digital manga to fit the iphone screen, and was seeking partners to deliver content in the US. Then just a few days ago in Hong Kong, showed off digital manga available through Safari (the iphone web browser), as the Digital Manga Project. Right now, it is still just an experiment, as they are continuing to research the best way to deliver the content over a WiFi connection as well as new hardware and software.

Now, I’m not a big iphone/ipod fan. I don’t care for Steve Jobs and his totalitarian attitudes towards his customers, ie. limiting iphones to AT&T, not allowing phones to be unlocked or have third party apps and brick the phones of people who do with itunes updates. But I do have to admit what Voice Bank and the Digital Manga Project have done actually looks pretty good.

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The image is clean and is easily seen on the screen, unlike the conversions Tokyopop did of their OEL manga for the Sony E-Reader.

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Despite the size difference between screens (Sony is 6 in, iphone is 3.5 in), the iphone just looks better with it’s brighter white screen that really makes the art stand out. This is more like the printed page. I may change my mind once dialog is added to the iphone. But for right now, it’s way more impressive than the Sony E-Reader. I still won’t buy an iphone/itouch though.

The e-ink technology of the Sony E-Reader may be fine for just the written word, but for pictures, and manga especially, it needs to look as good as a printed book to be successful. Manga sells just as much on it’s images as it does story and characters. For e-manga to really take off, portable readers need to be able to duplicate the printed experience. If Voice Bank could do what it did on the iphone, for the Sony E-Reader, Amazon Kindle, or even portable devices like the palm, I think there could be a real market for digital manga.

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3 Comments for this entry

  • spammerhamster says:

    You are comparing a backlighted LCD-screen to eink. And a screenshot even…
    On pictures the eink display will look bad, because it’s nearly impossible to make a picture of it that does the screen credit.

    But you have to see it in real life. Here’s some nice comparison of the eink display vs the real deal

    http://hightech.afmag.net/reading-manga-and-comics-on-the-sony-reader-the-definitive-review.html

    That is with the old prs500, the newer PRS505 which I own has better contrast.

  • Thanks for the link. It had a lot of interesting information.

    I wish I could afford to buy the hardware to test these things myself. Both the Sony and the Kindle, I would love to be able to test them with my scans and see them in person, but being where I am, I can’t and have to rely on others/screenshots. Someday though…. I am more optimistic now, after that link.

  • Leanne says:

    Awesome. I can’t wait till they finally get the digital manga kicks off. I was just talking about this with another manga fan the other day about how nice it would be to be able to read manga on-the-go without carrying inches thick of manga books. I will keep a close eye on this one for sure.

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