The Japanese are at it again… Digital manga via Nintendo devices is in the news again. This time though, it’s from the people that it matters most; the manga publishers. From a news article from Manga Jouhou, the four largest manga publishers Kadokawa, Kodansha, Shueisha, and Shogakukan have formed a joint venture with a software house that will bring digital manga to the Wii console. The venture is called Librica and is the first serious step from the creators of the content to bring to a wider audience.
The Wii enjoys a great deal of popularity in Japan as well as the US. Here in the States, stores still can’t keep Wii’s stocked for more than a few days. It has caught the attention of casual gamers and made games, at one time a solitary pasttime into a social experience again. Bringing manga to it may be able to do the same, and give it the boost it’s needed to get out of it’s slump.
What’s even more exciting, and a potential breakthrough is talk again of bring manga through the Wii to the NDS. I was listening to Manga Pulse podcast last week, and the hosts were discussing “online piracy” and some of the manga publishers reactions to it from AX. Go Comi! was brought up especially of poo-pooing the idea of digital manga because US cellphone screens are too small. I think this is very small minded of them. While the Kindle and iphone are both options, they preclude a HUGE segment of the population. Focusing digital media to just these platforms is short-sighted. And I’m afraid most of the manga publishers probably share this thinking.
I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to keep saying it. The Nintendo DS is the perfect system to getting manga to a large, and manga biggest audience right now. It has two three inch screens, in color with one having touch capabilities. It’s sturdy enough to survive in kid’s hands. I know my two kids haven’t killed either of their’s yet. They just keep losing stylis’. Isn’t this just SCREAMING to be taken advantage of? The Japanese seem to think so. Librica is also dropping hints that manga can be brought to the NDS through the Wii. You can already download games to the DS through the Wii. It’s doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to do the same with manga.
This system has GOT to come over to the US. We are just ripe for it! Cellphone makers and carriers just keep playing games, and don’t want to give up the control they have over what we can see and do on our cellphones. I wouldn’t hold my breath or place any money on seeing manga on a cellphone (other than an iphone) anytime soon. But, with three of the publishers in the Librica venture now having a presence in the US, maybe there can be hope of seeing it on the Wii and DS. And there’s already an estabilshed base to market to. This is a manga revolution just waiting to happen.