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.
ANN has reported on a press release from Suncorp, a digital distribution company in Japan. Leiji Matsumoto, the creator of iconic titles such as Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, and Space Battleship Yamato, is creating an original online comic project that will appear on Nintendo Wii’s Wiiware store sometime this summer. For now, the announcement only states this will be available in Japan, but it also states that the unnamed comic “is aimed at his [Matsumoto’s] global fans.”
Now, a new series from Matsumoto is exciting enough. But seeing it distributed online through the Wii is even cooler! Even though there is no official announcement of overseas distribution, the mention of how global his work is does give one hope that there will be. The Wiiware store so far only has older and/or independent games. This branching out into other medium seems to show Nintendo’s commitment to make the Wii more of an entertainment console than just gaming as originally stated. But, I do like this slower roll-out than Sony’s or Microsoft’s proclamation to take over your entertainment system with their consoles. At least with the Wii, you can also get games and demos for the DS, which are beamed wirelessly from the Wii. And here is where it can get really cool!
As I’ve said before, I think the DS would make a perfect e-book reader for manga and comics. Individuals have come up with hacks, but this seems to be another official step from Nintendo to make it a reality. Having an established and well known artist do the debut just gives it more credibility.
The Wiiware store could become another place for publishers to advertise their books by making sample chapters free for download, and full chapters/volumes available for a reasonable price. The structure will already be in place, and the core audience will already be looking. They may even be able to pick up some adult readers, as the Wii is popular with all ages and demographics.