News Commentary

Thoughts: Ken Akamatsu’s Free Manga Site

Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina, Negima!), announced that he will launch an ad-supported portal that dishes up free, out-of-print manga titles. Manga will by various creators will be posted with permission, and revenues will be split among every creator involved. I find this to be an interesting counter-move by Akamatsu, in the sense that it’s completely out of left field, and it’s brilliant. On one hand, it demolishes a number of arguments for piracy on the Japan side, including the ever-popular standbys:

  • It’s too expensive
  • It’s not convenient
  • It’s not available anymore
  • I prefer digital manga

In addition, the setup ensures that, while it isn’t much (online advertising revenue margins are slim), the creators are still seeing a form of return for their work.

As a fan of the classics, I see this as a wonderful opportunity to (eventually) preserve and curate those influential landmark titles like Lone Wolf & Cub, the original Dragon Ball, or classic Matsumoto works – titles that would be a dire loss to manga as a whole, were they to eventually fall to the ravages of time.

The announcement has led me to start thinking about the upcoming 37-publisher Western storefront again. For some reason, I can’t shake the feeling that this new service, if it does well, will be used as a giant negative by the many downloaders in the subculture. I foresee cries of “It’s free in Japan!” or similar echoing out among the scanlation downloaders, despite the fact that, in this case, the titles are old (Love Hina is 12 years old at this point), they were bought heavily, and they’re also being supported further by advertisements.

But, as we all know, that simply doesn’t matter as long as the word “free” bounces through what is increasingly becoming an echo chamber in some places.

About the author

Samantha Ferreira

Samantha Ferreira is Anime Herald’s founder and editor-in-chief. A Rhode Island native, Samantha has been an anime fan since 1992, and an active member of the anime press since 2002, when she began working as a reviewer for Anime Dream. She launched Anime Herald in 2010, and continues to oversee its operations to this day. Outside of journalism, Samantha actively studies the history of the North American anime fandom and industry, with a particular focus on the 2000s anime boom and bust. She’s a huge fan of all things Sakura Wars, and maintains series fansite Combat Revue Review when she has free time available. When not in the Anime Herald Discord, Samantha can typically be found on Bluesky.

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