Earlier this Summer, when numerous popular manga scanlation websites began to take down pages of unauthorized versions of translated Japanese and Korean comics, fans all over the world howled in dismay. A common refrain heard in the online forums? "Why can't there be a Crunchyroll for manga?"
Then Crunchyroll, the popular U.S.-based online site for streaming anime made some intriguing announcements. First, that they received a $750,000 investment from Bitway, a Japanese company that specializes in publishing for cell phones that is also part of a consortium of 34 Japanese publishers. Second, Crunchyroll announced (somewhat vaguely) that they were working to "create a definitive solution for the transition of manga to the digital age."
Many fans and industry watchers wondered: Is Crunchyroll making a move to do for manga what they did for anime? That is, work directly with the Japanese publishers to offer manga online for a flat, all-you-can-eat subscription fee for fans? Well, kind of yes, but mostly no.
I recently spoke with Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao about his company's plans to shake things up in the online manga world. In my interview with Gao, he revealed that Crunchyroll isn't looking to add comics content to their website -- they're working on developing online tools and a plug-and-play publishing and business platform for any publisher to offer (and possibly profit) from publishing manga online quickly and easily.
Take a look at my chat with Kun Gao, and see what he revealed to me about Crunchyroll's plans to unveil something new (and possibly game-changing) to the world of online manga publishing sometime very soon.
Image credits: © Crunchyroll