Digital Manga Bargains: One-Piece, Naruto, Sherlock Holmes

With the holidays coming up, manga publishers are offering some good deals to help you spend your gift money and iTunes cards—and even some free comics.

Last week I noted that Viz was offering 20% off on all volume 1's in their digital store; this week they announced they have expanded the sale to all volumes and extended it through midnight (PST) on January 8, 2012. The sale includes new volumes of Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece that aren't available in print yet, as well as full runs of older series like Death Note, Absolute Boyfriend, and Dragon Ball. Since most volumes are regularly priced at $4.99, the sale price is now $3.99, which is about as cheap as it gets (that's what shipping alone costs to buy physical secondhand copies on Amazon).

The digital manga service JManga is offering a special deal: Sign up for a new paid subscription (either $10 or $25) and they will throw in a digital copy of vol. 1 of Sherlock Holmes for free. This is, of course, not the familiar Sherlock Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories but a new manga version, in which Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, fight supernatural shadow-creatures in a London that is wracked by crime. Just be aware that you are signing up for a subscription, so you will be billed monthly until you cancel. Whether or not you bite on that deal, JManga has another free offer with no strings at all: Downloadable manga wallpapers featuring selected JManga titles. Both offers last until December 27.

Ken Akamatsu launched the Japanese manga site J-Comi a while ago with the idea of putting old, out-of-print manga online for free. The ads that run on the site provide income for the creators, who have all given their permission for the manga to be used—and he launched it with his own series, Love Hina. This week, he announced an English beta, although it's not the most user-friendly site. There's a list of titles with English subtitles on the J-Comi Facebook page, but be aware that the English is machine translated (so it's one step up from complete gibberish) and isn't placed in the word balloons but is in a separate window that overlays the bottom of the page. This site is probably most useful to people who know a little Japanese, but hopefully it will evolve into something wonderful that we all can use.

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