It's almost time for Shonen Jump Alpha, Viz's experiment with digital manga, to launch, and they are offering some free manga this week so readers can get acquainted with the new magazine.
Viz is changing its monthly print magazine Shonen Jump into a weekly digital magazine, Shonen Jump Alpha paring it down to six stories, and speeding up the story lines so that each chapter is released in the new magazine just two weeks after it appears in Japan.
Shonen Jump Alpha launches on January 30, but right now, Viz is offering a 124-page "Issue 0" that is basically a full free issue. It includes a chapter each of the six series that will be carried in the new magazine: Bakuman, Bleach, Naruto, Nura; Rise of the Yokai Clan, One Piece and Toriko. These are recent chapters and are a few weeks behind the Japanese releases, but there's a synopsis page with each one to bring readers up to date. This Shonen Jump page also collects all the first chapters.
Viz is also offering Shonen Jump Alpha Origins, a 348-page collection of the first chapters of each of the six series. This is basically a compilation of the free previews that it has always offered, but it's nice to see them in one place.
Shonen Jump Alpha
launches on January 30, and subscriptions will cost $25.99 per year (for 48 issues). Current Shonen Jump subscribers who register for a digital subscription before January 30 will get three free digital graphic novels. For those who don't want to make the commitment, you can also buy four weeks' access to a single issue for $4.99.
Since the Japanese series are so far ahead of the American releases, Viz has been speeding up its digital releases of manga volumes. That continues this week with two more SJ titles, vol. 52 of Bleach and vol. 63 of One Piece, both available via both the website and the app.