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Mon, 23 Jan '12

Diving Into Digital: The Complete Exclusive Preview of Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha

Manga goes mobile with Viz's new app

Nothing can quite compare to the feel of holding a freshly purchased manga volume in your hands, but having brand new manga delivered to your iPhone or iPad is one heck of a consolation prize. On January 30, Viz will debut its much-touted Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha,the world's first digital manga magazine, marking an exciting new chapter in manga publishing and reasons to never look up from our phones again. As we all know, patience is a virtue, but waiting is for suckers, so we're here with an exclusive preview for you.

The app itself is very user-friendly, which made navigating its sleek interface a snap. With a large back catalog also available in the Viz Store, you can easily catch up on titles you may have missed or difficult-to-locate volumes. While we were initially hesitant about digital manga, the size of the iPad's screen is comparable to the size of a physical manga volume, which made reading a breeze. Plus, the device's backlight means that the only thing limiting your reading pleasure is battery life, rather than daylight. With six weekly titles (Bakuman, Bleach, Naruto, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, One Piece, and Toriko) clocking in at around 120 pages per issue, WSJA is a great bang for your buck. For an annual fee of $25.99, you will receive 48 issues of the digital magazine or you can opt to spend $0.99 for single issues. Just think of all the Pocky you'll be able to buy with your extra scratch! 

The only strange part of this model is the accessibility: annual subscribers will be able to access their issues for 52 weeks from the date of purchase and single issues purchasers will have four weeks of unfettered access, which begs the question - why limit access at all? Perhaps it's a tactic to encourage print sales of serialized volumes, but it does seem a bit like you're renting a magazine as opposed to owning it. However, this is a minor concern when compared to the breadth of WSJA's catalog and the convenience and portability afforded by digital distribution. While it isn't perfect, Viz has definitely delivered the goods with Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha and we look forward to seeing it grow and evolve. Now, if you'll excuse us, we're going see if Naruto's going to use Kage Bunshin no Jutsu for the billionth time (SPOILER: he did). 

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