Accessibility is key. The more cost effective platforms that allow people to access large libraries of high-quality content, the better. Not only do they offset the growing threat of circulated pirated content, but well organized platforms can also offer a means of promoting series that might’ve originally gone unrecognized.
MangaPlaza was founded by NTT Solmare, whose top-class digital manga and ebook site Comic CMOA has led the market in Japan and greater Asia for more than 20 years.This digital manga store was launched in 2022 in the U.S. and offers a wide range of series from various well known Japanese publishers such as Kodansha, and even has titles that have never been previously released in English. For a monthly fee you can gain access to dozens of thousands of chapters all at once, or you can take your time and purchase titles one part at a time. That all sounds well and good but what about the actual content that is on display? What exactly is MangaPlaza offering? Obviously it would be impossible to break down every single individual title that is made available but even at a cursory glance, it’s possible to select just five titles that encompass a wide range of interests.
In a vast sea of supernatural stories that focus on young adolescents saving the world, maybe it would be nice to sit down and read a simple story about a young woman dealing with her lack of sexual experience in a very sex-forward world. Ripe for the Picking follows a thirty two year old woman who struggles with a growing insecurity that comes with the lack of physical intimacy she has had in her life. As early as the first chapter we get a very simple yet real story about how the expectations we force upon ourselves are very easily influenced by the expectations that society puts on us before we even have a chance to ask what it is we want out of our relationships with other people.
[Ripe for the Picking ©️AZUSA ITAKURA/HOUBUNSHA]
Then some stories like Love and Hell, take that twisted relatability a step further by following an adult woman who finds herself in a twisted sexually charged affair with a man that is married and has a two-year-old daughter. She knows it’s wrong and that the situation is fleeting, but there’s still that desperate part of her that thinks everything will work out and her love will be reciprocated. Then when that door slams firmly in her face just as she had reached some level of complacency with the situation, you feel that sting despite the uncomfortable situation.
[Love and Hell ©️Daisuke Imai / COMIC ROOM 2022]
But maybe you need a break from the realism of stories like this and just want to indulge in something that is much more on the lighter side? Stories like Just Like Dad! manage to tell a fairly relatable story but in a more quirky and fantastical way. What starts as a divide between a rather difficult father and his maturing daughter takes a sudden turn for the weird when the father suddenly wakes up in the body of a small rabbit. They say don’t judge a book by its cover but the cover of an adorable rabbit with dad glasses and a little hat sums up the tone that this story is going for rather perfectly.
[Just Like Dad! ©️Noriko Ohtani/SHODENSHA Publishing CO.,LTD.]
But would you believe me if I said you could find just as much absurdity in a story about a man wearing a paper bag on his head? Mr. Paper Bag is in Love is an adorable quirky comedy about a young woman who finds herself on the receiving end of a secret admirer who is so riddled with anxiety that he can’t even bear to take a paper bag off of his head to expose himself. That sounds like a recipe for disaster but Mr. Paper Bag threads a very delicate line of having comedically charged slapstick without crossing over into uncomfortable territory given the premise. If anything, our titular character ends up being one of the most wholesome characters I think I’ve ever read about in a manga, and this is coming from a character whose face isn’t revealed. At the end of the day, he just wants the person that he likes to be happy whether it’s with or without him, which just makes his antics rather adorable in their own way.
[Mr. Paper Bag is in Love ©️Riko Amaebi/libre]
So those are two opposite extremes of the storytelling spectrum but what about something right down the middle? Plus-sized Misadventures in Love! is a series that sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable with its rather depressing subject matter, but uses that to springboard into a rather hopefully optimistic story. When we have a character who has clearly had a rough time due to the unfair prejudices of society and give them a chance to restart life with a blank slate, this story shows that sometimes living for yourself rather than for other people can lead to a very different experience. The extremes at which the story goes to convey its messaging feels intentional when you consider the overall premise, and much like all the other characters I’ve talked about here, I want our young lead to succeed in getting the happy life that she deserves.
[Plus-sized Misadventures in Love! ©️mamakari/Solmare Publishing]
That is probably the best selling point of a lot of the series that you can find on MangaPlaza. Whether it’s fantasy, romance or science-fiction, there is a genuine sense of connection that is easy to identify and empathize with. Some stories are brutally relatable while others take advantage of the absurd to highlight a specific message or theme. But with the sheer quality and quantity of content on the platform, you definitely couldn’t go wrong by going to MangaPlaza and checking out what they have to offer at your own pace.