In a surprise announcement, VIZ Media launched a new app this morning: VIZ Manga. Similar to the company’s successful Shonen Jump app, the new VIZ Manga app will offer an all-you-can-binge monthly subscription service – currently priced at $1.99 – with access to the most recent chapters (simultaneously released with Japan) being free. The service is currently only available in the US and Canada, with more territories to be added later.

In a video, VIZ Media CEO Ken Sasaki said:

“Four years ago we launched the new Shonen Jump. It’s been very successful. The number of fans reading official manga has grown dramatically and it’s time to expand. It’s clear you love new simulpub chapters and access to series as part of a digital subscription. There are many types of manga and I am so proud to announce a new service to meet the needs of the broader manga community – VIZ Manga.”

He added,

“VIZ editors, with over 200 years of combined experience have curated a new service offering high-quality manga series from romance and fantasy to horror and slice of life from legendary creators.

“The new VIZ Manga service launches today. Subscribe to VIZ Manga and you can access a massive digital library of over 10,000 chapters on your favourite device. Also, we are excited to offer many series published simultaneously with Japan in English for the very first time. The latest simulpub chapters are free for everyone.”

Series and mangaka featured in the new app will include:

  • Tomohito Oda‘s Komi Can’t Communicate
  • Haro Aso’s Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead and Alice In Borderland
  • Rumiko Takahashi – including Ranma ½ , Inuyasha, and Yashahime
  • Junji ItoUzumaki and other works
  • Kotoyama‘s Call of the Night
  • Ai Yazawa’s Nana

Digital manga purchases from VIZ will also be available in the VIZ Manga app. However – while the app will feature a huge swathe of content, it isn’t going to be a limitless library: according to VIZ’s FAQ on the new app, mature rated books and series will not be available on the app due to content restrictions. Also some series are still having their chapter library filled out so there will be gaps in places.

VIZ Media has been gradually scaling up operations in the digital space over the past decade. Since 2011, it has gone from an app delivering each English language issue of popular manga anthology magazine Shonen Jump via subscription before shifting to its “digital vault” model Shonen Jump app in December 2018 – which featured free access to early and most recent digital chapters from the magazine, with a monthly subscription to access the full back catalogue. At the time this was relatively unusual and there were few (legal and official) rival manga services in the digital space. Today VIZ faces a more complex and competitive marketplace with alternatives like VIZ owner Shuesha’s free simulpub app Manga Plus, Square Enix’s Manga UP, and direct competitor Kodansha’s own service K Manga launching May 11.