Review by Ed Sizemore
I think by now my love of all things Tezuka is well-known. So you can imagine my delight when on July 13th it was announced that Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club had launched an English-language iPad app. The app promises immediate access to a digital library of 62 volumes of manga, with more volumes to be added later. The app itself is free to download. To access the library, you have to pay a monthly subscription fee of $9.99.
When I heard the news, I excitedly downloaded the app. There is some nice free content. You get an issue of Weekly Astro Boy Magazine that contains the Astro Boy story, “World’s Greatest Robot”; the first chapter of Phoenix: Karma; and the first chapter of Buddha: Brahmin. There are also 39 motion manga episodes available. These are chapters of series like Astro Boy, Black Jack, and Phoenix where panels are displayed and voice actors give dramatic readings to the dialog. This is all done in Japanese with English subtitles.
The heart of the app is the manga library. With the fee, you get the complete collections of Astro Boy, Ode to Kirihito, Apollo’s Song, Dororo, Buddha, MW, and Adolf. In addition, you get ten volumes of Black Jack and the first six volumes of Phoenix. While I own all these books in physical form, I was thrilled to have digital versions that would be much more portable.
Needless to say, I subscribed immediately. After getting the subscription confirmation from Apple, I tried to access the library. No such luck. I figured it might take a while for everything to get processed, so I waited 24 hours and tried again. I was still unable to access the library. After three days, I decided to contact the magazine.
While the app may be in English, the magazine’s website is not. Thankfully, Google’s translation function enabled me to get to the contact page, and I sent an email telling of my problems accessing the library. I waited four days and got no response. So I sent a second email expressing my grave disappointment. I also contacted Apple to report problems with the app and request a refund of my subscription. I’m still waiting to hear from either the magazine or Apple.
I probably shouldn’t have had my hopes up. Last year, I downloaded the Astro Boy Magazine app for the iPhone. It never worked either. You could download and view the first free issue with no problem, but I was never able to get subsequent issues to download. Either I got a connection error or the issue took so long to download that iTunes timed out.
I had wanted to write a review telling everyone with an iPad to download this app immediately. Instead, I’m telling everyone to avoid the Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club app. It doesn’t work. That’s truly heartbreaking for English-speaking fans of Tezuka. If Tezuka Pro wants to know why Tezuka isn’t better known in America, failures like this are a good reason.
Update: Last night, Apple told me they would refund my subscription fee.