Last year, I called Viz the digital publisher of the year for their forward-thinking policies and releases.
This year, with so many established programs, there haven’t been quite as many visible or outstanding achievements — but they’re ending the year with a doozy. Beginning January 21, 2013, their weekly digital magazine Shonen Jump Alpha will be published simultaneously with the Japanese print version. When launched, SJA was on a two-week delay — translation does take time, after all — but now, that window is gone.
Weekly SJ Alpha, available exclusively on the VIZ Manga digital platform, will feature new installments of Bleach, Cross Manage, Naruto, Nisekoi, One Piece, and Toriko on the same day as their general release in Japan. Monthly series such as Blue Exorcist, Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal will debut the closest Monday after the Japanese release. There are also plans for additional series to join the Weekly SJ Alpha lineup.
I hadn’t heard anything about Nisekoi, but that’s apparently because I only care about print. There’s been no mention of a book for sale, but you can already purchase the first volume of the series digitally for $4.99. It also launched serially in SJA this week.
The company has previously had success with simultaneous country release of a book, Neon Genesis Evangelion Volume 13, earlier this month, but a continuing weekly commitment is a much greater reach. It’s a great way to compete with scanlation, though, giving fans the immediate gratification they crave.