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Old 15th March 2013, 09:55 AM   #13
astarisborn94
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Texas
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Few Tezuka fans can deny the lack of Tezuka contents in English, especially digital and online. The 2003 Astro Boy series and 1989 Kimba the White Lion dubs were horrible with no option for a Japanese release, many manga and animes have yet to see a release oversea (Jungle Emperor Leo's manga has been translated into French, but surprisingly hasn't seen an English release) along other things. All of these things contribute to Tezuka's relative obscurity in the present day. Its why when contents from Tezuka come along there, there's much rejoicing because it gives people the opportunity to be exposed to Tezuka. Being curious about the manga itself, I decided to sign up for a month subscription to Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club on Ipad despite the mostly negative reaction from those who have experienced it.

Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club is (supposed to) provide a free weekly magazine for free viewers to sample. Sometimes, a Black Jack volumes shows up, other times, chapters on Astro Boy appears. When it comes to flipped mangas (like Astro Boy), pages can be turned to a left to right format instead of the right and left format (like Black Jack). Its okay for sampling Tezuka products, but the app does not deliver on providing weekly issue every week; they seem to appear every two week which can be problematic.

After purchasing a month subscription, the subscription goes into auto-renewal (which can be turned off by going to the iTunes section, selection your Apple ID, going to Subscription, and removing the auto-renew option), meaning that for every month subscribed to Tezuka Osamu Magazine club, $9.99 will be taken out of the balance.

One of the biggest selling point of Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club is that the app advertises that almost all of the English Tezuka mangas are avaialble digitally. However, anyone with some knowledge on Tezuka would know that this is false advertisement as plenty of Tezuka contents are missing. Princess Knight, Metropolis, Book of Human Insects, Swallowing the Earth, Nextworld, Lost World, Crime & Punishment and Ayako are missing from the list along with seven volumes of Black Jack and six volumes of Phoenix. While it is nice that the 1st volume of Phoenix and the 1st volume of Adolf can be read for only $9.99 since both are very hard to find at a reasonable price in print (depending on reading speed), it doesn't completely make up for the fact that a lot of Tezuka contents are missing and should have been added by now.

Fortunately, the subscription goes for the Japanese version as well, so those who know enough Japanese to read mangas will be in luck as a lot more contents exist in Japanese (and that's an understatement, I'll get the list later). However, this will be mostly useless to most people as said majority will have little to no knowledge of the Japanese language unless of course someone just wants to look at the artwork. Its also cool that both version of Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club features Japanese covers for stories available.

Unfortunately, this is where all the positives ends. When actually reading a story, a host of problems emerge. First off, when reading the stories, most of the stories will have at least one page of contents that is blacked out when reading vertically. Sure reading it horizontally fixes the problem, but it begs the question of why it has to exist in the first place. Another problem is that while Viz Media iPad app features the ability to zoom in, no such option exist for the Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club app. Those who have vision problems will find contents in the story difficult to read. There's also no option to quickly skip pages, so unless you're wise enough to bookmark where you left off (which btw, they don't tell you where it is, you have to touch the tag on the left of the iPad), you have to flip pages by pages to find your stopping point. As you can imagine, its very repetitive and can grate on the mind. Flipping from vertical to horizontal takes some times and occasionally, even crash the app. Flipped mangas also require turning the page right to left, making it even more confusing as to why they did this for the weekly free stories but not the volumes.

There's also the motion manga. Surprisingly, the English version version has more contents than the Japanese version, but it doesn't matter much since a Japanese could access both versions anyway and the voices are in Japanese regardless. However, the motion manga doesn't feel very inspiring and looks tacked on in a poor attempt to differentiate itself from the rest of the manga apps out there.

There is a website for Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club in Japanese but the iPad app is the only option for English speakers. What's worse, contacting them is virtually impossible without using translation, which are of questionable quality when translating from English to Japanese. Even worse when subscribing to the app, the message advertisting its claim is presented in horribly translated English that makes it obvious that little effort was put into the translation; which is a sign that this app was not the app it promised to be (as if the missing contents from the English version wasn't apparent enough).

Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club is an app with great potential. The app, if done right, would be able to unify the small Tezuka fan base and help build a niche that others may join. But as of right now, the app works more as a deflection of potential fans than as inviting. Its a shame really, because its hard to recommend this to even diehard Tezuka fans.

I do know one thing; unless Tezuka Osamu Magazine Club makes serious improvements in the English version of the app (and to a lesser extend, the Japanese version as well), they've lost me as a customer.

Last edited by astarisborn94; 15th March 2013 at 10:16 AM.
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