Thoughts on the state of the manganet

July 27, 2006

The basket by the guillotine of the Manga Revolution is overflowing with the heads of the innocent – functionality, aesthetics, language, organization. Yes, I’m talking about Tokyopop’s new web site design, and I don’t really have anything to add that other people haven’t already said. I will note that I’ve bookmarked the Shop link, as it’s the only place to find reasonably orderly title information, and it spares me the MySpace horror of it all.

But it seems like a good reason to check out some other publishers’ sites and see how they’re holding up.

Viz’s site is a little heavy on the animation for my tastes. It doesn’t seem to hamper functionality or loading times too much, but I get nervous when a bunch of things are scrolling and popping and shifting without my input. The site has fairly comprehensive title information, but I do wish it had an A-Z listing of their books in addition to the brand breakdown it currently employs. The Books link at the on-line shop does organize titles alphabetically, which is a step in the right direction.

So, you have one title that earned tons of critical acclaim last year and another that’s been reviewed in a high-circulation pop-culture magazine. Do you include information on either on your web site? If you’re ADV, the answer is no. That’s just crazy. Of course, the site hasn’t been updated since 2004, so I guess pointing out the absence of two titles is moot.

I’ve never been crazy about Del Rey’s site. The listing on the Series page is a little disorganized, but at least the information is up to date. The site also has a good search system which always seems to yield comprehensive results. (Del Rey is planning a focus group event in the Los Angeles area August 11 for manga fans age 13 and up. Details are at the link above.)

CMX’s site doesn’t exactly set my heart on fire, but it could be worse. I think every comic publisher should have an obvious link to a complete list of the titles they have in print, and I’m not sure if the On Sale button communicates that as clearly as it could, but at least the information is there, only one layer off of the front.

I like Go! Comi’s web presence. It’s got a nice design, and it’s organized well. I particularly like the fact that the company blog is right up front. It’s a friendlier, more casual way of spreading the word on recent developments, though there’s an up-to-date news section as well. It’s just a nice site that reflects the company’s high production values.

Digital Manga Publishing almost seems like it could break its front page down into smaller subdivisions. It’s a lot of scrolling from the top down to the listing of titles currently on sale, though part of me appreciates that the information is right up front. DMP has a good quantity of information on its line of titles, and they are listed alphabetically, but I keep coming back to the usefulness of an alphabetical list of everything on one page. DMP’s use of images with each link to a title probably makes that impossible, and those images could be a nice feature for someone doing general browsing rather than looking for specific details.

The site for Seven Seas may be a little busy visually for my taste, but it’s very navigable and is updated frequently. There’s always something new to look at, which is essential for a publisher that traffics in webcomics. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Netcomics site has a lot of the same features and strengths. (Is it weirdly nitpicky to note that both publishers make good use of drop-down menus? It probably is, but they do.)

Dark Horse doesn’t compartmentalize its manga offerings, but there are a number of ways to look for titles, and the information is pretty comprehensive. I wish Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s site was easier to navigate, and I don’t really like that you can’t link directly to information about a specific title. That’s a personal pet peeve as a blogger who would like to point readers to their books, though. Ice Kunion’s site has improved dramatically since the last time I looked. It’s a nice redesign, though it loads a bit slowly for me.