Over the last couple of years, Square Enix‘s mobile manga platform Manga UP! has been making its mark in Japan, giving convenient and speedy access to a wide range of popular titles to some 19 million years. Now, the rest of the world can get in on the fun, too, with the launch of an international, English-language version of Manga UP! on Android on iOS.
Manga UP! includes 160 different titles, with 100 new English translations among them, including both completed and ongoing series, with the latter getting simultaneous global releases alongside Japanese installments. There’s a decent range of different genres covered, and a mix of high-profile series like Fullmetal Alchemist with lesser-known works from up and coming creators.
The app itself is free, and most series have a couple of chapters freely available. Beyond that, Manga UP! uses a framework that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a free-to-play mobile game: you get a limited amount of “UP” that can be used to read a couple of chapters each day, with the option of buying a premium currency to continue reading once you run out of UP. A full stack of UP amounts to four chapters, and it replenishes twice daily at 9am and 9pm JST, so you can get up to eight free chapters per day if you use the full allotment before each reset.
Meanwhile, the premium currencies (Coins, which you buy, and XP, which you get as a bonus when you buy Coins in larger quantities) can also be used to buy “Advance” access to chapters that aren’t scheduled to become readily available until later. For example, the entire run of Fullmetal Alchemist is available in the app, but at the time of writing, only the first five chapters can be read for free using UP; the rest will need Coins or XP, but will gradually unlock for free reading on a weekly basis. For ongoing series, it looks like new chapters are always released in Advance status first, before moving to regular availability after a few weeks.
It sounds like a somewhat complicated system, but in essentially, what it means is that you get a few free chapters per day, and can spend money to read more once those run out, or to get earlier access to newer installments. And regardless of whether you’ve bought access to a chapter with UP, XP, or Coins, it’ll then be available for 72 hours.
But there’s one question that’ll be on a lot of people’s minds, though (or at least, on the minds of Final Fantasy XIV fans): what of Eorzea Academy, that comedy FFXIV spinoff manga that reimagines the Scions of the Seventh Dawn in a high school setting, which debuted on the Japanese Manga UP last year? Unfortunately, it’s not available in English at this time, and there’s no word yet on when (or if) it will be. Square Enix would be foolish not to add it at some point, though, because if there’s one way to get me (and lots of other people, I’d imagine) to drop some money on Coins in a heartbeat, it’s that.