COVID is still in full swing, and most of us are going through the doldrums of quarantine and unable to do much about it. This goes double in Japan since their government declared a state of emergency earlier this month, which includes shutting down non-essential stores after certain times and soft curfews urging people not to go out after 8 p.m. Meanwhile, Kodansha has taken note of the Japanese citizens’ isolation by issuing out free manga to keep the people occupied. And they’re about to upload even more.
The manga publishing company has just generously uploaded 166 manga titles onto their Comic DAYS website, bringing their total number of free readable manga to 3,003. Some of the available titles include (but are certainly not limited to) modern favorites like Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and Parasyte, and older long-running titles like Cooking Papa. All of these are accessible via URL, meaning that there is no need to download or fill out a website member registration form to get access. A representative from Kodansha said that the company hopes that this large free library will brighten people’s quarantined days, even if only just a little bit.
Kodansha launched their free manga project on 7 January, the very same day the state of emergency was enacted. Should the state of emergency go on past 7 February, Kodansha said that its readers should expect more free titles. The project, however, is aimed specifically to the Japanese audience, leaving its manga untranslated for international fans.
With COVID and quarantine giving everybody a case of cabin fever, Japanese companies have been using pop culture to relieve tension. Back in November, Bandai teamed up with Pokemon to release a line of adorable Pikachu plush dolls for people teleworking from home. Shueisha also showed their support for teachers by releasing sets of free One Piece stamps. While we’re all hoping that COVID will end sometime very soon, getting free otaku merchandise as a solution to boredom is always an acceptable substitute, even if it’s only a temporary and fleeting one.