Convenience. That quality, out of all that’s offered, makes the Nook such a cool gadget. With it, I can bring an entire manga library along with me to anywhere, and read the titles therein while I’m doing anything. See these accompanying photos for plain proof of that. Really, it’s so convenient - - so easy and intuitive - - that I can fit reading into activities that previously never afforded enough of the necessary extra brain power.
Seriously, go on and look over these snapshots of my typical, furiously-active day. Dare I say, you’ll see how many more of its crannies manga fits into, now, with the aide of this E-reader.
Listen, I’m honestly not that savvy when it comes to apps, gizmos or any electronics balanced on the cutting edge. I’m a simple man, with simple needs, and as such, I’m typically a few years behind the curve on anything. Maybe I’m even a few more years behind when it comes to digital comics. Books I’ve written are available online and more will come to be, surely; but as a matter of personal taste as a consumer, I stubbornly prefer the analog variety for all the usual tactile reasons.
More to the point of this, my eyes spend so many hours in front of a screen on a given week, I’d rather not put them in front of yet another one for even more time - - especially if it might distract me from pumping iron and returning serves or, more importantly, cut into Jacuzzi time.
Such private opinions and details have been revealed here because I recently received a Barnes & Noble Nook Color with VIZ’s newest manga app on it - - an update timely to SHONEN JUMP ALPHA’s launch a short while back (check out some pics of the launch party for that, by the way.) With everything I’ve written above in mind, this thing makes a very convincing case as a preferable platform for manga; if not necessarily for comics, in general, in spite of the added color.
Generally, manga pages are squarer, their layouts are simpler, their lettering’ s bigger, their storytelling’s less compressed… all qualities for something ideally flipped through at a rapid pace. Something ideally “flipped through” with an easy finger tap perusal system like this Nook has.
I make no pretense at having discriminating tastes for the finer details of a piece of hardware like this. Go to Tested for that. You’ll get a much savvier perspective. All I could do is simply list all the really neat features - - the adjustable brightness, the finger-push zoom, the “holistic view” and table of contents that can quickly be pulled up, the automatic bookmarks - - and simply say they’re really neat.
Speaking as somebody who just wants to read some comics, though (somebody probably a lot like you,) I found reading them on this to be effortlessly enjoyable. I didn’t bother to go through the user guide file and the fact that I was able to pick up the gist of operation quickly probably says plenty about the success of the app’s design.
The sample I have packs a ton of content - - like seven volumes with 200 pages of material or more. While better-known titles like BLEACH, NARUTO and BAKUMAN were available, the one I dug into the deepest was OISHINBO A LA CARTE, a comic about a ramen food critic who resolves culinary conflicts. In one chapter, he shows two rival ramen chefs how one makes better noodles and the other makes better broth and, gee, how they’d really be better off joining forces to make the best soup.
This title has the sitcom pleasantness of an ARCHIE digest, though it got into impressively precise detail about science and technique - - how food can be shaped by choices of ingredients, temperature, presentation and even minute chemistry. As somebody who’s always had an insatiable appetite for ramen, it was quite fascinating, and even edifying, to learn about the finer details of one of my favorite eats.
Another chapter of OISHINBO centers around our hero enlightening a co-worker on why the name of a restaurant he took a couple of Chinese guests to would be so deeply offensive to them. The comic basically becomes a PSA where he breaks down the history of the name and explains all its volatile connotations. Maybe it runs a little pedantic at this point, but frankly, with the foul taste of HETALIA still in my mouth, it was refreshing to find even light entertainment like this take as much space and care to address enduring cultural controversies with such wit and sensitivity.
More so than the familiar brands, a title like OISHINBO might actually be a bigger selling point for VIZ's app. I'd never heard of it before and wouldn't have likely come across it in other circumstances. Here, Nook-reading offers a price point and ease of accessibility that brings to my attention manga like this; material which I never would've otherwise realized I was interested in.
Much of OINSHINBO's jargon, cultural context and assorted idioms are clarified by succinct annotations in the back of the volume. If I were to make a suggestion, I’d say it might be worthwhile to integrate these annotations into a more "case sensitive" fashion in the next iteration of this app.
Perhaps there could be small icons floating around panels that pop up notes, upon request, while you’re reading the material. Such a feature might even come in more handy for long-running titles like BLEACH or NARUTO where it'd would be very helpful to fill new readers in on the voluminous back-story while they're "on the go." A less obstructive version, perhaps, of the footnotes comics have traditionally tried to integrate.
Of course, the lack of such a feature isn’t really a drawback. If we ever got to the point where we’d demand to have annotations come to us like that, instead of just taking a couple finger flips to get to them, we might likely start asking to Nook to do all the flipping for us, as well.
Which wouldn’t necessarily be excessive if it then allowed me to multitask even more easily and read manga while I’m swimming, biking or driving my car.