Leading Japanese publisher, Kodansha is to launch an online comic book distribution service from May. Titled K Manga, the operation will go live in May and be exclusive to readers in the U.S.

The company is publisher of many of the best-known manga titles in history including “Attack on Titan” and “Ghost in the Shell.” These and some 400 others will be available at the launch of the serialization platform.

The roster includes approximately 70 titles of ongoing manga currently in serialization across a multitude of genres including action, thriller, isekai (speculative fiction), romance, and fantasy. Users will have access to K Manga’s library and will be able to read limited chapters of some manga free of charge.

“K Manga will endeavor to release the latest chapters of K Manga original serialized manga and weekly and monthly magazines of Kodansha containing a collection of different manga titles simultaneously in the U.S and Japan, making the latest stories available earlier than any other competing U.S. services,” the company said.

It specified that chapters of popular manga in the U.S. currently ongoing in Japan, such as “EDENS ZERO,” “Blue Lock,” “Rent-A-Girlfriend,” “The Seven Deadly Sins: Four Knights of the Apocalypse”, and “Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro” will be available on K Manga before any other competing platform.

“The K Manga team is committed to continually creating content within the K Manga platform, bringing many brand-new stories to U.S. readers as they are simultaneously distributed in Japan. We hope that our audience will enjoy K Manga through encountering many never-before-seen stories, becoming a fan of those stories, and then watching the journey of how those stories become popular,” project leader Yuta Hiraoka said.

Ghost in the Shell (c) Kodansha

Among the Kodansha library titles, the new platform will host comic series “The Seven Deadly Sins”, “Fire Force” and “Chihayafuru.”

Anime and manga are currently hugely popular and have been boosted by the operations of global video streaming platforms which are competing for content and are able to distribute globally. Kodansha says that its manga sales in the U.S. tripled in 2022, to an all-time company record level. Its digital book platform, Magapoke was launched in July 2015 and to date has been downloaded nearly 20 million times.

The launch of the digital platform may help Kodansha keep pace with changes in the market, notably the explosive success of Korean webtoons which are digital native products and have still evolving business models in international territories outside Korea and Japan. Along with graphic novels, manga and webtoons have fuelled a myriad of page to screen adaptations as well as further adaptations from series to feature film.

Localization and solving language issues is also key. “K Manga will deliver official translations by industry professionals familiar with each manga,” the company said.

The company is launching Twitter updates and a teaser website from Tuesday. The K Manga app will be available to download from May 10 with the site going live shortly thereafter.