Welcome to CURANIMANGA
So WTF is CURANIMANGA? Well, it’s relatively short, curated anime and manga reviews (spoiler free) for grown-ups with taste and no time to waste. Okay, but what does that mean and why am I doing it? Good question! I’m a thirty-something, white dude — and no, I’m not a fucking weaboo — just a regular Aussie guy with a long time interest in anime, manga and donburi.
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My interest in the genre started in the 90s. The West only had access to a handful of syndicated anime, always English dubbed and on VHS. Fortunately, that small selection has what are considered some of the most ground-breaking and influential anime ever created. But as the speed of technology increased, so did the number of animations and comics; and while a lot of great titles were created; so were the number of crappy ones. Now having spent the last twenty years watching thousands of episodes, fewer shows pique my interest.
So what about manga? I’ve only been reading the manga for the past six or so years, after I realised, when an anime ends the story often continues in the manga (obvious I know). For those who don’t know, the majority of anime is created off the back of a manga serialisation. Most long-running series (One Piece, Naruto, Fairy Tail) are also long-running manga. Sometimes the anime keeps true to the comic, but sometimes it doesn’t — Katsuhiro Otomo’s AKIRA is a great example.
What CURANIMANGA will do
My goal is to share old and new titles that have fresh stories, fun quirks or new takes on old tropes — so you don’t watch five episodes and realise it’s rubbish. I believe there’s a community of people like myself whose taste in anime has refined as they’ve matured. They’d like to see an adult protagonist instead of a 15-year-old, a series set outside a high school, more depth and complexity, and less working hard to powering up — hell, I know I do.
What CURANIMANGA won’t do
Except for one post, I won’t cover classics because you can throw a rock and hit a top ten list with these titles. We all know Studio Ghibli films are fucking great; you don’t need me to tell you that. But if you’re new to the genre, classics are a great place to start because they’ve been hugely influential in the industry and pop culture.
So, where can you watch and read this stuff legally outside Japan?
Fansubbed anime and scanlated manga were largely responsible for bringing it to the Western mainstream — but I do encourage you to support the artists and industry so they can keep making it. Here are a few of the popular online sources for both, I’d recommend trialling a few before handing over money.
There are a few good streaming sites for around half the price of a Netflix subscription. The selection varies by region and service, but most will have the popular titles. Many will have mobile, tablet, game console and TV apps.
Crunchyroll has an excellent anime range, and the subscription also comes with access to manga (but the selection is limited).
AnimeLab has a solid collection of anime, with many classics and a few obscure titles I’ll cover at some point.
Funimation (US, Canada, UK and Ireland)
Funimation also has an excellent collection, while there is no free service, you can try for free.
Manga is a tougher to come by, a few services will give you subscription access to a limited selection, but you’re going to have to buy most of it.
By far the best for comics in general and many good manga titles are included in the subscription.
If you can’t find something at Comixology, try VIZ, they have a very small selection of free manga you can read.
And if you’re entirely out of luck, go here. MangaRock aggregates many of the online scanlated (pirated) manga, and their mobile apps are probably the best on the market. Scanlations are a double-edged sword, you can read a lot of manga for free, but you’re relying on fan-groups to spend their own time to scan, clean, translate, typeset, edit, proof, redraw, check and distribute — quite a lot of work for a hobby — this means releases can be delayed, differ in quality or be poorly translated. Often long series will be covered by different groups, so interpretations of Kanji will often change; sometimes you’ll find a character’s name will change halfway through a series. But remember, scanlation and fansub (anime) groups are doing this for free, so don’t be an arsehole and complain about it.