For this review, I’m going to be looking at the Japan-only Detective Conan manga app for iOS, which allows users to sample and buy Detective Conan digitally. While many Japanese manga apps cover multiple titles, there are also quite a few that focus on a specific work such as this one.
The app is meant for fans of Detective Conan, but just about anyone can enjoy it, as long as you can either read Japanese, want to practice your Japanese using manga, or don't mind otherwise.
Getting the App
In many ways, it functions similar to the one title-only manga apps available in English, such as the Naruto app from VIZ. You get the first three chapters for free to introduce you to the world of Detective Conan, and a small sample of chapters available for a limited time. Chapters can be read with your phone or tablet in the landscape or portrait positions, which results in either double-page spreads or single pages (not every app out there has this option available).
While there is always free content, it is also possible to buy a variety of digital goods by clicking the ¥ symbol on the bototm right.
These include volumes of the manga, film comics (essentially images from the animated films arranged to look like manga), and digital stickers. Individual volumes of the manga are ¥400, and they can also be purchased in bulk (albeit at no discount). Purchases are made through your iTunes account, which means it is necessary to be set to the Japanese store. It also requires you to either have a Japanese credit card or a Japanese iTunes card.
This is what the store looks like. Click on the manga you want.
When you want to buy something, click the button with the shopping cart. If you want to preview the manga first, click the button right below it.
This is what you see as the manga is downloading.
Now you can read it!
One odd quirk of this app is that it displays prices according to the region you’ve set your device to, so in order to properly display yen prices you need to set your region to Japan. It also seems to result in a display error for the prices at first, but restarting the app should fix that problem.
Notice the lack of prices. Set your region to Japan and restart the app.
Why Use the Detective Conan App?
What makes the one title-only model especially effective for Detective Conan is that the series is designed to be read in small doses with, many stories being fairly short and consisting of two to four chapters. Rather than having to stick around for a five-volume arc, you can read a few chapters to get a good feel for the manga. Then, you can either come back to it later to read more free chapters at your leisure, or make purchases through the app.
One particularly nice feature of the Detective Conan app is that it also has limited-time spotlights on specific topics to help you catch up or familiarize yourself with certain aspects of the story. For example, the app might have a special limited section that introduces Haibara Ai (a female character who has the same condition as Conan), and one that focuses on the Black Organization, the syndicate that drugged Detective Conan and turned him into a kid in the first place.
Each spotlight has 12 free chapters. Previously, the Black Organization showcase was found under the “film comics” because the most recent film, Detective Conan: The Darkest Nightmare, centers on the Black Organization. The “film comic” section mostly features “movie comics” that take screenshots from the films and place them into books.
Again, just as a warning, those might not be the limited selections by the time you get the app.
One thing missing from the Detective Conan App that they plan to add later is the ability to watch the anime. Going to the section for the anime only gives you a giant “COMING SOON” sign.
Overall, those that are curious about Detective Conan and those who are long-time fans are arguably better served by the English releases from VIZ and Crunchyroll, but I think that there are a few reasons to check the Japanese Detective Conan app out. It’s free. It provides a good opportunity to practice your Japanese using engaging stories that aren’t too complicated in terms of language. Detective Conan as a manga lends itself to being read in short spurts. And while this might not be a big deal for everyone, the names will be in the original Japanese. That means Kudou Shin’ichi as opposed to Jimmy Kudo, and Mouri Ran instead of Rachel Moore.