Viz Media, LLC introduced its first iPad app this past week, Viz Manga, and it's something that I've personally waited a long time to see.
I've been a manga fan for years, ever since I saved my allowance as a teen to buy $18 copies of Ranma 1/2 in the mid-90s. A good section of my bookcase is devoted to volumes in both English and the original Japanese.
As, first, the Kindle, then the iPad were introduced, I looked at both of these devices as not only a more convenient and cost-effective way of obtaining more series, but also as a chance to hopefully cut down on the frequent pirating that goes on in the manga (and anime) world. Hundreds will take the latest chapters of well-known, licensed series, such as Bleach and One Piece, then translate and release the chapters online within days of the Japanese release. While Viz, one of the larger companies out there, has taken strides toward getting chapters of the English releases done at the same time as the Japanese, it's not fast enough for a very picky community that wants their fix before the releases have even hit the printing press.
There is manga out there that's available for the Kindle and iPhone, but these are niche titles. TOKYOPOP took a step in the right direction of making more mainstream work available by releasing Hetalia through the comiXology app. Dark Horse introduced more digital content in October, but that focused more on traditional comic books than their manga titles. There is also an iPad app coming from Yen Press. But by Viz opening its own store on the iPad, we're finally getting to see the mainstream manga releases like Bleach, Naruto, Dragon Ball, and more in a legal, digital format, and I couldn't be happier.