Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad

iPad Integration Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★½
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

As a device designed for media consumption, the iPad is deft at handling a variety of traditionally print media forms. Books, magazines and comics have all made a successful transition to the iPad, but Japanese Manga has not been well, if at all, represented. MangaBlade hopes to change that with an app that incorporates an e-reader, a web browser, and a content downloader all in one.

When you first open MangaBlade, you may think you’ve mistakenly opened iBooks. The wooden shelves used to display your digital collection are remarkably similar. MangaBlade, unlike iBooks, doesn’t require that you purchase your content. Instead, you can use the built-in web browser to navigate to any site that allows downloadable manga (as long as it’s in CBR, CBZ or ZIP format). MangaBlade even offers its own iOS-friendly website, complete with scanlations of works not available for purchase in the USA. Just click the download link, and the file downloads to your bookshelf. At least in theory.

I had a few hiccups along the way, mostly as a result of the app’s handling (mishandling?) of iOS 4.2’s multitasking and autolock functions. Downloading an issue takes a bit of time, so I sent the app to the background to look at other apps on my iPad. Big mistake. When I returned to MangaBlade, I was told that the download failed. The same thing happened when my screen autolocked. So, you have to stay in-app and unlocked in order to complete downloads. Even then, however, I got error messages after just about every download I tried. Interestingly, these downloads were completed successfully and added to my library; there is a glitch in the app that sends a false “Oops!” message at the end of downloads.

My only other criticism is that the built-in browser does not allow bookmarking. Given the fact that manga scanlations are all over the internet, having favorite sites bookmarked is essential. With any luck, the developers will address both of these issues in coming updates.

MangaBlade is $5.99, which would be a reasonable amount if it worked exactly as advertised. As this is clearly a product with some issues, a lower price might have been a better choice. Still, if you enjoy manga and want a solid reader for it, MangaBlade is a good choice.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Entertainment

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