Even if you’re a dedicated reader of standalone manga titles, you can’t escape the simple fact that many manga series are very long. (I’m looking at you, One Piece and Naruto.) If you collect the print volumes, they can take up a lot of space on your bookshelves. Follow multiple long-running series and it can get out of hand quickly. Because of this, it makes sense to read manga digitally. But that raises the question: what are the best manga reader apps and sites to use?
The Hard Truth about Manga Apps and Sites
Before I dive into that topic, I want to clear up some confusion regarding reading manga online. You can’t do it for free. I’m sorry. There are no online manga readers or manga apps that allow you to do that legally. While there are some sites that let you sample a couple series or chapters for free, there are none that let you read everything without paying something.
If you do find a site or app that claims to let you do that, I must inform you that it’s probably engaging in piracy. The manga available at those places are either English-licensed titles that have been pirated or they’re scans of unlicensed series that are unofficially translated by fans, also known as scanlations.
To make matters worse, there are even some paid manga apps that also engage in piracy. Isn’t that terrible? You’re handing over money, but none of it goes to the original manga creators, let alone the people who translate and publish it. These can be harder to spot, but you can still weasel them out. Ask yourself if it sounds too good to be true. Are you paying on a per-title basis? That’s probably legit. Or are you paying a nominal one-time fee to access hundreds of manga series forever and ever? That’s probably less so.
I’m not trying to lecture anyone. I’m just trying to raise awareness, especially since many Asian countries—including Japan—are taking steps to crack down on piracy. People are being sentenced and fined! The last thing I want is for someone to get in legal trouble for their manga addiction. There are better ways to live.
With that out of the way, I’ve compiled some of the best manga reader sites and apps to use. As an added bonus, a few of these sites even feature manhwa, manhua, and webtoons for anyone wanting to branch out into Asian comics other than manga. You can find even more places to read manhwa here.
Best Manga Reader Apps and Sites
1. Comixology (Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Browser)
Seems obvious, right? But it’s true! If you also read Marvel, DC, or Image comics digitally, there’s a good chance you’re already doing so via Comixology. If so, why use another app? I’m a big fan of streamlining your digital life. Most North American manga publishers make their digital titles available on Comixology. The only caveat here is that not all manga series are available in digital format. On the other hand, some titles are only available in digital format. Some North American manga publishers even use the sales of these digital-only series to determine whether they should release a print edition. Overall, I consider Comixology to be the best manga reader for existing fans of Western comics and casual manga fans who normally read their ebooks on Kindle. (Did I mention that Comixology is owned by Amazon?)
2. VIZ Manga (Android, iOS)
Read English-language manga for any amount of time and you’ll soon notice that a lot of it is published by VIZ Media. One Piece, Naruto, One-Punch Man, Tokyo Ghoul—some of the biggest manga titles are published by VIZ. If you find yourself gravitating mostly toward series in VIZ’s catalog, this might be the best manga reader for you. In addition to letting you buy manga, it lets you preview new releases and even offers select chapters for free.
3. Shonen Jump (Android, iOS, Browser)
Weekly Shonen Jump is one of the biggest manga anthology magazines in Japan. Series like Jujutsu Kaisen and My Hero Academia are serialized in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump. VIZ publishes the English-language counterpart, which releases manga chapters of series the same day they’re made available in Japan. Old-time manga fans may remember the days of being years behind the Japanese release, so it’s great that today’s manga readers don’t have to experience that (for some series, at least). Shonen Jump allows you to read select chapters for free, but if you want access to everything, you can become a member for $1.99 per month. Considering how enormous the Shonen Jump catalog is, this is easily one of the best manga reader deals out there.
4. Crunchyroll (Android, iOS, Browser)
Most people know Crunchyroll as the anime streaming site. What’s lesser known is a premium membership—which allows you to watch new anime episodes an hour after they broadcast in Japan—includes access to a decent selection of manga titles. You won’t find any VIZ titles, but you can find manga published by Seven Seas Entertainment, Kodansha, and Vertical. Some of the selections are entire volumes while others are the most recent chapters published in Japan. For example, if you’re caught up on the collected volumes of Ajin: Demi-Human and can’t wait for the next release, you can check out the latest serialized chapters. An important thing to note, however, is that once these recent chapters are collected into a volume, they’re removed from Crunchyroll, so it’s in your best interest to stay on top of your reading list. Crunchyroll is the best manga reader for your budget if you’re also an anime fan.
5. Book Walker (Android, iOS, PC, Mac, Browser)
Book Walker is a global ebook store for manga and light novels. It’s kind of like Amazon except it only sells those two things, which makes casual browsing easier. The storefront splits everything into categories like new releases, simulpubs of recent serialized chapters, award-winning titles, and even series that are being adapted into anime. In terms of discovery, I find the separation helpful. The major downside of this site, however, is that it’s based in Tokyo, so you may be charged foreign transaction fees. You also must use the website to make purchases, which is awkward if you’re all about the instant buy via app like I am. To make up for that, however, are the numerous promotions and sales. For example, when users make a purchase, they might receive a certain percentage back in the form of coins. These coins can then be used for future purchases. If you strategize just right, you can land some great deals.
6. Renta (Browser)
Renta is the romance manga site. It hosts English-language romance manga of all types: shojo, erotica, boys love, and Harlequin. (Did you know a fair number of Harlequin novels get adapted into manga?) The site has its own translation and adaptation team, so it offers a decent number of exclusive titles. Purchasing is a little different from what we’re used to in the West, so let me walk you through it. You can either rent a title for 48 hours or for an unlimited period of time. You can also upgrade to unlimited from a 48-hour rental. To do so, you can either pay directly or buy points, which you can then apply to your rentals. If you find yourself using this site a lot, I recommend going the point route because not only is buying points in bulk a better value, Renta also occasionally offers discounts on point bundles.
7. Manga Club (Browser)
A relative newcomer to the manga reader scene, Manga Club has an option for every budget. The site offers a variety of genres but skews toward romance manga–especially of the mature and explicit variety. While you have the option to sample chapters for free without an account, registration allows you to rent and buy manga. Registered users received daily tickets that allow them to rent chapters for 72 hours. Depending on the series you’re interested in, you won’t have to pay anything provided you’re patient. Otherwise, you can outright purchase manga using the ever-popular coin system. If you want to read Manga Club’s mature offerings, you’ll need to buy those.
8. Mangamo (Android, iOS)
Mangamo is an ad-free mobile manga subscription service. In addition to familiar series like Fire Force, it also features titles you can’t find anywhere else. The service costs $4.99 per month and is available worldwide except for in Japan, China, and Korea. If you’re the type who likes to read manga as it’s serialized on a chapter-by-chapter basis, this might be the service for you.
9. Inkr Comics (Android, iOS)
Remember those less-than-legal manga reader sites I mentioned earlier? Sometimes they go legit! We love a good character arc. The creators of the Inkr platform used to run an illegal scanlation aggregator site but closed it down in late 2019. In its place, they launched Inkr Comics. The platform offers manga, webtoons, manhua, and even U.S. comics–all for $4.99 a month. Some series do require an additional purchase via coins. You might think this is unfair, but it’s no different than adding a premium channel to a basic cable subscription.
10. Manga Plus (Android, iOS, Browser)
The official service of Japanese manga publisher Shueisha, you’ll probably recognize many titles in its catalog. That’s because Shueisha is the home of Shonen Jump and sister company to North American manga publisher VIZ Media. In addition to Shonen Jump series, users also get first looks at titles from other manga magazines published by the company. For example, Tatsuya Endo’s Spy x Family first debuted on Manga Plus, and it’s now one of VIZ Media’s biggest hits. The service is 100% free, but it’s geared toward dedicated readers who follow titles as they’re serialized. The typical format involves offering the first 3-6 chapters and the latest 3-6 chapters of established series. Some manga series don’t follow this pattern, but that can change at any time. Prior to being licensed by VIZ, you could read the entirety of Spy x Family for free. Now, though, it follows the “first 3 and latest 3” format. As you can see, it benefits you to keep up with your manga reading. (Don’t worry! If you use one of the mobile apps, you get alerts when new chapters are added to manga you follow.)
And there you have it! Some of the best manga reader apps currently available today. Given the variety of platforms, purchasing models, and titles on offer, hopefully there’s something for every lifestyle and budget. If you love these apps and are interested in exploring reading platforms for non-manga Asian comics, as noted, here are some places where you can read manhwa and webtoons.