Square Enix botches manga service with sex censorship and accusations

The Vermeil demon wakes up naked after being summoned by Alto, an impressionable young magician.

What did I invoke?
Image: Square Enix / Shounen Gangan / Kotaku

Yesterday, Square Enix launched the English version of its new online manga service, Manga Up!. But within 24 hours of its release, users expressed outrage at the app’s aggressive censorship bars and monetization practices.

First released in Japan in 2017, Manga Up! features manga licensed under Square Enix, such as Goblin Slayer, soul eaterand Fullmetal Alchemist. However, users have noticed that manga titles with more adult content like sex shows have censorship bars on their characters. This led users to upload screenshots of the Manga Up! and to express their outrage at its brutal censorship.

Censorship is not unique to manga. In spicier manga that are hentai or doujinshi, intimate manga panels use censor bars to conceal penises. Ordinary manga series deal with censorship creatively either draw clouds on the naughty pieces of the character Where insert euphemisms. They can also go the nuclear route by having their series feature a boatload of fanservices like with Hiro Mashima Fairy tale. Usually, licensed manga doesn’t show the ins and outs of the sex scenes. Manga with mature ratings that depict sex scenes tend not to go into too much detail about what’s going on except to Berserk. In bookstores, these manga are wrapped in plastic so that curious customers cannot see what is inside.

Every series on Manga Up! comes with a content warning. For instance, Fullmetal Alchemistit is the content warning informs readers that the series includes murder, self-harm, religious themes, and discrimination. While bloody battle scenes and smoking don’t get the anime shadow effect processing on the app, series like the sex positive manga series My darling dressing have huge censorship bars on anything that could be considered risky – basically any cosplay Marin Kitagawa door in the series.

According to the official Manga Up! Twitter account, the app’s use of censorship is Square Enix’s way of appealing to the mobile platform’s policies for a wide range of countries like Indonesia.

“Considering the policies of each mobile platform, some modifications were inevitable to release the app worldwide outside of Japan (It is not limited to only English-speaking countries.),” the statement read. Manga Up. “We are still in the early exploratory stages and will strive to improve while listening to your feedback.”

Instead of Manga Up!’s current censorship status, the company concluded its statement by encouraging users to support the manga artist’s work by reading uncensored manga available on other manga reading platforms.

Read more: We got used to microtransactions and DLCs of course, huh

Censorship isn’t the only thing that put Manga Up! on the hot seat online. Unlike the Shonen Jump app which charges users $1.99 per month with a daily reading limit of 100 chapters, Manga Up! has experience points and microtransactions, as if it were a video game.

On Manga Up!, users have a daily reading limit of eight chapters. By completing chapters, users earn experience points which they can use to read more manga chapters. These experience points are divided into three categories: Up points, XP and Coin. If users wish to deepen their favorite manga, they will either need to accumulate enough points to do so or purchase experience point coins from its store, which has its own dedicated tab in the app. “Advanced Chapters” – i.e. the most recent chapters in a series – can only be played using XP and Coin. By downloading the app, users get an additional 120 XP for the first time, which is equivalent to $0.99 via the in-app currency Manga Up!. To make matters worse, unique chapters on Manga Up! are divided into parts, essentially tricking readers into buying parts so they can complete an entire chapter.

A screenshot of Manga Up!'s monetization practices.

Ladies and gentlemen, manga microtransactions.
Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

Kotaku has contacted Square Enix for comment.

Manga Up! has a rocky launch for its manga and web app service. Square Enix’s blind commitment to relying on unpopular monetization tactics like the integration of “Story-centric NFTs” and Final Fantasy VII NFT also found a home with Manga Up! through its use of in-app currency. It’s a shame because the main selling point of Manga Up! is its exclusive right to Fullmetal Alchemist manga artist Hiromu Arakawathe new fantasy action series from, Shadow Realm Demon. Now, this series has the weird gamer whiff of predatory microtransactions associated with it.

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