Square Enix Manga Up! Application failure: censorship, additional charges

Square Enix Manga Up! The app has come under fire for its questionable content censorship and monetization practices, making viewers very upset.

Manga/otaku fans need their fan service to survive! With the recent launch of Square Enix’s manga app, Manga Up! (July 25, 2022, in North America), sparked public outrage for the “absurd” censorship of several manga content. Fans expressed their outcry and anger on social media when censored black bars appeared on questionable signs.

Censorship is common in the manga industry for NSFW content such as sexual activity or full nudity. And usually these nude scenes would either be covered with a cloud, a creative way of using objects to block breasts or sexual organs, or they would be cut out by the panels themselves. The harshest censorship would occur in more blatant adult manga like hentai or doujinshi where the artists intend to show full sex scenes in their manga panels.

However, Manga Up! gone a bit too far. One of the reported problematic censorships was Marin Kitagawa’s swimsuit scene in the sex-positive manga series, My darling dressing, who had a huge censored bar across her chest but wasn’t even naked. The anime ran without this censorship on Crunchyroll, which is saying something in itself.

The Square Enix Run app was first released in Japan in 2017 and featured the company’s licensed manga such as Goblin Slayer, Soul Eater and Fullmetal Alchemist. While censorship was common, users noticed that Manga Up! was far too strict with its censorship and also uploaded screenshots to prove a point. One manga even censored a panel with a character’s thigh barely in the panel.

With increasing censorship issues, the app started getting a bunch of 1 star reviews on Android Play Store and other app stores. One fan wrote, “Too much censorship, especially in stupid places where it clearly doesn’t need to be. Artistic integrity and freedom of expression have been under attack for years now, and you’d think Square Enix of all companies would understand that, and their customer base hates it.

Manga Up’s direct competitor, the Shonen Jump app, charged its users $1.99 per month with a daily reading limit of 100 chapters. Manga Up! did a weird thing by including experience points and microtransactions for its users. Understanding the whole payout/incentive system gave me a headache and made me face the palm more times than some moments in the last season of The attack of the Titans.

Manga Up! users have a daily reading limit of eight chapters and would earn experience points which they could use to read more chapters. Experience points have been divided into three categories: positives, XP and coins. Thus, users will either have to accumulate enough points to read more each day or buy experience point coins from his shop. The last chapters could only be played with XP and coins. New users would receive 120 XP upon signing up, which equates to around $0.99.

The kick of the argument against Square Enix’s Manga Up! the monetization setup was that a chapter could be split into separate parts. So, users would have to buy coins to complete a single chapter. Imagine you had to pay for three parts of the first chapter of a book. This concept has had something to move many fans, especially since Manga Up’s! point of sale was Square Enix’s exclusive rights to Fullmetal Alchemist’s manga artist / mangaka, Hiromu Arakawa’s new fantasy action series, Shadow Realm Demon. With the microtransaction system, it would take me hundreds, if not thousands, to finish reading the series!

The Square Enix team of Manga Up! released a statement that they would work to resolve censorship issues that arose because it was “inevitable to release the app worldwide outside of Japan.” No comments have yet been made on the microtransactions comments. It kind of begs the question of whether they should have waited to fix this before releasing it in North America or whether they were planning to alienate a certain audience.

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