Back in June when Crunchyroll received a $750,000 investment from the Japanese digital publisher Bitway many thought that the online anime powerhouse would be adding manga to its licensed product mix (see “Crunchyroll Gets Another $750,000”). But as Deb Aoki discovered in a lengthy interview with Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao, Crunchyroll is using its Internet expertise not to distribute manga, but to build a platform “to enable monetization of manga online.”
Crunchyroll’s manga platform will allow publishers to choose how they want to earn money from online distribution of their wares with available options including subscriptions, free with advertising streaming, or sales of digital downloads. Gao also indicates that he believes that the Crunchyroll digital distribution platform will allow Japanese manga publishers to continue to work through the local publishers that have licensed their properties in Europe,
Gao was reticent to talk about the mechanics of the Crunchyroll digital manga platform, but he did indicate that it would probably won’t involve a browser-based plug-in. Crunchyroll is also endeavoring to create continuity of service across a wide range different digital delivery devices from computers to smart phones to e-readers. Among the problems that Crunchyroll is tackling is creating a "gating" system that will allow publishers to make sure that their offerings are matched with age-appropriate readers.