Three Months with Mangamo

Mangamo

Mangamo came out in Europe at the end of November and since then it's become part of our comic routine. Full disclosure, before this app my manga reading was limited to half the DeathNote series and the first issues of Attack on Titan and Priest. I have, however, always appreciated manga and attended the Manga Exhibition in London way back in 2019 (which feels like an absolute age ago at this point).

Anyway, along came Mangamo at the end of 2020, offering the largest English-language manga collection that you can read legally which includes mega-hits like Attack on Titan, The Seven Deadly Sins, Ghost in the Shell, and Ajin: Demi Human.

The Good

The first thing you'll notice with Mangamo is the layout. The home page is beautiful. Big images showing you what the insides of the book look like. Clicking through to one gives you what the book is about. It's a well-designed app that's easy to use and navigate. Everything is super crisp as well, even on an e-ink tablet.

Reading on multiple devices was one thing I was keen to test out, although I didn't get to really try that out until a month in. I was quite pleased to see that once I signed in, it allowed me to pick up where I left off on my phone, giving me the last read series and chapter at the bottom of the app.

Mangamo screens

Over the course of the three months, there has been some problems, which thankfully have mostly been cleared up through app updates. I work in IT, so seeing an app get regular updates is always a good thing for me, especially when they're fixing bugs.

So, let's go through what problems I've experienced what whether they were fixed.

The Bad (but now good)

The first problem I encountered was reading more than one series at a time. I wanted to treat Mangamo like I do my other comic apps. I read one issue of a series, then an issue of another. Mix it up regularly. At first, this was a problem as when I opened a different series the app seemed to then forget where I was on a previous series and would try to start putting me back at the beginning. I was about five issues into Attack on Titan when I started finding other series that I wanted to read, and the about bit was then a problem. Was I five issues in, or was it six? I don't know, because it started me back at the beginning. Thankfully, this problem was fixed in an update and I can now flick between series with ease.

The second problem was notifications. They started off being completely useless. It's nice to see a notification saying that a new series has been added, but when clicking on the notification it just opened Mangamo onto its home page, leaving me trying to remember what the new series was called from the notification that is no longer showing. Thankfully, an update now means clicking on that notification takes you to a "new today" part which is much better.

Two big problems with the app, both of which were fixed. Perfect.

Account wise, on an Android, your options are to sign in with Google and pay through a Play Store subscription or not at all. It's a bit disappointing as I rarely use my Gmail account, which means I can't use my preferred email address with the app, but it's far from a dealbreaker. From a security standpoint, I understand it - you can't just create an account and share the email and password with friends unless you want them to have access to your phones ecosystem. It also has the benefit of being super easy to pick up where you left off on another device with just a few clicks. I wasn't a fan at first, but seeing how easy it was to sign in and continue reading on an Android tablet that's already using my Google account made me change my opinion. So simple and quick, which is what you want.

Improvements

One thing that I'm hoping will be improved upon is the search function. A filter would be helpful to allow you to look for a particular genre. Currently, you can look at categories on the home page but that can be a bit tedious when you're looking for a particular one, like sci-fi, and you can't find it. A filter or category selection on the search page would be a welcome addition. (Edit: this is now an option on the search screen!)

The only other problem is that there's no offline mode. If you're somewhere where you can't get a phone signal and you don't want to trust someone's dodgy public wifi, the app is unusable - it doesn't even show you as being signed in. It's a pretty big negative and doesn't help people that still have to live with horrendous wifi because it's all they can get. The option to download an issue or a series to a device would be great.

Mangamo screens 2

Value

Now onto the big one - value for money. Mangamo costs £4.59 a month. It's a bargain for the amount you have available to read, and with the updates to the app and new series added regularly, the price is amazing.

Finally...

Overall, after three months, I've come to love the app. Definitely worth the money, even if there are a few series that I'd love to see added one day (classics like Vagabond, for example). After the first month, I wasn't sold at all thanks to some bugs with the app, but since they've been addressed in subsequent updates, it's an app I won't be getting rid of.

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