In an effort to explore new article ideas for the blog we have decided to test the waters reviewing various anime related web sites seeing what they provide the fandom and maybe give some suggestions of what they could provide their audience in the future. We have done this once before in a similar manner when we looked at the Crunchyroll website and are trying it again with The Bandai Entertainment Manga website.
With the growing popularity, need, and proliferation of official anime and manga websites, it seemed only fair that we add it to the repertoire of reviews we do here. There are a lot of sites out there providing all kinds of services to this will be used to highlight (or chastise when appropriate) some of the great resources out there.
The first thing I always look for is how easy is it to find the site? The offical site for Bandai Manga is the 4th on the list in a Google search and 2nd on the list in a Bing search for “Bandai manga.” The first site that comes up in both searches is the main Bandai Entertainment site. This would be fine except there is no easy link between the two pages. Some where in the manga section of the main Bandai page should be something informing me that I can learn more at the manga site. On the flip side there was an ad for the Kurokami anime led to the main Bandai Entertainment site but there should have been something more substantial to link the two pages on this side as well. The website itself was easy to navigate and pleasant on the eyes. There is no real flash or pizazz to it but this also made it very easy to find what you were looking for which is always one of my highest priorities. My major complaint is none of the series have overall descriptions. A quick paragraph or two saying what Gundam ooF is about instead of having to click on individual books to learn about the series as a whole would be most helpful.
I have to agree that I thought finding the site was a lot harder than it should be. The first thing I noticed was that the main page isn’t very welcoming, nor does it have anything to unique to it. The top is the news section, which is appropriate, but not if it is only going to be updated so sparsely (the last, and only, update is from February 22). Navigating around is quite easy as it all lies on the left-hand side. However, if you click Contact there is no page or option, it just tries to send an e-mail (but if don’t have a program like that operating you have no idea that anything has happened) and just brings you back to the home. Though it impressively sends the e-mail directly to Robert Napton. The manga section is very simple and while the manga series would really benefit from descriptions, each manga has a lot of information about the books themselves. The novel section is slightly better as each has a story description without needing to click to see it. However, none of the books link directly to their previews if they exist, you have to go the previews section separately. I think adding either a shop or atleast linking to places to purchase the books (which they do on the main Bandai website) would be a good idea.
There were 5 previews on the page when I went: Nightmare of Nunnally volume 4, Lucky Star volume 4, Gurren Lagann volume 4, and Gundam 00F volume 2, and a sample from the first Gundam oo novelization. All the manga previews were pretty short. They are mainly there to give you an idea of the art style and the briefest idea of what the story is like in their newest books. Most were adequate to very good but the Luck Star preview stood out as awful. The problem is that half of the text on the Lucky Star manga is quite small and was unreadable at the size it was scanned in at especially with 4-koma strips. The big color pages were fine but anything with the actual meat of the manga was unreadable. If you are only going to give me a few pages of the manga at least make those pages something I can judge it on. The novel of Gundam 00 was a bit more weighty at a little under 40 pages. I got a much better idea of what the writing style, interior artwork, and feel of the novel was but I assume since the novel is just longer they did not worry as much that giving out more pages would hurt sales. They also only had samples from the newest books coming out. I would have much rather had a whole chapter from the first manga of each series to get a sense of the series and then a few sample pages from the newest manga instead.
I am extremely bothered by the lack of previews for the beginning of any of the manga series and the availability of only one novel preview. And any series that is finished or doesn’t have a new volume out is left out of the previews section all together. I assume the point of all this is to encourage people to check out new things and get a feel for them so it’s just counter-intuitive to leave off so many series. Seeing a few pages from the fourth volume of Code Geass: Knightmare of Nunnaly may intrigue some people. But for me, I don’t like to start in the middle of a series, many people prefer to not know what is coming. I like that the previews don’t use anything fancy like Flash, it is just simple. Overall I did find the size just a bit too small for type, and if I upsize my browser things start to get blurry which is worse. But it wasn’t unreadable for the most part, with the exception of some sound effects or asides, but this is a preview so I accept that and realize they don’t want people taking these images. The Gundam 00 first novel preview succeeds in exactly what this site is for, I will be picking up that novel. The length is really good, in fact probably longer than it needs to be, and there was art to sample as well. But I just don’t understand why this doesn’t exist for everything on this page or why they aren’t putting up more previews atleast once a week.
Overall the Bandai manga website is small but they are also one of the smallest manga companies on the market. I felt it was a solid website that could use a little improvement to make it great. On top of what I mentioned above I would have liked to see a little information about what books are coming out. Everything on the site was about books you could buy but there was no information about future releases. There were no dates for upcoming manga in ongoing series and there was no page at all for Code Geass: Knights and Code Geass Queens despite them both being mentioned in the news section. Hopefully we will see some of these changes implemented in the future.
The Bandai Entertainment Manga website needs some finesse and attention from its creators but not a complicated or fancy upgrade. It is not terribly beautiful looking but it is functional and that stands higher than design. It seems very neglected since its debut just a couple of months ago. And considering the small size of Bandai’s manga catalog, it doesn’t seem like too much of a chore to throw up a few more previews. I find myself going more and more to sites with preview for manga and anime, they can be a valuable resource, so it’s important to give them just a little more care.
More than usual I am very curious as to how useful people considered this review. Just drop us a line and tell us if you would like to see more reviews like this. Also if there are any other sites you would like to see reviewed just let us know.