ABe doujinshi on the iPod Touch (first peek)

Writing on his blog, graphic artist Abe Yoshitoshi (Serial Experiments Lain, Haibane Renmei) recently announced that his doujinshi Yakkyoku no Pochiyama-san (Pochiyama at the Pharmacy) had just been released for the iPod Touch and the iPhone via the iTunes App Store (53 pages, USD 4.99).

(And yes, it’s also available on the Philippine iTunes App Store. All you need is an iPod Touch or an iPhone, the iTunes software installed on your PC, and a credit card.)

According to ABe, the doujinshi app includes both the original Japanese text and an English translation bundled into a single package. Users can’t choose between Japanese and English themselves since one of the two languages will be triggered automatically depending on your iPod’s configuration. (For example, my iPod is set to English so the text appears entirely in English.) The doujinshi can be manipulated like an iPod Touch photo album: slide right or left to change pages, pinch in or out to zoom.

I purchased the doujinshi within seconds of hearing about it, but I haven’t had the chance to flick through more than the first few pages. I like what I’ve seen so far. The images are crisp and clear, the text is sharp and perfectly readable (even on the iPod’s relatively small screen), and of course the art is excellent. On the other hand, the English translation is a bit awkward in places (“You are impolite to customer!”, “I can’t cuz I’m a social withdrawal”), but it’s still good enough to allow readers to follow the story without doing more than the occasional head-scratch.

EDIT (6:51 PM): I’ve finished reading the doujinshi, and I regret to report that the translation DID provoke a lot of head-scratching. “What the heck is he/she trying to say?” came up in my head almost as many times as there were panels. But the art IS good – so good, in fact, that I’m diving in again (shaky translation notwithstanding) and redirecting all of my brain’s processing power towards the single objective of trying to make sense of the story.

I’ll write a full review just as soon as I finish reading the doujinshi. For now, you can view some sample pages here.

Image credit: Abe Yoshitoshi, from a blog entry announcing the debut of Yakkyoku no Pochiyama-san on the iTunes App Store. A higher-res version (800×800) can be accessed through Abe’s original post.

UPDATE (5:48 PM, 16 August 2008): There’s a new follow-up post on ABe’s blog about the Yakkyoku no Pochiyama-san iTunes release. The event has also been reported on Anime News Network.

5 Responses

  1. I have no iPod Touch/iPhone (though the latter would be pretty neat) and no CC either orz

  2. I couldn’t exactly call it ‘crisp and clear’. At the iPhone’s native resolution it is pixel-perfect, but zooming in you instantly hit pixellation. Paying for what are essentially 480×320 scans doesn’t sit too well with me, especially as they could easily have upped the resolution (the zoom function is there for a REASON).

  3. @Zeroblade: My brother was planning to get an iPhone from Globe – and then saw the inflated price tag. It might actually be cheaper to fly overseas, buy it and then fly straight back.

    We should mount a protest action of some kind to force their prices down. Something along the lines of “What do we want? iPhones at no more than a 20% premium above the recommended U.S. retail price! When do we want it? NOW!”

    @pseudonymous: You’re right – even the tiniest zoom-in produces some pretty nasty pixellation. My remark was, of course, in reference to the standard view (unzoomed); I apologise for not being clear on that point.

    In any case, I believe ABe touched on this issue in his follow-up post (see link above). My Japanese isn’t nearly good enough to digest his remarks fully, but I think he says something about issues with file/download size.

    Of course, if the problem is file size and how this might prevent downloading the three-part work as a single unit, they should consider splitting up the doujinshi and selling the three parts separately, with the images upgraded to much higher resolutions. The price is something we have no power over, but for my part I’d be happy to pay USD 4.99 for each section (USD 14.97 total) provided that the scans are a lot sharper and – this is crucial – a better English translation is supplied.

  4. The current filesize is 8mb. Doubling the resolution 2x in both dimensions, i.e. 2x zoom, would give you a pixel-perfect quarter of a page, with an overall resolution of 960×640 (still a rather low in my book, but probably sufficient for the iphone), and would be hitting around 20mb. As for size limits, I am not an Apple developer (and thus not privy to the specifics of the app store’s requirements due to Apple’s silly NDA), but the only mention of a filesize limit I can find is 2gb. All I can guess is that apple’s cut of the app’s profits scale based on the filesize.

    Either that, or ABe wants to avoid the slight lag that comes with zooming a scaled image. I’d say that waiting a few milliseconds is a small price to pay to actually tell what’s going on in an image. I had check the raws to figure out that the bottom panel of page 8 is imitating the drawing of a Tanto, no thanks to the random translation of “even if you have gun [sic] in the tube”.

    All in all, this was an excellent idea, but rather poorly executed one.

  5. […] after the debut of Abe Yoshitoshi’s doujinshi on the iTunes App Store (as well as the release of several manga titles from other authors), this […]

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