Rakuten Group, Inc. has announced that it will launch R-Toon, a new digital comic book distribution service, in fall 2023 or later.
R-Toon is a new Rakuten service that enables users to read original, vertically scrolling digital comic titles. The service will allow users to read one chapter a day free of charge. Users will also be able purchase comics on a per-chapter basis.
Rakuten has partnered with Shonengahosha Co., Ltd., Straight Edge Inc. and Nitroplus Co., Ltd. to start jointly producing original digital comics. The companies are currently developing new titles which will be released on R-Toon.
In addition, Rakuten will launch a new comic label with Shonengahosha to create new content tailored to meet the international demand for Japanese cultural content, and to advance into markets outside Japan. Building on its partnership with Toon Cracker Co., Ltd. announced in June 2022, Rakuten will also work alongside Straight Edge and Nitroplus to deliver high-quality, rich content for release exclusively on R-Toon.
Rakuten will also utilize Rakuten Content Central, its comprehensive intellectual property content production label, as a platform to roll out related content and merchandising for the jointly produced titles across various media, both locally and abroad. The company also plans to promote collaborations with services within the Rakuten Ecosystem, leveraging the strength of its portfolio of more than 70 services and more than 100 million members in Japan.
Masahiro Ohno, Director at Shonengashosha, commented, “Our company has been a manga publisher for 78 years and throughout our history we have always worked closely with creators. We want to leverage our strengths to provide titles aligned with the market Rakuten envisions. Rakuten’s global competitiveness is one of Japan’s assets. This represents an opportunity for us to compete in the rapidly growing markets of Asia, Europe and North America. I hope this collaboration with Rakuten will allow us to further grow the potential of comics.”
Kazuma Miki, Representative Director at Straight Edge, commented, “As a regular user of Rakuten TV and Rakuten Kobo, I am constantly inspired by the strength of Rakuten’s user-first mindset and the convenience of their services. I am keenly aware that this strength is founded entirely on a love of content and I am delighted Straight Edge has been given the opportunity to create titles with Rakuten. Japan’s market for vertically scrolling digital comics is yet to produce a major hit penned domestically. We will strive to make the first such hit an R-Toon title.”
Michio Takahashi, Vice President of Rakuten’s Entertainment Contents Business, commented, “Manga, one of Japan’s most universally acclaimed categories of traditional entertainment, has a sense of narrative and characterization that is winning fans worldwide. Vertically scrolling digital comics represent an opportunity to cultivate a new market of readers and simultaneously produce creators of new manga content. In the future, Rakuten will work continue working alongside those creating content worldwide to empower the new era of comic culture.”