More manga are hitting digital shelves thanks to another Japanese company entering the US market.
The Dish on Shucream
According to its website:
Shucream Inc. is a production house that has been producing manga for various publishers catering to female readers for more than a quarter century. We take the pride in the great range of genre that we have covered including shōjo manga (for girls), josei manga (for women), childbirth & childcare-themed manga, ‘boys love’ manga (aka, yaoi), pet-themed manga, and essay manga.”
The name comes from the Japanese word for “cream puff”. The company is heavily connected to publisher Shodensha. Some labels, like FEEL YOUNGare produced in conjunction with other companies (mostly Shodensha), and others like are from RED online publications Shucream hosts. Among the titles Shucream highlights are Moyoko Anno’s Happy Mania and Yumi Unita’s Bunny Drop.
Now, Shucream has launched an overseas division: ShuCream BL.
The Dish on ShuCream BL
ShuCream BL debuted its website on February 22nd, and its first English titles were announced for BOOK☆WALKER and MangaPlaza. ShuCream BL plans to expand to other eBookstores including MANGA.CLUB. However, ShuCream BL adds that MangaPlaza manga may contain additional pages exclusive to the platform.
Titles currently available from ShuCream BL are:
- Ask and You Will Receive
- Hatsujo Playroom
- Under My Skin
- Wails of the Bound and Wails of the Bound ;β1
Titles coming soon are:
- Lullaby of The Dawn
- Our Love Will Continue on in the Next Life
- Rooming with My Two Lovers
- Scarlet Secret
ShuCream BL is planning on hosting events catered to English-speaking fans. The first is scheduled to be a video interaction with Wails of the Bound‘s creator, Keri Kusabi.
ShuCream BL is teaming up to release Korean and Traditional Chinese versions with plans for other East Asian languages like Thai and Vietnamese and European languages including French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Polish.
Shucream’s theme is “manga beyond gender”, and this motto is being carried over to ShuCream BL.
While Shucream works to produce a variety of genres, their wholly-owned works are mostly boys’ love comics, so that’s likely why ShuCream BL is going to focus on that genre, so much so that it added “BL” to its name for its English language line. Still, ShuCream has helped edit and produce a lot of works, and while other publishers have licensed titles from Shodensha, it’d be nice if they could release a wider variety of works that better reflects “manga gender beyond”.
Still, BL is a very popular genre, and the company released some top-tier BL titles, including the runner-up in 2021’s BL Award for Best Comics (Ask and You Will Receive). I also like the fact ShuCream BL released a free book with excerpts from its launch line-up, which I read.
Note that these are smutty adult titles, rated for ages 18+. On MangaPlaza, you can’t see them by default. You must login and turn off safe search to see them, unlike on BOOK☆WALKER.
The launch lineup includes an omegaverse story and a spin-off, workplace romances (including Wails of the Bound), and another romance between two adults who met at a goukon. No teenage leads here.
The four (or five, depending on how you count Wails of the Bound spin-off ;β1) launch titles don’t all use the same font, but each use honorifics. But I felt Ask and You Will Receive also had the worst font in my opinion. I mean, the default font is too thin for my taste especially when italicized, but look at some of these squeals:
So awful. I’m on a 17″ laptop, and even with the pages at full screen I had to lean in to read it comfortably. I checked on my iPad, and it’s still just as bad. The others were fine with maybe the occasional font I didn’t like. The translation seemed good from what I saw in the sample volume.
Speaking of translation, ShuCream BL has a lot of language versions planned for the future. It sounds like these are going to be released in conjunction with local companies, but that’s still quite a list for this early in their global expansion.
Meanwhile, I’m also impressed they’re planning on reaching out to fans with events featuring the authors. This can help make fans a little more invested in the company’s publications, and I hope their first video goes well so we can see more manga creator-fan interactions.
As for pricing, BOOK☆WALKER has ShuCream BL titles listed for $9.08, which isn’t out of line for digital manga, but it is on the high side for other manga in the BL category there. As a comparison, Seven Seas’ Go For It, Nakamura! is $8.31, What Did You Eat Yesterday? volumes from Kodansha are $7.50 each, and several MediaDo titles for $6.10 each.
On MangaPlaza, chapters are $2 each with the first being free, and so most of the series end up more expensive (about $1-3 more). Ask and You Will Receive may be the exception ($1 cheaper than BOOK☆WALKER), but the collected version has a bonus chapter which I don’t think would be available in the individual chapter purchases.
Again, ShuCream BL didn’t necessarily overprice their releases, but as a new-to-English publisher, the current prices aren’t really eyecatching. It’s also a bit confusing as to what MangaPlaza includes or lacks. ShuCream BL did have a launch promotion at BOOK☆WALKER, so we know more sales are possible.
Anyway, the BL genre continues to grow, and while there are some clear initial bumps in the road, hopefully that’s all they are since the titles are so good. I sure as heck don’t want to pay $9 for an eBook where I have to squint to read text — especially when it’s not like the letterer had to cram a bunch of words into a small bubble!