With much of Japan’s population staying at home in order to stay safe, manga publishers want to help them stay happy and entertained too.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, many schools in Japan are closed and a number of companies have instituted telecommuting policies. Major entertainment events, including concerts and anime conventions, have been cancelled, in keeping with health officials’ recommendation to avoid spending time in crowded places.

Of course, “crowded places” describes a lot of Japan’s urban and suburban communities in general, and the overall result of combining “don’t go to school/work” with “don’t go out” is a sort of strange combination between a vacation and house arrest. Thankfully, to help people keep their spirits up and combat boredom, a large number of Japan’s manga publishers are making their comics available to read online for free.

The current free-to-read anthology selection includes back issues from the last few months, for a total of 78 free editions currently available (access app/website in parentheses):
Weekly Shonen Jump (Shonen Jump +)
Weekly Shonen Sunday (Sunday Webly)
Kokoro Comic, Kokoro Ichiban (Kokoro Online)
Betsu Comi, Sho-Comi, Cheese!, Ciao Deluxe, Petit Comic, Monthly Flowers (Shogakukan e-Comic Store)
Ribbon, Bessatsu Margaret, Koko Hana, The Margaret (Margaret Bookstore)
Weekly Shonen Champion (Manga Cross)
Hana to Yume, The Hana to Yume Shin, LaLa, LaLaDX (Hakusensha.enet!)

What’s arguably even better, though, is that a number of publishers are making the entirety of historically best-selling individual series available, giving fans the chance to revisit/finish off long-running series. Shogakukan’s Sunday Webly, for example, will be making every single volume free-to-read for 11 titles, starting with Hayate the Combat Butler, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, and Kekkaishi. On March 8, Ranma 1/2, Major, and Psyche Mata Shite mo get added to the list, with The Law of Ueki, Ghost Sweeper Mikami, and Miyuki coming on the 15th and Ushio and Tora and Libero Revolution on the 22nd. In total that’s 392 volumes of free manga (and to reiterate, that’s volumes, with each containing multiple chapters).

“Ranma, you jerk…How could you do that to Akane, after she worked so hard to bake those cookies for you?”

If that’s still not enough to satisfy your reading needs, the apps Comic Days, Dragon Zakura Note, Manga Mee, and Book Walker are currently offering chapters from Space Brothers, Hozuki’s Coolheadedness, The Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross, Mei-chan no Shitsuji, Sensei Kunshu, Dragon Zakura, and Crayon Shin-chan.

Obviously, everyone in Japan is hoping for the coronavirus situation to be under control as soon as possible, so that people can go back to their regular lives. But if you are going to be stuck at home, it’s definitely more pleasant to be able to think of it as a manga retreat than a quarantine.

Source: Twitter/@livedoornews via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he can think of worse ways to spend a day than reading a whole bunch of Ranma 1/2.