Ah, comicy. I first tried out the service while it was in beta. While I found some of its launch titles intriguing, overall, I had only a tipid interest in the service after that. But in the months since, they’ve greatly expanded their offerings. They feature webtoons from China and Korea along with Japanese manga, and in the case of the latter, Comikey has licensed titles from Hakusensha, Shogakukan, Square Enix, and more.
But Comikey only was accessible through a web browser, and I didn’t find it jiving with its release schedules and chapter locked periods. Like, I can usually remember Promise Cinderella has a new chapter on Saturday. But it’s very rare for me to remember within two hours of its 10 AM upload or to be up 14 hours later when it becomes free again. So that usually means Sunday mornings. But I sometimes have errands, and since the next chapter debuts at 10 AM, that leaves a very small window before it’s locked with keys permanently.
Now, it’s true beggars can’t be choosers, and free for a limited time is better than never free. But unlike other manga platforms I regularly follow where I could open up an app, see what’s new over the past few days and catch up when I have some free time.
But now, Comikey has released an app, and with that, it’s time to see if I enjoy Comikey a little more now.
Trying Out the App
I installed the app on my iPad Air 3. Note that I haven’t really browsed the site since when I initially tried out Comikey, so some features/additions may have been around for a while.
The top has a carousel with some odd additional animations. When the header image changes, the circles shift to the left as the white ring moves to the matching little picture. It also loaded several seconds after the rest of the homescreen, and it’s just some unnecessary animation.
At the bottom, there are links for Comics (aka catalog), Library (faved, recently read, purchases, etc.), and Login. Note the Library’s Reading Log and Recommended sections are still under construction.
While there doesn’t seem to be sections for comic types (manga, manhua, webtoon, etc.), I was glad to see the addition of a filter.
So I clicked on the manga button and…not all manga are listed. Together Forever was one I noticed right away was absent. In addition, some non-manga titles are included! But then, as I played around with it, I got the Just Updated section to be manga! I think if you just click manga on the main Comics page, it doesn’t work correctly. You have to select manga, sort another way, and then go back to Just Updated to see only manga in that order. Guessing that’s a glitch.
So I decided to go back to Promise Cinderella.
The bottom menu is replaced with Info, Add, and Start Reading. The Info section is mostly the same as clicking “More Info” in the main section, just minus the summary and theme tags. It also includes buttons to add to favorites and start reading, which again, are already on the main page. Seems like all that should have just been a part of the main series page with part of it hidden like Comikey has it now.
Anyway, the big draw is the promise of daily free chapters.
Of course, you can always buy Keys.
I had a Comikey account, so I logged in, and then I could see the option for free with ads.
Logging in gets a free Daily Pass, and that’s the first option offered. If you decline, the ad-available option becomes available along with using Keys.
Speaking of Daily Pass, that seems like an option for once per day, right? Which is what the app appears to say. The new info on Comikey’s website, though, seems to indicate you can get two a day (one every 12 hours).
The new info also implies the newest chapters are going to be Key-only. If you click on the last chapter of a series, unless it’s part of the Free-Paid-Free program (which is slowly ending and now only applies to some comics), the ad option is grayed out.
The ads are probably the sort you’ve seen before if you’ve ever downloaded a freemium app. The ad(s) are 30 seconds long.
It’s good that chapters are unlocked for 72 hours just in case you are drawn away from your device for some reason. You can see the expiration limit in line with the chapter name. The limit is five per series, with the count resetting every 23 hours. There’s a counter at the top of the chapter list.
The reader should look mostly familiar, with options to go back to series info page, progress bar, leave a comment, and settings. Settings has options for reading direction and theme. More settings are supposed to be coming soon.
When I saw the theme, I assumed it was for the menu. But no, it’s actually for the background for the comic page to load from. In this example, you can see the edges of this manga page go from black to gray when I change it:
For me, I think it’s always going to be white. May not perfectly blend in with the page, but I think it’s the least obtrusive.
The menu color is linked to the title you are reading. For example, The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody is a purpleish blue, but Asobi Asobase has a yellowish menu. I looked at a bunch of manga, and while there is overlap, I think each has their own shade. It Takes More than a Pretty Face to Fall in Love and I’m Cute Enough to Get Away with It! Both have pink menus, but the former I would call more traditional pink while the latter has a purpleish hue.
As for the app’s loading time, Comikey can take about 4 seconds to open, although it can load in about 4 if things are smoothly. I averaged about 2-3 seconds to bring up a comic’s page, and then around another 3 seconds to load the chapter list. The times seem to swing wildly though — I’ve had Comikey take 10 seconds or more multiple times, and at least once about that long to load the chapter list for Sweet Bite Marks. But then I’ve also seen series load almost instantaneously. The same goes for reading — some pages will pop up right away, others can take 10+ seconds.
Just a lot of variance, and I imagine even more if you compare different households.
As I mentioned, the Reading Log part of the app is not ready yet. So if you start reading and want to come back later, like the next day so you can continue with your daily free reading, you’ll have to either search for the title again or have it saved to favorites. You can’t even see a chapter marked as read in the series page. So you have to keep track yourself. It’s not so bad if you are using your passes and ad views since those have countdowns before they’re locked again, but if you skip a few days or want an easy way to jump back in, too bad. It may be frustrating since chapters on Comikey, like other places, are only distinguished by numbers, not titles.
The lack of tracking reading history on the app also means other devices (including the website) won’t reflect what you’ve last read.
So overall, I’m glad there are going to more options for free reading on Comikey. At five chapters per day, even for longer manga like Kengan Omega and Battle in 5 Secondsreaders can catch up in two months or less — and do so for multiple series at once!
Of course, that comes with some caveats. Latest chapters are going to be locked for most series. For some titles, that means instead of having almost a full week to read them for free, you will have to wait up to a month for a new chapter, perhaps longer is a series is on hiatus. I personally think being a chapter behind is worth the trade-off for having a chance to get into the backlog. Readers can get up to six free chapters a day that would normally cost Keys for just a few minutes worth of ads.
The app has a few bumps, but it’s something Comikey urgently needed even without the added freemium options. I’ve been impressed by the additions to their catalog, but I’ve had a hard time remembering when I should visit the platform and easily fell behind on series I wanted to follow. But I’m glad now there’s a way to catch up for free, and I plan on using Comikey via the app quite regularly now.