Comico Monetizes and Locks Chapters to App, ReLIFE in Peril!

We’ve got some bad news thanks to Comico that I figured I’d write about now rather than later. For the foreseeable future, all ReLIFE chapters will be released a week later than usual until we find a better solution.

Comico Pay 2 Win mode

We’ve known for a little while now that Comico was going to be transitioning to some form of paid system. From what I understood about it prior to the transition, It seemed like it wasn’t going to be a big deal for us. It is still possible to read a limited number of chapters as a free user, and all we really need is one per week. I’m completely fine with a company adding a paid option as they’ve been around for 2ish years now completely free, and they have to pay the authors somehow! What we weren’t expecting is that Comico has removed access to their series from the website and now the only way to access ReLIFE, and everything else, is through the Comico app.

What this means for us, is that while Xyros can use the app to read and translate the chapter, I don’t currently have a decent way of downloading the chapters for cleaning/typesetting. I was originally just using the Image Downloader Chrome extension to download the chapter pages directly from the website. As you can see now with ReLIFE Report 154, all that’s left on the page that previously had the full chapter, is some text that says “This story is an app exclusive episode”, and a link to the Comico app in the Google Play Store.

Our Options

I’ve spent the past few days assessing the potential options I have available to me for getting access to the raw chapters. One thing to note is that the quality of the images in the Comico app is far worse than the website. This is most likely to save readers data while using LTE connections, but for our sake it just means that JPEG artifacts have increased and Gradient banding has gone through the roof.

Option 1 – China

I actually learned recently that Comico has a Chinese website. Comico China is still currently hosting all the Chinese translated chapters on their website (for now anyways.) The only thing is, ReLIFE comes out every Saturday in Japan, and it’s not out until the following Thursday in China. Xyros would still use the Japanese chapter in the Comico app for translating, I would just have to wait for the Chinese chapter to clean and typeset. a tentative schedule with this option would look something like this:

Example of a release schedule based off Comico China's release dates.

Pros: Image quality would be the same, easier on Hunter

Cons: English chapters would be released 8-9 days after Japan, rather than the current 2 days.

Option 2 – Screenshots

I have done this once before for a side-story report of ReLIFE that we’ve yet to release because Xyros hasn’t translated it yet. It was a huge pain as I had to take screenshots on my phone while scrolling through, making sure I had everything. I then transferred it all over to my PC and stitched it all together nicely. It’s essentially a digital version of scanning. There are ways of emulating Android on my PC (I actually downloaded the ReMIX OS Player to test this out), so that could make it slightly easier, but it’s still going to be a pain in the ass.

Honestly, if we do this, I’d probably want to find a volunteer who would be able to do all the screenshots, and stitching it all into one huge image. It’s an easy enough thing to do, I just don’t want to do it.

Pros: Access to raw chapters immediately like before

Cons: Time consuming, Image quality is going to take a large hit, Chapters might be delayed a day or two.

Option 3 – Giving Up

Haha, just kidding.

Any Android/Web Savvy People Out There?

I had an idea, and while I consider myself to be good with tech, this is beyond my ability.

“What if I could find a way to download the chapter images directly from the Comico app?”

I mean, just because Comico isn’t providing front-facing access to them via a web page like before, doesn’t mean that they’re not still on their servers. There has to be some way to access the direct image links via Android.

With that chapter I previously did the screenshot method for, I was looking into ways to get the image files directly, but unfortunately I failed. I couldn’t find where on my Android device that the chapter images were being cached to.

If anyone out there can figure this out, we would be very grateful if you could share with us how to do it!

In Conclusion

For the time being, We’re probably going with option 1 for sake of simplicity. It’s the same workflow we’ve had up until now, just delayed. I’m going to take a look at the viability of option 2, and if we decide to pursue this route I’ll look into recruiting one or two people for Raw Procurement and Cleaning (depending on if I can figure out a way to deal with the quality drop myself) when the time comes. We will also continue to hope that someone finds a way to directly obtain the chapter images from the app as it’s the most ideal solution.

For the time being, hopefully Comico China doesn’t decide to lock everything up.

That’s the current state of things. If you read this entire post, color me impressed. Let us know in the comments what you think about this, how much Comico sucks right now, and if you have any suggestions, ideas, or solutions!