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!

  • kiyofumi.yoshikawa

    Personally, I prefer the 1st option.
    It’s far more easier for you to typeset and edit…
    The only drawback is waiting for another week (no problem!).. but what if in the future Chinese comico limit also locks it to app?

  • Riuki

    Option 1 is obviously the best for now and it wouldn’t really have an impact on us readers anyway except for waiting 1 additional week the first time you guys did it like that. After that it would be the usual one chapter per week and I don’t think anyone would complain just because the translated version comes out 8 days after the raws.

  • linkinboss

    I’m curious to see if an android emulator would be helpful to retreive the images from the comico app. No knowledge about that, but seems like a good entrypoint

    • miendiem

      I don’t know how much TWH might have experimented with that, but I tried it, and it came out just as bad as screens taken directly from the phone version.

  • Giancarlo Corrales

    Ill check how the comico app works and see if theres a way to get the cached picture’s (theres always a way)

  • Life

    I literally started reading ReLife a couple of days ago. A shame I caught up and this happens. Oh well. I gotta say though your releases are amazing! Thank you

  • Apu

    Try to use Genymotion, it has some developer features, maybe one of those can help.

  • planetary

    Surely there’s some way to access the Comico app cache using Android? Like, I don’t know, if you download the pages when reading they must be somewhere. All you have to do is figure out how.

  • qmanol

    Cached images are stored in android/data/jp.comico/cache/comic/detail. They all have long hexadecimal names, and no extensions (they’re mostly jpegs) Problem is that the images are still low quality.

    • instead of trying to get cached images, i think it would be a better option to look for source direct URI

      http://comicimg.comico.jp/pc/2/{chapterN°}/{ChapterUID?}_001_{pageN°}.jpg
      then, looking with network sniffer like wireshark to see what url of comico is for the chapter and replacing {chapterN°}/{ChapterUID?} to get all pages in original quality…
      sure would be a pain but after you do it once, other times are quicker

      • Seems to be it. Though in between the 2 (series ID) and the chapter number, there’s a random hexidecimal value. If the hex value in the cached file name matches what it would be in the URL then that might work…

    • Russssooo

      There must be a way to get them high quality and looking at the source, i was thinking on that too

    • Checked in here and used Solid Explorer to bulk-add the .jpg extension to all the files in that directory, and after opening up a chapter of ReLIFE in the app, the chapter images were in fact in there. Just… in no particular order at all and very low quality =/

    • Hi! I’m amplified, just another comico scanlator.

      I just want to thank you for this, qmanol and White Out Scans! I was having the same problem and thought of dropping my projects after I finish scanlating the chapters I saved before the renewal was implemented. I’ll adopt the same method, if you won’t mind.

      You really saved me. I owe you guys a lot. If there’s something I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to message me here, on batoto or on tumblr.

      Cheers!

    • Hi! I’m amplified, just another comico scanlator.

      I just want to thank you for this, qmanol and White Out Scans! I was having the same problem and thought of dropping my projects after I finish scanlating the chapters I saved before the renewal was implemented. I’ll adopt the same method, if you won’t mind.

      You really saved me. I owe you guys a lot. If there’s something I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to message me here, on batoto or on tumblr.

      Cheers~

      • “I’ll adopt the same method, if you won’t mind.”

        We do mind, it is forbidden.
        Just kidding 😛 We don’t own anything, do as you please 😀

  • Vee Vee

    I’m okay with Option 1. Just DON’T choose Option 3! 🙁 Thank you for all the effort. 🙂

  • CrossZX

    Just tried taking screenshots on Android. It works pretty well, but would require more clean-up.
    Thank you so much for all your hard work!

  • Archmason

    I personally feel as if option 1 is the best choice. A week’s delay is a small drawback compared to high-quality scans and ease on the translators.

    That being said, if it becomes impossible to get raw scans from the sites, I would be more than happy to assist in stitching/editing/whatever in terms of screenshots.

  • giamonte

    Personally, the image quality is not my priority.
    I’m much more interested in the story.
    My preference is the one that makes life easier for the translator team, who has all my gratitude.

  • Andyriel C Ting

    just a suggestion
    maybe u can translate the low quality first then high quality though it will be more time consuming and more tiring

    • Russssooo

      Yeah agreed

    • Definitely not doing this as I imagine there’s very few people who even bother to read a HQ release. Not worth the effort, so I’d rather just do one release at the best quality we can, even if it’s later.

  • Pingback: Hi readers of Amanogawa Ke and Ouji-sama, I have grave news for you guys | SquigglesJP()

  • Invictus Red

    What about using an android emulator http://www.androidauthority.com/best-android-emulators-for-pc-655308/? If there is a cost to the subscription, I’d be more than willing to donate my coffee money (And I know my g/f would too, since we BOTH love ReLife).

  • Ghoul

    Could you try using an android emulator like bluestacks for example. Just download the comico apk and bluestacks and you’ll be able to run it on your computer. Than you could somehow save the images that way. They should be in pretty good quality. I can try it out and let you know how it goes if you’d like.

  • Pete Zaitcev

    One could probably have a look at the traffic for the app even without any Android expertise. They still use unencrypted HTTP, it appears. Just sic Wireshark on it. The protocol is probably dead simple.

  • I’m okay with the 1st option. Once the first delayed chapter’s out, it won’t really feel like a wait anymore.

  • TheWhiteHunter asked me which option I wanted. I voted for option 3. He told me I didn’t deserved to eat today, closed the home-made cell and left without giving me my dog food for the day….

    • Russssooo

      Dont give up plz

      • Don’t give up with ReLIFE, or don’t give up plotting his escape?

        • Russssooo

          He is writing a log.
          Day 1 TheWhiteHunter turned off wifi and im starving. Luckily Xyros droped some nuts that ive been munching on for the past 30 minutes scape plot is coming and going. Might never scape

        • Russssooo

          I like you guys always reply to fans

          • Well, not always. More like sometimes.
            Every now and then I’ll reply to a few people at once.

  • Meliodas_TaBleT

    Did you try using bluestacks? Its a android emulator so u can open app in your pc. It may work. By the way, late scans doesnt really affect us after the first week. We still get it once a week. So option 1 is cool I guess.

    • TmpAccToPost

      Use Memu instead of BlueStacks. BlueStacks has become the Norton of Android emulators (bloaty, really wants you to update, installs too many other little programs).