Many industries have picked up virtual reality as a completely new method of doing work. From medial use to high scale manufacturing, the medium has become an amazing way for various industries to better themselves. New industries are picking up on the technology every day. And with that in mind, Square Enix are taking manga into the platform of the future.
At Oculus Connect 3, John Velasco and I had the chance to try out Project Hikari, which is a bit of a game and a bit of a movie, so it will likely attract a wide variety of users. The “game” brings players inside a manga comic, and plays out events to the user in real time. The experience is voiced by professional voice actors just like they would in a full fledged anime, which helps to guide users through the story at a more natural pace. The panels in the game are all interactive as well, and give viewers the ability to scale them to view at whatever distance they feel comfortable.
While the experience was essentially just a 3D manga comic, the way it is presented is something which makes a much bigger difference than one would think. Everything in the experience is black and white just like an authentic manga, even the moving background image of the main character’s room. As the character is recounting the events, he moves around on his bed which reacts in a realistic fashion. This shows that the developers have put a lot of effort into the experience as a whole, and are looking to make it as high quality as they possible.
Another awesome feature of the application is the ability to look into the individual comic panels. This adds an incredible amount of interactivity to the title, and makes users feel as if they are crafting their own experience. In addition, the text pops off the screen in their own panels. This sounds like a small feature, but actually adds a ton to make the content feel extremely high quality.
The experience feels like a mix between a an anime and a manga, and should help to introduce more casual anime consumers into their original art form. Square Enix says they are planning on converting more titles to this medium in the future, and depending on reception could move forward to turn this into a full fledged business. For now, it’s more of a working concept, but one that certainly has us intrigued.
What do you think about the experience? Would you be interested in manga becoming “watchable” like anime? Let us know.