Square Enix might be best-known for the games it makes, but the company also publishes its own manga in Japan. Now, the two are joining forces to produce a new in-depth experience with virtual reality. Project Hikari debuted at Tokyo Game Show last year and it hopes to change how manga fans read their favorite stories.
There have been attempts to combine Japanese literature with VR before, but those were just fancy ways to read the same story. Project Hikari is trying to actually drop the reader into the story for a more immersive feel.
You will actually get to enter these worlds and watch things play out in 3-D motion comic format. You can move your field of vision to explore the background and settings as the panels display themselves for you one by one. It’s like a new combination of animation and still-imagery manga storytelling.
Sadly, you’ll face a few roadblocks when trying to get your hands on this tech. Project Hikari is still a relatively small group within the Square Enix corporation and adapting even just one story is going to take a lot of time. Artists who normally work on 2-D manga for the printed page will have to find a way to work with these new technologies in order for everything to work well together, but there is a lot of potential here for them to create something very cool and unique.
Square Enix plans on making Project Hikari available to the public sometime in 2018. It does sound like these VR versions of your favorite manga will be more costly than the average book on the shelf, but this is an exciting new world of entertainment that they are exploring. Everyone has been saying for years that VR was going to change how we play video games, but it looks like it will also be changing how we read our books.