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Anime fans are no strangers to VR. With conceptual VR being explored in shows like Sword Art Online, Overlord, Digimon, and Ghost in the Shell, it may come as no surprise to anime fans that the Japanese animation industry is already exploring this fan favorite topic as a reality with virtual reality Anime.

Virtual reality anime is already being piloted on the Sony PlayStation console. Many Japanese gamers have imagined living in the world of their favorite anime and that reality or exploration may not be too far off. Let's explore what is on the horizon with this new medium for animation.

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What is VR Anime?

VR anime is simply what it sounds like: virtual reality anime. Virtual reality anime brings the fantastical worlds of anime into interactive reality, allowing a player to be a part of the game/anime landscape and storyline.

Anime has always been one of the most daring forms of animated expression, with the ability to tell stories that range from weird to fun to deep to even philosophical. With this new medium, anime is going to be able to explore these already immersive storylines even more engrossing and amazing. The video game industry is already booming with the possibility of utilizing virtual reality to an extreme and now the anime industry is opening themselves up to this opportunity.

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Current VR Anime

While the anime culture is based heavily in Japan, the VR industry has not taken off as quickly as it has in the West. Most VR needs expensive, powerful equipment and, in Japan, the public generally looks down on the PC culture. PCs are viewed as expensive, complicated, and project and maintenance based, whereas the public of Japan prefers consoles. It wasn't until Sony began exploring PSVR that things started to change.

With the cheaper price tag and the playability with the already existing PS4, the Japanese market latched on to it perfectly. Tack on the boom of Isekai, or stuck in the game, animes raging on with Sword Art and Overlord, people were lining up for their PSVR.

There were plenty of PSVR games released worldwide and even more were released in Japan. The games released in Japan focused on anime immersion! They focused on the fans of the genre, visual novels, and Otome (or dating SIM) games. Some full-length games, such as Summer Lesson were also released but never localized for the Western audience.

While Sony may be holding back, Samsung is going all in on the new VR anime concept. Samsung is currently regarded as the leader in VR gaming and tote the most popular products on the market. Samsung is even localizing these products for the Western market and audiences.

At the moment, most of what is available to the anime audience are extensions on existing games, such as Kai-ri-Sei Million Arthur, which is based around the Japanese mobile app. Mixed with the linear episodes -which play like an anime- are actual VR battles. You will also utilize card game mechanics, exactly like the mobile app. Even still, it fell short to the anime audiences because it featured limited game mechanics, linear story, and no multiplayer, meaning, short of experiencing a Sword Art Online, we were just playing a JRPG.

There is also extensions and promotional games that go with existing anime, as well. For instance, there exists for the Western audience a Danganronpa game in which the player runs the class trial of the popular visual novel. There is also a One Piece adventure called One Piece Grand Cruise which puts the player in the shoes of a crew member of the Straw Hat Pirates. All in all, these experiences were very short.

Looking toward the future

The future of Anime VR might actually be an unlikely source: KickStarter.

Recently, Tokyo Chronos received their full funding on KickStarter. The project intends to keep a classic visual novel experience but in full length and in virtual reality. And, this is not the only game to be funded by the site. Spice and Wolf VR was, also, fully funded thanks to crowdsourcing. This shows the power of anime fans and will see us rising in the future of anime.

Square Enix is getting in on the game with Tales of Wedding Rings, which is based on a popular manga series, which will give the fans of anime a glimpse of what manga could be like in the VR universe.

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While virtual reality anime is still in its infancy, the advances that we are seeing in this genre prove that there is a future for the medium. Fans of these games in the West may be patiently waiting for localization of these projects, but Japanese fans are already playing in the immersive world. Whatever the future of Anime VR may be, it is sure to be exciting.

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