5pb’s Shikura: Visual Novels “Above Manga, But Below Anime”

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Visual novels (or ADV games as they’re referred to in Japan) are commonly crafted using 2D artwork with a limited amount of animation. Even more recognizable and mainstream games in the genre, such as the Ace Attorney series, rely primarily on very basic animation to convey character personalities.


With both their Xbox 360 remake of Ever17 and their upcoming original game, Robotics;Notes, however, 5pb — or “Mages,” if you prefer their new name — are starting to move toward 3D character models, which can be animated more easily. Unlike 2D sprites, 3D models can be moved and posed freely without the need to manually draw new poses.


We asked 5pb’s executive director, Chiyomaru Shikura, what he expects from this move to 3D models, since it’s a rather significant step for the visual novel genre, which is often misunderstood for its use of minimal animation or still images.


“As a media genre, ADV stands ‘above manga, but below anime,’ I believe,” Shikura told us in an interview. “Manga doesn’t talk, but ADV does. However, ADVs aren’t animated. Now, with the advance into 3D, ADV, which were up until now were in that middle ground, will be naturally animated, and will gradually catch up to anime.” 


He added: “They might be compatible to the Kinect someday too! (laughs)”

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.