Of all the booths at New York Comic Con, SHUEISHA XR stood above the rest, both literally and figuratively. This unique experience, MANGA DIVE, combined all of the wonderful manga content from Shueisha with immersive media from XR Technology. The result is a one-of-a-kind work of art that surrounds a viewer with manga panels that move across multiple screens and correspond to sounds from carefully placed speakers at different portions of the installation. The exhibition space itself showed off well known manga such as Chainsaw Man, Dandadan, and SPY x FAMILY. We got the chance to speak with a spokesperson for SHUEISHA XR about MANGA DIVE.
Past and Present of the Exhibition
New York Comic Con was the first time that this immersive experience was available outside of Japan, but by no means was this the beginning of the project. MANGA DIVE previously exhibited at JUMP FESTA 2023, JUMP VICTORY CARNIVAL 2023, and in Shinjuku, Tokyo with a similar set up but at times with timed, ticketed shows that watchers were able to visit and witness over the course of 30-40 minutes. The spokesperson explained that the exhibit only features manga but focuses on enhancing that experience in ways that would be impossible to achieve via traditional anime or on someone’s phone. SHUEISHA XR has taken a straightforward concept and truly breathed life into it. The spokesperson’s enthusiasm when talking about the structure of the exhibit was infectious; I couldn’t help but smile as he explained the effect of projecting manga panels on multiple walls at once while surround sound complemented the moving imagery.
So far, the manga titles shown have been high-potential and up-and-coming ones. The spokesperson noted that manga are selected with quality in mind; works are not part of MANGA DIVE solely on the basis of their popularity. Specifically, I noticed that the three main manga featured all have particularly strong scene progression and very detailed worlds. Chainsaw Man had incredibly intense battles where characters jump and dash across a vibrant city. Spy x Family had its “Bond Arc” showcased while the series’ lovely country of Ostania formed the backdrop for the Forger family. Dandandan highlighted some of the best moments from the series following its most popular characters in a compilation video made just for MANGA DIVE. Every single one of these was synchronized with music and it was incredibly easy to sit and experience everything with scarcely the occasion to blink.
A Diverse Audience
New York Comic Con and JUMP FESTA are obviously very different settings compared to Shinjuku, but that showing gave a good idea of how popular MANGA DIVE was likely to be outside of Japan. “There were a lot of tourists…about one third of the people were tourists or non-Japanese,” the spokesperson said when asked about the makeup of the audience. There were people of all ages in attendance then, from general passers by to families with children and local students. At New York Comic Con, MANGA DIVE benefited heavily from foot traffic as convention-goers couldn’t help but notice how different the multi-paneled exhibition was compared to the tables of manga and merchandise around the venue. Nearly everyone who walked by stopped for a closer look.
What’s Next for MANGA DIVE?
The spokesperson spoke at length about the importance of audience feedback and the potential of the exhibit. The underlying technology and premise of MANGA DIVE is obviously quite strong, but there are practically infinite manga out there and plenty of other series will continue to grow and gain popularity. The project can evolve alongside them in more and more locations. He spoke about the possibility of bringing MANGA DIVE to other cities in the United States — additional Comic Cons are an obvious possibility but the spokesperson made it quite clear that audience reactions will be critical in how the exhibition grows and how SHUEISHA XR determines where to host additional shows.
Massive thanks to SHUEISHA XR giving us the opportunity to have this interview. I personally felt like I had gained another level of appreciation for not just the exhibition but for manga in general. I’ve always found that one of the most consistent reasons I start a manga is because the anime isn’t quite finished and there are parts of the story I simply cannot wait to see. MANGA DIVE sates that desire quite nicely; there’s no other way I’d be able to have so intense an audio-visual experience. Not even the best headphones and TV can recreate the effect of multiple screens and surround sound. You can check out the website for MANGA DIVE here.
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