The ways of reading manga and comics have seen a radical shift in the past couple of decades.
It began with physical manga and comic books, which were then followed by virtual books, and now, they have come to VR. Though the tech is still finding its footing in the industry, a few significant strides have already been made regarding its advancement.
Several VR apps dedicated solely to the comic experience have been released, with many of them offering additional features to enhance the reading immersion. Features like matching virtual environment, music befitting the mood of the comic, and sharper details make the VR experience stand out among other traditional media.
So, to help you get the best possible reading experience, we’ve created a list of the best comic apps that you can get on VR.
The Best Manga & Comic Apps Available On VR Devices
VR Manga & Comic Apps For Oculus Quest 2
1. Madefire VR
Madefire VR is one of the leading names in the VR manga and comic apps scene. Designed specifically for VR, the app allows the user to read comics in a 360-degree panoramic view, allowing them to step into the comic world. Immersion is a critical aspect of enjoying a comic book, and Madefire VR strives to ensure it.
To do so, the app features a selection of made-for-VR motion books that put the Madefire VR Motion Book engine to good use. It provides users with ambient music, sound effects, and dynamic 3D motion that matches the actions in the book.
You can enjoy your favorite comic characters from all corners of the industry in a brand-new way. Comics featuring prominent characters from Marvel, DC, IDW, Dark Horse, and more publications are available to be experienced in the Madefire app. Additionally, you can explore new horizons with Madefire Original Titles, such as Mono and Captain Stone.
Madefire VR is available for the Gear VR and Oculus Go devices to download.
2. XR Manga Fist Of The North Star
Fist of the North Star (1983) is a classic manga, one that transcends time and has a massive fan following to this day. Naturally, the manga being on VR in the form of an interactive ebook is a prospect that many were eager to experience.
The XR Manga app allows readers to experience Kenshiro’s adventures all over again, bringing them closer to the character than ever before. Readers have all 18 volumes in color available as the Ultimate Edition, which contains all 27 volumes of the original publication and additional episodes. These episodes were written by the mangaka of Fist of the North Star, Tetsuo Hara.
Complementing the intricately-detailed panels of Fist Of The North Star are backdrops that match the setting and mood of the story. These backdrops shift as you progress through the story, giving you the most involved experience you can have with the manga.
But that’s not all! The app comes with a mini-game called ‘Ore ga Kenshiro’ (lit. ‘I Am Kenshiro’) that allows you to embody Kenshiro and perform actions similar to him. What you can do in this mini-game is not much, with actions limited to throwing a barrage of punches and a few of Kenshiro’s secret techniques.
Additionally, the manga app includes 3D figures of Kenshiro and Yuria that act as a fully functioning photo mode. You can add speech bubbles, pose the characters however you like, and add a suitable backdrop, mimicking the look of a manga panel.
That said, the experience doesn’t come cheap. The XR Manga Fist of the North Star app matches the physical release in terms of pricing, making it quite a hefty purchase. For die-hard fans, the app is a worthwhile experience, but first-time readers may want to look at another way of experiencing the classic manga.
Free VR Manga And Comics Apps
1. ComX VR
Unlike most other comic book and manga reader apps that are made specifically for VR headsets, ComX VR is a mobile app with VR support. For those who prefer a Cardboard compatible mobile VR headset, the app can be a good option.
ComX VR requires no external controllers, using Gaze-input controls instead for hands-free navigation and comic interaction. The app supports both single and double-page viewing, along with a simple library UI.
There is an extensive collection of digital comics for you to choose from, complete with the standard VR comic enhancements. You can read your favorite comics and manga on the go by downloading it from the Google Play store on your phone.
Supermedium is a VR-specific project that centers around a comfortable and focused reading experience. Finding its roots in a book reader and Reddit client, the app has progressed enough to make an immersive and convenient way to read comics.
Supermedium includes a host of immersive utilities to enhance the way you read comics. Comic pages seemingly pop out and are displayed as striking murals, and the virtual environment shifts to match the comic. The details inked by a comic artist are sharp enough almost to appear 3D, appearing as if you were in the world of the comic.
While the app is primarily designed for the Meta headsets, you can use Supermedium on your PC as well. The demo version of the Supermedium companion desktop app is available to download for free.
Furthermore, the app doubles as a reader for the library created by Supermedium, as well as any books you have stored on your device. This may include comic books, manga, novels, and more, in the .CBR and .CBZ formats. And once you have your collection ready, the library can be synced with the Supermedium desktop app.
Other Manga & Comics Apps For VR
If you want to experience comics in VR without spending too much money, immersionVR may hit that niche for you. The app is quite an all-rounder, as it allows users to read books, comics, and graphic novels and listen to audiobooks.
You can experience the reading medium of your choice in double page, PDF, and textbook views while being able to adjust the resolution. The libraries in immerisonVR can be sorted as per your preference, allowing you to find a book quickly and without hassles. On top of that, you can find new reading environments and ambient views to make the reading experience more immersive.
As for navigation and controls, the app provides you with controls to zoom, recline, change fonts and adjust reading environments. In some ways, you have more control while reading in immersionVR than with traditional media, making it a versatile tool.
Adding to the immersion is a music player that you can use to play background audio. Some prefer white noise as they read, while others enjoy tranquil music. No matter the preference, the music player can accommodate your specific tastes.
immersionVR Comix app is available for the Oculus Go with support for English, Chinese and Japanese languages.
VR Comics And Manga: Where Reading Stops And Watching Begins
Motion comics have existed since the inception of animation. These videos bring comics to life by way of limited animation, sound effects, and, in some cases, voice acting. Naturally, there is some overlap between VR comics and motion comics.
There is an argument that can be made that VR comics are much like watching a motion comic. Comic platforms like Madefire feature limited animation in action-focussed panels, similar to a motion comic. Some books also include environmental and sound effects, adding another dimension to the comic experience.
In some instances, VR comics become strikingly similar to motion comics, differing in only the time it takes to produce them. VR conversion takes time, after all, something that comic artists who publish weekly can’t afford to wait for. While some apps like Mediafire firmly plant their feet in the belief that comics are meant to be read, it may not always remain so.
VR technology is touted as being the ‘future of comics in new realities’, with possibilities of integrating 3D comics in action. If fully animated sequences are integrated into a VR comic, then at that point, the comic may as well be an animated movie.
At the end of the day, the fact of the matter is that VR comics and manga apps are still finding their footing in the industry. It’s only a matter of time until they hit the right spot between a comic book and a motion comic or animation.
And there you have it, five of the best VR manga and comic reader apps. These apps all function differently but serve the same purpose: to provide you with an immersive comic reading experience.
As technological advances streamline the VR comic creation process, we will see a great number of VR comics and manga on the market. Ways to make your favorite books will be in the tens, and VR will facilitate many of them.
And like most successful ventures, VR comic and manga readers will find a niche in the market. Think of VR as another way of experiencing a comic rather than a complete replacement. Physical books are still here after the advent of digital comics, and the same will be true for VR comics.