Anime is more popular than ever before, but many fans still don’t really have anyone to watch it with. This problem could soon be a thing of the past, however, thanks to recent advances in Virtual Reality (VR) technology. This weekend, I stumbled onto a group called the VR Anime Society. Created by a web developer named Max Fedotov (also known as DouTatsu), the group’s goal is simple: host live events so that anyone with a VR headset can hang out and watch anime together.
How exactly does this work?
The whole process is much more streamlined that you might think. First, you have to install an app called Bigscreen on your VR headset. There’s no trick here: Bigscreen is available directly via Steam and the Oculus app store. Next, head over to the VR Anime Society website, sign up, and confirm which events you’d like to attend. Five minutes before the event starts, the page will update and give you a code to enter into the Bigscreen app. Type that in and voilà – you’re done!
Bigscreen differs from apps like VRChat in a few ways: first, it’s designed first and foremost for media consumption. This results in better overall performance, and allows for higher-definition streams. The other difference is that you can only have 12 people in one “room” – this is to avoid issues with broadcasting laws.
However, I didn’t find this to be a major problem; smaller groups make it easier to deal with anyone that causes problems, plus the the close-knit nature makes it feel like you’re just chilling and watching anime with a couple of friends. If more than 12 people decide to attend one event, the society simply has a different host stream at the same time.
So how was it?
I think when people hear the words “anime club”, they immediately assume there’s going to be a healthy amount of cringe. That said, my experience attending a VR Anime Society screening was the complete opposite: it was light-hearted, it was occasionally hilarious, but most importantly, it was absolutely better than watching new shows on my own.
Even though there were a few regulars in attendance, I never felt left out. In fact, DouTatsu checked in with us regularly to make sure we knew how to use Bigscreen and to check that the stream was working properly for everyone. Quiet chatter combined with the light from the nearby (virtual) campfire made for an incredibly chill experience… at least until the Goblin Slayer OP came on.
Can I get involved?
Absolutely. When you register, you’ll be emailed a link to the Discord channel, and the VR Anime Society are always looking for new people to host events. If you have any questions or are just a little curious, feel free to reach out on Twitter or Kitsu.io.
Whether you’re new to the anime fandom or an experienced veteran, there’s something for everyone. If you have a VR headset and are looking for something to do in the evenings, this might be just what you need.