While everyone is fan-gasming over Newtype’s announcement that the new Haruhi television anime will be airing this April, I find myself writing about something else Haruhi-related which most people have probably never heard of. In fact, I myself did not find out about this so-called Western doujin visual novel Worlds of Haruhi Suzumiya until a few days ago purely by accident when the public demo for the prologue was released.
I read through the short demo and the basic story is as follows: A Canadian high school student by the name of Alan is on a plane headed for Japan for acedemic reasons but something strange happens. Mid flight he finds himself falling down and eventually he wakes up in an unfamiliar environment and ends up wandering around trying to figure out where he is. He bumps into Haruhi who for some unknown reason invites him to her house. They run into Itsuki who is surprised to find out that this person he has never seen before is apparently Haruhi’s new slave. Alan and Haruhi go inside her house and after a meal and short talk, the demo ends.
According to the Wiki, Alan somehow “slid” from his world to Haruhi’s where he has to deal with new truths such as aliens, espers and time travelers. At some point in the story three “Dimension Sliders” present themselves to Alan and ask him to join them which he accepts. The kicker is that these Sliders actually come from various anime and through the course of the story the player visits various worlds. I like to think of it as Weaboo Kingdom Hearts. Given that many of these worlds revolve around some of my favorite series such as Kanon and Higurashi to name a few, it should be no surprise that I am genuinely interested in this project. However judging by the demo, the group still has a good ways to go.
While reading through the dialogue, I found it slightly strange that they decided to use of honorifics. I’m fine with seeing honorifics in translated material because I feel it conveys a sense familiarity or deference that could be lost with sometimes awkward English diction but it feels slightly out of place given the project’s Western origins. I also noticed that Haruhi and Itsuki seemed a little off. Maybe it’s because it has been two and a half years since I watched Yuuutsu, but it really did feel like their speech patterns and actions differed slightly from what I expect of their anime counterparts.
Surprisingly enough, Worlds features voice acting. Haruhi’s actress was quite consistent in her delivery of her lines and seemed to really be having fun with her role. Koizumi’s actor however for some reason or another could not keep a consistent volume and his delivery doesn’t quite express Itsuki’s personality. Actually being able to hear the voices is problematic due to the much greater volume of the background music taken from the anime soundtrack. To be able to hear any voices decently, you have to greatly reduce the music volume. Hopefully, they will be able to sort out their audio problems for future releases.
As for art, due to a lack of artists which is to be expected in any visual novel project originating from the West, it seems like they are using stills captured from the anime as temporary substitutes for the background. The character sprites are also borrowed from the anime except that they have been vectored making them look slightly better than just screencaps. Unfortunately both the background and sprites have stretched aspect ratios making the scenes look weird most of the time. The character sprites are also odd at times becuase the facial features have been redrawn for different emotions but they do not always line up correctly.
This project is still young so many issues still have to be sorted out and it could end up a great success or the exact opposite. However it is refreshing to see more ambitious large-scale Original English-Language Visual Novels being started as time passes. I’ll be paying attention to this OELVN and hopefully the team will be able to get things together and produce a crazy crossover of considerable length actually worth reading.