Master Chief, Cortana, and the Arbiter will be getting the anime treatment, Microsoft announced at this week’s Comic-Con 2009.
Despite being a runaway success in the Western world, the Halo franchise has never really caught on across the Pacific Ocean in Japan for whatever reason – perhaps it’s because the Japanese don’t really flock to FPS games the way others do, perhaps it’s just the lack of superpowered teenagers, giant robots, and tentacle monsters. Really, your guess is as good as mine.
That doesn’t mean that Microsoft feels that Japan has nothing to offer the series, though. Quite the opposite – at Comic-Con, the software giant announced Halo Legends, a collection of seven short films drawn in the Japanese anime style.
While Microsoft’s own 343 Industries – its internal house devoted to all things Halo – will be financing and overseeing the development of Legends (as well as writing all the scripts), the shorts themselves will be animated by five relatively prominent Japanese studios: Bones, Casio Entertainment, Production I.G., Studio4C, and Toei Animation. Shinji Aramaki, director of mecha anime Appleseed and Gasaraki, will be overseeing production on the Microsoft end.
In fact, Aramaki is one of the few Japanese gamers who fell for the Halo series, and was immediately interested in the idea. “I liked that this would be an anthology of human stories told from different characters’ perspectives,” he said.
The LA Times reported that 343’s Creative Director Frank O’Connor spoke briefly about two of the Halo Legends shorts in particular:
Studio4 C’s project, tentatively called “Origins,” is a two-parter that’s about 30 minutes long in total and tells the entire 100,000 year history of the Halo universe. Another, from Toei, is the only one outside of the official canon and pokes fun at some of the game’s characters.
‘It’s a wildly varied genre, but anime creators do things with weapons and vehicles and technology nobody else does, and that marries very well with Halo,’ [O’Connor] explained. ‘It’s amazing to see some of the new stuff they’re introducing and how neatly it maps to the visual aesthetics in the Halo universe.’
One can’t help but wonder if the presence of big-name animation studios like Toei and Bones means that Japanese gamers might actually sit up and take notice of the franchise for once, or if they’ll respond with a resounding and deafening, “Meh.”