I think visual novels qualify as sequential art, and should start acting like it. Here's some things visual novels need to work on (I had ambitious visions of side-by-side manga and visual novel screenshots, but please do some imagining in your head):
-Visual and textual information should be complimentary, not redundant. 999 drove me crazy when a character would appear on-screen looking surprised, and the text itself would tell me this character was speaking and felt surprised. We're familiar with the convention that the person on screen is talking, or if there are multiple people on screen that their speech bubbles have their name on them. Even picture books can get this right--little tidbits of additional information should be contained in the accompanying illustrations.
|can we please just show all the refinement and dignity in the artwork?|
|maybe a whole screen is a little much to dedicate to your character's reactions... but it's soo cute!|
-Use animations resourcefully. If we classify animation as many static images linked together, it can still technically qualify as sequential art, and I think that qualification makes sense in the context of visual novels, which sometimes include small animations like head nods and toe-tapping. Animations in a character, when reused in the same contexts, make mannerisms. Mannerisms can be part of an interesting and dynamic character.
I know that many of my complaints are because of budget/time constraints on visual novels. But not all of them are! I like the idea of the visual novel and I think it is a genre that is a little neglected. It's possible that I should give up on visual novels and concentrate on finding a really good simulation game--do we have a modern Princess Maker 2, and is it something other than The Sims? I like my simulation games to have some story to them (edit: maybe Cherry Tree High Comedy has what I'm looking for? I'm stoked!)!
Let me know in the comments if you agree that visual novels need to reformed, or if I'm completely misunderstanding the genre! I love having conversations about this kind of stuff.