Of all the Summer 2013 anime that came out, this is the one I was anticipating the most. Was it worth the wait or is it yet another crappy motion picture adaptation of a video game series. Let’s find out as we take a look at Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation.
I’ll try my best to be as unbiased as possible but I won’t make any promises.
Just in case, here are the reviews for all three PS3 video games in the series.
Alternative Title: Choujigen Game Neptune: The Animation.
Genres: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Science-Fiction,
Themes: Parody, Moe, Ecchi, Video Game,
Number of episodes: 12 + 1 OVA.
G-Rating: 10/10 (Favoritism). 6-7/10 overall, depending on who you ask.
“This is Gamindustri (ゲーム業界 Gamegyokai ). Beings called the Goddesses rule the countries of this unreal world. The four Goddesses govern four states: Planeptune, Lastation, Lowee and Leanbox. For many long years, these countries fight each other for Share, the source of the Goddesses’ power. However, fearful that the conflict would pointlessly erode their countries’ strength, the Goddesses signed a Friendship Treaty forbidding them from taking the Share by force. Under the treaty, the Goddesses and their younger sisters took a new stage in their relations. It was the dawn of a new, dynamic era marked occasionally by shared laughter, disputes as well as cooperation. What does the future hold in store for Gamindustri?” (From the Neptunia Wiki)
Right off the bat, I’ll say this. This is, imo, the best motion picture adaptation of a video game I’ve ever seen. Granted, the source material is practically made to be turned into an ecchi Girls Club anime but it’s a video game, so it counts.
The amount of references to not only video games of young and old, but also to the Neptunia series itself is astronomical. It will leave newcomers to the series lost in the earlier episodes. Once the first major plot kicks in, it’s smooth sailing from there and I guarantee newcomers won’t be as confused…for the most part.
The anime’s story is a mix of all three titles that came out on the Playstation 3 (the first Neptunia, MK2 and Victory) molded into one. Several cutscenes from the three games were taken and used as either part of or the entirety of an episode’s plot. The overall story, on the other hand, is original and is a worthy separate storyline from the games.
While the main story is good, it is not without its hiccups. There are times when the story feels rushed and some parts could have used an extension of 15-16 episodes at least. This is probably due to the show using both series’ current main antagonists and give them both the opportunity to threaten Gamindustri in their own way rather than have only one big bad to take down and create more focus. The second main antagonist is not explained nearly well enough to justify its actions. Granted, it’s not as bad as, say, M. Night Shyamalan cramming an entire season of The Last Airbender into one movie, missing MANY key components that made the original American anime series great. That is also due in part to the games’ overall storylines not being anything academy award worthy. The Neptunia series’ strength has always been in the character development and interaction.
What the show excelled at was capturing the spirit of the Neptunia series. Everything that happens on the show is exactly what would happen if a newcomer were to pick up a Neptunia game for the first time. A majority of the franchise revolves around “bubbles, giggles and sweet bobbies of all shapes and sizes” and the other half is the surprisingly deep (while still lighthearted) themes the series tackles when it needs to, such as child abduction and experimentation. That’s why I can’t hate all ecchi anime or video games…just the ones with dull male leads in them…and some of those are still able to pull off depth when they want to. Every now and then you find one where there is more to the girls in question than a cute or hot bod and a pretty face. The Neptunia series and Neptunia TV are no exception.
Let’s take a look at the relationship between the CPUs themselves. In the anime, the CPU’s war against each other, a visualization of the eternal video game console war, had come to an end. However, the CPUs remain rivals, even after befriending each other. They are like political parties who, while possibly respecting each other (The CPUs do respect each other), are still rivals competing for shares and becoming the top dog of Gamindustri. That is how the video game industry and commercialism in general work. Cooperation and competition are law.
Yet another example is my personal favorite MK2 portion of the series that was used for the show’s first major plot. The part that focused on the CPU Candidates, the fact they were living behind their older sisters’ shadows and their quest to become true goddesses/heroines. It’s nothing new in regards to storytelling but I couldn’t help cheering the ladies on as they faced a great threat that threatened Gamindustri without their stronger sisters to help them. I could go on and on but I think I’ve made my point.
Am I looking too deep into the source material? Maybe, but that’s how much I love this series and its anime adaptation. Will this change the minds of critics who will bash the game because “it’s the “IN” thing to do” or “the game mechanics and graphics are dated” or “it’s a game for Japan fetishists, therefore it sucks”? Unlikely, but I won’t hold it against them. It’s their opinions. Just like all my fans are free to disagree with this review as well.
The animation, I feel, also captures the spirit of the Neptunia series. The graphics for all three games, as much as they continue improving, continue being advanced PS2 graphics at best. Most won’t think much of the animation quality but they’re effective and get the job done. Unfortunately, it’s fanservice scenes like the above picture and a certain monster I detest with every single fiber of my being and I believe said character represents all that is wrong with the dark side of otakus, that give critics the fuel they need to bash Neptunia. On the bright side, after the first two episodes, the dirty dogoos and THAT YELLOW BASTARD, are never seen again.
The music, once again, is major fanservice. Several tracks from all three games, mostly MK2 and V are remixed or taken directly from the games and applied to the show. The best part is that they’re all pretty good, including the anime exclusive OP, ED and “special song” near the climax.
You’ll all have to forgive for not going through most characters on the show, for there are many. So many that some Maker Characters either got lots of screen time or only 1.5 seconds or didn’t appear at all. In fact, only one anime original character appeared. There were townspeople and maids but they don’t count. Just take my word for it that there’s a character type for everyone.
I would rank the Yuri level of the entire Neptunia series as Grade 3. As for the anime, unfortunately it gets a Grade 4. This part was kinda lacking but what we did get was “Marvelous” (I wonder how many will get this without having to Google it). The most prominent pairings we got was some minor IF X Compa and some delicious Nepgear X Vert, both who just so happen to my favorite characters in the entire franchise.
Overall, I consider Neptunia TV everything I had hoped for and more. Like most things in life, it could have been better but who am I to complain when what we got was amazing. I can’t say whether my fellow Neptunia fans feel the same or not, or whether newcomers will enjoy the show enough to check out the games. This is mainly due to several events making sense only to fans of the games. Even though I said the show is only confusing at first, there are still other stuff later on in that will continue confusing newcomers.
It’s kind of the same as a manga lure/bait. Viewers want to understand more, they have to play the games to find out…or Youtube Let’s Plays.
All I know is that this show is currently my #1 anime of 2013 and I have little reason to change my mind. I would say give the show till episode 3 to officially decide whether it is for you or not, unless you’re a person who dislikes ecchi and moe in general.