The song is Dimension tripper!!!! by nao. The video has the lyrics, so I don’t need to post them this time. There was actually a second version of the opening with less reused animation, but this is the only video I can find, and it’s a bit choppy.
Okay, so it’s now time for me to review Hyperdimension Neptunia The Animation, or should I say Chōjigen Game Neputune The Animation (Hyper Dimension Game Neptune The Animation), which was localized by FUNimation as just Hyperdimension Neptunia. The 2013 anime was handled by David Production, a relatively new studio of Ben-To and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure fame. I’d previously reviewed the three localized titles in the series, but another 6 have been either released or put into development since then, making the series total 9 games (2 of which were much-needed remakes, 3 of the remaining being spin-offs) since its start in August 2010. There have also been several manga, a light novel adaptation, mobile apps, and a few drama CDs.
The series’ premise is anthropomorphised console wars, with characters representing companies, series, consoles (as immortal goddesses), etc. Everyone is female with a few exceptions (none of whom appear in the anime except for Trick and Anonydeath – even the background filler characters are all female, at least initially). Notably, the series does not have a consistent setting, with nearly every entry creating a new universe for the purpose of the story. The anime is no exception to this, as it appears to have its own setting based on the Hyperdimension from mk2 and Victory, with its own equivalent parallel dimension similar to the Ultradimension from Victory that is not visited.
Now, it should be no surprise to active readers of this blog that I am a huge fan of this series. So, of course, you’d expect me to be fawning over this anime the whole time, right? If you really thought that, you would be wrong, as I am on record calling out the first game of the series for having absolutely terrible gameplay. So let’s get into it: Is the anime any good? The answer may be more complex that you’d expect.
I would like to start by saying that the anime was most certainly made by a team with the highest respect for the source material. The first episode, while being a bit cringe-worthy for part of the Dogoo scene, faithfully distills the spirit of the series. It also seems that the anime team acknowledged that the series lacked a consistent setting and based all of the characters off of specific iterations of said characters – IF is as in-the-action as in earlier entries, Nepgear is actually taken seriously, etc. The post-episode bloopers were also quite funny, and used several series in-jokes to great effect.
But, while the respect of the team is clear, the skill level, clearly, is not. After episode 1, it’s mostly downhill from there, with episodes that are just plain directed horribly, written even worse, and with poor decisions all-around in terms of which characters to use from the series.
As the anime had limited time, there were restrictions on the amount of villains they could include. That said, they ended up picking Arfoire (Majiquone in Japan), Pirachu (Warechu), Underling (Linda), Abness, Anonydeath, Rei Ryghts (Rei Kiseijō), Yellow Heart and CFW Trick (Trick the Hard). CFW Magic (Magic the Hard) is mentioned in a brief in-joke, however, so the characters who don’t appear still seem to exist. This is a fairly balanced pool of villians from the series’ entries at the time – no Ganache, etc, but each entry has a level of representation. Picking Trick was a poor choice in terms of his being a repulsive pedo, but it worked well within the poorly-written plot they decided to use.
The anime does a good job at holding the existing fans with in-jokes and the occasional section that is handled better than the games. More on that latter point later, but I really do feel the need to applaud them including Nepstation (which had me giggling like a kid – that caught me off guard) and for their use of the songs Ryūsei no Bifrost (Meteor of Bifrost) and Kirihirake! Glazy☆Star (Clear Up! Glazy☆Star), the opening themes for the first two games, though the use of the latter was for the worst anime idol scene I have ever had the displeasure of watching. That said, this only makes the fact that Nepgear’s theme wasn’t used at least once even more jarring than it already was, as it was just begging to be played for a few of Nepgear’s key scenes:
And while keeping special attacks like Neptune’s Cross Combination was nice, the presentation made all the difference, as the camera angles and the like in the games made them look more awesome than the anime’s handling of them, where they looked like generic attacks that had names for some reason.
I suppose I should explain how the story progresses for those who haven’t seen it. I would summarize it like so:
Intro: Episode 1
mk2-Based Plot: Episodes 2-5
Victory-Based Plot: Episodes 6-10
Climax (Based on Victory‘s True Ending): Episodes 11-12
It goes like this:
There was a huge no-holds-barred was between the four goddesses, but they’ve now signed a friendship treaty. The series will follow them as they become closer friends. That said, things immediately take a bad turn when Arfoire captures them, and their sisters (who cannot yet transform, but quickly gain the ability), have to rescue them. After their successful rescue, Arfoire escapes another plot seems to reveal itself – one to take down the goddesses. At the same time, a girl named Peashy appears and another girl named Plutia (who’s significantly toned down from the borderline lovable rapist she was in Victory) shows up from another dimension, looking for a goddess who’s gone missing.
Neptune and Peashy quickly bond with each other, but the villains disguise themselves as her parents and take her away. She later resurfaces as Yellow Heart, the goddess from another dimension that Plutia was looking for. After the situation is handled and Plutia goes home with Peashy, it turns out this was all a plot by Rei Ryghts to revive Tari where Planeptune currently stands. Rei is ultimately stopped by someone quite unexpected, the treaty is dissolved because it is no longer necessary, and everyone lives happily ever after.
While I admit that Arfoire is important and had to have been included, she should’ve been handled much better than how she was, as her part of the story, the segment based on mk2, was easily the worst part of the anime. Pacing and writing issues became extremely glaring as I watched, and I consider those episodes to be completely unwatchable, as if they weren’t even trying. I’ve already said the first episode was good. The rest is more in the middle. Jokes like the mysterious light grass and the jab at the series’ Sony reps for their poor security systems were amusing here, the plot didn’t suck as much, and the latter three episodes were just done so well that I’m hesitant to believe the same studio handled the mk2 episodes.
The whole Peashy situation was handled both better and worse than the way the games did it. You see, Neptune spends most of the skipped time between chapters in Victory raising Peashy from a baby to around middle school age before she’s taken away and resurfaces as Yellow Heart without her memories. The anime isn’t quite able to do that, so they simply bond really quickly, and resurfaces as Yellow Heart significantly quicker.
The way they go about bringing back her memories, however, is significantly more impactful in the anime than the game, as Neptune takes her on alone, refusing to actually fight, and she ultimately only regains her memories at the very last moment before going home, when the situation is all taken care of, upon seeing some pudding (a reference you wouldn’t understand without playing the game), and without being able to say goodbye. In the games, however, the scene is much more along the lines of recreating key scenes from when Peashy was growing up (provided you avoided the bad ending by actually seeing those scenes), and is more light-hearted.
The climax is similar in that it carries a bit more weight in the anime, but is limited by time constraints compared to the games. However, in this case, one simply worked better for animation and the other worked better in game form, with the games building Rei up as a loser who seems to know something before revealing that she’s the oldest goddess out there, while the game had her barely show up until it was time to become relevant. Furthermore, most of the final fight in the anime was Neptune being basically on her own and mostly de-powered, until the other goddesses decide to show themselves, which wouldn’t have worked nearly as well in a game without being extremely corny.
Hyperdimension Neptunia can be viewed on FUNimation’s website if you live in North America, though you need an account to watch due to age restrictions.
This is ultimately a mixed bag, an anime that has tall highs that go into space and deep lows that go through the Earth’s core and out the other end. This makes it tough to say it is good, and also tough to say it is bad. While I wish I could say that being a fan of the series would make one more tolerant of its shortcomings, no, it merely makes one be able to enjoy parts of it that mean nothing to the uninitiated.
As such, I do not recommend a watch by non-fans, except, I suppose, episode 1 to see if you want to pick up the games based on that.
At least they didn’t adapt the conquest ending?