Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation Review

Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the show Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

When I heard that an anime adaptation of this was greenlit, I wasn't particularly surprised. When my friend first showed me the trailer of the first game back in early 2013, I figured that an anime series would be coming sooner or later. After all, this game series has been said to be super popular, and looking at it, I can see why. The RPG games have had several editions in the main series along with some spin-offs, and it's very rare to find first editions of the earlier games anymore in the U.S. 

So when the anime series found its way over here state-side from FUNimation in the Summer 2013 season, I knew that I had to watch it down the road. And my friend managed to join me for about 8 episodes before throwing in the towel when I picked it up recently. I was still wondering whether the anime series had as much spunk as the games had to offer from footage I've seen, and to see how the characters would come alive in anime form.

In the end, how did it turn out?

Well, not as good as I expected it to be, but I still found the show to be mildly entertaining. It has a good premise, likable characters, decent animation, and a pretty good score. However, the story does stall out at various points during the show (as well as being too ambitious), and the main character (AKA the goddesses) don't really grow as the series goes on, instead just staying exactly the same. But beyond that, there's still some things that one could like in this show, but it's far from hitting the bulls-eye.

Let's start off with the story:


We set our stage in the world Gamindustri, a world that is governed in four regions (Planeptune, Lastation, Lowee, and Leanbox) by four different goddesses (Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert). Each region is remarkably different in terms of appearance, and the leads are all based off of gaming systems in terms of their design. After having fought over many centuries over Share energy in the Console War, all of the goddesses sign a treaty that forbids them from taking any Shares by force, which is then followed by peace in Gamindustri.

Of course, it isn't until a month later that Neptune, the CPU from Planeptune who is a natural born slacker, starts to get reprimanded for being lazy, considering that her nation's Share energy is starting to drop. As such, she decides that the best way to get help with this is to ask her goddess friends for advice on how to get her Share energy up and what to exactly do after the Console War was ended.

But sinister plots are starting to brew in the wild, and the CPU's are all targeted by them. What are our villains planning, and will it cause the younger sisters of the 4 (Blanc has 2) to get involved? Or better yet, have them develop their own powers?

At the beginning of this series, the story has the sense that it seems like it doesn't know where to go. While it does do a good job at providing occasional appearances from game characters and being pretty engaging at parts, it doesn't really get its act together as a whole until the last half, where it manages to tell more of a jointed story involving 2 other girls/CPU's from another dimension, and the drama surrounding the younger of the two named Peashy when she is targeted. This part of the anime is probably the best one story wise (along with a boss battle at the very end), even though in between those some of the episodes tend to progress less of the actual plot.

Another surprising thing that the story does is actually give time for the younger sisters to develop over the main 4 during the plotline with Arfoire. We get to see more of their emotions, as well as see them get stronger in themselves and as characters. On the other hand, the story seems to work less with the actual CPU's, seeing as they don't really change in personality or face development as a whole except for Neptune, which in turn makes the side characters more compelling than our leads are.

Also, the comedy aspect to this series starts out fine, but also loses its punch when the show is trying to be funny later on in its run. This is mainly because similar jokes are getting repeated, but with a different context, or they just don't hit the comedic side of me all too well. I found most of these jokes to be stronger in the OVA rather then in the actual series, considering that they were repeated a fair amount of times, but maybe that's just me.

So overall, the story is a little disjointed towards the beginning before finally constructing itself in a reasonable fashion. Though it doesn't do its best with the 4 main CPU's, it does give some unexpected development to the younger sisters and their beliefs. But when the show is more comical, it doesn't always work, especially in its middle.

I'd say it's time to move on and go to the characters now.


The best news about this show is that the all of the characters are pretty diverse in terms of looks and personalities. But like I said earlier, most of these characters don't change as the series goes on, which is a shame, seeing as some of them would do better with that. But whatever. I'm wishing for too much here.

First up on the platter, Neptune/Purple Heart:

Neptune is the goddess of the nation Planeptune and represents the Sega Neptune, which was planned to be released in 1995 before eventually being scrapped after getting delayed to the next year. She typically acts very lazy and spazzy, despite being the leader of a country in which she has to run. But underneath that, she is very energetic and optimistic.

When she turns into Purple Heart though, her personality manages to mature, being more serious and leader like, often leading the missions that the CPU's typically go on. Purple Heart is also very strong-willed, typically not backing down in a fight easily except when she is forced to.

Overall, out of the main 4, I'd say Neptune's my favorite out of them. Though she can be rather slow to act and a bit immature, she kind of manages to replicate some aspects of me, especially in the morning or when I'm really tired. But when she becomes Purple Heart to show the full extent of her power, the switch has clearly been flipped, because she becomes much more interesting. The goddesses typically have a change in their personality when they transform, but Neptune's is the most drastic change, outside of Plutia and Iris Heart.

Also, I think she has the most development out of the main 4, especially with Peashy, even though some of it did manage to come out of nowhere, considering that they squabble a lot. But it still was nice to see Neptune put her focus on someone outside of our core unit. She's just a great character overall, and I'm interested to seeing where more of the games take her.

Noire/Black Heart's next:

Noire is the goddess of the nation Lastation and represents the Playstation 3, which was first released in November 2006. She is hardworking, polite (though acts very hostile towards Neptune), yet tries too hard at various points in time, causing Neptune to paint her as the "friendless" character a couple of times in the show (even the other dimension's Noire remarks about this towards the end of the OVA). 

She also displays a love for cosplay, as shown in episode 6 when her country's security system gets hacked and someone gets a hold of several photos of her obsession, which causes embarrassment on her part. When she turns into Black Heart, her personality doesn't really change all that much, much like Vert, except she becomes more mature and dedicated.

As a whole, Noire's pretty decent as a character. She can get pretty humorous when she is poked fun at for being very stern, which causes people to shy away from her. Though she does become more accepting of her sister's powers and of herself, she doesn't seem to show any other sides of her personality, which I would have liked to see, considering that that there's so much one could possibly do with this character. But ah well.

Blanc/White Heart is up to bat now:

Blanc is the goddess of the nation Lowee and represents the Wii, which first came out onto the scene in November 2006 as well.  Though she's typically very shy and bottles her emotions, she is prone to having very violent outbursts, so don't piss her off or cause her distress, because you will get what's coming for you. This is especially true in her goddess form White Heart, where she is more brash and crass, though also typically shows little emotional range. She is also a heavy worker, coming up with several plans for her country typically alone, as she likes to debate over things alone.

Compared to the past two, Blanc isn't as developed, but she isn't a bad character whatsoever. I found her anger outbursts absolutely entertaining, especially in Episode 8 when she breaks the guard check on R18 Island. Her care for her sisters also changes over time, since at first she is prone to get more angry with them. I stil liked her though, but I wanted her to be more well-rounded in the games, as she's my second favorite out of the whole entire franchise.

Vert/Green Heart's the last main goddess on the list:

Vert is the goddess of the country Leanbox and represents the Xbox 360, which was first launched in November 2005. She is the most well endowed out of the CPU's (which makes for a lot of breast bounce gags, which are actually funny every single time), and is well respected among her people. However, when gaming, she goes all out and can get super competitive. Onto other topics, it is hinted that she is a passionate yaoi fan, as various posters are seen around her house that feature some sparks flying between two men. Her personality doesn't really change when she is Green Heart, aside from her becoming more laid-back.

And welcome to the least developed character out of the bunch! The anime doesn't really try to develop Vert outside from the fact that she's a potential yaoi fangirl and a pretty serious gamer. She also gets a couple of "big sister" jokes that all fall flat on their faces, and that's all there is to her character, which is a bit of a shame. Though Vert's always been my least favorite character out of the leads, the anime doesn't really help change that for me. There seems to be untapped potential here, and I'd like to see it.

The last character I'm going to discuss is Nepgear/Purple Sister:

The younger sister of Neptune, Nepgear represents the Sega Game Gear, which first came out in April 1991. She is more responsible than her older sibling and is more serious when it comes to fights outside of her Goddess form. Her main gripe is always following in Neptune's footsteps and relying on her when situations get dire. So when her sister gets kidnapped along with the other 3 by a villain named Arfoire (named Magiquone in the original Japanese, though the English subtitles refer to her by the former name), she can't help but feel responsible, seeing as she sensed a sign before that something was up. She gets over that pothole though, and is able to turn into her CPU form.

Nepgear's little journey towards becoming more confident in herself was a joy to see, and seeing her transform was absolutely awesome and easily put a smile of my face. Aside from that, Nepgear is the best sister out of the bunch, and probably one of the best characters out of the anime. Though she can be a little dense, she never seems to lose hope that often, and has a very strong relationship with Neptune, which is great to see. I always hate it when I see the trope of sister who aren't able to get along, especially if they're twins, so I'm glad to see that that isn't the case here.

The other younger sister characters are Uni/Black Sister (based on the Playstation Portable/PSP), the younger sister of Noire, and Rom and Ram/the White Sisters (based on the DS), the younger sisters of Blanc. The other CPU's are Plutia/Iris Heart (based off of the Sega Mega Drive), and Peashy/Yellow Heart.

Other characters beyond that include Compa, a nurse-in-training, and IF, a Guild member. The two of them make up Neptune's comrades, who typically hang out at her place and discuss important matters with her, as well as getting involved with the major events of the story. We also have 5pb., a famous pop idol from Leanbox, Historie, who is Neptune's adviser, Arfoire, the show's first antagonist who wants to take over Gamindustri, Pirachu, a mouse who is Arfoire's assistant, Underling, who works on various missions as the "underling," much like her name, Anonoydeath, a master hacker who's a pink robot and very flamboyant, and finally, Rei Ryghts, the main antagonist of the last arc, who used to be the leader of a nation called Tari (she is also based off of the Atari 2600).


The animation for this series was produced by David Production, who are also known for Ben-To, the Dogs: Bullets & Carnage OVA, and Inu x Boku SS.

As a whole, the animation for this series maintains what makes the games really appealing: the bright colors. Whether it's from landscapes or the characters themselves, it helped put me in a better mood to see the colors be as vivid and poignant as they are. The animation itself is also really solid, with characters typically staying on-model and fight scenes looking fluid and full of motion. And the play censoring wasn't that bad either!

There are a couple of minor problems with it, but none that I can't really name off the top of my head. It's obvious that David Production puts more of their budget towards the new Jojo series that have come out these past few seasons, but the staff in charge did try their hardest to live up to the games, and that's all that matters.

So overall, another solid animation effort, and I'm interested to see other David Production series outside of Jojo that maintain the fluidity of both Inu x Boku SS and Hyperdimension Neptunia. Ben-To perhaps?


The score for this series was a 3 person effort between Hiroaki Tsutsumi (Blue Spring Ride), Kenji Kaneko (Mars of Destruction (the infamous "trash" OVA)), and Masaru Yokoyama (the Freezing franchise).

Aside from some game pieces popping up now and then (at least 2), the score for this series is nice and does what it sets out to do. When I was watching the series, I originally thought that only Hiroaki Tsutsumi was in charge of composition of the OST, so finding out that it was 3 different males actually makes it interesting. I think each one did a good job with blending their styles together, which makes the score for this series very cohesive, and bringing out their potential to the best of their ability. Some pieces also managed to stand out, though I probably wouldn't know exactly which composer did a particular one, aside from 2 tracks.

The topic of both Japanese and English is an interesting one, considering that I'm more familiar with the English voices for the characters from gameplay videos on Youtube. So the anime was quite literally my first taste at the majority of the Japanese seiyuus outside of the lead 4. And I have to say, almost all of them did a really great job, may it be the CPU's with their vocal ranges in between normal and goddess forms, to some of the villains who gave craziness a whole other meaning. The only voice that didn't work for me was Kanako Sakai as Compa, whose high pitched delivery sounded incredibly unnatural, and her "desu"'s made me want to claw my hair out.

The English vocal cast from LA does return, aside from a few people (possibly due to union negotiations or not being available), which shows some great effort from Mike McFarland, the ADR director of the dub. But the dub itself is not one of FUNimation's better ones. Though it managed to escape the slump that occurred with a few dubs for a period of time, some of the vocal cast seems to struggle from what I've seen thus far. The only voice out of the new Texas voices that I have a problem with is Megan Shipman, whose voice as IF sounds really clipped and lacks the spunk that Kana Ueda and Kate Higgins have. But the main 4 themselves also have their problems, with their voices either sounding too flat (mainly with Noire and Vert), or their emotions aren't as strong (Melissa Fahn's Purple Heart seems to miss the mark when it comes to showing anguish, while Wendee Lee's emotions as Blanc/White Heart are limited compared to her delivery in the games). It just leads to a mixed effort, and more time probably needed to be given to the dub, since some parts feel like there were rushed through from what I've seen.

Highlights in the original Japanese are Rie Tanaka, Asami Imai, Kana Asumi, Rina Sato, Yui Hoire, Eri Kitamura, Kaori Ishihara, Yui Ogura, Kana Hanazawa, Aoi Yuki, Kana Ueda, nao, Mika Kanai, Niko, Junko Minagawa, Yuki Fujiwara, Yu Kobayashi, Yoji Ueda, and Aya Endo

Highlights so far in the English dub are Melissa Fahn (Neptune only), Erin Fitzgerald (Noire only), Christine Marie Cabanos, Sarah Williams, Cherami Leigh (Iris Heart only), Tia Ballard, Cristina Vee, Stephanie Sheh, Sara Ragsdale, Morgan Berry, David Vincent, Morgan Garrett, Josh Grelle, and Whitney Rodgers.


This could have been better than what it was in terms of adaptation, but as a whole, it wasn't horrible. I still liked it in terms of its setup, the personalities of its characters, animation, and score. But the fact that the story wanders almost to the very end and the character development being pretty weak are what downgrade this anime to what it is.

With that said, I was still entertained by this anime and what it had to offer as various points, so I'd still recommend it for fans of the game franchise. Other than that, I could also see this working for fans of video games in general, lovers of game to anime adaptations, and the morbidly curious.

Score: 7/10


Premise is pretty cool.

Characters all have great personalities.

Great animation.

Good score.

The younger sisters get some nice development.


Story doesn't really get going until the last 4 episodes.

Comedy isn't as funny for various jokes.

Main characters don't have proper development.

English dub is an average effort from FUNimation.

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