Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation (2013)
Episode 01 – 12 + OVA
These girls are Next Gen!
Here’s one for you gamers! Based on the meta series of role-playing video games created and developed by Idea Factory, Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation is set in the magical realm of Gamindustri, a vibrant world centered around the very notion of electronic games — more on that later. Within Gamindustri there exist two worlds, Celestia — where the goddesses reside — and The World Below — where the humans live and are protected by the deities. More specifically, Gamindustri is made up of four floating nations, Planeptune, Lastation, Leanbox and Lowee, each with their own CPU (Console Patron Unit), a guardian figure or goddess that protects their respective populace.
The futuristic-looking Planeptune is ruled by our protagonist, Neptune, a goddess who looks and acts like a young girl but transforms into a mature woman, both in exterior and persona, when she activates her alter-ego Purple Heart through means of Hard Drive Divinity (HDD). Then there’s the steam-punk/ industrial-esque Lastation, which is governed by the arrogant and snobbish Noire who transforms into the while-haired goddess, Black Heart. Next up, there’s the medieval themed, lushly green Leanbox, ruled by the busty blonde Vert, who changes into the goddess Green Heart. Finally, we have the perpetually icy Lowee, which is protected by the petite, introverted bookworm Blanc, known as White Heart in her goddess form.
After having fought over Share Energy for quite some time, the series begins with the four goddesses signing a ‘Friendship Pact,’ a treaty that forbids them from taking this power from one another. This narrative structure basically allows all of the CPUs to showcase their unique abilities, personalities and individual quirks. Fortunately, Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation doesn’t take itself too seriously and mucks about with its self-referential nature; Neptune refers to herself as the show’s main character, basically stating that ‘nothing bad will ever happen to the protagonists,’ whilst the girl’s trip to R-18 Island toys around with the very notion of fanservice.
Directed by Masahiro Mukai with a script by Shogo Yasukawa, Terra Formars (2014), Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation also has a lot of fun with its videogame industry in-jokes. Keeping that in mind, the show’s character designs by Hitomi Takechi — based on the original concepts by Tsunako — are rich and colorful with each of the main CPUs personifying a distinct gaming console. We have the ‘dorky’ Neptune who embodies the Sega console, her hair clips and pockets shaped like D-Pads and hoodie strings that resemble controller plugs, her name inspired by an unreleased Sega console, Sega Neptune; let’s not forget about Neptune’s younger sister Nepgear, who is the personification of a fictitious Sega handheld that could very well be the Game Gear. Next off is the tsundere Noire, who represents Sony’s PlayStation consoles in both her goddess and regular form, with her sister Uni characterizing the PSP or Vita. Following on, there’s Vert, who’s a bit of a big sister to all the CPUs, obviously symbolizing Microsoft’s Xbox, coming from the realm of Leanbox. Lastly there’s the calmly spoken Blanc, who embodies Nintendo home consoles whereas her sisters, Rom and Ram, represent the DS and the 3DS.
My favorite character however, is the slow-speaking Plutia or ‘Plutie,’ her name inspired by Sega’s fixation with naming consoles after planets. Introduced as one of Noire’s close friends, Plutia’s general appearance is similar to that of Neptune, but it’s her second skin, Iris Heart, that really shines. Transforming into a steamy iris-blue-haired dominatrix, who sports a sexy black one-piece bodysuit with traces of magenta on her legs, torso, and arms, this sadistic babe really steals the show. Midway through the series we also meet the cheerful mysterious youngster Peashy, who first appears in episode 5 in search of her home. With her little shorts, paw-gloves and sneakers, the wee Peashy changes into the large breasted goddess Yellow Heart, her weapons stored in a bird-like contraption that launches its parts upon her transformation, with Peashy being another interesting second tier player.
Although constantly bright and zany, the animation on display here is a little disappointing given the show’s potential, particularly the battles; most of the action is rather clunky, the majority happening off-screen, with the girls shouting out ‘cool attacks’ before simply slicing and defeating their enemies with one simple blow, shattering foes into thousands of pixels. In addition, Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation sports the ‘traditional’ anime flock, you know the ones, our naive hero who’s yet to tap into her full potential, the confident buxom babe, the one who’s got a flat chest — anime aficionados know the deal.
Having never played any of the Hyperdimension games myself, I hear that the anime’s story-line is an amalgamation of plots taken from three of the games, kind of like a summarized version if you may, where the girls find themselves pit against a witchy underling, Linda, a shadowy master hacker and an evil former CPU, Rei Ryghts, who’s hell-bent on destroying everything in her path, even if it means using cheat codes. Lacking the emotional depth of the RPG, Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation hits all of the big notes from its button-mashing ancestors but never captures the poignant impact of its source material due to its bloated layout. I guess those who haven’t played the games probably won’t feel as let down, given the anime’s light-hearted narrative and excellent designs.
With a lively opening theme in ‘Dimension Tripper!!!’ by Nao and the cute closing, ‘Neptune☆Sagashite’ by Afilia Saga, Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation features enough mana mischief to entertain the majority of casual anime fanatics with its hacker attacks, tough bosses and killer eggplants a plenty. While fans of the Hyperdimension games might find the show a tad too sub-standard, there’s still a great deal to enjoy, even if it lacks the XP to fully level up!
3 / 5 – Good
Reviewed by Mr. Movie
Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation is released through Madman Entertainment Australia