Anime Spotlight: Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation

Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation is an anime based on the Hyperdimension Neptunia video game series, but it features a storyline that is independent of the games themselves. The anime was directed by Masahiro Mukai and was produced by David Production. The 12 episodes of the series aired on Japanese television from July 12-September 27, 2013. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American license for Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation.

The series is set in a world called Gamindustri, and beings known as Goddesses rules over the four countries: Planeptune, Lastation, Lowee, and Leanbox. These goddesses are anthropomorphic versions of video game systems. In their usual form, they look like pre-teen or early teenage girls, and when they transform, they look like adult women. Yes, the anime has the typical “magical girl transformation” sequences seen in anime (think Sailor Moon). After fighting over Share energy for many years, the Goddesses have signed a “friendship treaty” that forbids them from taking Share energy from the others by using forceful means.

Neptune is the Goddess for Planeptune, Noire is the Goddess for Lastation, Blanc is the Goddess for Lowee, and Vert is the Goddess for Leanbox. The girls have very distinct personalities from each other but find themselves becoming comrades more and more as situations arise that force them to work together. Most of the Goddesses have at least one “little sister,” except for Vert. They look like young children, and at the beginning of the series, the little sisters haven’t learned how to transform yet. However, this becomes a major plot point about halfway through the series. Planeptune also has some notable side characters: IF, Compa, and Historie. The only one whose purpose is clearly identified is Historie, who serves as a personified version of the tome that contains the history of Gamindustri. The other two are just kind of “there,” without any real explanation for why they’re part of the group. Their roles would probably be clear to viewers who have played the games. However, I came into this anime without having any prior knowledge of the games… which probably put me at a slight disadvantage.

When it comes to adversaries, several appear over the course of the series. Arfoire wants to take over the world, and is accompanied by Warechu, a mouse who ends up developing a crush on Compa. There’s also CFW Trick and Linda (another grunt for Arfoire). Anonydeath wears mecha armor and is first introduced when it’s stalking Noire. There’s also a “final boss” in the final two episodes who I’m not going to say much about because it would take away from the surprise.

There are two more characters of note that appear in the series. Plutia is a Goddess from another dimension, who is accompanied by her dimension’s version of Historie. She has been sent to recover something that was causing energy to flow from Plutia’s dimension into this dimension. Plutia also has a Goddess form, and it’s quite different from the shy and demure personality of Plutia’s regular form. In her Goddess form, Plutia is a dominatrix. The other character that is introduced is Peashy, a little girl who suddenly ends up in the care of Neptune. There’s an important storyline that revolves around Peashy, but I can’t give out any more information than that because it would provide spoilers.

One thing I can say about this series is that there’s quite a bit of “fan service.” It’s very evident when the Goddesses are in their transformed form, and they’re wearing skimpier outfits that highlight their “assets.” For the Goddesses with larger breasts, there’s emphasis on jiggling. We also see some of this in Vert’s regular form, since she’s the largest in that department in the normal forms. Admittedly, I didn’t care much for this “fan service,” because let’s face it, it’s not being aimed at someone like me. But I will say that in the last couple of episodes, it seemed like the “fan service” wasn’t highlighted quite as much as it was in previous episodes.

I did appreciate that when the characters visit an amusement park in one of the early episodes of the series, we got to see some video game references. I easily picked up on Tetris and the Mario franchise, and there may have been others that perhaps I missed. I thought that this was creative, and this is the kind of “fan service” I have more of an appreciation for.

Even though I went into Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation without any knowledge of the games, I still found myself enjoying the overall story. The Goddesses in their normal forms may have had some stereotypical personality traits, but at least it was easy to figure out what kind of characters each one was supposed to be.

Outside of the more overt “fan service,” the only other real complaint I had about the series was the animation. It just obviously looks like something that was animated in the early 2010’s. I can’t really put it into words, but there was a certain aesthetic and various hallmarks that were part of anime during that time period, and this series utilized those aesthetics and hallmarks. Even if I didn’t already know when it came out, I could have taken one look at this and guessed what time period it came out in. The animation isn’t necessarily bad, per se, but it does help make the product look dated.

While the Hyperdimension Neptunia anime was an enjoyable enough watch, I personally wouldn’t be in a hurry to watch it again. However, I think that anime fans who are already familiar with the game franchise will find more enjoyment than I did in this series.

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