I can’t really think of many other things I’ve wanted to love as much as Hyperdimension Neptunia. When I first stumbled upon the original Playstation 3 game in a GameStop, I knew I had to play it. A JRPG where you play as cute anime girls in a world based on the video game industry, that all sounded like it was made for me.
But as much as I tried to commit to it, Hyperdimension Neptunia’s gameplay never grabbed me. I’ve even looked at gameplay for the numerous sequels and spin-offs, and they all seem to have the same problem of the actual gameplay being the weakest part of the experience.
So if everything about the game is awesome except for the part that you play, the natural solution is to just not make it a game, right? In comes Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation. Let me go ahead and get this out of the way, Hyperdimension Neptunia isn’t a great anime, I’m not even sure if I would say it’s a very good anime. However, it is an awesome Hyperdimension Neptunia anime, if that makes any sense.
The great characters, cool world and charming humor, all of that is here in spades, along with the series’ cute and colorful art style. The animation itself does leave a bit to be desired, but there weren’t any scenes that I thought looked outright bad. Funimation was in charge of the English dub, and I love how they went for really exaggerated and “video game-y” vocal performances.
Hyperdimension Neptunia is set in the world of Gamindustri, a parody of the real world gaming industry where there are four Goddesses based on Sega, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. Our main character Neptune is the ruler of Planeptune, and is based on the scrapped Sega Neptune console. Blanc, Noire and Vert are the Goddesses of the other three countries, respectively.
With the nature of Hyperdimension Neptunia being baked into gaming culture, most of the jokes and locales will be familiar, and at times predictable to anybody with an understanding of gaming history. There are tons of references to Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario and blast processing, and there’s even a pretty clever one about the infamous 2011 Playstation Network hack. One of my personal favorites is the fact that Noire and her little sister Uni have a pet bandicoot with blue shorts.
As for the characters themselves, each character is likeable in their own unique way, and the anime captures most of the major tropes. Neptune is a plucky, self-absorbed girl with a personality that you’ll either love, or find annoying, Noire is a Tsundere with a secret love of cosplay, Blanc is the quiet but violent one, and Vert is the patented busty and affectionate one.
Every Goddess has great chemistry with not only their sisters (with the exception of Vert, who doesn’t have one), but also the entire extended cast, including an alternate dimension version of Neptune named Plutia. The only characters that I felt didn’t fit in very well were Compa and IF, which is odd because they were Neptune’s first companions in the original game.
Speaking of which, the anime doesn’t adapt the games in the way that I expected. It skips the plot of the first game entirely, and instead adapts the second and third ones, and because the show is only 13 episodes, this can lead to some awkward pacing at times. Having said that, one thing that I think Hyperdimension Neptunia does really well is the story behind its final boss. I don’t wanna spoil it here, but I will say that I was genuinely surprised and impressed by the reveal.
Although the plot can be a bit all over the place at times, I wouldn’t say that the writing is awful. There are some legitimately good bits of foreshadowing and character development, and the overarching narrative does hold up pretty decently. I even found myself to be genuinely invested in the relationships between some of the girls.
Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation is extremely faithful to its source material when it comes to fanservice. Every girl, their Goddess forms in particular, is super scantily clad, and most of them are very busty. As per usual, your mileage will vary when it comes to this type of stuff, but I kind of enjoyed the way they played around with it.
The show’s beach episode takes place in a location known as R18 island, and not only does it tie into the plot, but there’s a rather funny joke with the censor light bars. Another funny joke is the fact that Vert is quite proud of her large breasts, and is noticeably jealous when she comes across someone who is even more well endowed than she is.
Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation is easily the best way that I’ve found to experience the world and characters of Hyperdimension Neptunia. There are way too many quality JRPGs out there for me to devote my time to the games, but I had a ton of fun with the anime.
I’ll reiterate, the anime isn’t great by typical anime standards, but it definitely qualifies as anime junk food. It was short and sweet, and I enjoyed the time that I spent with Neptune and her friends. Also, Plutia and Noire are in a tough competition for the best girl spot.