Based on the JRPG videogame series of the same name, Hyperdimension Neptunia is a comedy/action series set in the land of Gameindustri, where four Goddesses knowns as CPUs rule over four kingdoms all loosely based around real-world consoles. The kingdoms have been warring for years over a resource known as Share Energy – a power which determines how prosperous each kingdom is at any one time and how popular it’s CPU is among their people, but now the four have signed a treaty of friendship prohibiting the taking of Share Energy by force. In a time of peace with an evil sorceress, a flamboyant robot hacker and an alternate dimension Goddess in the mix can these four actually get along?
After opening with the friendship treaty, the series gets to introducing its cast and premise over the first few episodes – Main character Neptune, the lazy but perky goddess of Planeptune and her younger sister Nepgear, the icy loner Noire of Lastation and her sister Uni, the ill-tempered Blanc of Lowee along with her little sisters Rom and Ram, and Vert, the MMO-obsessed (and sisterless) ruler of Leanbox. Two non-CPU friends of Neptune’s, Compa and IF, round out the initial cast, which expands as the series goes on.
Just like the games, each goddess gets around day to day in their human form, but each has their ‘HDD Form’ in which they transform into a far more powerful battle mode, complete with magical-girl style sequence, new hairdo, revealing outfit, over the top weaponry, a new name (Purple/Black/White/Green Heart) and a shift in personality to bust up baddies when the going gets tough.
The world of Gameindustri is inhabited by all manner of tropey RPG creatures from the slime-like Dogoo through to wolves and dragons, but it is the introduction of the witch Arfoire and her hench-mouse Warechu that set the events of the series’ first arc in motion, as the Sisters must learn to go it alone and harness their own CPU forms in order to save their sisters. From there we meet some more characters as the next arc kicks off – the lost child Peashy who is intent on stealing Neptune’s pudding at every opportunity, and Plutia, the spacey, gentle CPU of an alternate dimension Planeptune who falls from the sky to investigate an anomaly between dimensions (and who has an even more dramatic personality shift in HDD form than Neptune).
The whole thing is very much steeped in videogame and anime clichés, and is very self-aware. The episodes are often ridiculous (you’ll never look at an eggplant the same way again), and play directly and deliberately to stereotypes. Breaking the fourth wall is common – Neptune exclaims on more than one occasion something to the effect of “It’ll be fine – I’m the protagonist!” for example. The show is also unapologetically ecchi, though that much is evident from the character designs. Gameindustri even has a place known as R-18 Island where the dress code is either swimsuit or literally nothing, and any nudists are conveniently censored by sentient bars of light that are attracted to lewd bits. Like I said, it’s clichés galore! But they’re always played for a laugh and since the show makes very little effort to present itself seriously it’s always good fun.
If you’ve played and enjoyed any of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games then this series is a must watch, and being familiar with the characters and setting going in definitely helps, as the story is pretty loose. If you haven’t played the games but you can get on board with a band of RPG girls having crazy adventures and getting into compromising situations you’ll probably still have a good time with the 13 episodes on offer here. I watched this series in the original Japanese with English subs, but the discs also contain an English dub which gets the job done, though it baffles me how anime dubs still manage to be so wooden these days.
It’s all packaged up in a purple-tastic two DVD set from Madman Entertainment with Purple Heart on the cover. Extras include a whole bunch of commercials for the Japanese TV and DVD/Blu-Ray releases, textless openings and endings (which are great, I defy anyone not to get the ED song stuck in their head for days), a collection of all the character’s transformations to HDD form and a US Trailer which will pretty much tell you all you need to know about the dub. Hyperdimension Neptunia is a silly, fun JRPG romp with great character designs and lovely animation. If this all sounds like your thing it’s well worth a watch.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review