The Hyperdimension Neptunia series of Japanese role playing games have been relatively successful over the last years, even spawning remakes on the PS Vita and some weird looking rhythm dancing game subtitled producing perfection that has little or nothing to do with the main series. Naturally an anime series was commissioned and to date two manga series. We will be looking at the first manga series Choujigen Game Neptune – Megami Tsuushin in this review.
The story loosely follows the events of the games. My personal favourite tropes of the series such as it’s inherently meta nature, and 4th wall breaking dialogue remain. The biggest focus
here is on Neptune and her irresponsibility, as with the games themselves the tone will barely shift away from being completely ludicrous. So traditional character arcs and development are pretty much out of the question from the offset and this series makes no illusions about that.
To progress the story the characters sometimes take on quests, which are essentially a series of adventure sub plots. These have mixed success, they certainly can excel in referencing videogame culture and role playing game tropes. But when they stray outside that formula and focus on what are essentially 2 dimensional characters with no backstory it can make the manga a pain to read. The humour itself is largely reactionary as it sticks to the principle of pairing an odd couple. In this case the immature and freeloading Neptune is paired with the hard working and uptight Noire with the other characters falling somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.
It’s as if the writers are aware of the elements that are work but aren’t able to provide enough humorous situations in order to warrant consistency. To give a mild spoiler, one of the sub plots entails the protagonists going to the beach where pretty much nothing happens. Conversely another sub plot that centres around “low polygon syndrome” is pretty much hilarious without needing much context. This manga focuses a lot more on slice of life than it does on action sequences, which works to it’s benefit as the art rarely has enough dynamism to pull off a sense of fast movement and instead is focused on subtle facial details.
people who haven’t played at least one of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games or seen the anime are going to get a lot less out of this manga. This is because it relies on a pre-existing understanding and appreciation of the characters and makes no bones as to wether you find them compelling. In other words fan service is pretty heavy throughout, and for that reason I really can’t recommend this to anyone who isn’t already a convert to the franchise.