Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation

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I’m sure fans of this Niche JRPG series have known about it for some time. I’ve known of it since March but recently bought the dub (released in April) on my Xbox 360. Let’s just say it’s hit or miss first and meant to promote the video game series second.

For those who are unfamiliar with HDN, it’s a JRPG series on the Vita in which all the main characters including the villains are female. The games take place in the fictional world of GamIndustri, which is split into four countries, each led by a Goddess and their sister: Planeptune is led by Neptune aka Purple Heart and her sister Nepgear. Lastation is led by Noir aka Black Heart and her sister Uni. Lowee is led by Blanc aka White Heart and her twin sisters Rom and Ram (the latter two being twins). Leanbox is led by Vert aka Green Heart. The main villain in the series is Arfoire, who seeks world domination and knows everything about how to fight the Goddesses of GamIndustri.

The HDN games, despite having the Teen rating have alot of sexually suggestive stuff. As I noted above, the whole cast is female. They ease up on it in the Anime but Yuri (Female x Female romance) is teased. If Vert’s breast size is any indication, there’s fan service. The games themselves are also full of video game tropes. References to popular and established video game franchises are made in the games. In the anime, the ease up on the tropes and the fan service in favor of storytelling. On that note, the Anime is not based on any of the games though charactersintroduced in the just released HDN:Rebirth 3 do appear.

My personal opinion is if you are not a fan of both Anime and the video games, you probably won’t like like HDN:A. It’s obvious this Anime was made with fans of the video games in mind. On that note, the main HDN games are on the Vita so if you like the Anime, give the games a shot.

Overall, I give HDN:A an 8/10.

Like Persona 4 Golden: The Animation, HDN:A assumes the viewer is familiar with the video game series. At the same time they took the middle road and used an original storyline for the Anime. I have all the games so I can say that. None of the characters were made up on that note. Plutia, Rei and Peashy playing such a large role is a nod to HDN:Rebirth 3, which is actually getting released in the U.S. TODAY. That said, if you like the games the Anime is a nice something extra for the fans. If you watch the Anime and like it, give the games a shot. Just know that if you don’t have a Vita, you’ll be set back at least $300: $200 for the console, $$50 for a 32GB Memory Card ($80 for a 64GB one) and $25 to $40 for one of the HDN games if you want a physical copy.

 

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Review: No Dropping Out – Back to School at 35

Like everyone who reviewed this on Crunchyroll said, the title of this Japanese Drama is very misleading. The 11-episode drama runs for 45 to 50 minutes each save the final episode, which is 90 minutes.

No Dropping Out is about 35 -year old Ayako Baba (Baba Ayako if we’re talking proper Japanese grammar), who enrolls in high school after dropping out 18 years earlier. As for how a clearly 35 year-old woman is allowed to enroll in high school–they don’t gloss over this detail–the district Superintendant was her teacher in High School. As for why she’s “doing it again”, we’ll get to that in a bit but first let’s talk about the show itself.

The show debuted in Japan sometime last year though it looks like filming was done between 2011 and 2013. Yonekura Ryoko plays Ayako Baba, affectionately called Baba-chan or Granny Baba by classmates. Baba’s story aside, I made alot of connections as an Educator with the real-life problems confronted head-on in this powerful series. From the way the show was written, I have the feeling the writers put it together knowing Crunchyroll would pick it up. It has a universal appeal and I think that’s why it scored 4.5 Stars on the site.

The main premise of the show is the caste system students use to segregate themselves: Upper Class (The Leaders), Middle Class (Average) and Lower Class (Lowly). When Baba joins the class she helps her classmates and helps solve some tough problems that arise. As time goes on, secrets are revealed and the walls the students of class 3-A put around themselves begin to fall. While it’s true Baba’s presence has a profound transformative effect on her classmates, the opposite is also true. This becomes all the more clear in Episode 9 when the Lower Class and Middle Class finally stand up to the Upper Class boys and decide they don’t want to be victims anymore.

This next part I decided to leave out of my review on Crunchyroll out of respect for those who don’t want to be spoiled. That said, we’re now going to talk about Baba’s past and connections she makes with some of her classmates.

So, when Ayako was in High School, she stood up for a friend in class who was being bullied. On her mother’s advice, she decides to help her friend. As a result, the bullies target her instead. Things came to a head when she was forced to shoplift at a store her mother worked at. Ayako becomes withdrawns and lashes out at her mother, blaming her for telling her to stand up to the bullies, making her a target in turn. Distraught, Ayako’s mother tries to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of her school. She survives the fall but due to the head trauma, she now has amnesia. Ayako’s mother dies just before she goes back to school without ever recovering her memories.

Fast forward to the present. As is revealed in the final two episodes, Ayako decides to repeat her senior year at 35 for the sake of closure. Luckily for her, the teacher she had the last time she was in high school-Kuroda–is now the district superintendant. She enters Kunikida High School at the same time as her new homeroom teacher Koizumi, who has a dark secret of his own. Throughout the first 8 episodes, every classmate she helps out becomes a friend and ally.

Now, at the end of almost evey episode you see Akutsu (the kid with the headphones) working behind the scenes after a problem’s been solved watching Baba from the shadows. The writers did a masterful job setting him up but came up short at the end. You knew he was involved with all of the stuff that came up and you knew he was manipulating EVERYONE. You just didn’t know why. You get a pretty good idea when he asks Baba at the end of Episode 9 “I consider you an ally”.

It’s revealed in Episode 10 that like Baba, Akutsu had a problem with bullies only in his case, it drove his sister to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of the school. Outraged and Angered the School Caste System claimed the life of his sister, Akutsu vows to destroy the caste system. The arrival of Baba was the final piece he needed to make it happen.

Even the class leader Masamitsu figured out after a certain point someone was pulling their strings but he just didn’t know who. You could easily say his actions in Episode 10 and the first third of Episode 11 were his way of finding out who that person was. Basically taking a page out of Akutsu’s playbook even though he didn’t know about his involvement until the reveal. Like I said, Akutsu’s character mirrors Baba’s to a certain extent. He hid in plain sight and in the two instances he spoke prior to the end of Episode 9, he abstained from participating in a class activity. On the one hand yes he stabbed someone so he had to be punished for that. I get that. At the same time, given he was the one who set everything in motion you’d think he’d be given closure in the finale. While I also get it’s Baba’s story everyone else underwent alot of growth in comparison.

Overall, I give No Dropping Out a 10/10. 

It’s easily a must-watch for anyone even remotely interested in Education. Unlike the majority of the stuff on Crunchyroll, episodes are 45 to 50 minutes long on average so even though it’s an 11-episode series, you won’t be able to watch it all in one sitting. As I said at the top, many of the issues and problems exploresd in the series would resonate with an American audience. Each episode encourages discussion so it’s highly reccommended you watch No Dropping Out with a group of friends ^_^

 

The Naruto series will continue with Naruto’s son (Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS!)

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…In case you’re wondering that’s Naruto in the background, 7th Hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village. I caught wind of this and the movie introducing the next generation of young ninja by accident late last night. Apparently, the new Manga and Anime series were announced in April. As it happens, that was also around the same time certain things about the final pairings for Team 7 were revealed.

For the sake of epic spoilers and the fact the first part of this will appear on my Facebook and Tumblr feed, scroll past the next picture to read more.

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Three Uzumaki: 4th Hokage Minato, 7th Hokage Naruto and Bolt.

 

…Doesn’t get any more epic than that pic, huh? As noted in the caption, Bolt is Naruto’s son and Minato’s grandson. You can see the obvious resemblance across the 3 generations. Now here’s where I throw a series of major revelations that take place between the end of Naruto’s story and the beginning of Bolt’s. Some is already widely known but for those who are reading this for the first time: Oh, Well.

 

  • In the final volume of the Manga, it’s revealed Naruto and Hinata get married. The last Naruto Movie is about how they fell in love and started a family. In addition to Bolt, they also have a daughter named Himawari. Here’s a picture:

From left to right: Bolt, Naruto, Hinata and Himawari.

Like Naruto and Minato, the resemblance is strictly Father/Son and Mother/Daughter. Based on the information I’ve been able to find, Himawari is younger than Bolt but not by much. I was able to confirm like his father and grandfather, Bolt can use the Rasengan. It’s probably a safe bet he personally taught the technique by Naruto. It may be too early to know what other skills he learned from Naruto at this time but more is sure to be revealed. On the other hand, I couldn’t find much about Himawari other than like her mother, she can use Byakugan. Given Bolt is also her child, it’s possible he can use the skill as well.

Moving on:

  • As noted above,  Naruto becomes the Seventh Hokage. This leads you to ask the obvious question “Who’s the Sixth?”
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6th Hokage Kakashi Hatake.

…Yep, the Copy Ninja himself. The circumstances of the 6th and 7th Hokage’s appointments haven’t yet been revealed as far as I know.

  • This is probably the most known bit of info but it’s official: Sasuke and Sakura are a couple. They have a daughter named Sarada (Japanese name being Salad).From what I’ve cold, Sasuke walks out of Sakura and Sarada’s lives doing who knows what for 10 years before returning to the village.

Here’s a family picture:

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…Unlike Bolt, Sarada has a resemblance to both parents. Speaking of, there is confirmation Bolt and Sarada are rivals in Borito just like their fathers but likely become friends and possibly a couple later.

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It’s also likely Sarada can use the Sharingan as well. So right now we know who 3 of the members of the new Team 7 are: Bolt, Sarada and Team Captain Sasuke. You read that right. This breaks tradition a little in at least one regard: This marks the first known instance two family members are on the same squad (Sasuke and Sarada). This is also the third straight time Team 7 is led by a former member of the team: Kakashi was the previous captain, who himself was a member of Minato’s squad.

…Notice I left one person out. The fourth member of Team 7…I’m not even sure if who it reportedly is since I don’t trust the sources announcing who it is. Reports are saying it’s a youth named Mitsuki and they are from the Hyuga Clan. The problem with that is Bolt’s mother Hinata is from the Hyuga clan and as her son, Bolt technically is a member of the same clan. I’ve also seen Mitsuki referenced as male and female in separate instances. The name can be used either way so again, I will wait until I get more info.

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Anyways, the current Naruto Anime is wrapping up on Crunchyroll. The final volume was released in Japan in April though fan translations have circulated all over the internet. In an interesting change that also breaks tradition, the last Naruto movie is canon and is in fact the bridge between the end of Naruto’s story and the beginning of Bolt’s.  Before I forget: Bolt’s name is meant to signify him being the “bolt” that keeps his parents together.

I assume it will be another year before the Manga and this final movie come to the U.S. After all, the new series was only just announced two years ago after months of the creator doing some serious soul searching. I do have some lingering questions I assume will be answered when I’ve seen the rest of the anime on Crunchyroll. Should be interesting.

Oh and one last thing:

Sorry for the Epic Spoilers ^_^

Let’s Talk Attack on Titan

I put this video together last weekend. Enjoy ^_^

 

…And yes, I had fun making it XD

Apologies if there were ads. Putting the OP from the Anime is why.

…Next, I shall do Clannad. It’s sure to be interesting =D