To everyone who’s been a follower of Japanese games, have you noticed that there had been a boom in anime-influenced games? For the RPG genre especially, video game series like Hyperdimension Neptunia and Atelier are getting increasingly popular. While 3D titles like Final Fantasy still has their appeal, of course, but there’s no denying that anime-influenced RPG had been amassing attention, and recent years had seen more and more releases of such anime-influenced games, especially from Vita. Other genres are just as effected of course, with some examples being Senran Kagura, Akiba’s Trip and so on.
Anime is a very big thing in Japan now, and it’s no surprise that the medium had also been integrated into games as well. We had seen instances of it before, but one of the first major ones were definitely the Persona games, reinforcing the boom due to it’s fame in both Japan and in the West. Indeed, while Final Fantasy XIII had been amassing dislikes, video game series like Hyperdimension Neptunia and Altelier had been getting praises… is what I would like to say, but there’s more to this story.
Anime is an evolving medium. From Dragon Ball to Naruto, from Naruto to K-ON. You can clearly see that as the years went by, anime culture is shifting. Gone were the manly days of shounen and welcome to the glorious days of cuteness and moe (and yuri subtext for good measure), pandering and just fanservices in general. Not every shows released had followed this shift of culture, of course. Anime like Attack on Titan shows us that such genre still has a place to stay, though that’s more seinen than shounen. But nonetheless, moe had been a strong catalyst in this shift. There’s also one thing worthy of mention-typical fanservice-y scenes which involve hot springs, bath and the likes would pop up from time to time, a clear reflection of anime tropes. However do note that “fanservices” here can also include the cuteness appeal that Japan is trying to sell, which had nothing to do with sex appeal. So there’s a double meaning, fanservices here could mean BOTH cuteness and sex appeal. Please bear that in mind as you continue reading this post.
In Japan visual culture, I think there had been one mindset which is on the rise lately-simple fun and enjoyment. Sure enough, there are still titles, be it anime or games, with complex story or gameplay mechanics. But recent releases seem to reinforce the simple entertainment mindset more, and the shift in culture is just the beginning of such mindset. Some of the stories for these titles especially, are either simple or just plain silly; and is really difficult to be taken seriously, and you shouldn’t be anyway, as these “stories” exist for pure entertainment.
And because anime had been getting more implemented into video games-such elements were also brought into them. Admittedly, I’m not someone who hate moe and fanservices to such a degree that I would point at them and shout “Objection” as loud as my lungs can muster (in fact, I’m a fan of “cute girls doing cute things” shows), but since this is my own unpopular opinion, it’s clearly shit.
I feel like a lot of these anime-influenced RPGs had been getting bad reviews here and there just because.. there are.. well.. anime-influenced. I can’t remember how much I hesitated starting the Hyperdimension Neptunia series due to so many negative reviews I read (HDN1 I can understand, but mk2 and Victory too?). I remembered one review of Project Diva F where the reviewer was also talking negatively about the game and it’s cuteness appeal, but not much of the game mechanics are actually covered, despite being a “review”-thus, I immediately closed the tab.
Games, just like anime, is an evolving medium. They started out pixelized, before evolving into powerful 3D graphics and now a number of them had taken several steps down and become anime-influenced. I feel that a lot of these anime-influenced games are receiving very polarizing reception-and there are two sides of this; one which aren’t avid anime watchers, and the other side which are.
I feel like in order to enjoy and appreciate the nature of these games-one need to have an anime mindset, and to accept and appreciate the current culture of anime which strives on the cuteness and fanservices appeal. Sure enough, you may see typical hot spring scenes and the likes in these JRPGs, hell, even the Persona games have them (dat hot spring scene), and the games are still receiving praises. In the end, if you’re not a fan of fanservices, then you can ask yourself-are there any positive aspects of the games beyond that?