For some reason, movies based on video games have a tendency to be very lacking, be it poor acting or a rushed story. However, when companies take the same concept and adapt an anime based on a game or franchise, the results can be marvelous. Perhaps one of the main reasons is because of the format; a four to eight hour series can divulge on details that a two hour movie might have to omit. Here are three recent anime series based on video games that have been critically successful as well as faithful to their source material. These series can be watched freely on Hulu in the United States.
Persona 4: The Animation
One of Atlus’ most successful titles, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 has spawned a franchise of different media aside from the main game. This 26 episode anime recounts the experiences of Yu Narukami as he and his friends uncover the mystery of the midnight channel, a deadly rumor that is spawning unexpected murders in the town of Inaba. While a role-playing game at heart, there are various social elements to the experience, as creating friendships and bonds will strengthen the characters during dungeon crawling segments. The anime has a nice balance between the social and battle segments, opting towards character development subplots rather than level grinding. Oddly enough, the anime has various comedy elements as well, which is fitting as the game is one of the lightest in the Shin Megami Tensei series. The show reaches out to a wide array of anime and video game fans, specifically those who enjoy slice of life stories as well as those who have played the game.
Danganronpa: The Animation
A sleeper hit in America, Dangan Ronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc has recently been available for the Playstation Vita; its blend of engaging courtroom trials and a slew of fast-paced minigames is a recipe for an engaging video game. The anime, on the other hand, is a 13 episode thrill ride that concisely tells the tale of 15students who are trapped in Hope’s Peak high school. In order to leave their gaudy prison, they must “graduate” by pulling off a perfect murder; fail to get away with it and they become the next victim. Most of the game's mechanics are shown during episodes, creating an illusion of a condensed playthrough of the game. While the length of the show comes at the expense of characterization of most of the cast, it still handles the essence of the game decently, and the trial segments are the highlight of every episode. The ending of the series does hint at an adaptation of the second game of the franchise, which should leave fans eager for more.
Tower of Druaga
This last show is only remotely related to the arcade game of the same name. Tower of Druaga is a classic arcade game in Japan which spawned an anime; it revolves around climbers who scale the eponymous tower in order to reach the top. The story follows idealist Jil as he and a ragtag group of climbers traverse the tower in order to defeat the evil that lurks at the end. The show is split into two 13 episode seasons which vary in tone; the first is a lighthearted romp which turns dark towards the end of the show, whereas the second picks up where the first left off and quickly ramps up with the action. The anime holds passing references to the game (in fact, one episode revolves around the heroes playing with an arcade cabinet), but it’s still an enjoyable action series in its own right.