Often we come across anime such as NieR:Automata Ver1.1a, and wonder if they are genuinely good or overrated as hell. I mean, they are so hyped from the beginning, even before they air, that it feels nearly inescapable. This is true, doubly so, when the anime in question is an adaptation of a previously popular IP such as NieR:Automata, aka one of the cult-classic video games of the last decade. So, of course, people have high expectations, while some are more than a little cautious.
But honestly, I don’t believe NieR:Automata Ver1.1a is overrated, at all. It’s a Yoko Taro project, which already means it’s going to be much more involved and engaging due to the plot alone. But more than that, we can already see that NieR:Automata Ver1.1a is living up to the hype that was created thanks to the game all those years ago. Hell, the opening alone was enough to get me hooked from the get-go. The anime is just delivering on it in a more compact way, albeit with a few key differences.
But I also understand why some fans of the game are not as sold on the idea of a NieR:Automata anime. After all, a big pull of the game was the fact that it had this immersive quality to it, where you felt more involved in the plot than just playing the main character, 2B. There were these Easter eggs sprinkled all over, little tidbits of information or gameplay mechanics that you can’t really emulate in a 2D animated format. But, again, that’s why NieR:Automata Ver1.1a might almost be its own thing.
Especially when you consider that the first episode drops a huge bombshell on you, one that sets the tone for the anime being a departure from the game plot. But sadly, the anticipation of an anime adaptation not living up to its hype is something you come to expect from a series whose source material is a video game. So, is NieR:Automata Ver1.1a overrated? Or are we being too harsh, too fast? Let’s discuss it!
Video Game To Anime Pipeline: Does It Work?
So, here’s the deal: NieR Automata is one of the most complex games to have come out in a long, long time. And I’m not talking complex as in ‘oh it’s difficult to play’. I mean it’s complex in its very lore. The story that it tells is multi-faceted, with so many little attributes and arcs that you cannot explain in a 24-episode format.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. One of the main things to remember about a video game-to-anime adaptation is that a lot of the game is spent by you playing around in it, rather than the story itself. And yes, that counts for series such as Metal Gear Solid, which is infamous for its hour-long cut scenes, and NieR:Automata.
This is why it can be so hard to translate the experiences you go through in-game, into an anime. Which is, by nature, much more concise and linear. A game like NieR:Automata also has different aspects such as multiple endings and things that co-relate and only end up making sense if you, the player, decided to carry out specific choices while playing. It’s just too much possibility for a mere animated project to fully explore.
This is why a lot of video game adaptations don’t end up working out. One of my favorite games is Persona 5 and its subsequent extended version, Persona 5 Royal. But before Persona 5 Royal came out, it got an anime adaptation, simply titled Persona 5: The Animation. And, as excited as I was, it was not very good. Like, the story felt rushed, it didn’t carry the same charm as the game and even the animation suffered. This made no sense because the cutscenes in Persona 5 were also anime. So, how did they drop the ball?
But then the Persona 5: Proof Of Justice OVA was announced. It was a single episode that was meant to be added to the main story and revolved around Goro Akechi. It is singlehandedly better than anything the full anime ever did. Because it was something that wasn’t already in the game. This was its own thing and it’s my favorite piece of side content we got from the franchise.
So, yeah. While Video Games can be adapted to anime, oftentimes they don’t offer anything unique that makes them a separate entity from their source material.
NieR:Automata Ver1.1a: Overrated Or Outstanding?
That being said, how is NieR:Automata faring? Well, here’s the truth: NieR:Automata Ver1.1a is not overrated and I want people to actually give this anime a try. Because it’s already shaping up to be a breakout hit of this Winter 2023 anime season.
Maybe it’s the fact that Yoko Taro himself is involved in the animation project, but the anime feels authentic to the game from the very first episode. The production team had emphasized that Yoko wanted a beginner-friendly anime so that both newcomers and enthusiasts could enjoy the series equally. And that’s exactly what it is doing. Apparently, Yoko Taro was held back from changing too many things in NieR:Automata Ver1.1a, because that’s how passionate he is about making this both accurate to the source material while giving something new for gamers to enjoy.
For the old fans, you have familiar hints of the game scattered throughout the anime, from its soundtrack to even the fight combos between battle scenes. For new fans, it’s a chance to experience the story of 2B and 9S without having to invest hours in gameplay, while not losing what made the game so incredible. It also helps that the series acknowledges those that don’t have prior knowledge of the lore, by explaining important game-specific things in comedic post-credit scenes.
But of course, there are changes as well. For example, it is hinted that 2B in the anime is actually aware of the things that have happened VS in the game, where she was mostly oblivious until we reached the breaking point. There’s also the matter of the different perspectives you would jump through while taking different routes in the game, but the anime ends up bypassing that by just combining them into one. And those are huge divergences, but if anyone could make them work, it’s Yoko Taro.
Now, how will all that impact the story for NieR:Automata Ver1.1a, overall? Only time will tell. But one thing I can tell you is that it’s not going to be wasted or overrated. If you’re a fan of NieR:Automata the game, give NieR:Automata Ver1.1a the anime a try!