It is no secret that the visual novel genre shares a deep connection with anime. Whether in content, art style, audience, or even motivations, some visual novels find themselves rooted in the anime medium. Today we’re going to be taking a look at five visual novels that have anime adaptations, so you can continue your experience on the TV screen!
Many people argue whether or not the Danganronpa series are visual novels or not. While the games do have interactive minigames, character movement, and trials, the foundation of its story and dialogue is text-based with 2D sprites and backgrounds. All of that aside, the first game in the series, Trigger Happy Havoc, has its own anime adaptation. The anime, titled Danganronpa: The Animation, follows unlucky highschooler Makoto through his time trapped in Hope’s Peak Academy. Without revealing any spoilers, I’d say the animation is pretty faithful to the game’s plot. That being said, all of the murders are in the same order as in the visual novel. If you plan on playing the game at any point, I recommend doing so before watching the anime. The game features more details and interactive inspection and trial elements that make solving the murder all the more suspenseful and rewarding. I did it the other way around, and felt a little cheated that I knew who was going to die and when! There is another anime adaptation for the series, called Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School, which serves to tie up the series with a nice little bow. It is split into two story arcs: the future, which takes place after the events of the second game, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair; and the past arc, which happens before the first game. Again, I’d recommend playing all three games first before jumping into the anime!
Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom took the English-speaking otome visual novel scene by storm when it was first released on the PSP. It was also the first big Japanese visual novel I ever played, so it holds a dear and special place in my heart. Hakuoki has seen many additions to the franchise including fandisks, re-releases with additional romance routes for newer platforms, and of course, anime and film adaptations. The anime shares the same name as the visual novel and follows part of the storyline. Unlike with Danganronpa, Hakuoki’s story is not linear. It changes based on the decisions the player makes and what character route they’re on. The anime adaptation follows Chizuru down Hijikata’s route. Unfortunately, unlike Danganronpa, Hakuoki’s anime adaptation is not completely faithful to the game’s storyline. It takes some liberties and does cut some corners. I’d recommend it if you’re a fan of the lore, but it is certainly no substitute to the acclaimed visual novel. There is another anime in the series called Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom – Dawn of the Shinsengumi which doesn’t follow Chizuru at all. Instead, you learn about what happened prior to the events of the visual novel. This is rated a bit higher than the original and may be a good entry point for newcomers!
Amnesia: Memories is a visual novel released by Idea Factory. You play as a nameless heroine who awakens with no memories and follow her through her journey as she tries to adjust to her life and regain her memories. The anime adaptation of the same name features 12 episodes. It is a rather short anime, but still manages to touch upon each of the romance routes to a certain degree. Because the storyline features a character with amnesia, it is quite easy to jump from character arc to character arc. I do appreciate that it tries to introduce each of the character routes to the viewer; however, because the anime is quite short, things feel rushed. As is my recommendation for all of these anime, I do think playing the visual novel will be a more fulfilling experience due to the length and amount of content it can encompass. That said, the animation is still pretty engaging if you’re interested in the game’s storyline. You will not be getting anything completely groundbreaking, though. As a plus, the opening song for Amnesia’s anime is one of my favorites, and it will probably be stuck in your head for weeks!
If you’ve read quite a few of our articles, you may know by now that I’m a huge Code Realize fan. It’s one of my favorite visual novels of all time and I absolutely adore Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief. Lupin is charismatic, smooth, and not afraid to go after what he wants. Why am I bringing this up now? Well, to put it simply, Lupin is paraded as the canon route in the visual novel. You must first complete all of the other routes to even get his to unlock. This Lupin favoritism transmits over to the anime adaptation as well. The only problem is that if you’re more interested in one of the other guys, you may be disappointed! While the anime tries to incorporate parts from each of the routes, Lupin still shines. Not only that, because the anime is short in comparison to the game, some major events are glossed over. But overall, I do not think this is an anime you should skip. A quick remedy would be to play through the game first. Knowing what happens fully will help you appreciate the anime adaptation all the more. Plus, the steampunk world we find Cardia in is wildly interesting, her journey is compelling, and the art as a whole is absolutely gorgeous.
Ace Attorney is a well known game series developed by Capcom. You play as Phoenix Wright, an attorney who has to win trials in a court of law. Similar to Danganronpa’s anime adaptation, the Ace Attorney adaptation attempts to follow the game’s storyline without too much deviation. The first season of the Ace Attorney anime is meant to encompass both the first and second games of the series (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Justice for All respectively). The second season follows the events of the third game, Trials and Tribulations. Because Ace Attorney is all about earning justice in a court of law, there could be major spoilers if you watch the anime first. Also, watching the anime first before playing the game will take out the fun of solving these cases, which is of course the interactivity of the trials. However, if you love mystery storylines this may be the perfect thing to whet your appetite for a long gameplay session of the Ace Attorney games!
Let us know in the comments below what your favorite visual novel anime adaptations are!