The Let's Play Archive

Conception Plus: Maidens of the Twelve Stars

by Psycho Knight

Part 40: “Conception: The Game: The Anime: The Advertisement” (Episodes 1-3)

Note: This update is heavier on fanservice than the game updates. Just a heads up.

Special Update II: “Conception: The Game: The Anime: The Advertisement” (Episodes 1-3)

So I said I would eventually do this and now here we are. Because most of the story content is out of the way and we are nearly finished with each Star Maiden’s character route, we can now take a look at the Anime adaption (hopefully) without fear of spoilers being randomly dropped. That being said, we’re only going to take a look at 3 episodes or so at a time, just in case something does crop up which ruins any part of the game we haven’t reached it.

The Conception Anime was announced in May of 2018 and started airing in October of the same year in Japan. It finished airing a few weeks before the release of Conception PLUS in Japan. The Producer of the Conception series (as well as Danganronpa and other stuff at Spike Chunsoft), Yoshinori Terasawa, acted as Producer for the anime series as well, but the rest of the main production staff seem to be unrelated to the game. The Director was Keitaro Motonaga, who has a fairly lengthy portfolio of projects that he’s worked on.

The studio behind the anime was Gonzo. Gonzo has… well, let’s just call it a rocky history. I won’t get into a deep dive of the history behind the company or the constantly resurfacing financial difficulties or the shady business practices and shifty accounting or any of that fun stuff. We’re not here to talk about them as a company after all (although I admit that that would be a fun research project). The company was built by a former Studio Gainax employee and took a lot of risks with their animations.

The point is, Gonzo has a mixed track record (like a lot of companies that enjoy being experimental). They have done or been involved with some good stuff:

But they’ve also pumped out a lot of… not so good stuff.

I own a season of this that I fished out of a Wal-Mart DVD budget bin back when the early 2000’s Anime Boom was running out of steam. Even back in my teenaged years, this was not great.

Anyway, keep that in mind as we get into this series. You know damn well that the Conception Anime is not hanging with Afro Samurai, Samurai 7, or Full Metal Panic in Gonzo’s library. We’re heading firmly into their “not so great” section.

I’ll be ranking the episodes in batches based on a handful of criteria. Namely:

-Animation Quality

-Fanservice (that is the type of anime this is, so I may as well let you know what it’s got)

-As Advertised (How closely the anime matches up to the game)

Now you might be saying “Come on, it’s an anime adaption. Are you really going to knock it every time it says or does something that even slightly deviates from the source material?"

The answer is yes. Normally I would agree that scrutinizing an anime tie-in for not being identical to the game is a little much, but—well, you’ll see why I wanted to include this as part of the rating. Conception: The Anime is a marketing ploy for the game and it will be shoving that in your face constantly.

Also, why no sound rating? I mentioned in this in the previous update when talking about music, but I am not an audiophile or connoisseur of sound. The music for the anime is largely pulled from the game (at least, I think it is. It’s hard to tell since Conception doesn’t really have any memorable tracks). The voice cast is also taken from the game (with a few notable changes made to some characters). Honestly, from what I’ve seen so far, nothing sounds particularly bad and nothing sounds particularly good. It sounds like the game (for better or for worse). I just don’t feel as though I can really give a rating for audio quality. If I did, I’d likely just rate each batch as 3/5.

Anyway, enough of that. I’m not an anime reviewer, I’m a terrible LP writer. Not like anyone reading this LP is going to be looking for my recommendations on a fanservice show.

Episode 1 is almost entirely exposition. It follows Update I of this LP pretty closely (ending just before Classmating/Maiden Introductions).

The animation didn’t look too bad at first. I think the colours are a bit muted considering the source material, but whatever. That being said, there’s not a lot of movement going on during the start. Itsuki and Mahiru are meeting on the rooftop and discussing how Mahiru is pregnant (or how she thinks she is, anyway), so nothing is really moving.

Which, I’ll warn you right now. At least going by the first three episodes, this seems like it’s going to be a running theme with the Conception Anime. The anime has so far looked good while still, but the animation during movement heavy portions (like action scenes) is lacking. I think the studio might have been aware of this (or were trying to keep costs down), because this series has a lot of moments where I thought my browser/the video player had fucked up and froze. There are quite a few shots where nothing happens and the only reason you know the video didn’t stop to buffer is because you can still hear characters speaking.

Anyway, the opening progresses largely the same as the game. Mahiru is noticeably more teasing/joking though. The screenshot above is from a point where she tells Itsuki she’s pregnant and then starts suggesting that they’ve been doing “all kinds of stuff” in the three years since he started living with her family. This causes Itsuki to wordlessly freak out a bit (his eyes go wide and his mouth flaps, but there’s no subtitles or voice so… beats me. Maybe they forgot to record a reaction?) until Mahiru tells him that he should know better than that and that their relationship has never been like that.

Then, just like in the game, the big sky portal opens up just as Mahiru is about to reveal the father. Not as cool as in the game I might add. The sky doesn’t do the “shattering glass/reality” thing. A big magic glyph just appears in the sky and sucks them up, then disappears. Kind of disappointing. I really liked the reality breaking thing that the game did.

In the Labyrinth, we see that Mahiru literally just did a Google search and diagnosed herself entirely based on web results. I just think that’s funny, honestly (Note: I have definitely had panic attack moments where I have consulted Dr. Google about everything from colon cancer to heart disease. I still think this is funny despite being able to relate).

The look of a girl that believes she’s now a teen mom.

No deviations from the game so far. The only thing that’s really stood out to me is just how different Mahiru is. Not even compared to original Mahiru. Anime Mahiru is even less of a tsundere than Conception Plus Mahiru, to the point that I only remember one moment in the first three episodes where she gets angry with Itsuki and slightly scolds him. It leaves Anime Mahiru with even less personality that her tweaked Plus version, in my opinion.

I should note that around 5 minutes in to the episode, we get the action scene in the Labyrinth where Mahiru spits out the buff dude monster and it attacks Itsuki. Here you can see what I was talking about earlier with the drop in animation quality for action heavy scenes. I think they were going for slow motion, but it just looks like a bunch of frames have been dropped. The animation is not smooth at all is what I’m saying.

After escaping the Labyrinth, we get our first look at Mana. I hate Mana. I mean, I kind of hate her anyway just from the game, but anime Mana is 10 times worse. It doesn’t show much right now, but just wait like 5 more minutes.

We also get a look at Narc, who doesn’t look too bad. The real reason for this screenshot is the subtitle though. The anime (or at least the English Sub that I was watching) constantly refers to Itsuki and Mahiru as “Visitors” instead of “God’s Gifts”. I don’t know why this change was made. It’s technically still accurate, but I think “God’s Gift” has an air of importance about it that “Visitor” doesn’t. Itsuki and Mahiru are saviours of this world and the only hope for everyone that lives in Granvania. “Visitor” really seems like it’s underselling that aspect.

Earth is also referred to as “Sola” in the Sub instead of “Sora”, but this could easily be chalked up to a translation thing. “R”s and “L”s are often swapped in translation from Japanese due to the difference in linguistics (for example, Leone was changed to Reone in the English translation). That being said, Shangri-La is still Shangri-La. That probably has something to do with it being a foreign name, though. It’s weird. Could also be a matter of subber preference.

Another difference from the game is that while Shangri-La and Narcisstes do the whole spiel about having to save the world every 10 years thing, there is no mention (yet) of Impurities by name or the process in which they are created. This may have been cut for time purposes, since this episode is attempting to cram in all the exposition it can in order to hastily assemble a framework for the series. We don’t get any talk about how sex is making monsters or anything either.

An example of the “freeze frame” thing I mentioned. Dialogue is happening, but Itsuki and Mana aren’t moving at all despite Itsuki clearly being mid-stride (they are also shown to be walking when the scene zooms closer).

Which isn’t to say that this series is trying to tone things down by taking out the sex references. Oh lord no. Case-in-point:

Get used to this from Itsuki by the way. While the game gives you some leeway in how Itsuki acts, Official Itsuki is still definitely on the shy/easily embarrassed side. He gets a lot of blush reactions, stuttering, and is generally annoyed by Mana’s suggestive or perverted crap. Anime Itsuki on the other hand, Anime Itsuki is completely on board for this shit. He still blushes a little, but for the most part he is far more willing to go along with characters like Mana and Reone. You’ll see more examples of this as the update goes on.

After that little hint at what’s to come, the anime starts leaning in to its true nature. Itsuki wakes up to find that Reone has managed to strip him and chain him to a bed in what appears to be the church. We also get a close-up shot of Itsuki’s boxer bulge as Reone starts talking about his body and how Itsuki shouldn’t worry because she won’t be taking his underwear off. I won’t post a screenshot of it, but I should mention that Anime Itsuki looks like he’s half-chub, at least, during this scene.

As I said, Anime Itsuki is way more into this than Game Itsuki.

Reone gives a slightly more detailed explanation of the Labyrinths and Impurities, but still doesn’t say anything about how the Impurities are made. During this explanation, we also get our first real shot of fanservice… well, fanservice for the guys anyway. The ladies got a loving look at near-naked Itsuki chained to a bed and some close-ups of his package after all. The camera pans around a bit and gives us a few close shots of Reone’s ass (clothed. She is wearing her doctor outfit thing in this scene).

Then we get the first instance of what I mentioned about this anime shoving the marketing aspect in your face. This is not the only time this happens (I think it might happen at least once per episode). Basically, if the anime references something that it doesn’t feel like it wants to explain, expect Mana to tell you to go to the official website and find it out on your own.

I understand that the purpose of this anime is to market the game, but this really strikes me as going too far. You want to throw up a commercial break card that points people to the website or reminds you about the game, then go for it. But don’t include the marketing within the actual show, unless it’s being done specifically to mock it (this is not what this anime is doing, I assure you).

Immediately following that moment, we get some brief shots of the Star Maidens. There are some slight differences in some of their designs (Yosuke Okuda adapted the character designs for this show. The original character designer is Shinichiro Otsuka, who is not involved with this adaption to my knowledge). For instance, Arie is wearing lip gloss/lip stick. I think she is in the game as well, but it’s not as pronounced.

Tarua has one of those weird snaggle-tooth things that will shift from one side of her mouth to the other depending on the scene.

Lillie is missing the acid trip colours on the inside of her hair (I’ll give the studio a pass on this, because that seems like a bitch to try and animate for every scene).

Mirei also seems to be wearing lipstick/lip gloss. Like Arie, I think she is in the game as well, but it’s harder to see (only on the 3D model/CGs).

Everyone else seems to be largely the same as their in-game version.

Finally, we hit the main event. While the game keeps the Classmating ritual relatively vague, we can extrapolate some details just based on character reactions and the occasional dialogue. The game version of Classmating seems to mostly involve Itsuki and the Maiden holding hands and trying to connect with each other on an emotional level. There haven’t been any concrete acknowledgements of anyone stripping down or changing into different clothes or anything physically intimate. It’s all suggestive and sort of left to your imagination.

The anime does not share that approach.

Mana does this sort of teasing in the game too, but in the anime’s case she’s actually not far off when it comes to what’s about to happen.

Also, once again: Anime Itsuki is all for this. Mana says “Come on! Say it with me! ‘We love sex!’” just before this line from Itsuki.

Classmating in the anime is straight-up foreplay/grab-ass. Itsuki and the Maiden both climb onto a huge curtained off bed with the soft mood lighting and everything. Mahiru also seems largely fine with this in the anime. She gets a little embarrassed when Reone says for her to try the ritual with Itsuki right away, but then we cut to this scene and she seems to have mostly accepted it. She’s shy, but she’s not nearly as opposed to it as she is in the game. She even talks about having thought about this before. Also:

I want to remind everyone: Mahiru is saying this to her cousin.

As I said, the anime isn’t holding back with their interpretation. Yes, Reone will eventually reveal that the Classmating Ritual is not the same thing as sex, but everything about this scene will play out in the same general way as what we’re seeing here for the other Maidens. Itsuki strips to his boxers and the Maiden is either completely naked or stripped down to her underwear before the scene cuts and Itsuki presumably removes whatever clothing she is left with.

There’s a bit more fanservice during this section with Mana crawling all over Mahiru and knocking her onto her back before there’s a shot of Mana’s face between Mahiru’s thighs as Mahiru tries to fight her off. However, despite how that sounds, not a lot actually gets shown.

Itsuki eventually grabs Mana and throws her away because she’s clearly bothering Mahiru. Despite my talk about Anime Itsuki seemingly being in to Mana’s perverted stuff and appearing to be jazzed about the possibility of sex, he does generally act as a gentleman (at least for now). Throughout the first episode, he’s been consistently concerned about Mahiru’s well-being and feelings. I like that they kept that characterization, but it creates some weirdness at times where he sort of flips between the two personalities and the Star Maidens don’t seem to notice or care (even Maidens that you think would call him out for it, like Ruka).

I think my favourite part of the first episode is this scene right here. No, despite that look on Itsuki’s face, he’s not looking down at Mahiru’s naked body and trying to figure out what part goes where. What you see above is Itsuki’s face as he spends 15 seconds fumbling with the spaghetti strap of Mahiru’s top to try and remove it. He looks like he’s trying to untie the Gordian Knot. Meanwhile Mahiru looks on and has flashbacks to the time Itsuki fought that Impurity. It’s really funny, I’m not going to lie. It’s probably the best representation I’ve seen in a while from Anime-related anything of characters trying to stumble their way through intimacy for the first time. It’s like a high schooler on prom night trying to figure out the rocket-science behind the hooks on a bra.

Anyway, eventually Mahiru takes Itsuki’s hands and gets him to stop, because it's getting sad at this point. She also takes the cuffs that he’s wearing off (no reason is given for why he’s wearing those). With the left strap of Mahiru’s top successfully moved off of her shoulder, Mahiru lays back and Itsuki leans over her. Having been defeated by a 2-centimeter wide piece of fabric, Itsuki instead lifts Mahiru’s top up over her chest from the bottom. The two lean in for a kiss and then credits. That’s episode 1. I should mention that the credits are a standard affair for this first episode. Why do I say standard? You’ll see when we get to the end of Episode 2. It’s… it’s not pretty. Trust me.

Episode 2 starts off with the impending sex being interrupted by the birth of the Star Child, which Itsuki and Mahiru are confused by since nothing has actually happened yet.

Reone explains that Classmating (It’s always referred to as “Love Ritual” in the anime by the way, which is technically the name for it. Classmating is a translation thing that the game did) isn’t a sexual act and that Star Children are born through physical contact which heightens emotional feelings. Anime Itsuki also says “Darn” and looks pissed off when he discovers that sex isn’t going to actually happen (Mahiru has no reaction to this).

Both Reone and Mana come off looking way more like jackasses in the anime due to the way that Classmating is depicted here. I mean, Mana’s whole thing is making Itsuki believe that the ritual is sex, so she looks like a jackass in either format, but Reone looks a lot worse here than in the game. She said that she would tell them how to do the ritual in detail, but apparently at no point does she tell Itsuki or Mahiru that the ritual isn’t actually sex. She only explains this after the Star Child is born.

Just to remind you: If for some reason a Star Child hadn’t popped out at that exact moment, Itsuki and Mahiru would have fucked. Both of them were in complete understanding that they had to smash in order for the ritual to work. They are childhood friends and also cousins. That’s a massive dick move, Reone.

Mana only gets worse from here. She is faaar more grabby in this than in the game.

The next day has Itsuki and Mahiru shyly greeting each other and there’s some explanation from Mana about where the Star Child disappeared to (he’s gone to train in a “foster home” so that he’s ready to fight in the Labyrinths).

Here is where we get an important scene for this adaption. You can see Ruka hiding just around the corner in that screenshot. I’m going to tell you right now: Ruka is nothing like her game counterpart.

The scene has her (under Mana’s instruction) trying to pull off the “late for school” fateful encounter trope from Japanese media. She runs into Itsuki and he ends up on top of her (somehow). She then pretends to be upset (this isn’t Ruka’s tsundere side showing, she’s clearly acting that way because it’s in the script that Mana gave her. She has no real emotion behind her words and no facial expressions to match the tone). Itsuki and Mahiru are both confused as to why she’s acting like that when it’s clear she isn’t late. Mana thinks the plan went off perfectly though.

This episode is supposed to be Ruka’s “focus” episode, so we’ll see more examples of her massive personality shift as the episode goes on.

Moving on, we get a look at the full group of Star Maidens for the first time (all together I mean, not in a slide-show format like before). This scene goes very similarly to the game version, so there’s not much to say about it.

”Lillith” is translated as “Liris” here, by the way. No idea what Lillie is translated as since her name isn’t said.

Except for the fact that Lillie also seems to have had a slight adjustment to her personality as well. She’s not nearly as pissed off about being hit on the head as she is in the game. Not sure if that’s a sign of things to come or if it’s just a result of time crunch for the episode.

Ruka still does her “You don’t have to remember my name or anything” line, but it’s not as dismissive as it is in the game. She looks more shy than disinterested or cold.

There’s also what appears to be some wonky animation. Farun’s face does not look right in this shot. Maybe it’s just me, but the Star Maidens will often get shots in this series where their eyes appear too far apart or not properly adjusted for the angle of the view.

Is everyone loving Anime Mana? Huh? Are you? Do you like how I’m constantly nudging you in the ribs and asking if you like her? Huh?

It actually makes me miss Game Mana.

Also I should mention that Mana slips Itsuki a copy of a love book (written by Mana herself apparently) and tells him that she’ll teach him all about proper adult behaviour, which Itsuki thinks sounds amazing. Anime Itsuki is totally on board with Anime Mana. Never forget that going forward in this series. He seems to be taking all the advice she gives him without question.

After the introduction scene, we get a brief shot with Itsuki standing on a dark stage with a spotlight on him where he says something like “And that’s how my life on Granvania began”… I don’t get it. Is it supposed to be a gag? Because so far (outside of that stupid marketing shot) the anime hasn’t positioned itself to be a fourth-wall breaking type of gag anime. What’s more, that scene lasts for roughly two seconds before the anime jumps to a completely different scene.

Said scene has Ruka and Mana meeting at night in a dark alley where Ruka questions why the fuck she had to go and do that act. Apparently the Star Maidens are taking all of their advice from Mana as well.

That scene lasts for a few seconds and then we jump to Itsuki and Mahiru walking alongside a field. Mana asks about how things are going and Itsuki says he hasn’t made any more Star Children yet. Mana then brings up Cherry Blossom viewing and the scene jumps immediately to that.

Remember Drunk Mahiru? We’re leading to that already.

The one thing I liked about this scene is seeing all of the maids lined up behind Femiruna. It’s relatively funny and it’s something the game doesn’t do all that well (that is, showing just how rich Femiruna’s family is).

That moment is somewhat ruined by what happens next. First of all, you notice how Ruka is in the screenshot above this one (the group one during flower viewing)? There is no time-passage transition to show Ruka leaving the group to go somewhere. Immediately after that scene with Femiruna’s servants, there’s a scene of Yuzuha, Sue, and Collette talking to each other before Tarua pipes up and asks where Ruka went. Itsuki then says that he’ll go look for her. It gives you the impression that Ruka literally vanished in the time it took for Collette to ask Sue about the (live) chicken she brought with her and Yuzuha to ask for some of Collette’s bread. This episode jumps around way too much.

Anyway, the important part here is the scene with Ruka that this leads to. Ruka is picking flowers to bring back to the orphanage and Itsuki offers to help her, which she agrees to without any push back or hesitation at all. She talks about working at the orphanage and she also talks about—

…Yeah. Do you recall in the game how Ruka’s Tsukuyomi/mind-reader powers were a major source of hardship in her life? Remember how they caused her to push people away and wallow in self-hatred because she felt like she could never get close to anyone or be able to connect with the children at the orphanage? Remember that? Because that’s not part of Anime Ruka. We’ll see a better example of this soon.

Ruka does her mind-reading thing on Itsuki, finds out she can’t read his mind, Itsuki seems to impress her a bit by empathizing with the Star Maidens and how they feel nervous about the ritual thing, then Ruka leaves. Mahiru runs into the scene and is supposedly drunk (although she’s not wasted like Game Mahiru was, unfortunately. She isn’t laughing to herself or messing up her sentences or anything). Mahiru then dumps the whole “Itsuki protecting her from bullies” story, then talks about the promise he made to her. Anime Mahiru is nowhere near as upset/depressed about Itsuki not remembering the promise though. She’s a little upset, but the 60-second timer on all scenes ends and that conversation just stops as they both head back to rejoin the others at the picnic spot. Mahiru also pulls out Keychain Man so that she can look forlornly at it while Itsuki walks away.

What’s happening in this screenshot is exactly what you think is happening.

There’s more quick and short scene changes until Mana starts fondling Itsuki’s junk outside of a weapons shop. I’m not kidding. Mana gives Itsuki a partial handy through his pants outside of the weapons shop. Itsuki literally says that he got hard from it. The tone then whiplashes to Mana telling Itsuki not to underestimate the Labyrinths and that his life will very much be in danger and a lot of warriors have gone to face the Impurities but never returned.

After that strange tonally disparate scene, we get a look at the “foster home” that Mana mentioned. This is actually the Day Camp, since Alfie is here training the little Fighter Star Child that Mahiru and Itsuki made. I do like this shot a lot. The game never really tells us where the Star Children go when they aren’t with Itsuki. The Day Camp in the game is also depicted as being a shop stall or something. Alfie’s route does imply that there is a building they train in, but it’s not shown. I like the idea that the Star Children are living in this house/dormitory place.

Alfie makes a short appearance here, but there’s no talk of her being a Star Child or the Ophiuchus Maiden just yet. This is just a small cameo.

And an excuse to throw fanservice in.

There is a sweet moment in here, though. Virgo (the fighter Star Child) runs up and latches on to Itsuki, who looks a little unsure at first (in a “Is this really my child?” kind of way). One of my major complaints with Conception Plus so far has been that the Star Children aren’t as affectionate as they were in CII. They also don’t have much in the way of personality (they don’t make cute little comments about how they look like their mom or how cool dad is or any of that). Moments like these are what I wanted to see more of in CP (and even CII for that matter). The Star Children are the best thing about these games and I wish Spike Chunsoft would lean a little more heavily on them as characters, rather than just gameplay elements.

Anyway, let’s forget about that wishful thinking for now. We’re jumping back to a Ruka scene. Remember a little ways up the post where I said to think about Ruka’s character in the game and how it doesn’t exist in the anime?

Here’s the biggest indicator of the changes made to Ruka. No hangups whatsoever with touching or hugging or connecting with the other children at the orphanage. That barefoot girl isn’t even shown (as of yet), it’s just some rando orphanage kid that tripped and scuffed his knees.

Following that brief moment, the scene jumps to later in the night with Itsuki talking to Ruka at the front door of the orphanage. Namely, he’s asking about the ritual. We then jump again to Ruka and Itsuki in the ritual chamber (this anime seems incapable of lingering on a shot for more than a minute).

Ruka seems willing to go along with it, although she is slightly hesitant about the ritual. Itsuki proceeds to sound like he’s trying to get pity sex by talking about how the Star Child he made with Mahiru is all alone and Itsuki isn’t sure if they will be safe going in to the Labyrinths with just one Star Child.

Like, it’s not just me, right? This sounds like Itsuki is trying to play on Ruka’s sympathy in order to get her to have (not) sex with him. Like he is some scummy pickup artist at a bar.

After some of that talk (and the gross implications it carries), Itsuki starts to take off Ruka’s clothes. The only resistance Ruka offers to this is telling him to turn the lights off first because she’s nervous. I swear to god, you could probably swap Anime Mahiru into all of Ruka’s scenes and not notice anything off. The two have been nearly identical so far.

Ruka then lays on her back and Itsuki assumes the missionary position, then the scene cuts away to a shot of the night sky as Itsuki lowers down for a kiss. Also, Mana voices over the sky shot to congratulate herself on hooking those two up (even though she did basically nothing).

The next scene is Shangri-La giving Itsuki the 12 Star Wards (as they are referred to in the anime).

Mana also gives a brief explanation as to what the Star Wards are before once again pointing the audience to the website. I should mention that I don’t think the Japanese website for Conception Plus actually explains any of this shit. The website for Plus mostly just has marketing shots and a bit of character art/voice clips with a few details about the game world/story.

After the Shang scene, we get the moment where the Maidens open up the Stardust Labyrinth. I only include this screenshot because Cleric is in it and the artists gave him the “I’ve seen some shit” look that we all love about Male Cleric.

This looks like poor animation, but no, Male Cleric really does have that look in the game.

After that, Itsuki and the Star Children head into the Labyrinth. Mana gives a brief rundown of the structure, the Star Children proceed to kill a little Impurity (it doesn’t even move. Mana hovers right next to it and it doesn’t do anything. I actually thought it was a training dummy at first), then they proceed to get bodied by that thing in the screenshot.

It’s a complete wipe (Itsuki’s sword gets knocked out of his hands before he can even charge at the thing). Mana tells him to run and Itsuki grabs the Matryoshkas of the defeated SCs and hightails it out of the Labyrinth.

That’s where episode 2 ends. This episode actually has a credits sequence (the first episode just had a black screen with the credits and a little square off to the left showing moments from the episode). What will be the main credits sequence for the anime is shown off here and it is horrifying.

It's already too late to shield your eyes!

Episode 3 opens with Itsuki discovering that the Star Children are okay now (they fully recover when leaving the Labyrinth. That’s a gameplay thing so I won’t question it from an anime standpoint). I also thought it was pretty funny to see all of the Star Maidens still standing just outside the entrance. It drives home that Itsuki ran in there and then ran out again like 5 minutes later after getting his ass kicked. The Maidens didn’t even have time to think about maybe heading home and trusting that Itsuki will be fine.

Another time skip happens that we don’t get a good sense of and Itsuki heads back in with the Star Children. It was apparently a long enough time skip for the Star Children to do more training and for Itsuki to head out and get himself a shield, but there’s no visual cue for the audience that any time has passed, so it just looks like Itsuki stood up and headed straight back in.

Also there’s more Mana moments.

However, the scene doesn’t actually end with that Mana thing. There’s a short scene where the Star Children are laying on the ground at the entrance totally beaten up again and asking for help, while Itsuki stands nearby also looking like he got his shit kicked in. Mana freaks out and figures that something has to be going on, because they shouldn’t be getting beaten this badly. The next scene is consulting with Narcisstes in his lab/study.

Narcisstes tells Mana to relax a bit because this is an unprecedented emergency and she can’t expect everything to go exactly as it has gone in the past (Mana says that Itsuki should have defeated an Impurity God by now). Narcisstes then explains Tri-Mating.

Mana is of course ecstatic about that.

Although Itsuki says he has no idea what she’s talking about… somehow. I dunno, it’s an excuse for this three**** “gag” I guess.

Also, why in the fuck is “threesome” partially bleeped out but “sixty-nining” is left in? What the hell is your red line, Conception Anime?

Itsuki is unsure about being able to do that, but Mana tries to reassure him by saying that he can leave everything to the Maidens and just pull the old dead-fish maneuver by just laying there (oh yeah, the ladies love that move).

The scene jumps to Itsuki and Mahiru walking, then a flashback to Mana explaining about Granvania’s hot springs, then back to Itsuki saying he’s not sure what Mana is up to (Itsuki’s intelligence/pervertedness seems to come and go with the tides).

This scene is similar to Mahiru’s hot springs scenes in the game. Itsuki spots “Keychain Man”, except Mahiru gets embarrassed/defensive about it this time (in the game she’s totally fine with talking about it and showing it off). Game Mahiru’s personality comes through just a little bit in this scene. She’s not embarrassed at all about stripping down in front of Itsuki to get into the hot spring (whereas Itsuki does freak out about it), but Mahiru also reveals that she apparently had a full robe with her to change in to, so she’s not actually getting naked (or even wearing a swimsuit for that matter).

You know, for an anime that I thought was going to be heavy on fanservice, this has been very tame so far.

The hot springs scene follows pretty closely to the game. If you read back through that one (the one with “Keychain Man”) then it’s mostly the same. Weirdly though, the anime starts introducing gag shots for non-Mana characters.

This hasn’t happened until now. Itsuki and the Maidens never had those kinds of “anime” moments in Episodes 1 and 2. I’m not saying it’s bad or good, I’m just questioning why it’s only popping up now. It was looking like Mana was the only one who would be doing those kinds of sight gags. Oh well.

The scene continues with Mahiru passing out, Keychain Man being lost, and Itsuki tracking it down. However, it also throws in the scene with Itsuki remembering about the promise he made to Mahiru (I think we’ve run through 70% of Mahiru’s route in 2 episodes). They have a moment of almost kissing, but Mana butts in to break that shit up.

Also, there’s more Mana. There will never not be Mana. Get used to it.

Mana continues with that shit for like a full minute with more censored out words that anyone over the age of 16 would know and be able to guess. Mahiru is getting really embarrassed about it (Mana also brought along a carriage that’s basically a horse-drawn bed which she wants Itsuki/Mahiru to hop on to). Itsuki then has a very brief moment where it looks like he’s going to tell Mana to knock it off and stop embarrassing Mahiru—

But he actually starts talking about how the mobile Classmating bed is terrible because people from the outside can see everything going on so it ruins the excitement and titillation. This results in a very close up gag shot of Mahiru looking goofy/unamused and saying that she’s leaving.

The next scene has Itsuki sitting in front of Reone who is looking him over. He does actually have visible bruising and scars on his body from those times he got beat in the Labyrinth. I wish the game had more of that (it would make Reone’s worrying and examination make a little more sense).

Also, Mana uses some cartoon imagery of a hot dog. You know what for.

Reone then proceeds to inject Mana with something that knocks her out. Yes, I said Mana. Thank Christ we get a brief break from her. With Mana out of the way, Reone says that she’ll be one of the two Maidens for the ritual so that she can keep an eye on his condition during the ritual (he's pretty beaten up at this point, plus almost sick from that dive into the water at night).

This is also where we get most of Reone’s initial character arc. Itsuki’s stomach growls, Reone offers an apple, Itsuki asks if she can bake it (there’s some brief fanservice here with Reone offering to peel it for him. Not sure what’s overtly sexual about peeling an apple, but we get a close up of Reone’s boobs), and the conversation goes from there.

This picture is a lot more clear than the game version, although they obviously still conceal Reone’s brother’s face. I guess they wanted to make sure that his supposed likeness to Itsuki wasn’t too apparent because of the creepy incest angle we had to deal with for a while during Reone’s route.

Itsuki goes wandering the streets after this, since he’s supposed to find a second Maiden for the Double Love Ritual (except he doesn’t know where Ruka is and Mahiru is pissed at him because her personality managed to claw it’s way out momentarily).

This is where Farun comes in. Once again, that animation does not look quite right to me.


I’m not kidding, this is 90% of her 7-second dance.

That remains to be seen, Farun. Listen, I’m not going to say that I’m a fiend on the dancefloor, but I could do those moves easily (I’d just blind everyone in a 50-foot radius is all).

The two start talking and Farun offers to get him a drink. No, Anime Itsuki is no less a stickler for Japanese Drinking Laws than Game Itsuki. Farun does tease him about it, though. I got a laugh from that (She says something like “What a baby. You want some juice, baby?”).

The conversation continues much like it did in Farun’s introduction scene (in the game I mean). However, at one point she talks about feeling suffocated by being tied down to one place for so long (similar to what she says in the game about not liking the fact that, as a Star Maiden, she can’t leave Granvania). There is a brief shot of Itsuki looking at that book in his pocket (the one Mana slipped him) and then he proceeds to lean in and nibble Farun’s ear out of nowhere. He also starts saying corny lines and coming on hard.

AND THIS WORKS. It cuts to Farun and Itsuki sitting at the bar facing away from each other, but Farun looks like she’s been turned to butter and Itsuki is amazed at how well that book he got from Mana works.

I’m talking about Farun here. Yes, she starts turning into a giddy high school girl as her route goes on, but at the start of her route in the game she is easily able to brush off any comments that Itsuki tries on her (she tells us that she’s heard them all before. She’s a dancer and a bar hostess after all). But Anime Itsuki sweeps her off her feet within minutes of meeting her for the first time (the introduction scene doesn’t count).

Anyway, that’s all for that scene. It’s Double Love Ritual/Tri-Mating time.

Unlike Ruka and Mahiru, Reone and Farun are buck naked for the ritual. The weird teal circle things you see over Farun’s chest are Mana censor heads. Reone has red ones covering her chest. They are fairly large as well. The fanservice has definitely ramped up, but it seems as though they aren’t quite willing to go the length of other shows by making the censor circles really small.

After what looks like a shot of silhouetted Itsuki presumably fingering Reone and Farun, we’re introduced to two more Star Children.

Also, apparently Narcisstes stood by and watched that happen because we get a shot of him talking about how majestic the Double Love Ritual is.

Farun literally has a line that reads “I c*** to the ends of the universe.” I shit you not.

And Itsuki was apparently so good that he turned Reone and Farun to jelly. So much for the “experienced” Reone we saw in the game.

Episode 3 wraps up with Itsuki and his new (now full) team of Star Children tackling the Labyrinth once more.

And there’s another reminder from Mana to visit the website.

There’s a nice shot near the end where Scorpi (the Magician Girl Star Child) is scared upon seeing that big golden Impurity from Episode 2 and Itsuki rests a hand on her shoulder and tells her to hide behind him if she feels in danger. It’s moments like these that I really wanted more of in the games. It would have done a lot to help the player feel more attached to the Star Children instead of having them be glorified stat sheets.

And no, we don’t get to actually see the battle. Are you nuts? That shit costs money, yo.

After sealing the Star Sign (we don’t find out which one it actually is. I guess we’ll be able to tell when we see that Boss in the game), there’s a final moment where that roaring that signals the 13th Phantom happens.

So, that was Episodes 1 to 3 of the Conception Anime. How does it stack up?


When the anime is sitting still, it looks fine. However, you can’t have an anime that doesn’t move. That’s just a collection of CGs. The first three episodes do not move well. Action scenes (what few that there are) are janky and somehow low-framerate. There’s also a lot of moments where barely anything on screen is actually moving. It all looks very stiff and wooden.


The most risqué thing in terms of fanservice was that shot of Reone and Farun at the end of Episode 3. Outside of that, if fanservice is what you are watching this for, then you won’t get any satisfaction from these episodes. Despite how much suggestive dialogue Mana has and how many times sex is hinted at, the anime doesn’t actually show much of it. There are a few shots of boobs from Reone and Alfie; a little skin from Mahiru, Ruka, and Farun; but that’s about all.

As Advertised:

The episodes get across the general ideas and structure of the game, but the characterizations so far have been wildly off from their in-game versions. Ruka is completely different compared to how she is in the game, Mahiru only starts to act like Mahiru (Old or New) in one scene during Episode 3, and Reone is somehow toned down (she seems a lot less teasing and suggestive than in the game) which is baffling for a harem/fanservice series like this. Not to mention Farun loses all of her “Nice try” attitude when it comes to sweet talking from Itsuki.

Uuuughh. We’ve made it through the first 3 episodes. We’ll be back for more later on, but for now, how about we get back to Bonding Events that aren’t paced like the writers were on (a higher dose of) speed.