Phantasy Star started as a series of solid RPGs made for the Mega Drive. In more recent years, it’s transitioned into an online game. Phantasy Star Online II is a Japanese only game since initial plans for a more global release kind of fell through. It was released in 2012. In 2016 an anime by our old friends at TMS began airing. That’s right, the same studio that gave us Glass no Kamen, Magic Knight Rayearth & Rose of Versailles to name a few.
We open with our protagonist… Blandon attending his classes at Seiga Academy. Which seems like a nice school until you look in the textbooks and find out they’re full of glitches. Blandon is approached by the student council to join them as the new Vice President since the former one went off to star in her own spin-off game that tries way too hard to be dark and edgy and throws in guns and random shadowy aliens. One of his duties is playing the greatest online game ever made, they promise, PSO2. Why? Because the school is thinking about banning online games for distracting students from their studies. So, he randomises a character who just so happens to look exactly like him and starts playing the game. Finding it to be totally better than all those other online games that more people play. Things get a bit surreal when a transfer student shows up who seems very immersed in the game and she seems to be investigating a string of disappearances. But how are they related to the messiah of online gaming?
All right, let’s start with the negatives. First off all, the coincidences get to be absurd at times. It’s not limited to randomising a character who looks like the player either. There are times when Blandon encounters people who just happen to be talking loudly about the game in front of him after he’s met their in-game characters. There are also times when, against all odds, he or another character will run into exactly what they need. And I thought Steerforth randomly showing up all the time got ridiculous. The love triangle is also quite insipid. The series also suffers from the fact that every plot point is really trite. Whenever any plot point comes up you can guess exactly where it’s going to go, if you have some level of genre familiarity.
On as positive note, I kind of like the basic premise behind this series. The idea of the game’s world being real and there being a way to travel betwixt the two could have been quite a compelling twist. If the writing in this wasn’t so bland.
You’ve probably inferred this already from my calling the protagonist “Blandon” but the characters in this are really one-note and boring. They try to add depth by having people play characters that “demonstrate hidden facets of themselves” but they’re quite literally all clichéd character types and the “hidden facets” fit neatly into that. The antagonists are very much the “don’t need motivations because they’re just evil” variety. At least they aren’t actively obnoxious, I guess. That makes them better than a fair number of Sonic’s woodland friends.
The biggest issue with the art is simply that some of the cg really stands out awkwardly. That being said, some of the action sequences are pretty neat. There are some good backgrounds. I also do kind of like the way they throw Sonic merchandise around the school.
The voice acting is decent enough. They don’t exactly use their actors to their full potential but they sound fine. The music is okay as well. It’s not something I’m going to listen to on its own but it as fine in context of the series.
Both our main girls, Blanda & more Mary Sue-ish Blanda, have fangirls who seem romantically interested. Blanda even has them ask her how she feels about lesbian relationships. So, it’s pretty blatant that there’s romantic attraction there. In a more interesting series, they might have done something with that.
I’d hesitate to call Phantasy Star Online II: The Animation a bad series. It’s not. I also wouldn’t call it good because it’s not. It’s an average series where the over-reliance on clichés makes it a bit dull and highly predictable. If you’re really into the whole “online games are life” types of anime you might have a good time with it. It’s certainly better than some other anime of that type. Otherwise, there’s really nothing appealing about it. And, as an advert for the game, it fails pretty badly. You mean I can play a game with a bunch of really dull people and possibly have a monster jump out of it and try to eat my face? Sounds like a terrible time. The final rating is a 5/10.