Title: Persona 4: The Animation
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
Summary: Yu Narukami has moved from Tokyo to Inaba to stay with his uncle and cousin, while his parents are away on business. However, after a murder shakes up the sleepy town, things get even more crazy when he discovers the mysterious “Midnight Channel,” and that he has the even more mysterious ability to enter TVs. Accompanied by his disbelieving friends, Yu discovers another world inside the TVs, that seems to be connected with the murder. They also discover the ability to summon ‘Persona’, their ‘other selves’, whose power they can use to fight the shadows that inhabit the TV world. The murders, the Midnight Channel, the world inside the TV, and Persona. Yu and his friends fight to figure out how they’re connected, and to solve the case before it’s too late.
Review: Persona 4 was based off a video game that I have never played before so this was a new experience for me. In my personal experience of movies and shows based off games, it has generally ended in tragedy. They get the basic concept down like the character names, but lose site of everything else. Thankfully I had no idea what Persona 4 was even about so I had no expectations going in. From what I’ve read around, it seems like the series did a relatively good job keeping with the story and gameplay while still keeping basic anime elements. I’m sure people who played this game will probably not be completely satisfied because it had to cut a lot of corners. Some of them being pretty obvious like how Narukami suddenly has the ability to control 10+ Persona without any reason why. Still, I’m happy I stuck with this one.
Persona 4 had some great artwork. I wasn’t too fond of the character designs at first because something just seemed a little off by all of the characters. However, I found out that was just one of those cases where I wasn’t used to the artwork. Shortly after the second episode I hardly noticed the change, but still want to take note of the subtle difference from the average anime. It did still have that “game” feel to it because of the artwork. It showed a lot of great scenes that could easily be used as cut scenes in a video game. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were basically copy pasted over either. The characters had the same clothing throughout the entire anime which was a little irritating. There were exceptions of course, but they all followed the same basic pattern of white/black popped collared shirts for the guys, and typical outfits for the girls. One thing that confused me is that the clothing the characters were and weren’t school uniforms. Let me explain a bit… the guys wore an outfit that were all closely related with a popped collared here and a ruffled up jacket there, however, the girls whore completely different clothes. Yet for some reason that was completely fine in the school despite EVERYONE ELSE having a uniform. A bit of a rant, and very insignificant but still weird to think about. If I were those kids I would rock whatever I wanted since the administration didn’t seem to care.
What kept me coming back was the story and characters of Persona 4. There were some characters that got a little irritating, but I feel that was their basic character model. Narukami had a significant change in his personality from the start. That was great because his “stats” followed suite. The changes were nothing drastic but noticeable enough to make a difference and give the series a solid A in character development. I really enjoyed watching his character start as a bland, mediocre guy to someone who was quite funny. The entire series was actually pretty darn funny. There were a lot of great acts they pulled together in the filler episodes. The other characters had very minor changes and that was more in their combat style than personality. I didn’t mind that quite as much because the characters were already well established at the beginning of the series and didn’t need the minor tweaks here and there. Plus the series made it seem like the “player” (or rather viewer) was making the decisions and shaping the main character Narukami. It made me quite a bit more attached which made it easier to sympathize when things started making a dark turn. There were some episodes that actually had me close to tearing up; that’s something I never expected from this type of anime. Moving back to the story, it did a pretty good job getting me interested. They kept the entire series a mystery till the very end. It all came together with a enough clues to make the bad guy seem obvious at the end, but also held enough back to make sure you didn’t predict it. I’m not a huge solver of mysterious though so I might have been the only one who missed the obvious signs. Probably the only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the “end bosses” motivation. It didn’t have the impact I wanted it to. It didn’t take the route of sympathy for the devil or pure evil. Other than a stale motive the series did a good job keeping all the characters in check.
The soundtrack for Persona 4 was good and bad. I’m generally not a huge fan of anime that have all English lyrics, with the exceptions of Black Lagoon’s Red Fraction, especially ones that try for a hip-hop angle. Who knows? I can’t say that Japanese can’t do rap or hip-hop because I’ve heard a lot of good songs in that genre, but they all have a mix of English and Japanese. I will give them this though, they had a solid five openings and five endings. Pretty good I must say, and I’m sure if I looked hard enough I would find one that struck my fancy enough to listen to the full version. At first impressions though none of them made me want to check out the OST or even singles.
Final statements: I was really happy with Persona 4 and they had a great thing going. Even if I never played the game I can get a pretty good idea how the mechanics ran, so for that I consider it a good adaptation. From my perspective they didn’t lose site of what was important and gave an interesting mystery. I only consider it a preferred watch though because there were a few slow moments in the anime that had me watching for the sake of watching. Overall though a nice anime and wouldn’t push anyone away from watching it.