Now, we usually have Anime based on manga, like Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, and Bleach. We have anime based on light novels, like No Game No Life, Sword Art Online, Log Horizon, and Accel World. However, there are plenty of anime out there that are based on popular games, including such classics as Steins;Gate, Danganronpa the Animation, and even Pokemon.
We are gathered here to talk about a particularly popular game and anime, Persona 4 the Animation.
But enough exposition, let’s tune into our review!
DISCLAIMER: I nor any member of UnimeTV own the rights to the pictures used in this article. They are all screenshots of the anime, and belong to Sentai Filmworks. At the end of the review, I’ll show links to the pages I got the pictures from. Also, this is covering the first Persona 4 the Animation series, so no Golden edition.
Persona 4 takes place in a small, rural town in Japan named Inaba, where the main character, who’s name is Yu Narukami, is sent to live with his uncle for a full year because his parents had to leave town. Shortly after he arrives in little Inaba, the town is rocked by the murder of a TV Announcer caught in an affair scandal with a man that doesn’t become relevant until near the end of the series, where they find her corpse tangled up in the town’s power lines.
After befriending a few fellow students and going on for a couple days in his new school, Yu hears a rumor about the Midnight Channel, an urban legend that will only appear on a TV at midnight during a rainy day and will apparently show you your true love. When checking out the channel, Yu discovers that he has the abilities to go into TV’s, which he shows to his friends. While showing his TV magic to his friends, one named Yosuke knocks everyone present into the TV, bringing them to a world that is appropriately named…the TV World…which I guess I would name it to if I were in their shoes.
However, in this TV world, there are monsters called Shadows that attack our main characters, and it looks like they’re going to kill them…until…PERSONA-EX-MACHINA happens. Yu suddenly finds out that he can summon a giant battle-god called a ‘Persona’ inside the TV World, and saves the day with his new summon, Izanagi.
They find out from a mysterious, and somewhat creepy-at-first, creature named Teddy who lives inside the TV World that someone has been throwing people inside the TV.
Our heroes link the TV World and the murderer together, and decide to form a sort of ‘investigation party’ to look for clues inside of the TV.
Persona 4 the Animation actually has pretty well developed developed characters for having seven main characters and a main protagonist.
Each main character, besides Yu, has their own little dark side embodied into a Shadow that they end up fighting over the course of the show, with some being a little more trivial then others. This will range from confronting gender stereotypes to identity crises, absolute boredom to the very meaning of existence. Each character’s shadow, even though simply being the antagonist of the arc, help give you a grip on who a character is, and allows you to benchmark their progress as a character. They don’t outright push the character development down your throat, but you can feel they change over the course of the anime, and if you look really closely, you can even see it.
Now…Yu Narukami…Big Boy Yu…For the first half of the anime, if not the first three quarters, he’s a dull character. Now, I’m not talking about your dull because the writers didn’t want to make him an actual good character. It actually feels like they designed to make him dull. I feel like they did this so that you could put yourself as the main protagonist, so you could get a bit more into the anime as you would a game. Shin Megami Tensei – Persona 4 is actually a dating sim, which allows you to pick your own path and end with multiple endings. Going with this dynamic would at least allow you to have somewhat of a feel of immersion as you would playing the game.
Either that, or they did the cliche: ‘Main character comes dull, leaves with a personality’ character style…which I hope they actually meant…at all.
Finally, I want to mention the main antagonist, the murderer. I’m keeping this spoiler free, because what’s the point of reviewing it for you to see if it’s good or not and I tell you everything? So, for those of you who know who it is, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. For those who don’t know who it is, you’ll just have an idea of what to expect.
The murderer, when you know who they are, is absolutely great when they drop the facade. They become a psychopathic monster, who looks like they’re bored even when something exciting is happening and seems to not care about anything. It’s delightful. Although, the build up is kind of meh. You never really get a whiff of their motive as the anime progresses. I mean, the motive was brilliant, but you never really see it in the murderer until they blatantly say it during the final confrontation.
Also, the way the main characters figure out it’s him is…anti climatic in the least. They figured out who the murderer was by something the murderer said, and what another character said. It was disappointing, and didn’t really leave a lot of room for you to really guess who it was.
As stated previously, Persona 4 the Animation has very strong characters, even if some are poorly introduced or seem bland. They not only have some of the most interesting ways to tell you about their deep dark secrets, but the way they interact is just amazing. Every character has this chemistry, whether it because they’re bros, they have a crush on one another, or having a friendship that seems childlike.
Additionally, the soundtrack is one of the most unique I have ever scene in anime, and that’s saying something. It’s all in English, which is a surprising out of an anime…which is from Japan. The thing is that the English is kind of weird, but not in a bad way. It all sounds good, but if you really look at the lyrics, it looks like someone from Japan directly translated these phrases, not caring to use American slang or grammar structure when creating the songs. It’s all hilarious, added with awesome instrumental music.
I also have to commend the end of the series, because as soon as the Nanako-arc hit, the anime went from pretty good, to really good. We see a pretty dark side to our main characters, as well as getting huge character development for Yu.
In short, a lot of the major things, Persona 4 the Animation gets right. However…
One of my biggest complaints about Persona 4 the Animation is how they reference minor things that happen in the beginning of the show that you would think as trivial, but turn out to be things that become EXTREMELY important later on. It doesn’t just happen with the beginning of the series either. They end up referencing things the person who turns out to be the murderer, which happens at about 7 episodes before they’re caught, said in order to prove that it is them. And this little item isn’t even said in a situation where you would be paying attention to dialogue. It’s said after a very exciting car chase, where someone gets injured! You’re still recovering over that, and your supposed to pay attention to key dialogue then? I don’t think so.
And then, don’t even get me started on the final episode, which is basically the ‘true end’ of the game. I understand that it is an important part of the game, and weaving it into the story would be pretty important. However, the way they did it seems kinda…wrong. I feel like it was thrown in, not truly crafted inside with careful planning. It could have been a great end, but it has two things that make me want to pull my hair out: The fact of how it is set up, and what it does. The episode is set up, you guessed it, is by something that happens in the first episode. This relies on a HANDSHAKE, not a verbal exchange of words. The character who’s hand he shook wasn’t even a main character, but looked like a side character. And then, it introduces a plot point that wasn’t really fleshed out. It was touched on in what I, personally, consider the final battle to be, but it was never truly talked up now. Surprise, I guess?
Another thing is that the plot of each arc kind of gets monotonous after a while. What will happen is somebody will appear on the Midnight Channel, be abducted, and then Yu and the gang have to go save that person. That person overcomes their shadows, and they join the team. Every single time they go inside the TV, this is what happens. Sure, they break up the monotony at bit by throwing in social link episodes that are pretty interesting, but it really does get you.
It also probably doesn’t help that the fights are never really…interesting. What happens is that all of the Persona’s will fight this big shadow monster that has some kind of ability that doesn’t even allow them to touch it, and it all boils down to Yu either suddenly becoming much stronger with his main persona, or him combining and changing all kinds of different personas. Nothing really flashy happens, nor anything so large as to be considered epic. Disappointing, really, since the fact of Persona’s are in the title.
The only real fight I was invested in was the one between the murderer and Yu…and maybe the one during the Nanako arc.
Final Thoughts and Verdict
Don’t get me wrong on my big rant there, I like this series. However, there was a lot wrong that I could see that could have been avoided if the writers took the time to fix them.
I enjoyed the concept, the story, and the characters. I hated how they got to each key point in the story. To me, that is the most unforgivable sin about Persona 4 the Animation. The way they were using events, phrases, or even actions that seemed trivial in the beginning of the series is enough to make any person who didn’t marathon this entire series in one go want to turn off their computers and deactivate their Crunchyroll account. At least, the writers would try to justify them doing this by giving you flashbacks to when such a thing, but that isn’t enough. When you are introducing a concept as important as the ones you’re referencing, add character reactions, turn off the background music, give some kind of emphasize on what they’re saying to make it seem significant.
Persona 4 the Animation has a lot of flaws, but I can’t say I hate the series. I just wouldn’t say it is one of my favorite.
That’s why I award Persona 4 the Animation a 7/10, giving it a certified ‘Check it out, if you feel like it’ rating. I can’t give it a full recommendation, just because of how mad the drawbacks made me, but the anime itself is pretty good to check if you get the chance.
Thank you for reading, and make sure to comment to tell me what you think. Don’t forget to come back for more later. I’ll catch you guys soon. Zachary, out.
Featured Picture: http://www.anime-evo.net/2012/01/29/persona-4-the-animation-16/