Persona 4: The Animation (Kyu's Review!™)

(Warning: Potential spoilers)

 

I'll hand it to AIC. Taking on anything as complicated as an SMT game is ambitious. I was really excited to hear that P4 was getting an anime and wanted nothing but the best from it. Now, my fangirlish glee has been tempered by actually watching the first episode.

Quick synopsis of the game/anime for those not familiar with it:

The protagonist (renamed Yu in the anime) moves from Tokyo to a small town called Inaba, where he will be staying with his uncle and niece for a year while his parents are out of the country. The town is currently experiencing a minor scandal involving a love triangle of local celebrities. A rumor is circulating among the students that if you watch your television at midnight on a night that it's raining, you will see what's been dubbed the "Midnight Channel" and will see your soul mate. Yu and friends Yosuke and Chie agree to watch the television at midnight to see what happens. Yu, however discovers that not only is he seeing things, he can physically enter the television. Strange things begin to happen in the town, starting with the murder of one of the women involved in the love triangle. For more information, either pick up the game or check out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shin_Megami_Tensei:_Persona_4

AIC keeps some elements that will be common to those who play the game, a nice nod to those "in the know". Among those elements are the daily calendar transitions and character personality traits on the commercial cuts.

The storyline itself follows the game pretty closely, even down to the dialogue in many places. The characters are familiar and voiced by the game's Japanese VAs. The first episode doesn't go very far in to the game, and does tend to leave out details. I realize that this is to be expected, but it does make the anime feel rushed sometimes. They are hitting the major scenes pretty well, though they kind of gloss over the introductions a bit. As an example - in the game the main character (Yu) spends several days really not dealing with Yosuke. However, in the anime they just seem to suddenly mesh well. It's like we're asked to just take it for granted that these people start hanging out.

The anime also jumbles up what I feel is a key character development moment (and within the Persona universe generally a BIG deal). That would be the moment that the main character summons a Persona. Usually it comes at some key crisis moment, and the anime follows through with that, but moves it forward in the timeline to a place where it didn't occur.

In the game, Yu first summons Izanagi when he and Yosuke have gone back through the television to look for Saki, who is missing. They are confronted by Shadows while standing in front of a replica of the Konishi liquor store (owned by Saki's parents) and BOOM, oh shit moment that results in a Persona emerging and it really prepares you for what's going to come next involving Yosuke. The anime, however, moves this forward by a good bit, to the time when Yu, Yosuke, and Chie first enter the television in Junes. Yu is given his glasses by Teddie (ignoring that in the game both Yu and Yosuke get them at the same time) and then Teddie runs off, leaving them to flee the emerging shadows. They get stuck and as predicted, Izanagi is summoned, but it really seemed that the scene was done more to showcase what a badass we're expected to think Yu is, rather than the feeling that everything has gone horribly wrong and that the Persona is emerging from a moment of real desperation.

Shortcuts like that are what make me nervous about the rest of the season. I realize that not everything will make the cut when you're transitioning from a 50+ hour game to an anime series but to me, something like that is a big deal. I won't nitpick the little continuity things, like the anime making it seem like Yosuke was going to ask Saki on a date (hinted at a crush on her in the game, blatant date aspirations in the anime). I could, but I won't. Ultimately something like that would make Saki's death seem even harder on Yosuke, which may add to the impact that we feel for the character. But seriously, you really shouldn't screw with such a major plot point as that.

I won't quit watching the series at this point, but I will be watching where they go with it. If you aren't familiar with the games, my suggestion is to go nuts, watch it, love it. If you are familiar with the games, I hope that you disagree with my points and can enjoy it for what it is.

Final verdict, I still want to like the series and I really want to love it as much as I loved the game, but I'll be very interested to see how they handle continuity after this.

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Comment by Steph S. on October 8, 2011 at 10:49pm
Never mind - I just noticed you are a member of Godless Gamers. :)
Comment by Steph S. on October 8, 2011 at 10:48pm
Sounds great! I'll have to get that. I'd like to play the game too. Did you about the group Godless Gamers on this site? You could talk about the game there.
http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/godlessgamers

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