Well, after a month of writing the Persona 4 review, a bunch of tests and a bent foot, I think it is time to write the review for the anime adaptation of the best RPG ever, Persona 4: The Animation.
When this was announced, I screamed. I really did. My favourite RPG becoming an anime, I really could not ask for more. The anticipation was high, and the months leading up took forever to pass, but it arrived in October of last year. Did it deliver with the same quality as the game? Let's check.
(First of all, I avoided major spoilers in the review of the game, but here I will have to say more things, so if you are interested in watching it, do so first or know that you will be spoiled here.)
Persona 4 stars on March 2011, with protagonist Yu Narukami ariving in the small town of Inaba, to live there for a year with his uncle and cousin. After setting up things at his house, he has classes right the next day. There he get acquainted with classmates Chie Satonaka and Yukiko Amagi, who show him around the town. That day, however, a murder occurs in quiet Inaba, of a reporter, who was said to be having an affair. She died in an unusual way, and the police couldn't really tell the cause of death, so it really got weird in town. Cut to the next day, Yu meets and gets to know another classmate, Yosuke Hanamura, and the two become friends. Latter that day, Chie explains an urban legend called "Midnight Channel", that says that if you look in a TV, at midnight, in rainy days, you will see your soul mate there.
The characters doubt it, but try it just for the lulz, and they do see something. Also, Yu could put his hand inside the TV. Just, fyi. So, after telling Chie and Yosuke that, they decide to try entering the TV, not just their hands. They do so. Inside it, they find a creature named Teddie, who looks like a bear but is actually hollow inside. After the three of them come back , they are still wondering what is up with that world, so Yu and Yosuke decide to go back there the next day, with Chie waiting outside the TV, with a rope so that they do not get lost. There, they find a distorted version of Inaba, where they find monsters, known as Shadows, lurking around. Yosuke is rather hopeless, but Yu faces them, awaking a power, known as Persona. With that, he is able to defeat the monsters.
And that, is all in the first episode. I think that is all to give the basic idea of what is going on. Long story short, the characters all awake their Personae, by fighting their own Shadows, which represent their most supressed fears and secrets. After facing it, they get the power, and vow to find out who is responsible for the murders in Inaba, and throwing people in the TV (the first victim was Yukiko; if she stayed there any longer, she would have died).
The premise of the anime may seem boring at first, specially since other stories in the series took place in cities, like the amazing story of Persona 3. So how could it work in a much more deserted place? Well, it does. The anime does not suffer from its location, since it does feel very united and a nice town in general, where everyone knows each other and all that good stuff. The mystery may also throw some off guard first, since it is quite unique, unlike other popular mystery anime like Death Note. Nope, this is a pure detective story on its heart, and it works. There are always new revelations that you do not expect, and you are always curious to see what is going to happen next. The big twist at the end is also phenomenal, with subtle hints as to who is the bad guy all the way, and when you find out, there is quite a bit of fridge logic to think about.
In the game, the bulk of the stroy was on the characters, and how you interacted with them. This is the biggest difference here, and what I was most wondering as to how it would be adapted. To those who have not played the game, there are many side stories called Social Links, which raise your battle performance in the game, besides being interesting on their own. So, how does the anime work so many stories in only 25 episodes? Well, the answer is... complicated. The thing is, all Social Links are covered one way or the other, but a vast majority are too haphazardly done. Take for the exaple Death, Devil and Sun Social Links. The first two are among the best in the game, and the latter is alright. But the first two are done in the same episode very briefly, and the latter barely five minutes are given to it. They have characters with deep issues that they have to overcome, and the anime does not give them time to shine. Devil had a great resolution in the game, but here it is not even mentioned. Death is talked a bit more in-depth, but still missed many great points. Sun was quite interesting, but the way the anime handles it is quite hilarious, unfortunately. I do get that it was done due to the short span of the anime, but they could have stretched out a little bit more.
The short length problems do not stop there. Since the game is almost 80 hours long, the 25 episodes have to fasfoward a lot. Besides the fact that more than half of the Social Links not done justice, much of the slow scenes in the game get done so quickly you will have to stop to breath a bit. Not to spoil much, but the big bad is only reveled in episode 24, so it and 25 have to be really fast to cover everything to their finest.
Out with the negative stuff, the main positive thing is that the great story has not been changed. You can almost say that the dialogue is a direct transition from the game, which is always a good thing. None of the scenes fail to represent what they need, and there are even some cool touches, like when the characters go into the area of Persona 3. The episode only uses music from that game, besides some mentions, and that is really well done. The main cast is also well handled. While their personal issues from the Social Links are only breifly mentioned in some cases, some really get to shine, mostly Yukiko and Yosuke. Naoto and Kanji kind of get left on their issues, but what they do on the main story is enough already, and they do not feel underdeveloped. Teddie's journey to find out about himself is also well done an interesting, probably one of the best transitions from the game, as is the development of your cousin Nanako.
The last things to mention are voice acting, animation and music. The voice acting is the same as the game, and the seiyus do a good job. I had never listened to them, since I played the game with english voice acting. But they are good as a whole. The main character is the main deal in this case, since he was silent in-game. Now he talk; not that much, but still. And he is given justice, with a rather fitting voice. Most other also convey good emotion and have solid performances, with the exeption of Rise, who is too girly and annoying, and Teddie, who I personaly can't stand. In terms of animation, I do not have much do complain here. It captures the essence from the game, and there is really nothing that moves inconsitently or looks bad. There are a few differences regonizable to those who played it, but nothing too major. The music is also taken from game, and seeing them in the anime normaly made me smile. It is a great soundtrack already, and plays perfectly here. The next music, mostly the opening and ending themes, are also a blast to listen to, and catchy as all hell.
Watching Persona 4 was a funny experience. I knew the story, but the good and powerful scenes still got me, and some fo the transitions to an anime made somethings even better, like the handling of Nanako and her issues, definitely a highlight. I would recomend to anyone who played the game, to see who it transitioned. It was a well done job, and I had a blast watching it. It does not beat playing the actual game, but is a solid way to see a masterfull story. The issues are really only aparent to those who played the game before, and newcomers may get a bit lost a times due to the pacing, but it still is very well done, and I enjoyed it a lot.
-Animation captures the essence of the game
-Story is still fantastic
-Main group of characters are very well developed
-Music is amazing and most of the voice acting is solid
-Leaves some of the side stories from the game
-Some of the voice acting is really irritating
-Can be a bit too fast paced
Next review: Sonic CD (PS3)