Shin Megami Tensei : Persona is well established JRPG video game series and has a dedicated fan-base. Fans have been asking for anime adaptations of Persona games for quite some time and there have been many rumors of it. Although there was an anime for Persona franchise made in 2008 called Persona: Trinity Soul, it wasn’t a video game adaptation and fans were left somewhat disappointed by it but after this entire wait we’ve finally received a full-fledged Persona 4 anime adaptation.
Story: 8 (Great)
The story is about a boy who’s forced to move to a rural Japanese town from city due to parent’s work. The main plot is a mix between detective and mystery story but there’s also comedy. The premise is that mysterious murder cases began to happen and main characters discover it has something to do with urban legend of a Midnight Channel (Mayonaka TV). Just read a plot summary if you haven’t already.
Then there’s also slice of life element to anime which has to do with main character’s everyday life, interaction with friends, school and so on. I must say the anime did a great job to include a lot of events from the game and even though some things were altered, slightly referenced or gone all together, it was done due to time restraint.
Animation: 7 (Good)
Overall, it was good and left a clean impression what isn’t that rare for modern anime but it also left somewhat weird impression on me. It’s hard to explain in words but something just felt off. The backgrounds in TV world were certainly interesting, while in real world varied from nicely detailed to very dull ones. The character design while not exactly bad is somewhat is somewhat, for lack of a better word – weird at times. But what felt really off was the fact that there were times when I got a feeling that characters are sort of glued onto the background. You know what I mean – take a picture of a rendered character/person and simply put it on a different background in Photoshop…
As I said the animation is good but watch and episode of Persona 4 then switch to something like Mirai Nikki and the impression of animation changes drastically.
Sound: 9 (Amazing)
The sound does perfect job at giving that Persona 4 feel for fans. While voice acting is good by all means, the soundtrack is what really steals the show here. The soundtrack is straight from the video game which is just perfect and gives that distinctive Persona 4 feel.
Characters: 8 (Great)
It’s by no means a surprise that an anime which is based on a game that put so much emphasis on socialization and interaction with other people would do so well in ‘Characters’ category. All of the characters had a distinctive personality and story behind them. Not to mention how ‘realistic’ the characters felt at times as each one had their hobbies, impressions of current lives in town and concerns about life after school. There was also a lot of emphasis made on family relationships and hardships of a single parent.
The main protagonist is a completely different story though. A bland piece of bread with one strawberry on top still tastes somewhat bland. By that I mean, he lacks personality compared to rest of the cast and that’s done with intention. The game featured a silent protagonist - a blank sheet which was up to player to fill. In game players got to name the main character themselves as well as decide on certain dialogue. Surely, the protagonist has more personality in anime than in the game but that’s not saying much. It didn’t surprise me as much as the name. In anime the protagonist is called Yu Narukami but I expected it to be Souji Seta which was the character’s name in Persona 4 manga which came out long before the anime but after the game.
Overall: 7 (Good)
A lot of people (particularly the fans) will disagree with this score but I had to look at the anime from 2 different aspects. First, being a fan of the game series and then as a simply anime viewer. The anime indeed felt like fan-service (in a good way). I’m surprised how well the anime creators managed to cramp 80+ hour long game into only 25 anime episodes.
But at the same time, a lot of things felt rushed, and the pacing is weird. Pacing is why ‘Story’ category suffered a bit in terms of score. It’s due to the sub-plots (such as field trips, helping towns people) being plunged into middle of main story (murder cases and Midnight Channel). The main story easily would get 10 or 9 but I can’t ignore that these sub-plots are part of the story as well.
Again, the pacing was off. One episode – intense fight and character development but in the next episode I have to watch how Yu helps out old lady and other minor characters. This worked in game but it doesn’t quite well translate in anime. Then there are the rushed things and I don’t mean sub-plots. I mean the explanations about Personas and Yu’s powers. They are so vague, rushed (Yes, I’m repeating words. Couldn’t find a good synonym) and it feels that anime creators assume you’ve played the game already.
If you’re a fan of the game then you should have seen the anime by now. As a fan myself, I’d give this anime 9 just because of faithfulness to the source but as an anime itself it gets a solid 7.