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Tag Archives: Persona 4

Persona 4: The Animation (review)

The cast of Persona 4: The AnimationFinal impression – play the game first (7/10)

Fall 2011 to winter 2012 (25 episodes)

Yuu Narukami is a city boy, who for various circumstances at home, ends up moving out to the countryside to live with his uncle and little cousin.  But being a naturally suave and likeable guy, he’s quickly able to shake off the aura of being a transfer student and makes some friends.  But when the tiny town of Inaba he finds himself in is rocked by a series of bizarre murders, he gets caught up in a creepy cold case where the victims are seen on a mysterious TV program called the Midnight Channel that airs on foggy nights when you have your TV turned off.  In the face of such unbelievable circumstances, Yuu and his friends become the only ones capable of rescuing the victims by diving into the television and fighting the bloodthirsty monsters that live there using a manifestation of their psyches called Persona.

Yu calls IzanagiWriting an objective review on P4 was difficult for me since I’ve played the game it’s based on.  This isn’t the same as reading the manga that serves as the source material for an anime since both of those media are non-interactive.  Video games on the other hand are and being put in the position of having no influence on the characters’ decisions or the pace of the story was a little unsettling.  I wonder if many other people feel this way about adaptations of video games that aren’t a loose reinterpretation of a concept, but instead a faithful retelling of the same story.

The girls can't cookThat being said, P4: The Animation recreates the events of the game as closely as is possible, with a few changes made that were probably necessary for the transition to TV.  This includes obvious things like completing a side character’s story in a single episode rather than the game’s slower progression that might be spaced out over the course of the entire play time (or even not completed at all if the player neglects that particular social link).  But one thing that always disappointed me about P4: The Animation was the fight scenes.  The game is something of a visual novel built around the framework of a really solid RPG.  That setup should have been a natural cue that the anime ought to be an action / drama.  And while the drama does well, the action is dry and has an air of inevitability to it that never feels the slightest bit suspenseful.

"Welcome to the velvet room."All in all, it makes me sad because, because I loved the game and my hopes were high that the anime would live up to that same level of quality.  If nothing else, the soundtrack for the P4 anime is even more amazing than the game and includes all of the original music in addition to new and expanded tracks with terrifically-written English lyrics that really gets me fired up.  In the end, Persona 4: The Animation is a supplemental anime for fans of the game, but still a very solid series.

Anime of the Week (9/30 – 10/6)

Anime of the Week – Chuunibyou
This series touches on several themes that are important to me including role playing games, skepticism, young people growing up and girls who are into fantasy.                              
September 30 SAO Ep. 13 When we get comfortable we sometimes get complacent. But quite often it’s worth taking the risk to gain a greater reward.
Kokoro Connect Ep. 13 Again, the simple theme of just talking through your problems prevails. This ordeal ended rather capriciously, though.
Dog Days 2 Ep. 13 A peaceful ending to a story that got lost along the way. Not exactly amazing, but nothing to complain about, either.
Shin Sekai Yori Ep. 1 Initial impression – doesn’t waste any time getting into the story http://wp.me/p1Gaby-xH
October 1 Persona 4 Ep. 26 After seeing the true end, I’m calling this meld of anime and video game plot lines a philosophically satisfying success.
Total Eclipse Ep. 14 Even with humanity’s existence on the brink, politics are still costing soldiers their lives. How can we win like this?
October 3 Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun Ep. 1 Initial impression – another awkward romance I’m not in the mood for (5/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-y3
October 6 Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ep. 1 Initial impression – youthful silliness vs mature rationality http://wp.me/p1Gaby-yf

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (4/1 – 4/7)

Anime of the Week – Accel World
What strikes me most about this series is its character design. I’ve never seen such a stark contrast between the hero and heroine.
April 2 Amagami+ Ep. 13 As fanservice goes, this was pretty tame. Beyond that, I don’t think there was anything novel about this series’ finisher.
Persona 4 Ep. 25 I’m curious about how the true ending will depict the events in the game, especially since this episode was so rushed.
April 3 Mirai Nikki Ep. 24 I hoped that Yukiteru would have become more decisive, but he’s still going about things with a wishy-washy attitude.
Accel World Ep. 1 Initial impression – the beginning of something really cool http://wp.me/p1Gaby-k9
April 4 Space Brothers Ep. 1 Initial impression – the wrong style (4/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kf
April 5 Zetman Ep. 1 Initial impression – too niche (4/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kk
To Heart 2 Dungeon Travelers Ep. 1 This series has always been hilarious and ridiculous, so adding an RPG twist really isn’t a big stretch.
April 7 Hiiro no Kakera Ep. 1 Initial impression – deliberately hazy (4/10) http://wp.me/p1Gaby-kp

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (3/18 – 3/24)

Anime of the Week – Black★Rock Shooter
Ever since it debuted halfway through the winter 2012 season, this series has been far and beyond the best in so many ways.
March 18 Nisemonogatari Ep. 11 This series always performs well when it focuses on its strong point. Its intellectual dialogue is always awesome.
Zero F Ep. 11 If your loved one sent you away to protect you, would you honor their protective wishes or do everything you could to return?
March 19 Mirai Nikki Ep. 22 This was a brutal episode. But all these cliffhangers and mysteries are starting to annoy me. Are they really necessary?
Rinne Ep. 11 Sure enough, Madoka went berserk in Vox Aura. But I’m confused. When a pilot loses control don’t bad things usually happen?
March 20 Another Ep. 11 It seems we’ve reached the breaking point of sanity. How will this curse be brought to an end and what will be the cost?
Shana III Ep. 23 In some ways the battle is over and in other ways this is just a minor change in the status quo, but it was most elegant.
Ano Natsu Ep. 11 Seriously!! Just who is Remon? Things are getting a little ridiculous, but it’s still a lot of fun so I’m not too annoyed.
March 23 Guilty Crown Ep. 22 Talk about crunch time. A pretty series with an interesting concept falls flat with a rushed and empty ending. =(
March 24 BRS Ep. 8 The winding path this series takes belies its actual simplicity. Telling such a straightforward story so beautifully is amazing.
Persona 4 Ep. 24 Ah… all the secrets are getting revealed. I really love this part since all the subtle clues were there all along.
Amagami+ Ep. 12 It seems the Morishima family is full of bad girls. After jumping through all those hoops I’m glad he got the good ending.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (3/11 – 3/17)

Anime of the Week – Black★Rock Shooter
This series has been fantastic; touching on intellectual insights and covering the difficult intricacies of relationships, all while creatively slipping in some epic fight scenes. But now that Mato has to face herself, what will the ending yield?
March 11 Persona 4 Ep. 22 How will the anime address the video game’s bad ending? Will there be a new spin or will it just cut right to the good end?
Nisemonogatari Ep. 10 As this series winds down, it’s turning away from the intellectual tone that made Bakemonogatari so philosophical.
Zero F Ep. 10 The current plot point serves no other purpose than to put Louise and Saito’s love in jeopardy, which makes it feel hollow.
March 12 Rinne Ep. 10 More team building followed by a threat of war and losing something precious as well. But what’s at stake is still unknown.
Mirai Nikki Ep. 21 This was such a satisfying episode that was well worth the wait. But, why do new mysteries suddenly keep appearing?
March 13 Another Ep. 10 When desperate people get cornered, there’s no telling what they’ll do. What will be the result of their hasty conclusions?
March 14 Ano Natsu Ep. 10 Things feel like they’re wrapping up nicely. A little love and a little heartbreak leads into this anime’s last segment.
Shana III Ep. 22 What tricks does Yuji have to pull this turn of events back in his favor? Will his last resort be venting his frustration?
March 16 Guilty Crown Ep. 21 As the story winds down, everyone puts their faith in Shu while he honors their trust by praising their humanity.
BRS Ep. 7 Things are really starting to move. How will Mato resolve her fight with Yuu? And how will Yomi play a role in wrapping things up?
March 17 Amagami+ Ep. 11 Haruka is such a bad girl. The way that Junichi plays along with her silly, often frightening antics is hilarious to watch.
Persona 4 Ep. 23 Now that the mysteries are getting solved, I’m suddenly getting a desire to replay the last few battles of the video game.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week 3/4 – 3/10

Anime of the Week – Black★Rock Shooter
I’ve always liked the engaging qualities of a bad guy with respectable motives. At this point, I think it’s pretty clear that BRS is this season’s best anime.
March 4 Nisemonogatari Ep. 9 We’re supposed to be on Tsukihi’s story arc right now, but she’s had almost no presence in the last two episodes.
Zero F Ep. 9 This series is a bunch of average stories, broken by punctuated climaxes. After the trouble last time, this was pretty low-key.
March 5 Rinne Ep. 9 I always like stories where the bad guys have principles. There’s nothing more disappointing than a one-dimensional antagonist.
Persona 4 Ep. 21 This series has never handled its action very well and with only a few episodes left, I fear things will be rushed.
March 6 Another Ep. 9 There’s a difference between atmospheric pacing and contrived delays for the purpose of artificially lengthening a story.
Ano Natsu Ep. 9 I can’t tell if we’ve reached the climax of this series’ romance or if there’s still more surprises yet to come.
March 9 BRS Ep. 6 Now that Mato understands, how will she reshape the purpose of her other self and what will her new goals be if she’s successful?
Guilty Crown Ep. 20 Has Gai learned nothing? He just can’t keep his arrogance in check. It’s like he’s beckoning Shu to come challenge him.
March 10 Amagami+ Ep. 10 I don’t know how to react to such an ordinary, low-impact episode. Even Junichi was a little blander than usual.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week 2/26 – 3/3

Anime of the Week – Black★Rock Shooter
How does the link between the real world characters and the other selves work? The connection is taking shape and the consequences of actions in the other world reveal something far bigger than initially expected.
February 26 Zero F Ep. 8 This was a rather ordinary episode to lead into the next segment of the series. How will these loose ends get sewn up?
February 27 Shana III Ep. 20 The series just seems to be driving along at a steady pace without any bumps in the road to make things more exciting.
Nisemonogatari Ep. 8 It’s all part of the fun of watching this anime, but sometimes I don’t understand how what’s going on is relevant.
Mirai Nikki Ep. 20 The survival game is almost over. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the for-TV censoring that appears a lot in this anime.
Rinne Ep. 8 I’m glad to see this series has addressed the issue of where the humans who are living on other planets originally came from.
Feburary 28 Another Ep. 8 It’s starting to strike me that the writing is getting more and more contrived in its ways to get Misaki into the story. Hmmm
February 29 Ano Natsu Ep. 8 This episode was a lot of fun. Some big secrets got revealed, but there’s still more—Lemon’s identity being one of them.
Persona 4 Ep. 19 Why are the side stories more interesting than the main plot? It must be how well the bonus material adds to video game.
Persona 4 Ep. 20 The past few episodes were a nice diversion with good timing since there’s nobody to rescue. But it’s time for some action.
March 2 Amagami+ Ep. 9 I think I’d like Sae’s story much better if it wasn’t for that annoying narrator. He’s funny at times, but too obvious.
Guilty Crown Ep. 19 The climax of this episode was way too predictable. This was merely a pathway to the trials that are coming next.
BRS Ep. 5 Why is this show so good? The formula is simple, but there’s majesty in watching this visual metaphor reveal its deeper meaning.
March 3 Shana III Ep. 21 I’m glad to see more subtly in this battle than I’d originally assumed. Conflict other than physical violence adds depth.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week 2/19 – 2/25

Anime of the Week – Black★Rock Shooter
Somtimes the most innocent, unassuming comments can be the most painful. But when someone sinister is manipulating everyone’s feelings from behind the scenes, just how low will everyone’s hearts drop?
February 19 Persona 4 Ep. 18 I’m liking the additional side stories that the anime is adding to the video game’s plot. I guess it’s only natural.
February 20 Shana III Ep. 19 What a confusing episode. This series has always been clumsy with its dialogue. If you need to say something, just say it.
Rinne Ep. 7 This was a nice team building episode and a good lesson to everyone out there who thinks good deeds will always be praised.
Nisemonogatari Ep. 7 Kaiki’s send off was rather anticlimactic, but when I think about it I’m not sure why I expected more from him.
Mirai Nikki Ep. 19 I like the attitude of the new Yukiteru. He’s finally getting down to business. But this episode’s cliffhanger is weird.
Feburary 21 Another Ep. 7 I hope next week’s swimsuit episode will be handled with appropriate grace. This could be make or break for this series.
Zero F Ep. 7 Sometimes this series really gets its act together. Beset by troubles on every side, Saito manages to set a new plan in motion.
February 22 Ano Natsu Ep. 7 Secrets are starting to be revealed as outside forces coax the true feelings from the hearts of this group of adolescents.
February 24 Guilty Crown Ep. 18 It’s like this series has reverted back to its beginnings. Shu is a wimp, Gai is an ass and Inori is a mystery.
Amagami+ Ep. 8 Junichi and Kaoru may get along really well, but that doesn’t make for a good story. They’re more like siblings than lovers.
February 25 BRS Ep. 4 Humans are amazing creatures. The ways we adapt to the changes and challenges in our lives are fascinating and insightful.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week 2/12 – 2/18

Anime of the Week – Another
The writers gets big points this week for being able to read my mind. If your classmates are going to ignore you, call their bluff.
February 12 Guilty Crown Ep. 16 With the level of deceit surrounding Shu, it’s no wonder the world is beginning to fall apart—but can it still be saved?
BRS Ep. 2 What happened? All through the episode was a story of being bound, unable to escape. But now…everyone is suddenly freed? Huh?
Inu x Boku SS Ep. 5 This anime had some real potential to be sophisticated, but it’s since devolved into a menagerie of hyper sex jokes.
Nisemonogatari Ep. 6 The intricacies of “no doesn’t always mean no,” is too terrible a weapon for women to use indiscriminately.
Amagami+ Ep. 5 So far the Ai Nanasaki arc has been the most lovey-dovey story. Along with the quirkier girls, it’s set to a good pace.
Amagami+ Ep. 6 I thought the original series’ story of Nanasaki was too simple, but I’ve taken a liking to this style and her character.
Symphogear Ep. 3 Tsubasa and Hibiki are not getting along and some of Hibiki’s careless words are not helping their relationship.
Kill Me Baby Ep. 2 This series is cute and funny most of the time, but it just doesn’t have the permeating appeal of other moe anime.
February 13 Zero F Ep. 3 Although somewhat ineloquent in its writing, this anime does a decent job establishing some rather complicated politics.
Zero F Ep. 4 Saito has come a long ways from being a lowly familiar in season one, but he’s still unable to escape his troubles with women.
Mirai Nikki Ep. 18 In some ways I’m glad to find out there’s difficult circumstances behind Yuno’s craziness, but really it’s just so sad.
Rinne Ep. 6 Has this mecha anime finally started to reveal its true colors? Is it going to follow a more supernatural path like Evangelion?
Zero F Ep. 5 As much as Saito eyes other girls, he’s quite faithful to Louise. Sometimes he just gets stuck in a bad or worse scenario.
Zero F Ep. 6 Despite this being the obligatory fanservice onsen episode, there was actually a decent amount of genuine romance.
Feburary 14 Another Ep. 6 Sakakibara’s fantasy with Misaki was absolutely priceless. But the madness is just setting in as people become more desperate.
Shana III Ep. 18 The final battle is going to be long, with ideals being the combatant’s main motivation for victory. This will be good.
February 15 Persona 4 Ep. 15 I really liked the crossover music from Persona 3 in this episode. The real turning point of this series starts now.
Persona 4 Ep. 16 I wonder how many first-time viewers were able to guess Naoto’s secret before this episode. I think it should’ve been easy.
February 16 Ano Natsu Ep. 6 Thankfully this anime’s swimsuit episode has a good ratio of plot to fanservice as the unrequited love circles are revealed.
Persona 4 Ep. 17 I’ve said there’s not enough extra flavor in the anime to set it apart from the video game, but this episode delivered.
February 18 Guilty Crown Ep. 17 Ok…now what? I’m eager to see what happens next, but it feels like we’ve reached a bad end with no other options left.
BRS Ep. 3 Mamiko Noto is an awesome voice actress. There’s been a change in pace that makes the first two episodes seem like a mini-arc.
Amagami+ Ep. 7 I’m not sure Kaoru is a good match for Junichi. The two of them are so similar there’s no complement in their relationship.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Persona 4 The Animation (ongoing)

Impression – straightforward, yet philosophical

Autumn 2011 to winter 2012 (more info)

As good as the Persona 4 video game was, I wish its anime series would deviate more from the default script or fill in some more fine details that have thus far flown under the radar.  Arguably, fans of the video game are going to be the primary fanbase of the anime, but if there are no surprises for us we’re not likely to give very good opinions to more casual viewers who may only have a passing interest.  So the plot of Persona 4 is stuck in a weird catch-22 where it needs enough new material to keep the old fans interested but it also needs to stay true to the original story.  In some ways, it’s suffering from some of the same problems as Fate/Zero.  But it’s more than worth it to watch Persona 4 just for the killer music and sharp art style that is an intrinsic quality of Atlus.  One of the things the anime does get right that is a perfect mirror of the video game is the pacing of events to match real dates and create a tangible passage of time.  And while the story may have felt more natural in video game format, it’s still totally awesome.  Its best points are a cast of varied, loveable characters, a good sense for spinning elaborate mysteries and an overarching theme of emphasizing the importance of the bonds we share with our friends.  When you think about it like that, there’s not much else to be desired.

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