Persona 4 the Animation First Impressions

I have been slow in finding new anime to watch during the autumn season. There are so many shows but I decided to follow this one and Un-Go simply because they were easier to access thanks to Anime on Demand’s excellent service.

Persona 4 The Animation TitleSo what is Persona 4 the Animation about?

Persona Yu Narukami is on the Train To InabaThe story follows a character named Yu Narukami who moves from Tokyo to the fictional rural town of Inaba to stay with his uncle, a police detective named Ryotaro Dojima, and his daughter Nanako.

Once there he makes a group of strange friends and gets caught up in a series of mysterious murders which occur during bouts of fog after heavy rain and seem to be linked to a mysterious television channel.

Persona 4 Skewered Murder Victim and Mystery ChannelSaid channel only appears at midnight and allows a person to see his/her “other half”. Things get weirder because Yu discovers that televisions can be used as portals and so he enters a nightmarish other-world which looks like Inaba but painted with a fresh coat of Silent Hill.

Persona 4 Inside the Twisted TV LandscapeThis surreal place is inhabited by strange animals and creepy monsters named shadows. Narumaki’s only defence is a powerful being named a Persona which he must summon to battle these shadows but big questions remain like what is this surreal world and how is it linked to the murders taking place in reality?

Persona, ACTIVATE! Or something like that...An anime that riffs on Silent Hill? Surreal surroundings? Mysterious murders? Oddball characters I genuinely like watching? Cool music? A mystery to solve? Sign me up! I enjoyed this anime a lot. The town of Inaba, although small and unremarkable, felt real and while the main character is not the most expressive hero I suspect it may be because he is new in town. It is not such a problem because I found the characters around him were genuinely likeable.

Persona 4's Central Team of Oddballs Will Soon Find Themselves Inside the TV

Chie Satonaka and Yosuke Hanamura were quick to befriend the lead and although their constant bickering felt familiar from numerous other anime it was still enjoyable because the tone was light-hearted. I’m also in love with the character designs which are brilliant as is the world as a whole. I found the art director Shigenori Soejima’s style expressive and striking as well as cute.

The anime as a whole takes the light hearted route considering it had the possibility of establishing a Silent Hill vibe. I wonder if this light approach will continue because some dark themes are touched upon like broken families, adultery and possibly corruption. Regardless, I enjoyed my time in Inaba so much that after viewing the first episode I found this anime I had the sudden urge to stop watching it.

Why?

Persona 4 the Animation is the TV adaptation of the 2008 RPG that I have long wanted to play but never got around to despite the fact I found the premise intriguing and I loved Shigenori Soejima’s art style whenever I encountered it in video game magazines. Edge gave it a score of 9/10 which is pretty damn awesome. The anime adaptation was overseen by Aniplex and it uses the same characters, and setting as the Persona 4 game as well as Shoji Meguro’s enjoyable background music which is splashed liberally throughout the anime. The problem I face is this: do I carry on watching or stop and play the game?

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3 thoughts on “Persona 4 the Animation First Impressions

  1. vashdaman

    STOP RIGHT NOW!

    Trust me play the game Genki, you won’t regret it. EDGE’s 9 is very much justified. I have also seen the first two episodes on anime on demand, and it’s good but the problem is that so far it’s almost a scene for scene carbon copy of the game, however at a much faster pace and with much of the slower scene setting moments(that so vitally establish the unique sense of place in the game) cut out(and understandably so). What makes P4 so great is it’s interaction, creating ties of your choice with the various people of the town, exploring and finding something special and the balance of mundane school life with secret night time activities.All this makes the games story much more gripping then the anime possibly can. The game is maybe a wee bit too long (I never finished it unfortunately) but easily the biggest fault and concession to old school
    JRPG design is the often brutal grinding that is required to advance.

    However I am certain the anime could never compare to the experience game. Its one of my all time favourite JRPG’S.

    1. Man, you present a compelling case… I like the concept of building links with various people and I love the character designs but 70+ hours of dungeon grinding… But when watching the anime I can imagine the sense of achievement in getting the first persona and solving various people’s problems and I think the world of Persona 4 looks like fun. Tough choice but you’ve convinced me. I think I’ll get it for Christmas.

  2. vashdaman

    I think that’s a wise decision. I know what you mean about the grinding, its the only area in which the game stubbornly conforms to an out dated JRPG convention, however the game does seem to compel you to grind, and if there are game’s that are worth grinding for I’d say this is one.
    My biggest worry for the anime series is that the interaction and building of links within the game is the main thing that invests you in the story and characters. What would be slightly fluffy or cliché become near touching moments after you’ve poured so much time into building the in game relationships. Being able to explore and get to know the little town is also a vital piece of the charm. It will be interesting to see if the series will be able to compensate.

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