Yuu Narukami moves to Inaba, a seemingly quiet and ordinary town, where he quickly befriends the clumsy transfer student Yousuke Hanamura, the energetic Chie Satonaka, and the beautiful heiress Yukiko Amagi. Shortly after Yuu's arrival, a chain of mysterious killings begin to occur on foggy days. At the same time, rumors about a strange television channel—dubbed the "Midnight Channel"—spread like wildfire; when staring into their TV screen at midnight, a person may see their soul mate.
After witnessing the most recent murder victim on the Midnight Channel, Yuu attempts to watch it again, only to realize that he can traverse into the TV and reach another world overrun with "Shadows," evil creatures of the dark. Realizing the link behind the hidden dimension and the murders, Yuu and his friends attempt to crack the cases by exploring the diabolical world of the Midnight Channel using their "Personas," awakened manifestations of their "true selves."
#1: "sky's the limit" by Shihoko Hirata (ep 1) #2: "Beauty of Destiny" by Shihoko Hirata feat. Lotus Juice (eps 2-12) #3: "Koisuru Meitantei (恋する名探偵)" by Loveline (Yui Horie) (ep 13) #4: "The way of Memories -Kizuna no Chikara- (The way of Memories - キズナノチカラ-)" by Shihoko Hirata (eps 14-17, 19-24) #5: "Honto no Kimochi (ほんとのきもち)" by Shihoko Hirata (ep 18) #6: "Never More" by Shihoko Hirata (ep 25)
As a fan of the games, the Persona 4 adaptation is a real shame. It exemplifies everything that can go wrong with video game adaptations. Not only is it poorly done in respect to anime as a whole, but it is poorly done even compared to some other video game adaptations. I fully expect I'll get a lot of hate for this, so please let me explain first.
The story is pretty typical for what you would find in most JRPGs these days, but one of the unique things about the Persona franchise has been the blend between the dating-sim styled day-to-day activities and the
RPG combat. Most of the action takes place in a world hidden by all but a few lucky people granted the power of a Persona, the manifestation of the person's psyche which is used to fight shadows inside of the TV world. While it's fairly generic and comes with its fair share of clichés, it works well because the story is self-aware and does not try to take itself too seriously. It's a fairly light-hearted story even in the midst of all the murders, kidnappings, and crazy things going on.
There isn't any inherent problem with the story here because it's simply being taken from an already well-written series. The story was fine in the game, and for the most part it's fine here too. What there IS a problem with, however, is the pacing.
The pacing can be likened to teleportation. It's a disorganized mess of scenes abruptly changing from one to another with a calendar flashing for a few moments. No, the people behind the adaptation don't care about pacing-- instead they use the calendar as a lazy excuse to not deal with coherent pacing. You might have the main character sitting at a table talking with the group for all of around 30 seconds and then the calendar will simply flash on screen, skipping past several days and taking you into a completely different scene with almost no link or correlation with what just happened. Sometimes the days flash by so fast that you don't even know what the hell is happening any more. Sometimes you will have a dungeon given three entire episodes dedicated to it, and another dungeon will have less than half an episode. It makes no sense.
The calendar system and the day-to-day activities worked fine in the game, but this is not the game. It does not work here and it does not fit. This is an anime, not a video game, and the people behind the anime should at least try and make sure it translates properly into a condensed, strictly visual form. You can't simply take the game and then slap it into an anime. You need to make adjustments, you need to make changes, and you need to make sure it fits the medium that you are adapting it to. The staff behind the Persona 4 adaptation don't understand this important philosophy. It instead feels like they're awkwardly trying to recreate the feel of the game, but failing pretty miserably at it. I felt like I was getting a headache at times trying to follow the constant warping of the characters.
So, if you haven't played the games, don't expect to understand much of what is going on. You will probably be lost and confused amidst the pacing, especially when important plot points and characterization is skipped upon and barely explained. There really needed to be two seasons of anime here because it's clear as day how rushed it is.
Unfortunately, that's not the only problem here. Both the animation and the art style are also poorly done. There is a strange lack of color throughout the entire show, which is odd given how colorful and vibrant the game was. Each character is drawn poorly and colored in with ugly looking gradients, something that you would expect from a high school computer animation class, not a commercial product created for thousands of people. It's all very bland and amateurish. There's also a startling lack of animation here. One character will have their mouth flap while everybody else in the background is static and motionless, often complete with disproportional faces and odd expressions, looking stupefied. For a lack of a better term, it's very 'derp'. Even when there is a decent amount of animation happening on screen it's usually done poorly with glaring mistakes in between movements, usually body parts morphing into strange shapes. Either they were lacking budget or something went horribly wrong in the production of the anime... either way, it has some of the worst art and animation I've seen in a mainstream anime. For all the years it took for the series to get a 'proper' anime adaptation, when it looks as poorly as this, well... was it really worth it?
On the plus side, the music is very nice and the remixed and new tracks are greatly appreciated. It helps to spice things up a little bit from the game, though there are problems even here since the background songs will abruptly switch from one to another with complete dissonance and shifts in tone. The music itself is good, but the application of the music is not. Instead of awkwardly switching between music all the time, the staff could have opted to just use silence or ambient noise from time to time instead, and save the music only for the scenes where it truly fits in. It should feel natural, and here it just stands out in a really unpleasant way.
Sadly, there just isn't much good I can say for the anime. There's a few brief moments of hilarity scattered here and there, and while it's nice to see all the characters fully animated, the entire time I was watching it just made me want to go replay the game instead. A good adaptation wouldn't make you want to do that. The anime is nothing more than fanservice for people who have played and enjoyed the games, and even as fanservice it fails in some pretty major areas.
Maybe other people will enjoy it more than me, but Persona 4 deserved so much more than this.
Persona 4 is one of the best video games that I have had the chance to play. Despite being highly acclaimed by critics both in Japan and in the West, Persona 4 remains somewhat of a niche title and this more or less transfers to the anime adaptation too. As a result, those who have played the game are the ones best-placed to be able to fully appreciate the anime series, but new fans will also find a very good anime thanks to Aniplex doing a commendable job with the existing game material.
The opening episodes set the story up
quite well with mysterious deaths, the TV world, shadows and personas. The main character, along with another high school student, get involved through various circumstances and then strive to solve the murder cases, meanwhile gaining new friends and abilities. However, it does take a while before huge plot developments start to occur, and these are spread out unevenly over the course of the series. As a result, the pacing is off throughout certain episodes and some important revelations are only lightly touched upon. Social links are a crucial feature in Persona 4; these are several side stories which detail the interactions and bonds that form between the main character and supporting characters. Certain social links are arguably more enjoyable to watch in the anime rather than play in the game, as there's original material which fleshes them out better. Others, however, feel rather rushed.
The game features several short anime-styled cut scenes, and the anime series is similar in terms of artwork and animation. Character designs, which have been copied from the game, are simple and sharp. This means it's decent, but compared to certain other anime it's probably not as visually striking. In some episodes the animation is quite inconsistent; for example, facial expressions are usually good but sometimes become lifeless. Nevertheless, the battle scenes featuring personas and shadows are mostly excellent and full of action, appropriate BGM and variation. It's also amusing that the anime retains the look and feel of a video game; the main character's stats appearing halfway through each episode, as well as the calendar being displayed when each day passes are just a couple of examples.
The sound, in my opinion, is the best aspect of this anime. Poor music alone can't make-or-break a series, but that is irrelevant anyway when it comes to Persona 4 The Animation. The background music is composed by Shoji Meguro, who also composed the music for the game, and it doesn't disappoint, especially during battle scenes. A lot of the music has been recycled from the game and rightly so; why change something that's already superb? The OP and ED themes are new, but they're done in the same style as the OP: sung in English but still sounding incredible. The Japanese VAs have done a good job (which is expected as they also voiced the characters in the game, and therefore have previous experience), and more often than not they suit the roles well.
There are several characters in P4, and most seem to have made the transition from game to anime. The main character, Yu Narukami, was previously a silent protagonist but now has a voice and his own personality. The latter is initially quite bland but develops as his stats and social links develop; after a few episodes he becomes central to a fair few hilarious quips and situations. The rest of the main cast are a varied but likeable bunch, and each viewer will probably have their own favourites. This anime series has an interesting method of introducing the main characters and molding their personalities, by which I mean that it's incorporated into the Midnight Channel, one of the major plot points. Aside from Yu Narukami, some members of the main cast start out as plain high school students, but their backgrounds and insecurities are revealed as the anime progresses. As mentioned, the battles are entertaining but rather than just having persona-users as mere spectators, they feel pain when their personas are attacked, which raises the stakes and makes them more involved. Finally, the appearance of two mysterious characters (Igor and Margaret) at the beginning of each episode help to summarize which social links or bonds of friendship were developed by Yu in the previous episode.
Now, I'll assume that the majority of Persona 4 veterans will agree that it was a brilliant, or at the very least good, game for the Playstation 2. Therefore, it has two important challenges: to satisfy those who've played the game, and to appeal to those who haven't but are looking to watch a good anime series. The anime is a faithful adaptation, so anyone who liked the game can now enjoy watching it as a TV series. It's vastly entertaining and contains mystery, action and adventure in a high school/small town setting. Admittedly, the story does take a while to get going for those unfamiliar to P4, due to questionable pacing and an initial monster-of-the-week feeling to episodes. However, get past this and you'll find a decent series that's slightly different to others in its genre.
If the quality found in P4 The Animation becomes the usual standard for anime adapted from games, I'd definitely watch more of them. It complements the game adequately and while it remains quite faithful the anime also includes a lot of new stuff, as well as a heavier use of comedy. These changes allow Persona 4 The Animation to be watched as a standalone series, but at the end of the day existing P4 fans should enjoy the anime more because seeing how it handles the familiar characters and story from the game is great fun; newcomers will probably score the series a bit lower. Video gamers can look forward to more of Persona 4 in future: an updated port of the original game on Playstation Vita, and a spin-off fighting game on PS3/Xbox360.
Note: An unaired episode that adapts the video game's True Ending is scheduled to be released in August 2012.
The majority of people seem to praise Persona 4: The Animation for its faithfulness to the source material, calling it “the best game-to-anime adaption ever made.” As someone who finished their first playthrough of the game while the series was almost halfway through syndication, I’ll agree, the series is certainly faithful. And game-to-cinema adaptions don’t really have a high standard anyways, so this is probably the best adaption also. However, this is ultimately one of the main reasons why The Animation fails to be as good as the original game. (And since the original game’s story was merely “good” in my eyes, this causes The
Animation to sink down into mediocre.)
There seems to be misconception that if an adaption is faithful enough to the source material, than it’s garanteed to be good-so long as the source material was good in the first place. This is incorrect because when a story is written for certain medium, it tends to work best in that medium because that’s what the story was designed for. Persona 4 fundamentally works best as a video-game, because that’s what it was written for. You could still make a good television series out of it, but in order for that to happen you have to actually change stuff and play around with it.
The first of these problems is the pacing. Persona 4 is a game where you live out the player-protagonist’s highschool life day by day, with trips to the TV world every few weeks. It takes about 60-80 hours to beat, and features a very slow pacing. For a 25 episode television series, they of course would need to compress the overall story.
For example, it’s not until a whole hour into the game until the player-protagonist actually gets to fight some Shadows. Since fighting Shadows is apart of the show’s premise, you of course need to include that in the pilot. Therefor, the writers had to rush through the first hour of the game and compress into a 20-minute episode, which results in an overtly fast pacing.
Secondly is the formulaic structure that comprises the majority of the plot. It roughly goes something like this: “Episode A: The heroes find out who’s on the Midnight Channel, and try to gather information on them so that they can save them from the TV world –> Episode B: The heroes go into the TV world, and rescues the victim. The victim then joins their party and helps out in the next story arc–> Episode C: Filler episode –> Repeat.”
The formula was no problem in the game, since the slow pacing made it so you barely even noticed the formula in the first place. However, since the formula goes through a mere three episodes of the anime, the quicker pacing makes it seem more repetitive.
Lastly, there’s Yu’s ability to summon multiple Persona’s, and acquire ”Social Links.” In the video-game, these are only briefly explained, but it’s no problem because it makes sense in the context of a video-game. But with The Animation, they still don’t bother to give an in-depth explanation, and it no longer makes any sense because it doesn’t have the context of a game to back it up. In the game it makes complete sense from a game play mechanic, but in The Animation it serves absolutely no purpose other than to occasionally show off some of the obtainable demons.
This is one of those shows where it starts out rather nicely; even though the first few episodes suffered from such overtly-fast pacing, they were otherwise rather enjoyable and of decent quality. After episode 4 however, the series started to steep deeper and deeper into mediocracry, and it wasn’t until episode 21 (near the end of the series) that it finally started to be of exceptional quality. This is partially due to how the series quickly starts to focus less on the mystery aspects of the plot, and more on the formulaic nature of rescuing people from the TV world and forming Social Links. In other words, barely anything interesting actually happened for a large part of the series.
When each character is introduced in their respective story-arcs, they are indeed compelling characters with a good amount of depth to them. However, as soon as they face their inner selves and are rescued from the TV world, they quickly degrade into flat one-dimensional characters. They’re all still likable to a certain extent, but not enough to make slice-of-life episodes (i.e. the filler episodes) worth watching.
The fight scenes were also underwhelming, usually feeling rushed. They barely have any tension to them, and usually ended far sooner than you would have liked them to. A few times they tried to mix up the fights by adding in some zany element, such as the male characters turning into old men, or the a hot liquid appearing on the floor that impaired the characters movements. Sometimes it worked, but other times it was just added a bit of stupid and unnecessary comedy.
If there’s anything that saves this show from being terribly mediocre, it’s the final four episodes that manage to pull a few plot twists and make the whole mystery plot actually interesting.
Overall Rating: 6/10.
For the most part this is a mediocre series, but it had enough saving qualities for me to rate this as “above average.” For a short while each character was compelling and complex, and the last four episodes were of exceptional quality.
But even so, I highly recommend you avoid this series, and just play the original video-game. I wouldn't call the game a masterpiece or anything, but it's certainly better than The Animation is virtually every way.
Can any of you actually say there was a good video game based anime series? Seriously, the majority of them are... er, bland, and that's just saying the least about them. Regarding the Shin Megami Tensei Persona 3 based anime, I think I speak for every fan of the persona series when I say that it was nothing that we were expecting in the worst way possible. Yet, not all of them get a rare second chance at redemption like the Persona series, and the Persona 4 anime could very well be the best video game based anime we'll ever see to date, but of
course it has it's share of problems.
STORY: In the backwater town of Inaba, mysterious events from strange murder cases to midnight showings of people in ways they have never been seen before begin to arise. But fortunately a transfer student with strange powers is on the case with his slowly growing group of friends.
With my dose of sarcasm out of the way, Persona 4 The Animation is based off of the popular (Not in sales numbers but in fandom) Playstation 2 game, Persona 4 (The name gives it's self away). As video game based anime go, this could honestly be the best in very many aspects.
For starters, the anime is very true to the source material. Character models are close to original as they will ever be, the adaption doesn't take very many liberties with the story so fans shouldn't be disappointed, and it even goes beyond and takes many elements from the game to add oh so many charms and lovable quirks like the critical hits animations. It's all great, but, this anime may be just too faithful to the game it's based on.
And then there's elements that any the fans of the game will understand, like the main character's ability to swap Personas when the rest of the cast can not, the best explanation that non fans can think of is that he's the main character and he is special.
As for the characters, the main character, Yu Narukami (Which isn't his real name, but Protagonist isn't an actual name so anything would've worked, even Fluffy Puppy would work because you can name him whatever you want, and yes that's what I named him in my game), is the biggest blank slate of a main character I've ever seen. And, unfortunately, it's understandable, a main character who acts according to your commands in the game, will never be a deep and interesting character with your commands now stripped away, but at least the dialogue that comes from him is hilarious at times. But it feels like you're watching him on cruise control, that is if you played the game. Okay, he isn't a complete blank slate, at the very least he has a stoic personality and emotes well when the occasion calls for it, especially in the later episode where you'd start to think he's making up for lost time, but he's using what he has left very well.
But the rest of the cast is so much more animated and filled with with more life than the game, which is to be excepted. If they weren't, they wouldn't be animated. Bad pun... but it's also about as funny as the humor is, which is an abused amount of overreactions from each other and an out of no where and dragged out cartoony chase scene that is uncomfortably shoe horned in.
Then we have the pacing, the pacing is very questionable at times, though I myself agree with the sped up beginning (Which in the game, what took the anime one episode to do, took the game literally four hours to accomplish before any actual gameplay would begin), several episodes tries way to hard to cram back story of characters into them and to conclude what took many hours for any player of the game to finish one dungeon and rescue one character, all done in a single episode or two. The pacing often feels awkward and rushed, but strangely enough these episodes actually add on to characters, that the game itself neglected to do, in a small amount of crammed time in single episodes.
For example, the characters Chie and Yukiko are friends as soon you see them, but the anime goes into how they met, in a very limited amount of time, however.
But, the way the story progresses is understandable if you think about it like this: The whole let's go to a dungeon to save someone and have them join up rinse and repeat is not the anime's fault, but the game itself. That's because, even though the story is very anime appropriate, there's the challenge of turning (As a fan of the persona series I'll admit) repetitive dungeon crawling into a cohesive ongoing story. It's easy to do short term by filling those moments with heavy action sequences and forced comedy, but it's going to be repetitive in the long run because of how faithful the anime is inspiring to be.
But there is one more thing that still transferred over from video to anime extremely well, the mystery that grabs the anime initially. It's take some sharp turns without cutting the corners, and the twists are awe inspiring and never makes you feel it was pulled out of no where, and the end result reveals to you something that, unless you played the game to the very end, someone was never who they appeared to be.
ANIMATION: Action scenes are spectacular and well animated, and the personas look great (And not ghost-like, like in that other persona anime). Character designs are diverse, and creatures and personas are very creative looking. There are animation quirks and even a lot of times where characters go off model, but it's not enough to fully shit talk about (And apparent rumors are apparently half right about the animation quality). The last episode however, makes me think they blew the entire animation budget, in a good way, and it's a huge upgrade to previous episodes.
SOUND: I love Shoji Meguro's stuff, and as a fan of both the game and his music, I'm ecstatic to hear that the original soundtrack is being used in full force. But it is probably the laziest thing about the anime on a whole. Unlike that other persona anime where it had it's own soundtrack to work with, it's clear laziness that the animation company used the original soundtrack from the game itself in order to be faithful. But it really helps that the soundtrack is great and incredibly catchy, and the opening and ending theme music (Which is the only original music made for the anime) are of that quality.
The Japanese voice acting is good, but as an anime fan that prefers to listen to an audio in my own language, nothing more than the original cast from the game can satisfy me. Thankfully sentai went above and beyond for the english dub, gathering the majority of the original cast like Johnny Yong Bosch, Yuri Lowenthal, Troy Baker, and Laura Bailey. However, there two noticeable absentees, like the original voice for Chie, Tracey Rooney, is replaced by Erin Fitzgerald, who doesn't just do a replica of the old performance, but instead makes the character her own and does an arguably better job as the character than Tracey. The other replacement is Teddie's voice actor, Dave Writtenburg, whom is now being voiced by Sam Riegal, however unlike Chie's new voice actor, he is simply trying his best to mimic the original performance. Fortunately he to does a reasonable job with the role making the english cast feel complete despite the replacements.
+ Decent animation with faithful character designs to the original.
+ Mystery from the game transferred over very well, keeping one hooked as it's pulls a unexpected surprising twist to those who never played the game or finished playing it.
+ English voice cast from the original game it's based off of mostly returned with the new additions doing well enough for those who couldn't make it back.
+/- Faithful to the original source material / Faithful to a fault.
+/- Added character development that the game neglected / Too short of time to work with development, main character isn't interesting.
+/- Great music / Recycled music from the game is abused.
+/- Persona designs look cool. / Watching Yu switch from Persona to Persona on the fly will confuse those who are not familiar with the game it's based on.
As a fan of the game, I'm satisfied with the results, and I'm glad I'm not anal and nit picky like most stubborn fans. The Persona 4 anime is as good as it gets as game based anime is concerned. I'm personally happy how faithful it is to the game, but newer viewers are going to need to brush up on the game to fully enjoy the anime as a fan like myself has.