At the stroke of midnight, the Dark Hour appears—a secret hour which most are unaware of. Those not trapped in coffins during this time, unfortunate enough to find themselves conscious, are met by dangerous creatures known as Shadows. A select few, however, possess the potential to wield Persona: a special power used to defeat these beings. This secret group is called SEES (Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad), and their mission is to uncover the reason behind the Dark Hour's appearance.
Only a short while after transfer student Makoto Yuuki begins his residency at Iwatodai Dorm, his Persona awakens after an attack by a strong Shadow. Now recruited into the ranks of SEES, he begins fighting alongside his comrades, as only they can protect humanity from Shadows and prevent the anomaly that is the Dark Hour.
Persona 3 The Movie: Spring of Birth is directed by Noriaki Akitaya, director of the Bakuman series. He’s also been an episode director for series such as Code Geass, Honey and Clover II and Nodame Cantabile.
The first big-screen outing of Persona 3 is roughly 90 minutes long and it covers April to June. They have cut out much of the school life aspect, and there is no mention of the characters joining clubs or taking exams. Instead, it focuses on the members of SEES and how their bond grows stronger. Makoto Yuki was a blank canvas in the game and at the beginning of the
film he still feels like one; he is quiet, doesn’t say much and doesn’t really care about his own life or have much of an interest in those around him. Seeing Yuki piece together his emotions and learn what it means to have friends and comrades is a nice touch to the movie.
If you’ve never played the game but have seen or played Persona 4, the first Persona 3 movie is darker and doesn’t have as much comedy. It focuses more on jealousy, bullying and friendship. It jumps from one Full Moon battle to the next, with moments in-between where the group gets to know each other better. Yuki, Yukari and Junpei’s first battle within the Shadow-infested tower, Tartarus, is very fun and beautifully animated. Junpei ends his battle with his famous line about levelling up, before becoming jealous of Yuki’s abilities. Akihiko and Mitsuru haven’t had their time to shine yet, but there is plenty of time for that in the next movie.
After the credits we see a certain character opening their eyes and are told that the second movie is coming Summer 2014.
I couldn’t help but smile when the opening credits started accompanied by Burn My Dread: Spring of Birth Version and that smile stayed on my face for almost the entirety of the film. Shouji Meguro’s music is always fantastic and this film’s soundtrack is no exception, the memorable themes of Tartarus, The Velvet Room and Gekkoukan High School all return. These familiar pieces alongside the impressive animation makes the film that much stronger.
As a fan of the game, I found Spring of Birth very enjoyable, Makoto Yuki’s character development, the battles and the fantastic animation made it well worth the wait. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the side characters and school life, but overall it did a really good job of bringing the characters to the big screen.
I originally wrote this review for my own website, but several users have messaged me asking me to review it on here as well.
[No one can escape time.]
[It delivers us all to the same end.]
The latest effort in animating this esteemed JRPG series is finally here, aaaaand it's a movie series. This means the release schedule will be hell to endure, but the payoff is definitely worth it so far.
First things first, the animation is beautiful. Anyone let down by the Persona 4 anime’s low quality should breathe easy, for the P3 movie looks stunning. The backgrounds looks great and the characters are sharp and on-model at all times. That movie budget is showing. The Dark Hour in particular looks great, with a muddy painting-esque look differentiating it
from the daytime sequences. It works very well in making it look all otherwordly and creepy.
As for soundtrack, here’s where this follows the P4 anime’s footsteps. Most of the OST is lifted from the game, and occasionally slightly remixed, with some original compositions in here and there. It works, even though they liked using the main battle theme just a bit too much. (Several scenes opened with the iconic chant of BABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABY.)
The 90-minute movie covers the game up to and including the Fuuka Yamagishi arc, which is well over 10 hours of game time. There was a lot of daytime fluff scenes cut, much like in Persona 4, but here it didn’t really end up making the story or characters suffer at all, nor did it make the movie feel rushed. The fluff scenes were important world and character-building in Persona 4, but entirely superfluous and sometimes even badly written in Persona 3, so it’s more like they just trimmed the unneeded fat. What we have in its place is a more tightly paced, suspenseful story, which is more in line with what I expected Persona 3, the game, to be before I played it. The social links are relegated to background props and one-scene extras, but I never liked P3's social links, so I've no problem with that.
With the fluff scenes cut, the main story sequences are relied upon to give the characters depth, which works wonderfully. The movie’s version of the protagonist, Makoto Yuki, manages to show great amounts of depth with very few lines. Just like with P4’s Yu Narukami, the shift from silent protagonist to actual character has gone swimmingly. Other characters I felt gained a lot from the movie were Yukari Takeba and Fuuka Yamagishi. Yukari’s interactions with Makoto are very different from the game, and definitely make her come across as much more than just “designated love interest girl”. Fuuka never got much attention in the game, but her struggles here are played up a lot, which is only a good thing. Other characters, like Junpei, Akihiko, and Mitsuru, aren’t given overhauls that big, but we’ll see how the other movies handle them.
My main complaint is the action sequences. It’s nice to see the party make use of weapons, which was missing entirely in Persona 4’s anime, but the action sequences themselves are very static and awkward, with competitors often just standing around, waiting to get hit. I suppose that’s accurate to the movie’s source material as a turn-based RPG, but it doesn’t make for compelling action scenes.
I’m not used to hearing the cast in Japanese, so that was a semi-new experience for me. It was weird, because the game’s dub was how I first experienced P3, so I’ve come to associate the English voices more closely with the characters than I do the originals. Nevertheless, the Japanese cast is, as is typical, stellar. I particularly like Mamiko Noto’s Fuuka, who projects a whole different image than whoever her English VA is.
I wouldn’t recommend Persona 4: the Animation to someone who hasn’t played the game. The opposite is true here. Despite the limited time, Persona 3: Spring of Birth is a very good adaptation of the game’s opening hours, and many scenes I’d argue were even improved a lot in the movie. There’s a lot to see for P3 veterans, too. Basically, everyone should watch this. You should watch this. If you’ve already watched it, rewatch it.
Disclaimer: I have only ever played the very beginning of Persona 3, and have never played any Megami Tensei/Shin Megami Tensei other than that and a brief outing in the original Super Famicom SMT game. This means that this review is from the perspective of a complete outsider, and does not factor in everything that would contribute to the enjoyment of someone who is already a fan.
To put it bluntly, I went into this film with very high expectations. The Persona sub-series seems to be almost universally beloved in my online friend-circle, and frankly, after years of waiting (I own no Sony consoles besides my
(now broken) PSP), I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. What I found here was technically a disappointment, but only because of my artificially raised expectations.
The story of this film is fairly good, but has hints of developing into something extraordinary in the next films. Being an adaptation of what is only the first part of a larger tale, it has very little in the way of plot, focusing instead on (somewhat clunky) exposition and the introductions of the main characters. While I am pleased with what I have seen of the cast so far (particularly Makoto and Junpei) I cannot help but feel that the nature of the film as an adaptation artificially constrained how far we could dive into them in this outing. Mitsuru in particular strikes me as having her development held back because that is how the story unfolds in the game, rather than following how it should naturally go in this medium.
Bolstering the weaknesses of an adaptation is the gorgeous but understated animation. The characters are on-model at practically all times, and the designs of the shadows and personas are breathtaking to see in action.
Overall, this is a solid film for those who are unfamiliar with Persona 3, but my intuition tells me that first-timers like me would likely be better served by biting the bullet and playing the actual game before viewing this. That said, I was sufficiently intrigued by the film to be motivated to get off my ass and buy a used PSP so I can play it, so the film definitely did its job in that respect.
Persona 3 the Movie: Spring of Birth is a movie tie-in that is based on the 2006 JRPG video game, Persona 3. It has three other sequels which come after this, and the movie was set in the same story as the Persona 3 video game storyline with only a few tweaks to help differentiate both the movie and the game AND to avoid any repetitions from the story that could ruin the experience of the audience of this movie.
And before you continue on to read my review, let me get you a warning that the following you're about to read here are SPOILERS related
to the Persona 3 game. If you haven't bought the copy of Persona 3 or you didn't play Persona 3 before, BUY IT! I MEAN, RIGHT NOW! But I'll recommend you to buy Persona 3: FES and it is currently available now through PSN! And for those who don't have PS3/PS4, PCSX emulator is your second choice. If you don't have a PC, but you're reading this on your android, play the Persona 3: Portable for the PSP, PSVita(?) and for the PSP emulator as well. But if you don't have any PS consoles, ranging from PS2 to PSVita, but you own a XBox, that's a bad news for you. No Persona 3 for you guys. Sorry.
Alright, enough beating around the bush. Let's focus now on the review.
So, the story has almost the same as the game though. It has the same plot where your character, (insert name here), goes to the dorm and signed a contract. It has also the moving calendar that help you what date it is, and it has the same chores, like going to school, meet new friends to develop a new social link for your Persona, beat the s*** out of those shadows ever dark hour, etc..
But here in the movie, well, on the very first part, it has now explained why the train was "delayed" while you were on the train on the very first cutscene of the game. According to this movie's first part, a one guy who wears a hoodie decided to suicide for unknown reasons. When I watched that scene, I was like... 'huh? Where did he come from? And why did he take suicide?' So, after that, we went to another scene where we saw our protagonist, (insert name here), was listening to "Burning my dread" in his earphones, while riding the train to Iwatodai Station with some announcement that there's a "delay" because there's an "incident" happened on that place. And as the protagonist already touchdown the Iwatodai Station, he looked at the pamplet that shown where our protagonist must stay, at the dorm, and after for a few moments, the dark hour spawns. The same as in the game I've played on P3P, he's just walking calmly until reaches to the dorm. There, he met the mysterious kid, who later name as Pharos, gives him the contract to sign the deal to choose his own will, etc.. thingy. And as the protagonist write his name, it was revealed that his name is "Yuki Makoto". And as the day goes by, he went to school, he met both Junpei and Yukari on the very first day, you did the same assignments as you've played in P3 like, killing the first shadow who climbed to the rooftop of your dorm, killing the shadow who controlled the train, and battling the two arcana at the entrance way of Tartarus.
But there's a difference though, because during the rooftop incident, if you're wandering if the fight scenes on the game (choosing attack, skill etc. to attack the opponent) has the same as this movie. Well, movie newbie to the tie-in games person, you're wrong, silly. We instead watch our protagonist, by name of Yuki Makoto, is going to fight the shadow in a fighting scene just like we're watching "Fairy Tail" or any magical anime shows you can think of. Although, the battle was a bit short but at least, it gave a dramatic style of fighting as we could feel how P3 was like without the "player choosing a tactic to defeat the enemy in the game" style.
The plot here in this anime was ranged from the very first part up only to the part where they've rescued Fuuka Yamagishi from being stuck in Tartarus for 12 days (12 hours in Dark Hour time). And to be honest, it's quite a good start to begin with. But I don't see any memorable moments just like I played the game on my PSP emulator due to the slow pacing of the plot. But at least they bring the stuff from the game and put it into a movie, which is great! And making this movie as a movie rather than a live-action movie is a very good way, AND IT MUST STAY THAT WAY TOO. Because if P3 became a live-action movie, let's face it guys, IT SUCKS. Because if this P3 became a live-action movie just like Attack on Titan did, we might be able to see so many cringe worthy fights and expressions coming from the actors, screaming "YAMETE!" with their horrific dramatic pose as possible, and horrific CGI shadows that will ruin the face of the game itself. And it might cause chaos to some fans of P3, myself included.
Back to the topic, as for the fight scenes, well, the only thing I do like about fighting scenes in this whole movie is that after they rescued Fuuka Yamagishi from Tartarus, the group must fight the two arcanas. But as they struggle to fight back, Yuki came to the rescue from the dorm (yes, the plot changes here for those who wanders) and tries to defeat the two arcanas. As they struggle to fight every inch they've got, Fuuka then soon realize that one of the two arcanas has a weak point. And with that, the group fight back to defeat both of the arcanas thanks to Fuuka's advice. It's not actually on the game though, ESPECIALLY when the time that Yuki is riding Mitsuru's motorcycle. Which is cool though, especially from his entrance from entering through Tartarus, but that's unprecedented to see that. I really laughed when Yuki did that, yeah I know, I admit that was cool, but I don't think that fits on his style as he's a HS student WITHOUT any background to any vehicle he drove. Seeing him in a bike really fucked my mind though... And I really laughed on that scene at the same time... xD I can't take it...
Is there any changes that could help differentiate the movie to the game? Yes. Too lazy to write this so I just took it from the "http://megamitensei.wikia.com/". So here's the ff. difference from the movie to the game:
- All the major characters appear in the movie intro (except Aigis), while the anime cutscene at the beginning only shows the Protagonist, Yukari, Pharos, and Mitsuru.
- Makoto doesn't interact much with other social link characters, only a few.
- It is revealed in the movie that the first victim devoured by shadows in the anime cutscene was named Sakata Masashi.
- In the anime cutscene he appears in Tatsumi Port Station, but in the movie, he appears somewhere in Port Island Station.
- Some characters make a cameo appearance:
- Bunkichi and Mitsuko make a cameo appearance during Fuuka's visit at their
- Koromaru and Maiko Oohashi make a cameo appearance together.
- Ken Amada also appears briefly.
- Kenji Tomochika appears in the arcade and after exam results are posted.
- Kazushi Miyamoto makes a brief cameo after exam results are posted.
- Hidetoshi Odagiri appears while interrogating one of the students of class
- Nozomi Suemitsu makes a brief cameo in Wild Duck Burger.
- Aigis appears in a post-credits scene.
- When the Shadow attacks the dorm, the Protagonist stops to look at the full moon outside the window. Yukari asks him if he cares if he dies, and the Protagonist says he doesn't and he asks her if she's scared of death. A Shadow attacks the window and Yukari dives to save the Protagonist. In the process, her leg is cut by a glass shard and bleeding. None of this occurs in the game.
- Junpei's Believe or Don't was told in May instead of June 1.
- While discussing about the ghost rumor from 2-E, their meeting was in Wild-Duck Burger instead of the dormitory.
- Makoto does not accompany SEES during the June full moon operation due to his personality until he fully realizes his friends are in danger and he goes to save them.
- This is first time where Makoto and Natsuki interact with each other, whereas that was not featured in the game.
- In the movie, Natsuki heard the voice after witnessing the school transforming into Tartarus, but she heard it in the dormitory in the game.
For the art, the characters' appearances here are heavily modified though from light colors from the PS2 game to dark colors to this movie. And as for the scenery of this anime, it's pretty good. Overall, it was a fantastic art to see here.
The sound here is remarkable though. Because when it comes to OSTs, they bring some of the P3 soundtrack to the movie, which really gives a nostalgia feeling to some viewers who've played the game. As for the VA, to be honest, I felt like kinda uncomfortable when I watch this on English sub rather than the dub because, the dub version on the game is pretty good. But when it comes to Japanese dub in this movie, it seems kinda odd, I never heard what they'd sound like in Japanese. But I'd say it's quite good nonetheless. But as for the MC, Yuki, well, it's kinda a bit-odd also seeing the first time my character talks, but in a quiet fashion rather than his personality in the game who sounds like more energetic and has a colorful life.
Speaking of personality, the character development here didn't do much here at least. Especially Yuki, who is an introvert, one-sided guy who doesn't care about anything. To top it all off, Yuki, unlike on my character on P3, he's more like a selfish type of guy and doesn't talk too much. He doesn't even show some emotions and whether they're already nearing at the signs of danger, just like on the train scene, he looks calm and collected rather than he's going to panic and don't know what to do. But his character just changed at the ending of the movie where he smiles after he rescue Fuuka. But it still doesn't change the fact that Yuki is still raw when it comes to the development. And as for the other characters here, again... ALL OF THEM have no development whatsoever. Maybe we'll going to see that on the next film.
Overall, the movie was good. I don't expect much of the change here. But I was intrigued and enjoyed at the same time. Hope there's more changes on the next film just like this one, and I hope it's better than the first one.
We take a trip around the world and uncover some awesome otaku rooms of perennially obsesses fanboys and fangirls. Just a word of caution, once you step into this world, you may just filling up your own room with a countless amount of otaku goodies!