Ren Amamiya is about to enter his second year after transferring to Shujin Academy in Tokyo. Following a particular incident, his Persona awakens, and together with his friends they form the “Phantom Thieves of Hearts” to reform hearts of corrupt adults by stealing the source of their distorted desires. Meanwhile, bizarre and inexplicable crimes have been popping up one after another…
Living an ordinary high school life in Tokyo during the day, the group maneuvers the metropolitan city as Phantom Thieves after hours. Let the curtain rise for this grand, picaresque story!
So far, this adaptation has been a massive disappointment.
A-1 pictures are known for their generic character designs and cutting corners when it comes to animation, so when adapting a game as stylistically brilliant Persona 5 it was obvious they wouldn't live up to the game’s highs. I never expected it to excel or even match the game’s quality, but with a director as talented as Masashi Ishihama (Shinsekai Yori) expectations were raised and this adaptation’s first six episodes have flown far below them.
A 100+ hour game stuffed into 24 episodes will inevitably have pacing issues, and this has its fair share. The
story is rushed as hell, but so far it has given us the most important information to give us a surface level understanding of the world and plot. Any depth the game's story offered is for the most part missing. The themes of adults in positions of power abusing their roles have been boiled down to “grown-ups bad, kids good”. Like most of this adaptation, any half-hearted attempts at storytelling feel like a low effort recap to advertise the much better video game.
We have only met Ryuji, Ann, Morgana, Yusuke, and the quiet main character called Ren in this adaptation. They all feel like cardboard cutouts with a fraction of the personalities of the game's counterparts. Trying to stay as faithful as possible to the game has hamstrung the character arcs, story beats are trimmed down or skipped entirely so we can't get a sense of who the main cast are from this show. The game itself was not perfect with characterization either, which is expectedly not fixed in this adaptation due to the insistence on staying as faithful as possible rather than letting the anime stand on its own merits.
There’s plenty of inconsistencies in their arcs and annoying quirks that made some of them hard to like before they received development. These annoying quirks, like Ryuji’s obnoxious attitude and lack of self-awareness, become almost all there is to the characters. There just isn't enough time for each cast member to be developed beyond a surface level.
Even those inconsistencies in development are already appearing. In episode 4 Ann announces she’s finally free of the twisted pervert Kamoshida who was sexually objectifying her, but because this is a lovely A-1 Pictures anime, the camera is constantly shoved uncomfortably close to her butt. You could argue plenty of fanservice is necessary for the studio to secure a budget, but it is so opposite to the message the game was trying to convey. Effectively undoing any development that came from what should have been the most monumental battle in the first quarter of the show.
Action scenes are where the series looks the worst. It constantly uses this laughable shortcut of zooming in and out on unanimated shots to reuse them at a different resolution in a later scene. There’s somehow less animation than the game, and what we see tends to be worse. Look no further than the ‘epic’ boss battle in episode 5, what should have been amazing was stilted by hideous CGI that looked even worse than what was used in the game. The action is so boring to watch too because there are next to no stakes, usually, the Phantom Thieves are fighting random mobs but even the boss goes down so quickly.
The fight choreography is even worse, the whole battle scene where Ryuji awakens his persona is the worst case of it. There is next to no fight choreography at all, hits don't even feel like hits, it's more like colors flying around with sound effects added over it. And somehow the all all-out-attack is so much worse than the game’s even though it was practically ripped straight from it.
Character designs are the best part of the visuals because they’re lifted straight from the game, but they only look good when they’re totally motionless or on an animation loop (very often). When there's not much movement and/or character close-ups look really good but by that logic, you should just play the game.
There’s also plenty of ugly CGI random people walking in the background. In episode 2 Ren and his teacher are talking in a hallway, and there’s a giant CGI student trying desperately to walk without looking like a robot but its so obvious he was stuck on there last minute with zero quality control to fix him. He looks ridiculously unpolished and the perspective is all messed up, he goes past two girls standing near a door and he looks twice as large as them.
Persona 5's OST is amazing, but here it's lifted straight out of the game and overused with not care for if it fits the scene or not (usually it doesn’t). You can easily tell when they use stock sound effects, deafening the punchy effects of the game’s combat for the sake of something easier on the ears but infinitely more forgettable. Yes, they fixed the OP and it is decent now, but the ED is still just a still image with limbs and hair being animated to look like the main cast is walking. It looks so uncanny, a completely still image would have at least not distracted from the pretty good song.
I honestly can’t see this getting any better, but I love the game and respect the director enough to see if it can repair the story/character issues. I’m not expecting the art to get better because it seems as though they’re stretching the budget out to meet 24 episodes.
If they try to simplify the character designs to be more fitting to a TV anime budget rather than solely faithful to the game, it may become more manageable for A-1 to animate. Also, I've referred to CloverWorks as A-1 a few times, there's no difference. It's a subsidiary of A-1 so they're the same.
(This review contains some minor spoilers for the first couple of episodes)
Contrary to what some people are saying, I'll say that this anime is doing justice to the espectacular source material in its own way, with some flaws. Don't believe anyone saying that this is a bad adaptation of the game. In fact, this is a very good one, all things considered.
In fact, play the game yourself and see how many things they are "supposedly" rushing through according to these people, if you don't believe me, even side by side.
They didn't skip anything special at all thus far, and the only actually rushed part was
day one of school in episode 1, much like P4's adaptation rushed a bit with the first episode there (and that could be fixed in the BD release just like that one was, since this is mostly a problem of them not being able to air a longer episode on TV, these are well known limitations that happen often).
The pacing may be blazing fast at some points during the first arc, but the things they HAVE to adapt, they ARE adapting. They only rearranged that scene with Ann and put Ryuuji's social link altogether with Kamoshida's arc, which was pretty fitting and convinient, besides not giving one second for the whole thing to breathe.
The rest of the "skipped" content is the day by day stuff, which isn't really necessary at all, unless we are talking about social links and minor details, like the citizen talk transitions (being adapted here and there already), some foreshadowing for certain events and character introductions (no problem on that front either thus far) and maybe certain significant main cast moments that helps giving you some time to get casual with them like friends, thing the game does very well, especially in P4, and I'm glad they adapted some of those in here already (the SLs could be adapted later too, like they did with the already mentioned P4... hopefully not as episodic as to feel filler-ish).
The one thing they skipped was the people in school apologizing to Ann at the end of the Kamoshida's arc, and that's a bit of a shame, since it wrap up the final social issue regarding the first arc main characters, but that is as far as it omitted any nice details for the time being.
And yes, I've played through the game 3 times and platinum-ed it already, all I see are people trying to blame the fast as hell pacing for major issues it didn't actually have just yet (the Ann thing only left her character arc slightly less independant, it's not like it ruined any depths of her presentation), when they are actually more bothered by the fact the animation isn't what they expected to be...
And to be fair, outside the VERY poorly delivered battles (those terrible All Out Attacks, which to be fair got a bit better as of episode 5), the animation per se is looking really good in all of the other scenes, much like the in-game cutscenes, it's just missing the celshading gloriousness that defined the game so well, and that would be asking too much.
As for anyone thinking that the game is better in storytelling than the anime, that's reasonable enough, and I agree. The storytelling of you having the whole year displayed in details day by day without ever breaking the flow of the gameplay make the plot related cutscenes feel much more smoother than presenting them all at once.
But I don't think for a TV adaptation we could get that thing going as smoothly either. It only works because of its original medium, for a very good reason. To make it work in anime, I think they are doing quite a nice job.
I'm doing this review right now, so that it doesn't escalate in unfair negativity since the only other review is in my opinion bashing it very unfairly (all of those 100+ hours of gameplay, do you want me to say how many are spent grinding a LOT, fusing personas and doing mundane quotidian stuff to get minor things and status irrelevant to the plot unless you are talking about it in a gameplay perspective? Most of your time playing is this).
Now then, for a quick run down of the categories, since people like their reviews better with these (as of Episode 6):
Despite going at a very fast pace through the first dungeon of the game, they still adapted all of the important content of it, even going as far as more explicit than the game in terms of displaying graphically Kamoshida's atroucious acts towards his students. The things they cut down are mostly surrounding dungeon exploration/grinding and minor quotidian things, like walking around and exploring some of the places to get familiar with the zones you would be playing in for a long while in-game, all easily trimmable stuff for an anime adaptation... except certain introductory things in the first episode that unfortunately didn't make the cut (hopefully they will be added later on).
Other than that, they rearranged a certain sequence of events regarding an to happen after the treasure route was secured, but that doesn't really change much, only slightly altered some of her initial character presentation, but nothing that would get negative consequences to her development in any way. Then comes Episode 5, which thus far was so impecably paced and filled with a fair amount of well placed content (proper foreshadowing and presentation of plot devices seems a thing they are trying to be very careful with, in this adaptation, going further than the game and giving Kawakami-sensei an early introduction to her character arc in the very first episode). Things are going very smoothly thus far, and I hope it cotinues like this.
The animation per se is very solid, fluid, well shadowed and colored all around, and it's on pair, and sometimes better looking than the in-game cutscenes... WHEN THEY ARE NOT IN A BATTLE SEQUENCE. If there's is something they couldn't get right in here so far is a proper quality battle animation. The All Out Attacks in particular feel absolutely lackluster (even if they got better in episode 5, they don't quite have the awesome impact they have in the game, and it doesn't help that the battles per se, with the exception of the Big Boss one, are very short and one of them is exclusively composed of a single All Out Attack, it really makes it lose some of the game's cool aspects).
It won't ever be as gorgeous as the main celshading animations in the game, it would be just impossible, there's no budget that could cover that. But as far as the very own in-game 2D cutscenes go, this is pretty good. But it truly lacks some polishing in the battles.
Both sound directing and OST, are nearly impecable. they are using the very same great tracks of the game, in the very same places they should be used, and always leaving them in for a well rounded amount of time between each scene transition. As for the OST's quality per se, I don't think I have much to say other than it is probably one of the best and most memorable OSTs in any JRPG I've ever played. Go with that and the fact they are all in this adaptation being well used accordingly, and you know why I give a 10/10.
This could be a 9,8/10 however, since there are some badly executed sound effects, like the one in the All Out Attacks here and there (got a bit noticeable to me during episode 5), and some odd choices in general for the battle sequences/persona awakenings, but the qualities far excels the little flaws in this case.
Music being as subjective as it is, take my words for it with a grain of salt, and if you may, consider my commentaries on the subject of sound directing alone.
Far too early to judge this aspect, given just how much important the characters are for this story. I'll be given this rather unfair pre-rating having in consideration the job they did adapting the character presentations and developments thus far, and considering said characters will be as well represented in the future as they were as of Episode 6, in which I'm doing this review.
My personal enjoyment is hurt by the lackluster job with most of the battles, especially because of the already so much mentioned All Out Attack problem. But as a big fan of the game, as for all of the rest except that part, I'm throughly enjoying in pure delight.
Overall 8/10 (for now)
And my final words about this are:
You can disconsider this score until the very end of this adaptation, as one would need to see it as a whole to properly judge it. This goes for all anime, and the sole reason why I'm doing this right now is because I feel this anime will get unfair negative attention if there isn't at least one well deserved positive review about it.
In normal circumstances, I would only ever review fully released shows, as I personally find pointless to give a definitive review before the whole thing is over (unless you are updating it weekly as you go through the episodes one by one, like for example, some review sites like ANN do).
I immediately say that, I have not played the game, because I have only a PC and no consoles, but in good time back I already heard the sea a good comment about this game, most said that the game is worth it and the time went so fast that an animation about this game was already appearing and I decided to start watching this piece of work..... ok lets start with>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>-OP intro- 9/10- impressive and interesting created, I really liked it.
Story 7/10- For the moment everything is fine except for the main storyline- he has not yet appeared (although it was shown whose one
of the main hero is in the interrogation room and he tells for some organization a story about own life= That could be fragment of the main story) but our heroes have enough working side missions so I can not understand what will happen next, for the moment I am satisfied with everything, YES there are things I would like to ask a question but I think the answers I will receive soon.
Art 7/10- I even like this kind of drawing, though the legs seem a little too long, but it satisfies me.... the fighting episodes could have been much better, because at the moment it looks like 5/10 but overall 7/10 I hope that in further episodes it will improve.
Sound 7/10- I've seen console gameplay in youtube and the sounds are taken from the game and music could also be.
Character 6/10- To date, there is too little information about each of the main characters for the moment I like just two of them (Morgana and Amamiya Ren) 24 episodes uhhhhhh..... I hope that it will be enough time to tell more about each other.
Enjoyment 10/10- I watched 6 episodes in 2 days, for the moment I feel good.
Overall 8/10- I have not played the game but I like- Persona 5 the Animation
Bonus- Maybe sometime in the future, I will buy a console and will play this masterpiece.
Saw my favorite streamer play P5 for about 140 hours. I don't especially think anything great about the franchise, but it was a super fun experience. The same thing applies with the anime. It sure is an entertaining one.
The art and animation do pretty much the perfect job on capturing the game's atmosphere. The OST is a beast and these guys are not afraid to use their songs. They play them and they play loudly. I like that. The voice acting makes this seem like Fate/zero. Whatever you may think of Fate, the voice acting was memorable as heck, and same thing applies here.
telling is neat. Instead of getting some filler on the screen, we typically get a close-up shot of whatever is happening. Be it handcuffs or guy pressing a doorbell. I found myself paying quite a lot of attention to this and will say it stands out for the right reasons. It feels pretty fresh even.
In P3 we had Aegis. In P4 we had swag-bro. This time we don't have any single person who stands out above all the rest, but as a whole, this cast is pretty much the most interesting thus far.
The adaptation has been better than I expected. Not sure how hardcore fans think of it, but as a guy who enjoys anime I can say I am enjoying this one. Obviously not the best thing ever, but enough for me.
Although it still feels like it only just started, we are now somehow halfway through the Spring 2018 anime season already, and trends are now clearly starting to emerge. In the past three weeks, Boku no Hero Academia returns to prominence, Persona 5 sinks like a stone and more.
In these opening weeks of the Spring 2018 anime season, Steins;Gate 0 starts off as the by far highest rated anime, although Megalo Box is the new heavy hitter if we look past sequels. This and more in the opening edition of The Seasonal Quarterly.