Everyone knows translating video games into movies is a recipe for disaster — but what about an anime? Sure, the anime has more time to get its point across, though it can still face the same problems as a movie adaptation. The challenge comes from honoring the game while knowing what to cut. Certain game mechanics just don’t work well on the silver screen. So I’m happy to report that Persona 4: The Animation is an adaptation done right.
Synopsis courtesy of Sentai Filmworks:
When Yu Narukami moves to the rural country town of Inaba, he’s expecting a lot more peace and quiet than he’s been used to in the big city. Instead, the peace has been shattered as a rash of mysterious murders and kidnappings sweep the countryside. With the police stymied, Yu finds himself joining with a group of eight other teenagers in a desperate bid to solve the mystery. A mystery that is somehow connected to both the local weather patterns and a strange “TV World” which Yu, his friends and the enigmatic killer can all enter. Journey beyond the Velvet Room as the hit PlayStation 2™ game becomes a spectacular anime in PERSONA 4 the Animation!
Fans of the PS2 classic will be happy to know that most of the original English voice actors are back. This means the dub is instantly enjoyable for Persona 4 veterans, but newcomers should also appreciate it. As far as dubs go – it doesn’t get much better than this. Although, some may be disappointed to find out the Blu-ray lacks a Japanese audio track (to prevent reverse importing).
The collection covers the first 12 episodes of the anime and it does a good job at bringing the characters to life. Notice I said characters, not story. I don’t have any real issues with the story, but everyone knows it’s all about the characters and their interactions. The murder mystery, various personas, velvet room, and the midnight channel are all interesting, but Persona 4: The Animation shines brightest when everyone is in one room goofing around.
Things jump between slice of life, comedy, drama, and action. The school setting and Yu’s story felt straight out of a slice of life anime. The comedy keeps things from becoming too grim (the characters inner thoughts are often hilarious), and it’s all action when Yu and his friends enter the TV. These sections are well choreographed and remind the viewer that this is based on an RPG.
Extras are sparse, there’s a director’s cut of the first episode, clean opening and ending, and some trailers. Unfortunately it’s what I’ve come to expect with most anime collections.
This is a must own for anyone who picked up Persona 4: Arena and for everyone counting down the days until Persona 4: The Golden hits the PS Vita. Don’t feel intimidated if you’re new to the series, though, the plot does a good job of introducing everything so prior knowledge isn’t a requirement. (Rating 8/10)