Earlier this week, on Jan. 15, 2013, anime publisher Sentai Filmworks released the second part of “Persona 4: The Animation” and they provided us with the opportunity to review this entertaining series based on the popular PlayStation 2/PlayStation Vita RPG from Atlus USA.
“Persona 4” follows the adventures of Yu Narukami, originally a nameless/silent protagonist in the game, as he moves from the big city to the rural town of Inaba to live with his uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, and cousin, Nanako, when his parents are transferred overseas for work. Early on the transition to small town life goes fairly smooth for Yu as he makes friends with Yosuke, Chie and Yukiko but he soon learns about a mysterious TV program called the Midnight Channel, which according to rumors, on rainy nights supposedly displays an image of the person you are destined to be with.
The Midnight Channel proves to be real, but it doesn’t display the person you’re meant to be with, instead it appears to be showing the next victim in a series of gruesome murders that only Yu and his friends can solve. The reason they are the only ones that can get to the bottom of this mystery is that Yu has the ability to enter an alternate world inside the TV, the place that the murderer is throwing his victims in so that “Shadows”, the residents of the alternate world, can devour them. To save the kidnapping victims from certain death Yu and his friends must confront the darkest part of themselves in order to unlock their “Persona”, powerful representations of their inner self, and defeat the shadows before they can kill those people trapped inside the TV world.
The second part of the series contains episodes 13-26 and picks up as the group tries to find something to keep themselves busy after the arrest of the man believed to be the killer. The first few episodes have Yu getting to know some of his social links by working odd jobs, while due to a misunderstanding his friends believe that he is actually dating multiple older women. After these filler episodes things start to pick up again as another person falls victim to the kidnapper and the team must once again enter the TV world on a rescue mission.
I don’t want to give away too much of the story for those of you that have yet to play the game or watch the series so I won’t discuss the events of the story any further. I will say this for those that have already played the game though, the series gives the true ending.
The story of “Persona 4” is definitely among my favorites in the franchise of games, “Persona 3” being my favorite, it offers a lot of great comedy and all of the characters are likeable, especially Nanako and Chie, whose personality seemed much cuter in the anime than in the game. The surprise is how dark the series can actually get, the murders are fairly gruesome and the inner selves bring out the worst in each of the characters, whether it is humorous, embarrassing or pitiful. The second half of the series also delivered one of the saddest moments in the anime, though I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Visually “Persona 4: The Animation” has a great look, the picture quality is clear, the animation is smooth and the color is vivid. This review is based on the Blu-ray version of the series; the Blu-ray version likely has better visual quality than the DVD version. The action scenes all have nice flow and the character’s designs matched perfectly with the game and though the persona aren’t seen a lot they all look impressive.
The Blu-ray version of the series does have one thing that some viewers may see as a flaw; it only includes the English dub version. While the Japanese option would have been nice, the English cast did a great job with their characters and if you enjoyed the game then I doubt you will have any problem with the quality of the English voice overs.
The two-disc set comes in a standard Blu-ray case featuring an image of Yukiko and her persona on the cover and on the inside, slots on each side to hold each disc safely without risk of scratches. There aren’t really any on-disc features to look forward to, just the usual clean opening and closing and trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases.
All-in-all “Persona 4” is a comedy-filled series that manages to deliver on drama while also offering a bit of action. Many of the characters are likable, maybe even more so than their video game versions, and the story shifts from serious and dark to humorous nicely. The second collection definitely captures the end of the story well and gives some of the characters time to shine, the episode with Nanako playing detective was one of my favorites, even though it had nothing to do with the main arc.
One thing that the “Persona 4” anime managed to do surprisingly well was give time for the social links, in the game so much time is spent getting to know everyone that it seemed like it would be difficult to dedicate enough time for all of the characters Yu meets. You don’t get to see everything available in the game, the second collection spent less time on this than the first, but there is enough that viewers should still be pleased with the results. While there are plenty of anime based on video games, “Persona 4” is among the top ranked series in my opinion, it won’t leave you disappointed.
4.5 out of 5
Persona 4 part two
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Runtime: 365 minutes
Number of Discs: 2 Blu-ray
Number of Episodes: 14 (13-26)
Age Rating: TV-14
Release Date: Jan. 15, 2013
(A review copy of “Persona 4” part two on Blu-ray was provided by Sentai Filmworks.)