Saturday, July 27, 2013

Persona 4 The Animation

I feel like I finally might be at breaking point with Persona 4 related media. It took me a year or so to finish the PS2 game, and I'm halfway through the Vita port (which is fantastic, by the way), as well as having played several hours of Persona 4 Arena, which only came out in Europe a few months ago. I'd always wanted to watch Persona 4 The Animation, since I was fascinated with how they would deal with a seventy hour RPG in twenty six episodes of anime, so I'm eternally grateful that Kaze started putting out the Blu-Rays in Europe. You might have already guessed that I'm not a regular anime watcher, with my experience pretty much limited to Afro Samurai, Ghost in the Shell, The Animatrix, and that crummy Dead Space movie, so it's difficult for me to figure out where the traditional anime trappings are, but as a fan of animation in general, I can certainly appreciate the love and attention that's gone into Persona 4 The Animation.

Visually, Persona 4 The Animation is fantastic. The animation is great, very subtly mixing CG at times but it all sticks fairly faithfully to the game's artwork. Outside of a couple of moments where the CG looks pretty obvious, it's a gorgeous looking show, which really shines on Blu-ray. Like most of the stuff with this style of animation, it's not as sharp as computer animated shows like modern Futurama or Adventure Time, but the animation has so much more heart. I guess I should also mention I watched the entire series run with English dubbed audio. I know, I know! It's generally pretty good, and while I struggled to deal with some of the voice work watching the last third of the season, it's much better than serviceable, and again, is pretty faithful to the game.

In terms of story, it actually does a great job of representing the game. It clearly can't compete with a seventy hour RPG in being able to spend so much time building up social links with each of the characters, but it does a fairly comprehensive job of reworking the main quest. My complaints with the story mainly stem from the final episode, which I guess is similar to the true ending in Persona 4, but it just feels so oddly tacked on without any real connection to the series. I was never particularly fussed about a faithful representation of every single plot thread in the game, so I think it does a fantastic job considering. Once again, it's difficult to tell anyone who hasn't played the game how much they'd take from the anime, since I'm so invested in the story. For the casual viewer, it's going to be a difficult sale anyway because the entire series has been split across three sets, each priced EUR20 each, bringing the entire twenty six episode run to EUR60. It seems like that's par for the course for anime, but the price did hit me when I received Box 2 and watched the 8 episodes within it in one evening. Don't get me wrong, I'm just glad it made it's way over here, because it's incredibly unlikely it'll ever hit Netflix or any other legal streaming service any time soon, and the sets are pretty nice, especially since they threw in Blu-Rays and DVDs each time, but for the price, this really is for fans of the series only.
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