Anime Quick Information

Title: Persona 4: The Animation #1
UK publisher: Kaze UK (Distributed by Manga UK)
Genre: Action, Adventure, High School, Horror
Studio: Aniplex
Type: TV Series
Director: Seiji Kishi
Year: 2011
Running Time: 5hrs 0mins
Rate this anime:
Average Rating: 9.00

Sarah's review

Sarah scored this with 7/10. Disagree?

"Welcome to the Velvet Room... this realm exists between mind and matter."

And thus we are greeted by the sinister Igor and his mysterious companion Margaret, at the beginning of each episode, as we are drawn inside the midnight-blue interior of his luxurious limousine and fed intriguing snippets of information that may...or may not...have a bearing on the lives of the protagonists.

Yu Nakamura (Daisuke Namikawa/Johnny Yong Bosch) is sent to stay in the quiet town of Inaba with his police detective uncle. Settling into a new high school always has its problems but Yu is drawn - literally - into a nightmare world beyond the television screen after he witnesses bizarre happenings on The Midnight Channel. This channel, rumoured to be nothing more than an urban legend, can only be seen on rainy nights, and is said to show the viewer their soul-mate. In this world beyond the screen he has to battle bizarre Shadows to save himself and his new friends Chie and Yosuke. Helped by the rotund and friendly Teddie, who gives him a pair of unique glasses (this is such a megane show!) he gains the unique power of one of the arcane cards and with it, the aid of a powerful fighter, his own Persona. "I am thee and thou art me." Defeating the Shadows, he is able to rescue his friends and escape back into the real world. But that's when the murders start...

It's not long before Yu's new friends are also drawn into the world beyond the screen where each in turn must confront and accept/defeat their inner hidden selves - or never leave the world of the Shadows and gain their own Persona. So we get to see the insecurities and hidden fears of each of Yu's friends: easy-going, garrulous Yosuke; ebullient tomboy Chie; and reserved Yukiko. Then there are unexpected, new allies: tough guy Kanji and teenage idol Rise (voiced by Rie Kugimiya, who also sings Rise's hit song as the Opening to Episode 9.)

There's a lot going for Persona 4: The Animation even if you ignore the fact that it's based on a videogame (and most game-based anime series are not renowned for being the most gripping of shows.) There's slice-of-life character interaction and comedic moments. The unsolved murder mystery haunting the everyday high school lives of Yu and his buddies has the potential to thrill and chill in equal measure. And then there's the life-or-death dilemma faced by each person sucked through the television screen and into the nightmare world of the Midnight Show. And yet, and yet...

There are nine episodes (plus the Director's Cut of Episode 1 as a bonus) on this first release - and with seventeen more to go, it's maybe a little too soon to be able to judge if P4 is a winner or not. It looks good, the fight scenes are dazzling in Blu-ray (and, I imagine, pretty good on DVD too) and the main characters are likeable. And yet there's something missing. When Yosuke's friend and fellow part-timer Saki becomes the second murder victim, he's upset for... not very long. Ok, so he's a naturally cheerful, easy-going guy - but I imagine that all of Saki's classmates would be majorly freaking out. For several episodes at least. Even when Saki's younger brother shows up, he seems a little glum - but not as much as one might imagine, having lost his older sister. Watching with the US dub on, especially with Erin Fitzgerald's lively Chie, I was uncomfortably reminded of Scooby-Doo rather too often. Even though the show's premise - that everyone must face and acknowledge their inner demons or succumb - is strong, it often feels rather too formulaic, more than a little like 'Inner Demon of the Week.' And then there's the problem with Yu. He's the leading protagonist, yet comes across as rather bland and unemotional: a cipher. Perhaps this is because he's the main viewpoint character in the game?

The series keeps mostly the same Japanese and English voice actors, as well as the character designers for the original game, Kazuma Kaneko and Shigemori Soejima, not to mention the soundtrack composer, Shoji Meguro. So if you've played and enjoyed the game, you'll feel very much at home here. And we have a bonus for this R2 edition, in that we've gained the original Japanese dub (subbed) which was not available on the R1 release.

Extras include: clean Opening and Closing; a brief subbed Jikken-kun drama (the humour doesn't really translate too well) a Teaser and five (yes, five!) trailers.

In Summary

Persona 4: The Animation makes a good-looking, entertaining watch but nothing else so far. Perhaps it will become more gripping in the next set of episodes.

Screenshots (click to pop out)

Review Information

Score: 7 out of 10
Review By: Sarah
Date Published: Mon, 31 Dec 2012
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