ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Anime Reviews: Persona 4 - The Animation

Updated on December 19, 2017
Yu's ability to enter into the TV world is a little too much for Yosuke to handle.
Yu's ability to enter into the TV world is a little too much for Yosuke to handle.

Some Basic Information You'll Wanna Know Going Into the Series

Title: Persona 4 - The Animation a.k.a. P4A
Genre: Action/Drama
Production: AIC ASTA / Aniplex
Series Length: 25 episodes
Air Dates: 10/6/2011 to 3/29/2012
Age Rating: 13+ (mild language, dark or disturbing thematic elements)

Summary: Yu Narukami is a normal kid who just happens to be transferring schools, from the big city to the rural town of Inaba. As he begins to settle into his new life, a string of murders occurs in Inaba, throwing the city into a state of fear and anxiety. At the same time, Yu encounters a dream-like zone called the Velvet Room, in which an old man named Igor tells him of a great fate and a great disaster about to fall upon his shoulders. From that day forward, Yu must continue being an average teenager while tracking down a serial killer, before more lives are lost.

The Good: Crisp artwork; game soundtrack works well; some intense character moments; mostly faithful to original game; contains the best opening theme ever
The Bad: Rushed beyond belief; almost zero character development; forced comedy; choppy and inconsistent animation
The Ugly: Margaret's purpose is very unclear

What's my experience with this series?

I will preface this review by saying Persona 4 is probably my favorite video game of all time, and I was ec-freaking-static when I heard an anime adaptation was being made. The game's graphics weren't exactly top-shelf stuff, so I was anxious to see how some of the big, iconic scenes would play out without the limitations of the PS2 engine, so when P4A began airing, I watched the everloving crap out of it. I tried desperately to enjoy it, to tell myself that this was fine and this was okay, but all my hopes and dreams would be shattered as the lurching beast of mediocrity slithered forth from the pit to suck all the joy out of my experience.

Chie, having faced her Shadow, awakens to her own Persona abilities.
Chie, having faced her Shadow, awakens to her own Persona abilities.

Where does P4A do its source material justice?

But before we get to the slaughter, we'll cover the good points of P4A. First off, the artwork and character designs look great here. Just like the original, the art has a high contrast between bright colors and dark shadows, which gives it a distinct feel and keeps your attention. The voice acting is a bit flat, compared to the video game, but it's not bad. Each character sounds like they should. Musically, most of the soundtrack comes straight from the video game, which some would call lazy, but I feel that there would've been no better way to do it, considering the original soundtrack was near-perfect; however, the opening and ending themes are entirely original, and that includes "Key Plus Words," quite possibly the greatest opening theme for an anime of all time.

Anyone who's played P4 will tell you that its greatest facets are the characters and the story. As far as the story is concerned, P4A is as faithful as its 25-episode length will allow it to be, covering the major plot points and character introductions almost exactly word-for-word from the original game, so veterans will be pleased and newcomers should be able to follow along without any real trouble. When P4A does change things up, it's mostly during the Shadow battles, where the characters begin to show their dark sides and their true selves, and the changes made are usually phenomenally well-done, adding intense emotion to these mostly neglected characters.

Yu and Yukiko share a quiet moment together at the local shrine.
Yu and Yukiko share a quiet moment together at the local shrine.

Where does this adaptation fall flat?

And that leads me right into the chief problem with P4A: 25 episodes doesn't cut it, guys. In my run of the original game, I took about 83 hours to beat it. Keep in mind, I watched videos to learn about the game, so I knew what I was doing, and I barreled through it. About 30 hours of those 83 were spent in the dungeons, so that means there's 53 hours worth of story and character development in the game. 25 episodes of an anime series comes out to about 10-11 hours. While they did manage to squeeze the main story into this timeframe fairly well, all we end up with is the bare bones of Persona 4, and every character ends up with about 5 minutes' worth of arcs and development. This is especially infuriating when valuable time is spent on forcing in a few lame jokes and lame slapstick. The original game had enough comedy and it doesn't need any additional help, thank you.

While I was thinking about which character got the least amount of development, I couldn't help but think of Margaret, Igor's assistant in the Velvet Room. In the original game, she maintains your Persona compendium and crushes on the main character while giving him useful advice and generally does most of the talking in the Velvet Room; in the anime, she tells Yu that he's unlocked another Arcana, and says she can't wait to see what others he unlocks. And that's it. While that's bad enough, as I've said before, the other named characters only get marginally more onscreen development than Margaret does. It's just shameful.

And just to put the toilet-fudge frosting on this fecal fudge cake, that 'crisp artwork' I mentioned earlier is done a terrible injustice by the animation, which is often very choppy and inconsistent. Characters' faces will warp drastically as the camera sweeps, movements are sudden and inhuman, and there's a real lack of in-between work. P4A is simultaneously pleasing and painful to look at. I can tell what they were trying for--a hyper-stylized action aesthetic that GAINAX has perfected over their 25+ year history, but it's imitated poorly here, looking cheap rather than mind-blowing.

Naoto's Shadow stares coldly, maliciously into the eyes of its petrified host.
Naoto's Shadow stares coldly, maliciously into the eyes of its petrified host.

Well then, is this series even worth watching at all?

In the end, my dream of a perfect Persona 4 adaptation was trampled into dust. Sure, the story came through almost intact, but it came at the cost of the characters' humanity, robbing them of their subtleties and background. Because of the sheer length of the game, I was hoping for at least 52 episodes to cover all of it, but apparently someone higher up the ranks decided 10 hours was enough to cover a 50-hour story. Don't even try to substitute playing the actual game with this tripe--this cynical cash grab isn't even remotely the same as playing one of the best JRPGs ever made.

Final Score: 5.5 out of 10. Persona 4 - The Animation could have easily been the best video game adaptation ever made, but misguided direction and executive meddling hamstrung it before the gates were opened.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JBrumett profile image

      JBrumett 

      6 years ago

      Animation studios in Japan use to produce epic story lines, battles, and characters that developed in their productions. Over the last few years I've noticed that maybe with such high demand to push out content faster, or possibly some other reason, they've tended to water down a lot of newer anime.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)