Posted by Luke Halliday on Oct 8, 2011

Persona 4 – Episode 1 Review

Persona 4: The Animation
Episode 1 – “You’re Myself, I’m Yourself”

The Shin Megami Tensei video game series are incredibly popular and the hype that paved the way to the premiere of Persona 4: The Animation may have raised the bar too high for what was delivered. It’s important you know that I have never played a Shin Megami Tensei game in my life, let alone the game in which this series is based off, so I do have any preconceptions or expectations of this series going in. However what was shown was to put it lightly, well… light.

The pacing was all over the joint and in the end it felt like very little happened (hence feeling “light”), when in reality these were probably all huge things in the game. I found the majority of the episode to be disjointed with some gentle strokes being taken with the quiet school life, to the suddenly big strokes of a murder mystery and then all the bizaare entrance into the television world, or something.

Things happened so eradically and that would be fine if the character’s had enough strength to hold it together. Unfortunately, they were each paper-thin in terms of personality (ironic for a series called Persona). I could hardly describe any character’s personality besides the protagonist’s school friend who is somewhere between a pervert and total screw-up.

But the biggest disappointment is the main character, who has no personality. Literally, none! He says about 3 or 4 lines the whole episode, and just get’s some sort of powers at the end and fights these monster things, which wasn’t really explained at all. Even worse is that nearly all decisions he makes, make no sense. Why does he randomly decide to go inside of a TV in a public electronics store. What would even make him think of going into it? Well, we don’t know because it wasn’t really, well, explained. He just does it.

It is such a difficult thing to explain when an anime just feels so bland, whilst trying to pull off such interesting imagery as the innards of the television world we see here. It just baffles me how such promising material can be handled so poorly.

At least the animation and artstyle of the series are impressive. The television world, is brilliantly concieved and looks amazing. The ever-present yellow of the other world really seems memorable to me, not often is that colour so heavily used. The character designs were also interesting but, it owes that to the game in which it is based off. Thankfully there was a really nicely animated fight scene come the end of the episode. But it was note enough to make up for the let-downs of the episode in general.

The music here was vapidly original but used incredibly poorly. In scenes in which the music should’ve been used, there was nothing but silence, and in the scenes in which there should have been silence there was music. The opening and ending are both funky little tunes that are more lively than the majority of the entire episode.

This kind of poor audio direction is simply confusing. I don’t understand what was going through the creators heads while making this. They just seem to have little idea where they want to go w ith this or how they want to go about this.

Overall Persona 4: The Animation’s first episode is unfortunately a disappointment. There was so many things that went wrong and not enough things going right to make up for it. There is potential here though for things to improve, we will see where they take things, but it needs to be somewhere great to make up for this horrible pacing and poor characterisation.

5-5-capsules-out-of-10

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  • jigen7

    if you played the persona 4 ps2 game you will see that the main character is not even talking….the gasoline boy is the main enemy there you will see it at the end lol.

    • jéssica

      Spoilers for the guy who didn’t play o/ but he deserves indeed, since he wrote such critic whithout even playing the game.

  • Shaaaaaalad

    This is a very impatient reviewer. The protagonist’s powers are part of the mystery central to story. It all comes to a head at the end of the story, but dont expect to spoon fed answers for every little thing that happens in this series.

    PS, the reason he put his hand through the tv was to prove to the other two that he could do it, that’s why the scene transitioned there from the cafe at the mall.

    • Luke Halliday

      You should understand, I am reviewing this without having played the game. What may seem like good pacing to you, because you know what comes next, does not translate the same for viewers such as myself who are going in with out any knowledge of the game. I am not impatient, as I concluded my review saying there is potential and I believe it can get better. But as an introductory episode it had very bad pacing and characterisation (Just my personal opinion). Remember this series has 24 more episodes. I’m sure it will develop, but for now with it’s first episode, I was very unimpressed. As for being spoon fed answers, I never asked for answers. I asked for a cohesive plot with characters that actually have personality. What was on display so far was not that. Not at all.

  • NoName

    I agree with this review, for the most of the things you pointed out. Same, I was disappointed with the first episode. Having played the game myself. I can where they are going with the series, I think that they are trying to adapt the series as close to the game as they are possibly can, and I agree, it simply doesnt work well as an anime, it feels as though it was made specifically for the fans, and that’s probably the niche market which it is aiming at.

    About Yu Narukami (Main Protagonist or whatever you decided to name him in the game) his reception is split between 2 audiences, for those who played the game you could familiarise “Silent Protagonist” therefore you guys got a great deal of knowledge beforhand and understanding cause you seen the game from his perspective, there you know what to expect and of course it will come to your satisfaction as you wanted it to happen (save for the ending, the sudden appearance of Izanagi came earlier then we thought).

    Then you have the other audience which is, the general demographics (people who havent played the game, childrens,teens,highschool graduates, westerners in general etc). The persona series is very foreign to them! My god Persona 4 was cult hit to begin with! not alot of people from the gaming community knows about it either without resorting to the wiki. Yu Narukami personality as a silent protagonist DOES NOT allow the general audiences to connect with him in any way shape or form. He barely says anything, he’s distant and aloof to us! He lacks a soul, there is absolutely little which we can establish from his actions without playing the game! He feels like a wallflower, the events of the anime plays him! It looks like he has no reason to be there whatsoever, he has no “drive”, nothing!

    But yes the anime was eye candy, the 2nd half in the least, The misty beginning of the episode made it kinda dull at first, only when they actually entered the tv that everything begins to elevate. The soundtrack is uhhh… exactly like the game, They basically recycled the soundtrack for the anime, nothing new to expect here I guess, except for the ending (once again it is obviously aimed for fans).

    Conclusion:
    Fans= would no doubt enjoy the direction the series is currently taking
    Non-Fans= Isolated, and dumbfounded

  • Rodney Marsella

    No one but someone into the game would watch this. It is not meant to attract anyone but fans. The first episode is not trying to develop the characters just to begin the story. Eventually when the basic plot is on its way I’m sure they will go into further detail. Personally as a fan I found it a fairly decent adaptation with little things making me smile for their attention to detail.

    • Luke Halliday

      You don’t create a good anime by alienating people. It would be pointless to create this anime at all if it weren’t to attract those who haven’t played Persona 4 to actually want to play it.

  • RocketScience

    I agree with the comment above me, the final statement in particular.

    This first episode moves at an incredibly fast paced, but since it’s based off of a game that revolves around an extreme amount of dialog, it’s almost necessary for the first episode to move as fast as it did. I believe it will slow down significantly from now on; if not at least after the next episode, and create some, much needed, character development.

    If you have played the game you will not be bothered by the direction this anime is taking as it is really staying true to the game, ( I found myself giggling when they would do the calendar transitions) however with the lack of character development you will most likely feel a little disappointed with it. I have played the game and loved it, so personally I liked it but, was disappointed because I knew that anyone who hasn’t played the game may be turned away just by this first episode.

    So if you haven’t played the game I do encourage you to stick it out until at least the third episode. If it’s still moving at this obnoxious pace then by all means drop it, but I have high hopes that it will move much more fluidly by the third episode.

    Since the pace in, my mind, will surely be taken care after the first two episode the absolute biggest problem with this anime is the protagonist. Since this anime is staying so true to the game, they decided to make the main character EXACTLY how he is in the game…. Emotionless. The main character needs to have more emotion for this anime to be successful. I am considering that since in the game you build the main characters, well character that it will develop throughout the series which I believe fans of the game will appreciate, but those who haven’t will not. Hopefully the developers are keeping in mind that this is an anime and not a video game so it can’t be a complete mirror of the video game.

    Overall I have extremely high hopes for this anime and I encourage everyone who is interested in it;like I said earlier, stick it out until at least the third episode.

    To the reviewer I respect your review and believe it was fair considering that you haven’t played the game. Good review.

  • Megaman X9

    I have played the game but this first episode was still garbage.