These Persona 3 goods came in from Play-Asia over a week ago but, I had to spend quite a bit of time reading before I could give an opinion of how good the book is.
Buying the book was kind of another gamble since there weren't really any sites that let you view sample pages. Even the ones on Play-Asia are very poor so I only had the content listing and reviews on Amazon to go by. Reviews were either a love or hate thing so it was a hard decision but I decided to go for it anyway.
Note that the following review contains big spoilers for Persona 3 (and indeed FES too!) so if you haven't already played the great RPG, you might not want to read on.
At first glance, you can see the book has a nice red leather textured paper for its cover with gold lettering which gives off a good first impression of quality. Indeed both the paper and print quality inside was also very good but what about the actual content? I decided to buy this because just like the Code Geass Complete guide book, I wanted something that would allow me to re-enjoy Persona 3's story all over again at anytime so, the content was very important.
As you can see from the contents page here, there's a fair amount of material for P3 fans to read in this A4 sized 240 page book.
Chapter 1 "Yourself Episode Complete" (should really be "Episode Yourself") takes up nearly half the book with 104 pages covering everything that happens in Persona 3 along with the extra FES material. Events are described in the form of a diary where a character from the game makes an entry for the day. Most are written by the SEES team members but, you'll also find quite a number of them are written by some of the NPCs who appear in the side stories so there's something for everyone. I don't bother with Bebe's entries.
At the start of everyone, there's a calendar page like this showing the events that take place including a synopsis of the main story. I think the backgrounds are supposed to be 3D because you can see it has both red and green colours.
Since it would take too long to cover the entire section, I'm just going to give a few examples of events that didn't appear in the first four months of the original game. You can click on the photos for a larger view.
The first day April 6th when You move into the dorm opens up with Yukari describing You as an incompetent pretty boy. Just what you would expect from her, hmmm?
Here we see what was happening during the week You passed out after summoning Orpheus during the mansion attack. They found Junpei who gets all hyped up about his power, Yukari's been learning more about You and finds out how you're an orphan just like her. She goes visit You at the hospital often hoping You'll wake up soon so that she can apologise for what happened, about how she couldn't manage to help out on the rooftop. Mitsuru on the other hand had been sorting out the damages at the mansion and is also hoping You would wake up soon because your abilities should be a big help at Tartarus.
Meeting Y-ko for the first time on April 29th in the MMORPG that Junpei gave You. Looks very much like another MegaTen game. She helps name You "N-jima" since You don't have a name yet. Lots of the emoticons used in her entries.
The next day, Junpei getting all caught up in the idea of saving the world and his RPGs, suggests giving everyone a specific colour so that their battle strategies in Tartarus runs smoothly. There's that bikini armour Yukari finds in the dungeon that you don't get to see in the original game. Last page of the month also gives a list of Elizabeth's requests for retrieving pieces of different Shadows.
May 4th, Kenji spots You with a cute foreign-like girl and wonders who she is. Could she be someone from Gekkoukan High? He's surprised to see her throwing a bundle of 500 Yen coins into the fountain. Learning about wishing I presume! This happens to be one of the new FES events that occurs when you're on a certain request from the Velvet Room.
May 28th, Fuuka being bullied by Natsuki here. I can't remember the exact details from the game but apparently, here it says she was reaching out for a high shelved book at Bookworm. It accidentally dropped into her bag, Natsuki took a picture and burst out laughing at her as if she was shoplifting. Fuuka, obviously caught by surprise, burst out crying. Yukari overhears Natsuki's conversation at school and doesn't like what they're talking about one bit. She begins to wonder if it is somehow linked to the students falling unconscious outside the school or not.
For this month, Elizabeth's requests are to retrieve items from the real world (mainly ones that are related to the SEES members) so that she can have a look at what objects outside the Velvet Room look like.
It's June and the ghostly rumours continue to go around Gekkoukan High. Junpei decides to fool around again and asks Kenji to tell them a scary story. One early morning, Kenji had the eery feeling of someone behind him but he had to hurry to school. He went to the wash basin to clean himself up when suddenly, drops of red liquid fell into the water. A cold chill swept through his body as he started to look up towards the ceiling. As he did so, he caught himself in the mirror and realised what it was. It was his nose bleeding. The food he had earlier must have had too much salt. Nevertheless, you can see Yukari's reaction.
Natsuki on the other hand is really starting to panick after finding out Fuuka's disappeared from the PE Room where she locked her up in. Could there really be a ghost out to get them she wonders?
Meanwhile, Fuuka is stuck in Tartarus but doesn't know about the place since she's not a member of the SEES team yet. She thought she might be in one of the underground tunnels and might be able to get out at Port Island if she followed the path but, the creatures around her looks like they're hunting for prey. Fuuka seems to be more concerned about contacting her parents because never before has she been out so late without letting them know.
June 18th, Kazushi also spots you together with a "strange looking girl", and wonders if that was the reason why You were slacking off from the Kendo Club. Watching a little longer, he sees Elizabeth running down the opposite direction of the escalator. He concludes that You're doing some secret training...
27th July, Mitsuru sees You holding a bouquet of flowers. It reminds her of the time when she and Yukari were helping prepare Fuuka's room two weeks ago. Many boxes were being delivered but what surprised them was they were mostly filled with flowers. Fuuka must have a very great interest in gardening.
Meanwhile Yukari's found out about the disaster that happened where their school was 10 years ago and wants Fuuka to help her find out about it.
Elizabeth's requests for the month are hobby related.
July 7th, the party comes out of the love hotel together after defeating the Shadow for the full moon night. It was a tough battle with the tricks they had to put up with but Fuuka managed to help support the team successfully. These Shadows maybe more than just "bad monsters". Just as Fuuka was about to suggest going back to the dorm, she notices some very strong fragrance about Mitsuru and Yukari as if they just came out of the bath. Their hair is wet too. Whatever could have happened she wonders? (Yes, we know!)
July 20th, the gang arrives on Yaku Island and Junpei is determined to make the most of this summer holiday. Especially when he gets to see the girls in their beautiful forms. However, it wasn't long before they had to find out the truth behind the Shadows. Mitsuru's father Takeharu Kirijou didn't want to show them the footage but since Mitsuru had already tried to access their database, he decided it was best.
The next day, the Anti-Shadow machine Aegis awakens and spots Junpei, Akihiko and the person she was looking for. It's been approx. 84662 hours since she was shut down and now she must return to her mission by staying by His side. Meanwhile, she tries to analyse what all this "flirting" activity was all about.
Returning to the dorm a few days later, Yukari is surprised to find Aegis in His room so early in the morning. Aegis explains that she must be by His side 24 hours 365 days a year including times when he (parts censored). The next day after that, Junpei had dropped by Kurosawa's place to see what new gear was in stock. He was really happy about what he found. Lots of "armour" in the form of swimsuits. Junpei urges the leader Him to get Yukari and Mitsuru to wear them during their Tartarus runs.
The compulsory hot spring scenes.
Well done, Junpei. You managed to capture Chidori's heart.
There's plenty of screenshots and a few original illustrations but, there's also a bunch of real life photos used which are actually kind of disappointing. More original illustrations would have been preferred even though they don't resemble the game's artwork much. It's worth bearing in mind this isn't really an artbook though.
As you can see from these pages, the FES expansion material for the original game is basically lots of fan service. Getting to date Elizabeth during a certain request, seeing the reserved Mitsuru in her dazzling bikini, graphics updated so that players can see Yukari wearing that "bikini armour" the original game didn't show and of course, the maid suit she didn't get a chance to wear because of the storm.
I was actually hoping for a book with all the game's script that I could read through but, this format isn't too bad.
Chapter 2 "Aegis Episode Playback" (should be "Episode Aegis") covers, as you'll have guessed, the story to the P3 sequel. Fortunately, this 22 page section contained some of the script. I'm kind of hesitant about reading it since I'm still waiting to play the game. The Japanese version refuses to work with Swap Magic for some reason.
Apart from the half hour video I watched, all I know is the gang is caught up in some kind of time rift beneath their dorm that won't let them move on into the future. To escape, they will have to find the cause of all this by separating into teams and exploring different doors. Can they withstand the tests that awaits them and find the way out?
The second page above also explains that the main character had died after the battle with Nyx. It also gives a brief description of what happened after the Nyx incident and how the characters lived on with their lives after they separated. There are some "Column" boxes which focus on certain aspects of the story too. All very informative.
3rd Door, When Akihiko and Mitsuru meet for the first time during Junior High.
5th Door, 10 year old Mitsuru's Persona awakens.
Chapter 3 "Another Persona 3 FES" is comprised of a number of sub-sections.
There's a 28 page glossary dealing with a variety of words, everything from P3 lingo such as the Dark Hour, Shadows to everyday words such as girl's dorm and typhoon. This page shows the new Shadows added in P3:FES.
And a nice page full of the tarot cards.
The girls in their fine kimonos during New Year's day.
After the glossary section you have 7 pages of Edokawa Sensei's lessons at Gekkoukan High.
Next a 3 page short novel "Memories of Him" featuring the new FES character Metis.
60 page section full of Personas and a few pages of FES related sketches.
You can view all these in high res scans at Dokuganryu's site.
As a Persona 3 fan, I'm fairly satisfied with this book. Apart from what I have already mentioned, it could use some character profiles and more original artwork but on the whole, it's very informative and gives a fairly good summary of both episodes' stories. There's enough screenshots to remind you of what a great experience and story P3 had should you need a reminder without the game and a 70 hour run.
My copy of the first CD that was released "A Certain Day of Summer" had a cracked case despite the packaging but, I guess it can't be helped. I've never had any of my goods from Play-Asia damaged before. This is the first time.
I was hoping for some original illustrations for the drama tracks inside the booklets but, they didn't put any in. Would have been a bonus.
A Certain Day of Summer booklet.
Vol. 1 Daylight booklet.
Vol. 2 Moonlight booklet.
There is a first press edition the Moonlight and Daylight CDs which contain a bonus commentary track by the Seiyuus but since I'm so late in purchasing them, I wasn't really expecting to get a hold of them. It was a surprise when I found the first press edition of Moonlight in the box.
Haven't heard the Moonlight CD yet so I'll post a summary once I've listened to it in a separate post.
I haven't ordered the other audio CDs yet because I want to see what happens with the English version of P3:FES first. If it turns out bad then, I'll just order the Japanese version together with the soundtrack CDs. I still don't own the RPG yet because I'm not sure which version of the game to go for; the Western version with the bonus free goodies or, the JP version and pay separately for the other goods.
The English voice actors behind the original game have already been hinting that it's in the works on their blogs but the entries have been erased. If it's true then I'm pretty sure Western players can expect some heavy censorship since the West isn't as open as Japan about fan service.
There's actually a whole bunch of other Persona 3 goods out including two side story novels and a Manga series but I don't plan on getting them. I might try and get my hands on the Persona Club P3 book though because apparently, it gives a breakdown of each individual character's activities in the game along with a description of the game world and short Manga strips. It also briefly covers Persona 1 and 2. Only problem is I can't find a store that sells it besides Amazon who charges a very high handling and postage fee now so I don't want to pay the premium.
Poor poor wallet... But I guess this is part of the reason why (besides making a living) people need jobs or think up ways of making money ^^;