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Persona 5 The Animation (2018, CloverWorks)

Anime Reviews

Persona 5 The Animation (2018, CloverWorks)

ペルソナ5: The Animation

Worth A Watch

For those who haven't played the PS3/4 game, the story is about the MC (Ren Amamiya) who was expelled for allegedly assaulting a man of high status and ends up having to move school as part of his one year probation period. One day, a strange app appears on his phone and he discovers he has the power to summon "Personas", spirits that dwell within people. He could enter the twisted hearts of others known as "Palaces" and steal the treasure from their Shadow that represent their inner dark desires that will give them a change of heart. As he does so, he soon meets others that possess the same power and forms the "Phantom Thieves", convinced they can make the corrupt world of adults a better place by hitting out at criminals that are out-of-reach from the law.

It's basically Atlus taking a stab at bringing about awareness of the problems in modern day society in Japan. The OVA "The Day Breakers" which acted as a prelude to the game didn't really impress me. Art was off compared to the game's cutscenes but fortunately the TV series gets off to a good start. Since the OVA, A-1 Pictures has branched out, rebranding one of their studios as CloverWorks in an effort to create a better brand and the art quality for this show is kind of better than the OVA efforts. Characters still look off sometimes like the quality suddenly drops and it's obvious the artists still aren't very good at using and blending 3D animation into their shows as you can see a lot of models walking around rigidly. As with the game Ann remains your main fan service character although they added some new scenes in while excluding some from the game so, you more or less have the same amount of fan service. Kawakami fans should be pleased. There's still your obligatory beach episode (or two) of course and the camera can be asset keen at times. Backgrounds on the other hand are a mixed bag because some such as Leblanc looks great but others such as the common shop you can see there was less effort.

The show stays faithful to the game with a few changes (particularly Futaba's story) and extra scenes added which I'm sure will make fans of the game grin - not just for Persona 5 fans but also for people who have played the other titles in the franchise. Some help clarify the story more too such as how the app records what they're saying before reaching the first Palace so it's good in this regard. There are brief side camera shots of the other characters so it feels less of the JRPG it was where you only focused on one character. That said, the show's not afraid to go back to its roots because there's so many scenes that will remind you of what made the game fun - negotiations with Shadows, transition scenes, mystery gear drops, confidants etc. They even put in the All Out Attack finishing screens but I don't quite get why they start out horrifically plain before they decided to use the game screens later on. Maybe Atlus stepped in. They also chose to skip most of the dungeon crawling but pick up the key parts that will probably make players who finished the game think, "Oh! I remember that part!" Boss battles are also play out the way they did in the game.

There are two OP theme songs like most series that end in the mid-20s but the first OP for the show actually has two animations, one for first two episodes and then one for episodes 4+ before it changes again at episode 14. The first OP animation actually uses an animated version of the artbook's cover too just like when they first teased the Anime. Third OP animation looks better quality than the others and the fourth one during the last episode is probably visually the best in terms of design. There's also a slightly different ED animation in episode 17. Episode previews are also stylish, done in a similar style to the game.

Most of the music is the same as the game too which is great because the game already had a really good OST. Hearing familiar tunes like "Beneath The Mask", "Layered Cake" or "Tokyo Daylight" playing is awesome. Voices are the same as the game. The show is so faithful to the game you have to wonder how many lines were from the game or if they actually re-recorded the show. As a bit of trivia, Ren's voice happens to be Jun Fukuyama who also plays Lelouch from Code Geass and Satsu-sensei from Assasination Classroom while Morgana is played by Ikue Ootani who also plays Chopper in One Piece. And of course, we have Mizuki Nana as Ann, best known as the first voice actress to top the weekly Japanese Oricon JPOP charts.

On it's own, I don't think Anime fans will enjoy it that much because it does show its roots from a video game where you're just jumping from boss to boss or, you might just enjoy it for the character driven stories as they overcome their troubles. For fans who enjoyed the game and want to re-live the experience through a different format it's worth a watch. Unfortunately, it does go the same route as the Persona 4 Anime where they don't air the true ending... Other than that, as a show for Persona 5 fans it's really well done despite the inconsistent art quality. It's fun watching the gang get together again and there's plenty of material in it that'll remind you of the game. Don't miss the extra scenes after the ending.

There are also two 50 minute long specials released after the TV series which cover the true ending, "Dark Sun" and "Stars and Ours". While I enjoyed the TV series, the OVAs felt really rushed and just didn't have the same impact as the game did. There wasn't much time to remininiscence the final dungeons and there just wasn't any build-up.

Bottom line? One for the video game fans so I recommend you play the game first.

Persona 5: The Animation

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