In terms of video game-to-anime adaptations, Persona 4 the Animation has been a success. The show has taken the best elements of a very long game and managed to get just about every story beat into 25 episodes. Of course, they stuffed a ton of fan-servicey extras in for people who were paying attention, such as altering the soundtrack while the P4 characters were visiting the city Persona 3 was set in. On top of that, they managed to get the star-studded cast of the game to voice their characters, which must have cost a pretty penny.
Does that mean that P4A was a good show? Generally, yes, but there were a couple of problems that make it a hard sell for those unfamiliar with the franchise. However, before I can get into that, let's take a look at the last two episodes after the jump.
Episode 24 begins with a heart-felt goodbye from Teddie, who is in the Velvet Room for some reason. Earth-side, the Scooby Gang decides to take a look back at their notes for the entire case. Now that they know that Namatame wasn't behind the first murders, they can rule out a ton of conflicting information and focus in a very select group of people. Thanks to the testimony by creepy future-NEET Kubo, they figure out that the only person who could be the murder is Adachi, Dojima's milquetoast assistant. The group meets up with Yu and Yosuke at the hospital and confronts Adachi. Finally caught after escaping justice for so long, the murder up and runs into the TV in Namatame's room.
When the gang jumps into their usual meeting spot, they find Teddie in the mist. Having finally found what he needs in the friends he's made, he sniffs out Adach's hiding place. When they do find Adachi, they meet a series of copies of the murderer, forcing the group to break off into teams of twos to fight their target. Adachi reveals the whole story, about how his pathetic nature didn't vibe well with the small town he was stuck in and how he accidentally found out about the Midnight Channel and what it did to the people stuck in there. Eventually, Yu finds the real Adachi and the two begin their final fight.
The Adachis takes the early advantage, all the while talking about how he's going to turn humanity into Shadows and cover the world in the fog. Yu and the rest of the group manage to fight back, calling Adachi a whiny, weak punk who can't handle reality and prefers just to run away. When Yu defeats Adachi, the murder is pulled into the sky by a giant ball with an eye that looks like a camera lens. This creature reveals itself to be Ameno-sagiri, the God of Fog and the one trying to fuse the two worlds together.
After a bit of villainous monologuing and pontification on the nature of humanity and its propensity to run away from reality, Ameno-sagiri goes to kill Yu, but the Social Links he's formed with his team mates saves him. In turn, each Persona on the field evolves into its ultimate form and their combined strength saves Yu. With all the new power, Yu combines the Social Links and forms a bad-ass devil Persona that defeats Ameno-sagiri. When the smoke clears, the gang drags Adachi back into the real world. A couple months later, the whole group meets at the train station and says goodbye to Yu, who goes to return to his family in the city.
Wow, that's a happy ending, huh? They find the murderer, save the city and revel in the strong friendships they've all formed in the year that Yu has been in town. No more monsters, no more creepy gods interfering with our world. Yep, it's definitely a good ending…for those unfamiliar with the game. While this is one of the endings you can get in P4, it isn't the true end, which is hinted at in the post-credits scene in the Velvet Room and out-and-out revealed with the announcement that the final P4A BD/DVD will have the True End Episode.
Now, I have no problem with shows having extra episodes on the home releases. Hell, companies have to find someway to encourage people to purchase their shows. Considering that the ending presented is just fine on its own and you don't actually NEED the True End to get resolution, this isn't something worth getting up in arms about. I just find it interesting what was considered the extra ending in the game is being released as a bonus on the last P4A disk. My only problem with the whole thing is that we have to wait a little until August 22 to get the proper ending. I hope that when Sentai Filmworks releases P4A in the States that they'll include the True End.
As a whole, I enjoyed P4A quite a bit. As mentioned pre-jump, it did a helluva job condensing a hefty story with a lot of side material and it managed to keep most of the extra stuff in there. As far as I can think, it got every major school event and social link in there in some form. Yeah, a lot of the characters with some interesting stories didn't get a lot of attention, but they at least had their moment with Yu. Unfortunately, this is the first place where P4A failed. Unless you've played the games, you'll be wondering why Yu is even interacting with most of these people. While it isn't true for the entire show, there will be times where those who did not play the game won't be able to get what's going on.
The next major problem is the uneven art. Some of the Persona battles looked great and there are some great looking scenes throughout the show. However, t pains me to say that there were long stretches where things looked pretty bad. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, as I've definitely covered shows where the quality spikes were worse. *COUGHOCCULTACCADEMYCOUGH* Yet, I can't ignore it when so often people look like they were drawn by a class of mediocre art students. Some characters get the brunt of it (those art students must have loved Kanji for some reason), but everybody will get their turn looking a bit, uh, impressionistic.
The one place where P4A never faltered was the music and performances. Considering that the soundtrack it was taken straight out of Shoji Meguro's excellent OST, that should come as no surprise. As for the voice acting, there was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be the best part of the whole show. You don't combine the likes of Daisuke Namikawa (Shota, Kimi ni Todoke; Fai, Tsubasa Chronicle), Yui Horie (Hanekawa, Bakemonogatari; Minori, Toradora!), Kappei Yamacuchi (Usopp, One Piece; Ranma, Ranma 1/2), Tomokazu Seki (Domon, G Gundam; Archer, Fate/Zero) Rie Kugimiya (Louise, Zero no Tsukaima; Alphonse, Fullmetal Alchemist), Romi Park (Edward, Fullmetal Alchemist; Loran, Turn A Gundam) and not expect solid gold. It's worth getting through the rough animation to hear some of the best voice actors and actresses out there interacting with each other.
All in all, I do recommend watching P4A. It is an enjoyable, action-packed murder mystery with an excellent cast you won't see together elsewhere. Yeah, you'll have to have played the games to get the most out of the show and the art does occasionally stink, but the overall product is exactly how adaptations should be done. I'll definitely be picking P4A up when comes out over here in the US of A.
[You can summon Hulu to stream Persona 4 the Animation!]
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