It took me 120 hours of my life and nearly six months of my life to finish Persona 4. It was worth every second, with its cast of energetic teens, fantastic art style, catchy tunes and challenging gameplay. It was one of the best RPGs I've played on the PS2, nay, on any system going as far back as the SNES. I tell you this because anything Persona-related is near and dear to my heart and it has to live up to the expectations Atlus has set up for itself.
With the Persona 4 anime, there are clearly some vaults they're going to need to leap. They have to stuff a fairly large story into a limited time frame. Due to the production costs of producing an anime, there's a chance the art quality will drop as the episodes continue on. Not only that, but the anime by its vary nature it takes away the immersive quality by not being a game. That said, the first episode has proved to me that the producers know exactly what they're doing and are set to make the best game-to-anime adaptation yet.
Hit the jump to get the recap and my impressions.
The episode begins in a foggy expanse, with a large limo driving through the gray abyss. The two in the car, a creepy guy named Igor and a mysterious beauty named Margret, tell the viewer that they've reached the Velvet Room. Although only those that have forged a contract should be able to reach it, it seems that whoever they're addressing is set to have an interesting destiny. Cut to Yu Narukami, the now-named protagonist of Persona 4.
Yu sits on a train, on his way to Inaba after his parents had to work abroad. When he arrives, he's greeted by his Uncle Dojima and his young cousin Nanako. The next day, Yu is introduced to his class by his fairly moronic home room teacher, meeting the energetic Chie in the process. After school, Chie introduces Yu to Yukiko, the daughter of the owner of a local hotel. Around this time is when we see a student walk through the streets of foggy Inaba and catch a glimpse of a broken dead body hung on an antenna. Mysteries abound!
The next day Yu is properly introduced to Yosuke, son to the owner of local megastore Junes. They bump into Chie and the three go eat at Junes. They talk about the Midnight Channel, a station that pops up during rainy nights that's supposed to show you your soul mate. They overhear a nearby TV that's talking about the murdered woman, a local personality that was caught up in an adulterous scandal. Their conversation is interrupted when Yosuke catches sight of Konishi, the girl that he's crushing on and who was the first to catch sight of the murder. That night, at midnight, Yu catches the Midnight Channel. In the dark of the fog he sees Konishi, alone and confused. A voice rings in his head and his hand plunges through the screen. Terrified, Yu pulls it back and topples over, clearly disturbed.
At school the next day, he brings up the odd occurrence to Chie and Yosuke, who decide to head over to Junes and try one of the bigger TVs. Much to their surprise, Yu can still put his hand through the TV. The three of them fall into the TV after an ill-advised pratfall, tumbling onto a platform covered in fog. When they see a strange silhouette in the fog, they dash up some nearby steps and go thorough a door into a very messed up room that looks ready for somebody's suicide.
Yoskue's goes to empty his bladder, so Chie rounds a corner and bumps into a cartoonish bear who demands they leave. After a fair bit of bluster, the bear feels that some "Shadows" are oncoming, gives Yu a pair of glasses that help him see through the fog and dashes out the hallway. A few seconds later, the "Shadows" take shape and chase Yu, Yosuke and Chie out of the hallway and outside the building. When it looks like they're done for, the voice rings out in Yu's head, this time taking shape into a large creature named Izanagi. With the words "Persona" on Yu's lips, Izanagi tears into the Shadows, easily tearing them apart.
Now THAT is how you do a adaptation! I literally had no complaints with these first 25 minutes. The got the original game voices back from the Japanese version as well as the soundtrack, both of which were excellent. They've also used the date and time motif from the game, which cracked me up when I first saw it. They even crammed in Yu's personality "stats." I don't think there was a better way that they could've done this.
My only complaint is that the translation was not very good. I don't mean that the actual translation from English to Japanese was bad (I don't speak Japanese, so I can't comment on that.) I mean that it looks like it was hurried out with no proof-reading. It felt stilted and had several errors in there, which was very distracting. Here's hoping that it was only because of the hurry involved with the first episode. Besides that, I think you're looking at the show to beat this season. I cannot recommend this any more than by saying you're doing yourself a disservice by missing this! Also, dibs on Chie.
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