Persona 4 the Animation
Persona 4′s source material is actually a PS2 video game that goes by the same name, and it was actually quite popular amongst RPG players. The issue that this detail should immediately trigger in your mind is that video games rarely translate well to anime counterparts, with rare exceptions such as Valkyria Chronicles (and even that is debatable). The problems usually come from how to integrate battles, the repetitive nature to video game dungeons, and character interactions, in the anime format. Unfortunately, it seems that Persona 4′s anime adaptation suffered from all these flaws, with the added problem of a bad pacing that worked against the story.
One thing to note here is that the experience derived from this anime will vary depending on if you’ve played the original video game or not. If you played the original you’ll notice a bunch of story changes, as well as a lack of emphasis on the mystery that defined much of the video game’s story. On the other hand, as a newcomer to the franchise you’ll notice that the story has more of an emphasis on slice-of-life/comedy, and the mystery feels rather lacking. There are also various little details such as personas and social links that will be a bit confusing to newcomers.
The inherent flaws to this anime actually stem from the original source material, mainly because what’s okay in a video game isn’t necessarily good in an anime. For instance, the main premise of the original video game is to rescue students that are thrown into a “TV world”, with each character being rescued in a similar manner. There’s a warning on the midnight channel, the victim gets thrown into the TV world, and you go in and fight through a vicious dungeon to save the said victim. In a video game this is all fine and dandy, but in a story-centric anime, it becomes blatantly obvious that each rescue arc is practically a carbon copy of the previous one, with only a scant few changes and new details revealed with each iteration. The result is a repetitive story that spans the entire show, though it seems that the anime studio tried to change it up with some anime-original ideas later on.
The various moments of silly slice of life interspersed in this murder-mystery story didn’t exactly help with the main plot either, defusing whatever tensions that were previously building up. The peaceful moments were fun and goofy, but they made it very difficult to care for the serious overarching plot at all. The super-serious final arc, in particular, was too bland and boring in comparison to the silly tone that previous episodes had taken.
The pacing for the story itself is also rather questionable, where character development is crammed into one or two episodes for side characters that aren’t even important. Yes, I realize that many of these side characters are social links in the original video game, but the key thing to note here is that the side characters play absolutely no role at all in the main story. There were entire episodes devoted to these unimportant side characters, and our main cast consequently got very little indepth development that is worth mentioning.
The one good aspect to this series would probably be it’s music and relatively faithful portrayal of the Persona 4 story. Though the story might have been a mess at times, nobody will deny that it tried to be as faithful tot he original game as possible (and suffered a bit as a result). Then there’s the music, which was done by Shoji Meguro. There was a ton of recycled music from the video game, but the music itself was solid (and at times fitting) in this anime.
Overall Enjoyment: 7.4/10