What They Say:
The peaceful days at Ayanagi city came to an end for the Kanzato brothers when the eldest brother, Ryo, disappeared one night. His childhood sweetheart was found dead, and he was the prime suspect. Shin and Jun deal with the loss of their only remaining family while taking up their brother’s will to use their Personas to fight against the dark presence growing in the city.
The world begins to distort as human bodies and psyches begin to mismatch. Shin and his friends are asked to form a Persona fighting force to combat the Marebito, the ones behind the Reverse cases, as well as their leader Kujo. It is up to Shin and his Persona to stop the distortion and bring an end to the Marebito and their twisted goals of exploiting Personas.
Persona gets a monolingual release with a Japanese stereo mix encoded at 192kbps that pretty much serves the show well but without a lot of impact. This isn’t all that much of a surprise though as the bulk of the show is fairly dialogue driven or quiet scenes pushed forward by some low level instrumental music. The bigger scenes come across a bit more noticeable because of that but it’s a fairly standard stereo mix without all that much in the way of directionality or placement. The track is free of problems such as dropouts or distortions though and it has a good clean sound across the board.
Originally airing in the first half of 2008, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show has thirteen episodes spread across two discs in a seven/six format that’s pretty standard. Persona has an issue which NIS America has set an exchange program for involving ghosting in character movement in numerous areas of the show. Similar to their release of Toradora, equipment and perception will be key in whether it bothers you or not as many people don’t see it or don’t recognize it as a problem. It’s there, it’s not supposed to be and it’s the only real flaw to an otherwise very good looking release. The show has a really strong real world quality to it with a lot of detail and a smooth transition from daytime scenes to nighttime ones. Colors are rich and varied with some very vibrant moments when appropriate and a lot of dark colors. The release is free of cross coloration and the background noise is very minimal overall. Outside of the ghosting issue, which I know I only saw part of the time, it’s a really strong looking release that left me pretty pleased.
Persona gets the “premium packaging” release (which doesn’t mean there will be a regular one anytime) and it’s certainly a big plus as it gives the buyer a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to quality and access to something the show deserves to have. The heavy chipboard box is oversized with a lengthwise shot on the front of it that features the three brothers arrayed along it with serious looks to their face and something like action poses. The back side of the box has the trio again with almost somber looks to their faces with a pale gray colors to the background in which there are a lot of feathers falling. Both sides of the box are strong when it comes to the artwork and what it’s trying to convey. The bottom of the box has the technical grid which is solid while the spine keeps to a simple logo. There’s no promotion of the show itself here, but with it being released in this run at least to online distribution primarily, it’s a non-issue.
What’s inside is a huge reason for purchasing this release if you’re a fan of the show and that’s the full color hardcover book that’s almost the same length of the box. Unlike the first book, this one is all about being an artbook with details and information whereas the other one had the Whale’s Feather storyline. We get the breakdown of the individual episodes as well as lots of translation notes, several great pages of illustrations and designs from the series as well as interviews and liner notes. It has a great full color design to it and having it in the hardcover book form really elevates it to another level.
Also of use in the box are the two clear thinpak cases that holds the two discs for the set. The first volume has a dark and murky picture of the kids hanging out in the train tunnel it looks like which has a very earthy, urban look to it. The second volume uses the same winter time frame but focuses on Shin and Kanaru together sitting on a bench as the snowflakes fall. Both covers have a really detailed and appealing look to them that creates a sense of loneliness. The back covers use the same artwork as the front but it removes the characters from it. Several really nice sized shots from the show are included with a breakdown of episode numbers and titles. A large chunk of the bottom is given over to production credits and the technical grid. With no summaries to sell it here since it’s inside the box, more space is given to the shots from the show and it all has a really well done look to it. The reverse sides have simple grayscale style pieces of background art to it, one an exterior of the city and the other a building interior. I love the look of this release in just about every respect as it very much earns its title of premium and quality.
The menus for the release, which don’t load at the start as it goes right into the show, are minimal but well done. They use the artwork from the cover of that disc as its piece along one side while the other features a rundown of episode numbers and titles. The second volume has an additional selection for the extras while both have the language setup options which are used to turn the subtitles on or off. They layouts are straightforward and navigation is quick and easy, though I’m still not a fan of discs that go directly to the show instead of going to the menus.
The extras for this are available on the second disc with a clean version of the special ending for the last episode. In addition to that, there’s a twenty-four minute “Perfect Guide” episode that takes you through the series using clips and dialogue from the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Persona ~Trinity Soul~ won me over pretty well with its visual design and the slow but steady nature of the story where new elements were introduced in a natural way. As it progressed, it started to show more of the depth of the mystery to the Persona’s and the three brothers connection to them. What the show didn’t have a problem doing was showing us just how creepy it could get. As we learned about the youngest Kanzato brother in how he had taken on part of his sister, at the consent of the eldest no less as their parents were out of the picture. Jun has an interesting aura about him and having this creepy explanation only added to the way he comes across.
One of the things that helped to cement the first half of the series was that the eldest brother, Ryo, gave it some grounding as he did his best to both try and get his brothers out of the city and to make sure they were alright. Though the series was more about the middle brother, Shin, Ryo allowed it to move in different ways so that it could deal with adult situations that cropped up in his position as a police chief. It was Shin though that really expanded the cast as he made friends at school with others who also have Persona’s in them that they slowly started to learn how to unleash. Discovering this in the middle of an Apathy Syndrome outbreak didn’t help much though since they all questioned everything and started to feel like they were being manipulated.
The second half doesn’t work quite as well, largely because Ryo is shifted out of the picture for the bulk of it. With the elder brother gone, Shin and Jun seem listless and without direction of any sort. What tries to give this second half some direction is the arrival of councilor Akihiko Sanada. Working with one of the officers that Ryo associated with, the pair are connecting with Shin and his friends in order to have them help deal with the larger problem facing them now. With the drugs that are out there from the Persona experiments, they want to get them off the streets before they cause more trouble. But they have to convince the kids to participate willingly.
Persona deals with a lot of fallout from the even ten years prior, which is what the Persona 3 game was all about, so having the children of the scientists from there being a part of this story is an interesting idea. Several of the kids have ties to the past and there’s a fairly elaborate chart that has to come from all of it. What happens with the second half of the series though is that it comes across as far less structured in how it wants to tell its story. There’s no focus to it, no real central character, though Shin tries to take on this role. But because it wants to deal with several of the kids, and a surprising secret with Kanaru, it’s all spread out too much. There’s too many layers to the story that aren’t peeled back in a way, or through a central enough character, to make it clear. The more you watch, the less you understand.
While I did hvae issues with the series, Persona is still a show that manages to keep your attention. The further it goes along, the more depth there looks to be to it, and you want to try and understand it. I again ended up watching this set in one sitting with no real break to it and kept wanting to know more and more, even with the frustration I was feeling with it. There’s such a great design to it and the first half set it all up very well, but the second half almost feels like a different show at points. A-1 Pictures gives this a great sense of style, wonderful character designs and a truly atmospheric number of settings that are all real world, yet feel like they’re just slight to the side of it. It’s very easy to be captivated by all of it, and while it set up a lot of interesting things with the first set, the follow-through just isn’t there for me. Something simply didn’t connect with how the story unfolded.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Perfect Guide, Clean Ending
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: NIS America
Release Date: September 28th, 2010
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.