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Persona 4 The Animation Part Two Blu-ray Anime Review

11 min read

Persona 4The second half starts out on a nice, lighthearted note, as Yu Narukami has the most hectic summer ever.

What They Say:
Previously, on Persona 4 the Animation (I hope you read this in Cyclop’s voice circuit the 90s X-Men cartoon): Yu and his friends had finally caught the killer. Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the summer. It’s all fun and games until the 2000 IQ Killjoy Detective – dig that Persona 4 Arena reference – Naoto Shirogane becomes a student at their school. He believes that the killer is still out there, and when the detective is shown on the Midnight Channel, Yu and his friends discover that the case is, indeed, far from over.

Things get even more serious when Yu starts getting threatening letters that warn him to stop saving people, otherwise, someone close to him will be killed next. When his dear cousin, Nanako, is next on the channel those threats come full circle. Can the Investigation Team stop the killer in time before the child is lost to the fog and shadows? And just who is this killer, anyway? More importantly: what is the Midnight Channel?

The Review:
Audio:
Just like the last blu-ray this one only has the dub track. You’ll notice that some of the voice actors have changed – particularly Kanji Tatsumi, but his replacement does a great job. In fact, these last couple of episodes are full of stellar voice acting from the dub cast, so kudos to the entire team. The music continues to be amazing, including a few clever nods to the game: in episode 19, for example, Ayane plays “Never More” on her trumpet, which fans of the game will recognize as the ending theme. There’s a lot of new music and songs in this half of the anime, including a new opening, a new ending, and a couple of new insert songs. This makes me terribly envious over the Japanese releases that came with a CD of the music.

The only downside is that not all of the game music makes it into the second half. The first half had all of the dungeon tracks whereas the second half doesn’t. Naoto’s dungeon music isn’t present, the Heaven dungeon music only plays for about thirty seconds, and the final final FINAL (did I mention final?) boss music isn’t in the anime. It’s not a deal breaker in any way, the soundtrack is still something to groove to.

Video:
The episodes are, once again, split into two discs: 13 – 19 on one, then 20 – 26 on the other. They’re more evenly divided this time compared to the first volume that had nine episodes on one disc and only three on the second. Episode 26 is a bonus episode of sorts, the “True Ending,” to the Persona 4 story. Originally, when aired in Japan, this episode was never broadcast and was ONLY available by purchasing the blu-ray. I believe that this may be the case for the U.S. release as Hulu only has 25 episodes available. Cheap tactic? Perhaps, but it does actually follow the game’s idea with the true ending: things can end peacefully with taking down the killer, or you can keep going and take the extra step towards the real truth.

The animation quality is o.k., at best. It’s not BAD, mind you; it’s just not as good as you think it would be after watching the well done opening. Sometimes it does a spectacular job: boss battles are still intense, the personas look cool, thinks like that. Other times you can catch shotty animation if a character is in the background. Again, not really a deal breaker when you’re so hooked on the story, but with a great opening and great animation quality in the games (the original, Golden, and Arena) it’s a bit of a let down.

Packaging:
The packaging, once again, leaves a lot to be desired. A simple, flimsy blu-ray case that holds both discs, there’s no extra pamphlets or anything to read through that gives you episode descriptions or extra art. The real downside is the cover. I have nothing against Yukiko, she’s an awesome gal, but knowing that this is the last blu-ray we’re getting why not put the entire team on the cover? Having Yu on the first cover made sense because he’s the main character and that was the start of the series. Now that it’s coming to an end and the full team is coming together, it makes more sense to have all of them instead of just one person.

Menu:
Extremely lazy. That’s a generous way of describing it. There’s no music, no video, no nothing. You get a character picture and episodes to click on. That’s it. It reminds me of the anime dvds I use to get years ago, back when there wasn’t much anime out there and I was happy to find something at my local “Suncoast.” Back then, I didn’t care what the menu looked like, I was content with hitting the “play” button and start watching. Now, I’m use to some sort of opening movie, or at least some music to listen to.

Extras:
If you’re looking for extras the blu-ray version is not the way to go. I know that the blu-ray version lost the Japanese voice tracks, therefore, it lost the Japanese commentaries, but is there a reason why we couldn’t have English commentary? Or maybe some sort of homage to the PS2 game? As it stands, all the blu-ray has are trailers, a director’s cut to a couple of episodes, and clean versions of the opening and the ending (which the dvd has). The extras aren’t even loaded on a separate screen; it just takes up a small corner of the bland menu. What really surprises me is that none of the trailers are Persona related. You would think since this second volume is being released in 2013, there would be a trailer to Persona 4 Golden, at least, which was just released November 2012.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second half starts out on a nice, lighthearted note, as Yu Narukami has the most hectic summer ever.

It’s like he’s the main character of an anime or something, jeez!

Once school is back things get a bit more serious – time for the King’s Game, baby! Drunk – or not drunk, according to Naoto – hijinks ensue. So after surviving the King’s Game you start to get comfortable, start to think that the rest of Yu’s time in Inaba will be peaceful.

Then Naoto gets tossed into the T.V.

Terrific.

If you’ve been watching this and wondering why the boy detective is so prominent in the opening, now you know. After that rescue the team is now the perfect RPG size of eight and ready to go… after… a quick beauty pageant, a cross-dressing pageant, a trip to a hot springs, some major blushy blushy crush moments between Kanji and Naoto and… is Yu about to kiss Yosuke?!

I swear this show is about murders, honest!

The killer begins to threaten Yu with letters that are delivered directly to his house. Dojima grows suspicious and Yu actually tells him the truth about the Midnight Channel. Of course, Dojima doesn’t believe him, but he immediately regrets it when the next victim is revealed: Nanako! Here’s a friendly warning from me to you, as soon as that hot springs trip is done the show takes a sudden turn for the intense and heartbreaking. By the time you get through each episode you’re wishing for just a whisper of some fun times.

In Summary:
I’m really trying hard not to spaz or spoil too many things. I might fail, so bear with me — har har, got a bear pun in after all.

Is Persona 4 the Animation a perfect anime adaptation to the video game? No. Is it good? Yes, very much so.

The anime has all of the key moments from the game but spruces them up a bit. For example: the school trip that takes place in September uses all the music from Persona 3 since the trip takes places where that game did. Another good example that shows how the anime has taken the story up a notch is when you watch Yu and the others debate on whether or not they should kill the killer. In the game, you have to make the right choices to either spare him or throw him into the T.V. It’s basically the characters talking it out until you make the right choice. In the anime, Yu actually drags the guy over towards the T.V., half of his friends telling him not to while the other half is encouraging him to shove the bastard in. This is much more intense than it was in the game since you get to see the cold, unforgiving look in Yu’s eyes, the killer squirming and pleading for his life.

The biggest change the anime makes, to me, is in the final episode. At first I had mixed feelings about it. It’s a good episode, yes, but it’s so different than it is in the game. Yu’s friends don’t really do much at all and it’s disappointing to not see them using those shiny new personas they got in the previous episode. After watching it again I realized that it’s actually an extremely well done episode. When you watch it with all of the other episodes it fits right in. Sure, Yu’s friends didn’t do much, but the episode was about him dealing with his own feelings of not wanting to be alone, so him having that last battle alone made the message more meaningful – especially since he actually has a shadow to face, something that’s never done in the game. Just because he was alone didn’t mean that his friends weren’t with him, which I think was the point they were trying to get across. His friends had already proved that they’d be there for him by helping so much in the previous episode. Even Margaret played a big part in this episode, taking her out of the roll as advisor and optional side boss.

Despite my high praises the anime still does have its low points. Just like the first volume, social links weren’t as well established as they could’ve been and it makes me wish that the series would’ve been longer than twenty-six episodes. The major events that clench the social links are there, but there’s little moments you miss that are just as important. You’ll never know about Kanji’s fear of hospitals, for example, unless if you play the game, which is a real shame because the anime could’ve included it because of how much the team is at the hospital in later episode. It is a bit clever how they did try and fit in the max social link moments with the Investigation Team. Rise’s being at the beauty pageant was a smart decision since it played on her not wanting to be the popular idol, but it still meaning something to her. Also, having Yukiko’s at the Amagi Inn made sense, since her shadow dealt with her feelings about the Inn.

On the one hand, I get not showing every single step to the social link dance since it can go on for quite sometime. We don’t need to see Yosuke going into your room and asking about your porn collection – no matter how funny the scene might’ve been. But, on the other hand, it’s kind of a bummer to see five social links end in one episode, or not see any of Naoto’s social link at all with “The Phantom Thief” and her grandfather’s part in it. Though, honestly, where would that have fit in?

I will, however, give the anime credit for having the non Investigation Team social links show up throughout the rest of the series. You’ll see Ai at the school festival, and Kou at the fireworks show. You even get to see them as they watch the fog growing around town which makes that battle against one of the big bad bosses feel even more important. I do also like how you’ll see other links that Yu didn’t talk to – Yumi from the Drama Club is there if you look hard enough. I’ll also give the series credit for not having Yu date anyone. It’s a clever move to have the hints there between each girl, leaving it to us to decide. And yes, I said each girl, you can’t date the boys no matter how hard you try – and boy, oh boy, did I try. I’ll just be content with the group date café for now.

I’ve mentioned my feelings towards the lack of Japanese honorifics in the first volume review, but it needs to be said again. It’s a bit odd to me since Teddie still uses “sensei” when referring to Yu. There’s no “senpai” for the underclassmen addressing him, or no “kun” or “san” at the end of his name. It gets really jarring because there are times when you can’t tell if they’re just saying, “Hey you,” or, “Hey Yu.” I think if this were back in the anime days of old where character names got changed – Usagi to Serena, for example – I would be o.k. with it. But when the 2008 game keeps them, the Vita re-release keeps them, and Arena keeps them, there’s no excuse for the anime not to. It’s difficult to explain why Yu, Yosuke, Yukiko, and Chie are called “seniors” when they’re not actually seniors because the anime decided not to use “senpai.”

All and all, I think the anime did a good job. It’s enjoyable to watch and it’s really cool seeing the main character I had played with for so many hours actually talk and respond to things. At the start of the series he was quiet and a bit bland, but by the end it’s hard not to love Yu Narukami and the bonds he has with the others. Persona 4 the Animation is definitely something fans of the game should watch. Hell, if you’re just looking for an interesting anime series, this works for that too.

Features:
English Language, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: D
Menu Grade: D
Extras Grade: D

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 15th, 2013
MSRP: $59.99
Running Time: 365 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Hitachi 42 inch plasma T.V., Sony PS3 blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p

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