The conclusion of the main arc as the victim gets apprehended but with more questions than answers, the series continues on a strong way with a few bumps in the road.
What They Say :
Second collection of episodes from the anime series based on the role-playing video game. The series follows Yu Narumake (voice of Daisuke Namikawa), a high school student who is sent to the countryside to live with his uncle, Ryotaro Dojima (Unshô Ishizuka), and cousin, Nanako Dojima (Akemi Kanda), when his parents’ work takes them abroad. Yu quickly discovers that the countryside of Inaba is no ordinary place as he develops mysterious powers known as ‘Persona’ and embarks on adventures in a realm known as the ‘TV World’.
The Review :
Set in English Dolby Surround Sound in both stereo and mono, Japanese in standard 2.0 stereo – issues with the menu selecting it I’ll mention below as harder to actually establish what you have at first as it doesn’t say, but it does have the Dolby Surround Sound options – which explains why I felt in my original review that it was far better than many standard 2.0 options. It’s standard but strong, with no issues regarding transition between audio and subtitles. Visually, the animation continues to be excellent, and in terms of quality, no issues regarding freeze lag or subtitles, so nothing to complain about the release here.
A 2 disc release, both of them have a similar design on a chequered background whilst shots from the anime are shown. Similar to most Blu-Ray menus (though this is the DVD review) all the selections are easily selectable on the main screen, from Play All, Audio, Episodes and on the first disc, Extras. The only issue I found now is after watching this a second time in Japanese on my PC it turns out it is a Dolby based release but isn’t mentioned on the disc and as it’s a review copy couldn’t check any background to confirm it’s audio, which suggests no stereo option which of course isn’t really necessary but just more for clarification. All selections were easily accessible outside of that with no other issues.
The only extras were on the first disc, with 2 short Mister Jikken segments which are basically Q&As in a comic style, that don’t really focus on any characters from the anime, and don’t really add anything to the show and are just throw away comedy segments.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first part of Persona 4 The Animation was a good way for someone not familiar with the games that much to get into the characters and see what their universe entails with – and whilst I wasn’t too fond of their lead, the rest of the characters made up for it. The release here continues with some fun moments, with Yu actually getting a lot better, with a combination of ending one arc, starting another, and a seemingly filler part in the middle actually good for helping with his character development.
We continue with Yu seeing Rise in the television, and the gang going to save her. Seeing Rise struggle with her multiple selves as a good metaphor of how she is seen in the media gave me a lot of love to her character, quickly making her my favourite so far. The great mixture of drama as her real self becomes a shadow, combined with the surprising twist of Teddie also revealing to have a Persona and having his own crisis as he searches for himself, whilst the solution was obvious and predictable, having Teddie become one of the gang in a different way actually brings him back into the story far more and with Rise also part of the gang, the core group is established as they continue to search for this murderer (and Teddie does become even more amusing as he actually has a human form when he inevitably turns to the real world).
The next murder puts things into rushing as their teacher is killed, and even more intriguing is the fact that there is someone who seems to be hinted at as the murderer, who is creeping out a number of the girls named Mitsuo, who later appears to take the credit of the murders on an online chat room, but is dismissed. Later, we are introduced to a new character, Naoto, a young police officer, who tells them that Kubo has turned himself in, yet later he has apparently gone into the TV world and taunts them from inside, so the gang follows him to attack him in his world. This episode is pretty interesting as it seems to show the gang fighting his other selves, but then flashes forward to them defeating him, yet the gang growing apart, which also begins to start perhaps the turning point for Yu. Whilst seeming too perfect, he is showing cracks of his calm character, and is obviously now quite happy with the group he has, realizing they are his friends. Yet the future seen here suggests they are drifting apart, when in fact it’s a fear of his fearing becoming alone again. Mitsuo’s shadow is affecting him personally and he breaks it with the strength of his own beliefs, before kicking real butt using every single Persona in this battle which is a joy to watch…
Whilst it appears to be over, it sets up to a mini-arc which after first viewing seems a bit filler-ish, but it is set up from the previous arc so Teddie can actually go into the real world, and involving Yu’s little sister Nanako. A mysterious fox appears which she gives an umbrella to, which at first seems to be disregarded – it turns out to be an episode about Yu and Nanako’s relationship as Yu’s character gets fleshed out a lot more now, as he travels with various people and Nanako worried that he may not like her anymore. In turn, Yu thinks she has lost her umbrella which is from her favourite TV show and wishes to buy a replacement. The same fox actually directs him into a job where he tutors a boy and also works at a day care – we see him interact with other people and also how he connects with them, such as the pretty nurse who he inherently charms, but when things get in trouble with a single mother being injured, he calls her, cuts the crap and asks for help to make sure she’s OK. Despite being fillerish, it actually did its job in exploring Yu’s character and show that he is kindhearted, stubborn and cares for those he considers family and friends, despite the change in his life both from moving to a new city, and also with getting involved with the personas.
The rest of the episodes suggest moving away and now focus on the group as friends, but the fact that Naoto has transferred into the area and seems to feel that this case hasn’t been wrapped up yet means there is definite potential for a cliffhanger. First episode though of this new arc is more of the silly side, as the gang are on a school trip, which consists of mostly boring lectures, and with Teddie in human form now joining them, they relax and unwind on some funny moments (the guys in particular sharing a room at a former love hotel, especially with Kenji as Yosuke is still not 100% sure on his sexuality, which doesn’t help Kenji’s own awkwardness, with Yu being unintentionally funny as well) with the best being where Rise using her showbiz connections takes them to a bar who owed them a favour, where Naoto joins them for the sake of keeping an eye on them, though clearly interested in them due to their involvement with the previous case. What’s particular funny is the group getting drunk on the atmosphere as none of their drinks become alcoholic, which makes a character like Yukiko who is mostly serious suddenly become very silly and flirty (and all the girls using Yu’s lap doesn’t help Yosuke at all). What is most interesting though is Naoto’s background, as the links become closer when involved with the case, especially as Naoto is investigating the Midnight Channel…
It comes to a head when Naoto also suffers and creates a shadow, as his past, the ideas of his family, and what Naoto truly believes in and wants to be all come to a head. It’s here that Naoto is revealed as a girl much to the surprise of everyone as she was very androgynous, and the others realize that their days as users of Persona’s aren’t over, and the case is still continuing as Mitsuo was nothing more than a copycat killer, so Naoto now accepts the group after they save her, and acquires her own Personas. It leads to another cliffhanger similar to the end of the previous disc, and as we know now we still have a killer on the loose…
P4 The Animation on this release is a mixed bag, but to be fair, nothing majorly negative. In terms of the characters, most of the side cast is relegated to just basically talking with each other and not being significant regards to the plot. The first major arc ended with Yu being the focal point, whilst the second one focused on Naoto. Fortunately, each of the characters do get their fun moments (whether it’s Rise flaunting her showbiz cred, Yukiko getting ‘drunk’ Yosuke being Yosuke, Kenji getting embarrassed and Teddie trying to flirt with the girls now he has a human form, surprisingly Chie doesn’t get much time in this arc though there is a moment where shows she wants to become stronger at least). The good thing is that we got a lot of Yu and how he has interacted with the group (Kenji actually tells him he is his best friend) and the interaction of Naoto with the group now has a position of authority so with Naoto’s police background this should be interested how the show goes from here.
Even though it seemed out of place, I liked the mini-arc with Yu and Nanako, though the identity of the fox is never really explored, and it did seem a bit over the top with Yu using his personas for mundane things, though more for comic purposes. The strength of the show is a combination of excellent animation and music, with a decent and interactive story as you wonder how this mystery is going to be solved. I have a love for the mystery genre and as nothing is obvious, it makes you wonder what the conclusion is going to be. I would have liked more interaction with the other characters, as they all seems to be relegated after Rise’s arc finished, but they still have their moments and Yu is growing out of a stereotypical male hero as he’s finally getting some development. The Persona sequences were excellent, and the Velvet Room sequences at the beginning are always interesting and give you some hints of what is to come, you just have to connect all the dots. The best thing I can say about it, is that you don’t have to play the games to get involved with it, it’s a decent stand alone show on its own which is the best praise I can say, because a number of shows you probably would need prior knowledge, here – it’s easy to get into, easy to watch, and easy to enjoy.
Whilst not spectacular, Persona 4 The Animation is not bad at all. Nothing really stands out besides Yu becoming more interesting and the introduction of Naoto, whilst the other cast are used mostly for comedy parts and talking with Yu. However, the action is excellent, the animation and sound is defining, and it does leave with a cliffhanger as the initial arc is brought round full circle. Granted the 2 episode arc with Nanako does seem fillierish it does leave room for interpretation, and there are enough moments for both Persona and anime fans to enjoy this series whether as a compliment to the games or as a standalone show.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening And Ending
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: April 1st, 2013
Running Time: 300 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.