Persona 4 ends really well as the real surprise of the murders is revealed, mixing in some good comedy, family tales and potential tragedy through the end makes it a worthwhile finale.
What They Say :
Third 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’.
Reviewing the DVD portion of the release, whilst doesn’t initially say it does have a 5.1 Dolby Surround English track and a Japanese 2.0 track – the real effect of the Dolby really shines through here much clearer than in a number of releases, which in turn makes the Japanese release still good, but whilst in a number of UK releases there hasn’t been too much difference, the quality difference is evident with this release. No issues regarding sound connection with subtitles, no in sync issues and just excellent quality when it comes to every aspect of the audio (voices, music, sound effects, etc – all come clear and effective). Visually, no problems there either – the show is very dark and gritty, but also very stylish and the animation comes full forth with no transition issues or subtitle issues, making it a very enjoyable show to listen to and watch – no problems with pauses or in full/wide screen resolution, very good release.
Similar to the previous releases, the menu is completely on the left and similar to a Blu-Ray release (which is rare for DVD releases) it goes into a selection choice immediately instead of loading to another screen which is very convenient and you’re able to select quickly. The menu is on a yellow background with dark scratchy shots mixed in whilst clips of the show are shown on the right, with the selection being Play All, Audio, Episodes and Extras. No problems with selection from main screen or from the show leading it to a pleasant, if familiar, setting.
The only extras are the clean second opening, and a final Jiken-Kun segment, which I still don’t understand how this relates to the Personal universe (if anyone can tell me, let me know) which was basically him crying over it was the last segment, about to answer some final questions…but then has to return to the ninja world. For me, pointless and I still don’t get it.
Persona 4 has been a pleasant ride even for someone who wasn’t familiar with the games. The fact I now only Persona 4 Arena may be a good enough idea that the anime has at least broken me into a part of the games, and this finale helps out in quite a bit in terms of that.
We start off with a family tale as initially I thought of it just as a bit of character development for Yu but it kind of alludes to the fact that his sister Nanako and uncle Dojima get a bit of a big role by the end of the series. It’s basically your classic parent neglects their child because of work (though in Dojima’s case, it is a) police work and b) it is also his main sole purpose to find out about the hit-and-run of his wife. The issue is he never told Nanako it was a hit-and-run, so when she finds out, she is quiet upset, which leads to some bonding moments both for Yu and Dojima, which does end rather sweetly. There is also a cultural festival episode which is basically an excuse to have a bit of a comic episode, which involves beauty contests, cross-dressing, some more development for Yu, and a lot of hilarity. Teddie’s involvement combined with the actual winner of the beauty contest had be chuckling a lot more than I expected, as well as getting a bit of development for Rise who I felt has been the one that got the bad end of the stick of the main cast in terms of characterization as we got into the final arc, which is more than welcome.
Another character I like a lot is Yukiko who also gets a good solo episode as well when the gang gets invited to her family inn. It’s great to see the shy Yukiko actually evolve into a more strong willed character that she refuses to let the press intimidate her due to an incident at the inn a few years ago when one of their tenants died. Her dream is being realized and she is working towards it with her own initiative, which is quite different from the girl that always relied on Chie earlier on the series. Of course, being an inn episode, there’s hijinks aplenty with the usual peeping escapades at the baths and such, making it quite fun as well, though it ends with a swift reminder as the story comes full throttle shortly after…
Because after the fun and games, we are back to the case as Yu gets a message from someone to not continue with it. It gets a bit more intense when he is warned that someone close to him will suffer, and the scare chords increase when Dojima realizes Yu has become way too involved with everything. Whilst Yu tries to tell him what is going on, unsurprisingly Dojima doesn’t believe him – but the fact that the next person that he sees in the Midnight Chanel is Nanako makes the nightmare all too real. Nanako gets kidnapped with the believed serial killer as they enter the TV world with someone who had a link with some of the previous victims from what it appeared, which for me here (and a bit later) is probably the weakest part of the anime – the reveals aren’t that impressive as they don’t really get too much hints and what was going and the revelations aren’t going to wow people because it was simply side characters involved (though the main antagonist did catch me off guard later on) which you would have barely noticed or linked to unless you were familiar with the game beforehand or REALLY paying attention.
That said, the battle sequences are immense during these last few episodes and reveals. Yu switching Personas several times against the Shadow Kunino-sagiri is also got a time issue because Nanako is getting affected by the shadows – even when Yu’s group eventually win, the power the shadows create actually seems to seep into their world, which eventually leads to a real shocking moment that I didn’t expect when one of the characters apparently dies. I won’t say who for the moment but it caught me off guard and even though things do get better, when a death happened, I did not expect that.
After that, the initial serial killer suspect, a man named Namatame, he explains his Shadow had the desire to save people, and despite the rage of Yu through the death of someone he cares about, Naoto (who actually has some nice moments through the episodes) actually realizes something feels off, so despite their rage, they let him tell his story. Throughout listening to him, they realize he isn’t the one causing this, and his way of ‘saving’ people through the TV doesn’t match up with the ones who died. Combined with Teddie, who is wondering if he can return to the human world after a loved one has died, has his own crisis between the TV World and real world, which actually causes a miracle as the person who died actually somehow comes back to life. Whilst clichéd, it is that moment that Yu seems to realize who is the real cause of the murder cases…
The confrontation of the real killer is a real surprise, but it actually makes sense when looking through the episodes and how they came to the conclusion. It is a surprise though as again, was a side character (and primarily used for comic relief) so the final parts where he becomes the main villain, his plans to merge the TV World and real world with shadows, and his motives for it, it becomes quite disturbing and distracting. It turns into a miraculous array of battles between Yu and the killer, as the others help out and it leads to the eventual goodbyes of Yu. Interestingly though, there is another episode after the finale which could be a nod to the game as the ‘true ending’. Whilst not a huge fan of these genre of games, I am familiar to the concept of the bad ends, good ends and true endings which I’m assuming this is in relevance to. There is an episode which showcases just before Yu leaves and again, links in a character from the past who appeared to have very little to do with the plot but outs him, where he explains the truth about the Midnight Chanel, and almost forcing Yu to revisit the past over and over, when the Velvet Room finally comes into play and Margaret shows herself to snap him into shape. His battle with the new villain basically causing him to create a new destiny and future, a new world if you will, as he says goodbye to his friends, and the bonds they created forge together.
The series as you can see, is a labour of love for fans of the games. And as I never really played any of the main ones, it still works as a good show in terms of an action genre with a hint of mystery, something which I approve of. Yu becomes a very capable and likeable protagonist who deeply cares for his new family and friends, and sees himself as the main protector but with a hint of comedy and silliness to mix in with them, yet at the same time sees them as their own beings and happily accepts their ideas and listens before making decisions despite being scene as the de factio leader. I did like the stand along episodes which focused on the family and the Yukiko episode, though it did make most of the remainder of the Investigation Team bar a few moments with Naoto pretty much obsolete outside of the battle sequences (very little involving Chie, Teddie did have a big moment near the end but outside of that was used mainly for comedy with Yosuke and Kanji). The drama though involving the family though especially considering what Yu has to go through before the conclusion was legit scary especially for parents watching this, and seeing adult fears come through the TV screen (literally in this case) is a reminder for everybody watching.
The battle sequences were excellent throughout as despite the silliness of the beginning of the release, it comes full circle with the conclusion. The fact the things like the TV World and the Velvet Room are explained and do serve a purpose was very well told, and whilst the fact the antagonists didn’t really get fleshed out too much, they were still terrifying when it came to the Midnight Chanel, their Personas, and their motives. The animation is unique and flows through very well, a good English dub and Japanese dub makes this quite an intriguing watch in all circles. I can’t say it’s perfect because there are too many things that don’t make it incredibly strong, but overall a solid show whether you are a fan of the game or not.
Persona is a show where needing to know the game helps but as proven, not a necessity. It actually made me interested in the games (with me owning one now) and the way the lead character developed from boring hero to a true warrior who cares for his friends and family (combined with absolute rage when his worst fears come apparently true) is a testament to the development side. Whilst most of the cast were quite weaker in this term and the revelation of the antagonists felt very rushed, it doesn’t stop the fact the way the stories are told are really good – combined this with excellent battle sequences and as far as a mysterious action series goes, you could do far worse. Genuinely recommended though may want to try out a game first.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening/Ending
Content Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: July 22nd, 2013
Running Time: 300 minutes
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.