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Persona4 the Golden Animation Vol. #01 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

Persona 4 The Golden Animation Hulu HeaderA little bit of side exploration just as things start to get serious.

What They Say:
Spring. Far from the city, time flows peacefully in this rural town. As the cherry blossoms scatter in the wind, a young man named Yu Narukami steps off the train at Yasoinaba Station. Yu has come to this town, where his uncle lives, for family reasons; he will be transferring into the local high school, Yasogami High.

And so begins his school life… The shopping mall after school. A series of murders taking place in town. The Midnight Channel, airing late at night… What lies in store for Yu and his friends “this time around?”

Contains episodes 1-6 plus volume 1 of the original soundtrack CD, a 24-page deluxe booklet, and a postcard set.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only that’s done up in the uncompressed PCM format. Though there are a few minor moments of action to be had in the show, the bulk of it is all about the dialogue and simple slice of life elements to it. It handles these elements well with a pretty good mix where the forward soundstage has some good placement as there’s often several characters on screen and we also get some decent surreal moments where it gets to go a bit further. The dialogue itself certainly comes across well with what it does, more so in the musical areas that we get, and especially with the opening and closing sequences. The action moments come across well but they’re so few and far between that it doesn’t have much impact. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during playback.

Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The six episodes we get with this set are spread evenly across two discs with three on each. There’s not much in the way of extras so there’s more than enough space to work with. Animated by A-1 Pictures, unlike the main series for this franchise, the show has a pretty good look about it with some very detailed character designs that shows through in a good way. There’s no problems with this transfer as it’s very clean throughout with the right kind of pop and vibrancy to it that really lets it stand out. The color design is definitely strong and with the amount of detail in the backgrounds and characters, it comes across very well here. There’s pretty much nothing to complain about with the look of this release.

The packaging design for this release is definitely nice with what it does as we get a decent sized box that holds the two Blu-ray cases inside. The box itself goes with a thin thickness box that holds everything well and has a good color design about it. The yellow background is all part of the franchise colors and with that as the background it really comes across well. The front of the box gives us a look at Yu as its centerpiece while the color wheel behind it strikes outward in a great way. The back cover goes for the yellow background as well while doing the rainbow lines right across it. The wraparound with it has the usual selling points with the back side providing the technical information accurately while the front lists the languages, bonus material and the amount of discs included.

Within the box we get the two clear Blu-ray cases with one holding the two discs from the show and the other the soundtrack. The case for the show has some good supporting character artwork while keeping to the overall packaging design with the backgrounds while the back goes for a breakdown of episodes by number and title for each disc. There’s no artwork on the reverse side outside of the yellow background and the color stripes, which looks good as you take the discs off. The soundtrack case works the same way with more of the supporting cast there against the colorful background while the back cover breaks down all the tracks by number and title. The booklet included is great as we get a look at the six episodes being broken out, several pages of character design details and then some beautiful looks at the backgrounds, one of the best looking parts of the series. We also get a small set of beautiful postcards that has some great character artwork on it that should please most fans.

The menu design for this release is pretty nice as it works with the right kind of color design with the bold yellow background with plenty of color lines coming out of it that uses the box set artwork perfectly. It’s bright, colorful and has the right kind of detail to it that it has a whole lot of pop to it. Using the character artwork from the packaging works well here while the right side has the logo off to the lower right so that it’s big enough but doesn’t dominate. The navigation along the bottom is a little off in a way because it goes with a bright orange strip that you can see through a bit and has a simple white text for the selections itself. But it uses the kind of icons with it that certainly feel game/computer oriented but it doesn’t feel like it fits in well with the rest of the menu design. Everything does work well though as it’s quick to load and easy to navigate through submenus, both as a top menu and as a pop-up menu.

The only extras included in this release are the clean opening sequence as well as a collection with the promos and commercials.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the success of the 2011/2012 main series for Persona 4: The Animation, a second shorter series was commissioned with the release of the PS Vita game. This series, clocking in at twelve broadcast episodes and an OVA, came out in the summer of 2014 and provided a different look at the events of the main series. It’s almost a slice of life show when you get down to it but with some edges of the weirdness of what’s going on and a growing sense of danger that really picks up in the sixth episode here. With this series, it’s one that’s definitely a challenge for me in a lot of ways because I haven’t seen the main series that this is retelling the events of as it fills in some of the gaps. So my perspective is from someone who hasn’t seen that nor played any of the games.

The premise of this series is one that jumps back and forth in time a lot of ways, which is creatively displayed, though I’ll admit it became difficult to keep up with as it progresses. The focus is on the character of Yu, who has come from the city to live out in the smaller area with his uncle and his cousin. Because this is a secondary series, there’s not a lot of time spent on the way that once he gets settled in that he’s able to reach through the TV screen and step into another world where it’s in ruins. It’s here that he meets a young woman named Marie that has lost her memories in a big way and isn’t sure of anything. This world isn’t explored much as to what it means, but there are a few first person perspectives given to it over the course of the six episodes, though it’s mostly about the way that someone is reading Marie’s poetry that she’s written, something that she really doesn’t like happening.

With Yu bringing her back into the real world, calling her a friend from the city that he knows, the show works into the idea that he’s going to help her figure out what she’s lost by going through the daily motions of life. Some of those that become friends of Yu’s since his arrival take to her easily enough, since she’s just as new as he is in the end, and there’s a decent sized group that grows out of this as they hang out together and do things. Marie’s lack of memories is skirted as best as it can be for as long as it can be, but what we see is Marie making memories herself and growing from there and getting along with everyone. There’s a lot of small moments throughout these episodes that focuses on what they all do in general but without a lot of strong focus. One of the stronger story areas is one that has a bit of a concert being put on for one of the characters’ family store and that has some fun to it, but like a lot of the show it just feels light on actual meaty story and more just about the characters.

The episode that worked the best for me in terms of actual story is the sixth one, which focuses on the character of Detective Adachi. The character is a junior partner of Yu’s uncle, so there’s a connection there. What makes it really interesting though is that when Adachi first came here from the city himself to be a small town detective, he ended up discovering the same thing Yu did when it comes to the dimension beyond the TV. We see some of the dark and twisted things he did there to people, mostly to women who slighted him it seems, and the way that we see him as a proper young detective and this darker and crueler side is interesting. Even more so as we see how Yu senses something off about him but also because Adachi, upon meeting Marie, knows that she’s more than she seems as well and tries to warn Yu off. It’s a curious episode compared to the others, darker and more story driven, and gives the first taste of there being something to work with here.

In Summary:
Persona 4: The Golden is an unusual show that even fans of the main franchise aren’t sure about in a lot of ways. With it dealing primarily with the new character of Marie that was introduced in the PS Vita game, it expands on what came before and is pretty much inaccessible to new viewers like me. It has some beautiful animation at times with some great character designs and an interesting tone to it overall, but I’m very much on the outside looking in when it comes to figuring out what’s going on. But there are intriguing moments with figuring out what Marie’s really all about and the material with Adachi towards the end definitely ups the stakes a lot. I’m curious to see where it goes and definitely curious what I’ll think when I get to the main series itself later this year. Fans of it will definitely like the presentation and packaging overall with what it brings to the table as it’s top notch quality all around.

Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening, PV & CM Collection

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: July 21st, 2014
MSRP: $99.98
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.

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