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Persona4 the Golden Animation Vol. #02 Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Persona 4 The Golden Part 2The weirdness continues. And concludes.

What They Say:
Yu follows Adachi into the Midnight TV to find the truth behind a series of incidents in the rural town in spite of Marie’s warning to stay away from him. When Yu’s Persona and Adachi’s Persona fight, Yu understands what happened to Adachi before. Yu cannot find words to comfort Adachi and goes back to the real world. Meanwhile, Marie continues searching for the memories she had lost. Can Yu and his friends reach the truth?

The Review:
Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this release is replicates the first with its quality and it’s 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 while also going beyond the norm a bit with some nice embossing. 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 and Marie together as the focal point 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 main 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 once again very well done 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The extras for this release step up a bit more in a way, though we get the welcome clean ending sequence as the familiar piece to complement the clean opening on the first set. The big extra here is a sixteen minute long alternate ending bonus episode. It fleshes out a different way the story can end, which is certainly part and parcel with the way the games work. It’s interesting enough if you’re heavily invested in the show, but what got me with it is that it’s not done with the regular team or quality so you really notice the difference. And it reinforces just how much the animation quality can impact the enjoyment of the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As I mentioned in the review for the first set, my experience with the Persona franchise, and Persona 4 in particular, is definitely weird and not “clean” in a sense. And since the first set for The Golden I’ve actually made it “worse” in a way. With The Golden being my first experience with the Persona 4 world, it was just kind of odd yet I could figure things out. But a week prior to this set arriving I ended up getting in the full main series from 2011/2012 to watch. So I went from this particular compressed/alternate take to the full main series and now to the back half of this take. Suffice to say, it’s made clear once again just how interesting a game franchise can be adapted with the variations, interpretations and endings to give it a very different feeling in a lot of ways. I’m glad I got to see the main series before the end though, which in itself had a couple of different ending – and ending points.

With this half of the series it takes on the continued compressed and unusual tone that populated the first half, though now that I know more of the series and how it worked in the main I can see the oddness of it all even more. The opening episode is one that deals with the whole Adachi storyline that became the big sequence for the main series finale and it works well here in being done mostly within one episode while also ramping things up in a really good way. Adachi and the world he takes them to inside the TV feels even more threatening than usual and it has an eerie sense about it all. The power levels are good here and Adachi has the kind of crazy approach that I expected, though it’s a touch more muted because it’s all self contained. Bringing this piece of the puzzle to a close works well to give the show some impact, though once again it’s not really the point of it all.

The point of it is Marie, and she’s pretty much missing in action here once again. This lets the show deal in some of the quieter times that exist where the gang hangs out and does things together, from hot springs to other little adventures that helps to bond them all together more, which is part of the larger narrative. It does have one area that changes things up a bit as they all go on a ski trip after dealing with an episode where Yu is sick and that proves to be a lot of fun with how the others take care of him. The ski trip storyline is welcome because it takes them out of their normal element completely and we get to see them dealing with a ghost story of sorts that plays back to some of their other fears of what’s going on back home. It’s the kind of piece that’s certainly a one-off, but it also works to reinforce the way that Yu feels something is off because of Marie not being there, or existing depending on how you want to phrase it. That unsettling side is what populates a decent chunk of the show, though they also know when to ut it to the side and just enjoy the moment.

That’s one of the early episodes that has Yu bringing everyone together for a bit of a party at his place, though he makes the male oblivious mistake of asking each of the girls individually to come over and they each thing it’s a date or potential date of some sort. The result is a kind of basic yet really fun episode where they end up coming together at the house at close to the same time but ending up in different positions and functions as Yu juggles everything without realizing what he’s doing. It’s a harmless episode overall but it provides the right kind of balance after the serious Adachi material and the impact it made on everyone with just how frightening he was. Going the silly route in an almost sitcom way may feel an odd choice for the series yet it really does let us see different aspects of these characters and how their relationships with each other works.

So when the show does move back to dealing with Marie and what’s going on with her, it helps that we had as much group time as we did because almost all of them get shunted to the background. The focus turns more to just Yu and Marie as he does his best to save her, having been told just what kind of threat the town faces with the fog and more, and it has all the right hallmarks of the big boss, but one tied to a character that Yu really cares about as opposed to a cliched villain. What this piece does is interesting when taken into context of the main series, providing another alternate ending but also one that blends surprisingly well with the core route, that you can almost envision both of them happening. Part of the trick that I like with this series, one that I think will work better in revisiting from the beginning now that I’ve seen the main series, is the idea of someone being a part of it all but then wiped from memory. Playing an insert character here and altering the dynamic and flow is a fascinating exercise, though it definitely works best with the twelve episode run here rather than a full two cour series.

In Summary:
With this series essentially providing promotion for the PS Vita game that came out at the time, it’s certainly not something that you try out first to see if you like the franchise. This is certainly a more for the fans kind of thing than anything else, though not playing the games I really have no idea how well it would go over for them. Or even those that loved the original game and watched the original series. Coming into this show as I have, I really found myself intrigued by it and enjoying its structure and pacing because it wasn’t the norm, it was a bit more challenging and it expects more out of its viewers to have knowledge about it all. It doesn’t really coddle the viewer. I know that I’ll be revisiting this in a larger fashion down the line with the original series and wish there was a way to re-edit it and the original series to stitch something together that could really be neat. Aniplex USA really does a great job here overall in bringing it to life with a beautiful looking transfer, some solid packaging overall that really plays up the key visuals and colors of it all, and the inclusion of a soundtrack to make it even better. It’s really sold all around.

Features:
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Closing, Bonus Episode

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

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
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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