Persona 4 – First Impressions

Persona 4 is an anime series that I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand I really enjoy the art style and overall story, on the other hand I find elements of the story, plot and general feel of the show quite troublesome and actually quite bland. I have never played the Persona games, so do not know anything about the Persona universe and what’s going on.

Persona 4 is based on the game of the same name (the full title of the game is actually Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4), and takes place in a rural town named Inaba. There have been mysterious murders occurring whenever there was fog after heavy rain. There are also rumors about a channel on television airing only at midnight called Mayonaka TV, during which it is said that one can see his/her “other half” when staring at the TV screen.

Now the plot itself is quite intriguing, and it has so far managed to maintain an element of mystery about the story itself. I can pretty much work out that this anime is in some way to do with an alternate universe, or perhaps simply the other side of our current world, one of shadows and opposites. This would explain the ‘shadows’ and of course why all the characters keep encountering their other selves, the ones full of jealousy, selfishness and desire. I actually quite like this idea and overall the story hasn’t been too bad.

There are however a few problems overall with the story and plot. While I like the concept itself, I feel that the story moves too fast with no explanation as to what’s going on. I do not expect to be told everything and am perfectly happy to be left in the dark about certain mysteries – such as the murders and what the shadow world is – however I feel that too much is glossed over. We are introduced to new characters, new ‘Persona’s’ and new terms without any explanation as to what it going on. I feel that the story itself has been written for those who have already played the games and understand these things. I feel that this is a problem with the script since it does not allow for people who are new to Persona to get a good idea as to what is going on. I also do like the concept as I have said, I find the mystery to be interesting and the pacing, while a little off is quite nice. Although I do wish there would be a little more explanation. Also, what on earth I that Velvet Room with the goblin and blonde woman all about? They keep appearing and saying stuff to do with powers and how whoever they are speaking too (I assume the player/viewer, aka Yuu) will meet soon and quite probably take over the world.

I also find the show to be too ‘episodic’; each episode seems to be separate in some way from every other with very little progression. It is also following what seems to be quite a specific formula whereby the group has to go and save someone from the shadow realm, and of course in the process Narukami Yuu discovers a new power. While this way of working is not bad as such, in the case of Persona 4 I would enjoy it more if there were some proper progression between episodes.

The characters themselves are quite interesting, and I am curious to know why Yuu never seems to encounter his dark side. Some characters seem to be fluff though and feel as if they are simply there to show us how powerful Yuu really is. I haven’t seen enough character progression yet to really get a good idea as to whats going on and who will be the most important though.
I do enjoy the art style though, it has a very 1970s feel to it, and while it seems technically good it is also quite muted. The opening sequence in particular is rather nice; I am not a fan of that sort of music normally but with the opening animation it fits quite nicely. I am not entirely sure about the clothes, while they look rather interesting and quite detailed, the school uniforms are ugly as sin.

Overall my thoughts on this series are quite positive in some respects, unfortunately there are some issues that do make the story quite bland and boring in places. I honestly love the concept, but cant follow the story half the time, and I feel this is down to the script and plot itself following the game so closely that anyone who has not played it are left without a paddle. We are constantly shown the Velvet Room complete with random little speech that does not make any sense to me. The flow is a bit too disjointed and actually I find many of the scenes quite dull. My favourite episode so far has been episode 5 where Yuu is towed around by Ai as they go shopping, I liked the high-school setting and actually how it was a fairly normal episode overall.

Basically, I like the concept, but at the moment it is horribly flawed for me, which is actually ruining the viewing pleasure in some ways. I have no doubt that those who have played the game will know what’s going on, and of course enjoy the show that much more because of it, but therein lies the fundamental flaw that I see with this show, its made for those who have played the game, probably by those that played the game. I am still curious about the shadow world though, about Yuu and of course Kuma, so I shall continue watching in the hope that things begin to make sense.

About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

4 Responses to Persona 4 – First Impressions

  1. And I must agree here, as I never had any contact with the Persona universe either. What I see happening is that I suddenly see a few characters having certain issues and facing trials without given a single reason why I should give a dime about them. The mysterious velvet room makes no sense either to me.

    This would have been a great bundle to go with the game itself, or maybe a show broadcasted through the Playstation network (like Xam’d was) but as a standalone show broadcasted to regular audience, it doesn’t have a change to ever be something good. Will probably end up in my recycle bin immediately after it’s conclusion.

    • illogicalzen says:

      It’s a shame since there seems to be a genuinely interesting plot somewhere in this show, unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever really see it and likely become bored.

      I shall continue to watch it in the hope that things begin to make sense, but I think that this show will quickly be binned once it has finished.

  2. kluxorious says:

    I do not play the game as well but Persona 4 managed to make me a fan. Part of it comes from me being a character driven person and in Persona 4, all three of the protagonists have an outstanding personality that made them likeable. I can’t wait for their character development throughout the shows. It is definitely one of the few things to look forward to. The other being their Persona itself.

    • illogicalzen says:

      It may be character driven, but I haven’t seen enough character development yet. Also I just get a little frustrated seeing all these Personas and other things that make no sense and without any explanation. If this was sorted out I would enjoy the show far more than I currently am. The characters are definitely interesting though.

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