Persona 4: The Animation – Preview

Now, when I first heard about this series, my first thought was how the hell they were going to translate the game into an animated series. Between the free-roaming nature of the game and the great deal of content the average player would never see (romance options, the more obscure social links, etc.), I was very confused as to how you’d even go about translating a series like Persona 4 into an anime. Luckily, I remembered that there already is an adaptation of the series, and I’m not simply talking about the Hiimdaisy comics. The official manga, which is what gave the protagonist the name Souji Seta, was a largely faithful recreation of the game, and it gave me a good idea of how the anime could turn out.

Now, the first thought on most people’s minds is the treatment of the main character, now known as Yuu Narukami. He never really speaks in the main game, aside from phrases the player makes him say, and since they aren’t voiced, it’s easy to remember him as being silent. The most likely solution, and the one the manga goes with, is to portray him as someone who is naturally quiet, but does talk occasionally. It still leaves the problem of how to characterize the dialogue he does speak, and sadly the manga chapters I read didn’t go so far as to show his reaction to crossdressing. The game did give him some character, though, with his hobbies, tendency to eat strange things from the fridge, and the many events that are necessary in the final game. He still has to be level-headed, of course, or a certain scene in a hospital might go differently…

The thing that got my attention, though, was the narration from the manga. While it started out from his perspective, it eventually shows the thoughts of whichever character is in the spotlight at the time. This often means whoever is trapped in the Midnight Channel, but can also mean the person trying hardest to free them. It gives them a lot of depth and provides a good way to keep the main character feeling like the quiet hero he’s now supposed to be. I can see the anime doing this, as it gives the other characters the focus they may need.

This brings us to the social link system, which would seem like one of the hardest things to adapt. Let’s assume that each of the big journeys into TV Land takes two episodes, from the introduction of the character to their rescue. There are eight rescue operations in total, so that’s 16 episodes. Take another two for the beginning of the story to the first abduction, and that’s 18. If we also allow one extra episode before both the sixth and seventh operations, which are both extremely story-heavy, we get 20 episodes total, which leaves between four and six episode for the sillier events (come on, King’s Game…). Now, that may not seem like a lot of room for the social links, but there was something else I noticed in the manga, as well.

See, the most important social links in the game were those with your party members. They were emotional, provided a great deal of closure to their story arcs, and led to such moments as Yuu and Yosuke brawling their troubles away. It was a surprise, then, to see the ending of the Shadow Yosuke fight, which actually combined his canon ending with the ending to his social link, resulting in the “Brosuke” scene right after the fight ends.

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This is the pattern that I believe the anime will take as well. Since there’s so little room for these moments in the regular running time, the conclusion to the social links will coincide with the beginning. Of course this idea likely means a lack of a romance subplot, but considering how shippers can get, it’s probably for the best. This is also how I feel the other social links will occur, if they occur at all. I’m reminded in a scene from Persona 3 FES where Junpei interacted with the early, mandatory social links in between storyline missions, and the anime may try something similar. Those 4-6 extra episodes could be the place to expand on the comedic segments from the game with the extra characters. It would be funny and provide another good chance for development.

Next, I’d like to talk about the bosses from the game. Yes, the Shadows of the main characters. The way the manga handled these scenes was a little head-scratching, because each of the first three boss fights ended differently. The fight with Shadow Yukiko was the closest to the game, in that it came down to weakening it before acknowledging it as part of yourself. The only differences were that Yukiko spoke to it while it was still in Giant Bird form, and Chie fought it by herself (which, for anyone who remembers that fight, is quite the accomplishment!).

Shadow Yosuke, on the other hand, did something very strange. It has Yosuke start to accept the words of his Shadow as the hero is fighting it, and then…he summons his Persona…to fight his Shadow. Which I’m pretty sure is not something you can do in regular canon, because both the game and the Shadow Yukiko fight in the manga implied that your Persona and your Shadow are one and the same. It’s entirely possible for the anime to go this route with the fights, but I’d like to think it was given enough attention to avoid that sort of thing.

Then there’s the fight with Shadow Chie. This one is fought with both Yuu and Yosuke’s Persona’s, but it also has a different ending to it. I could just tell you, but honestly, this one you need to see for yourselves.

Have I mentioned who my favourite character is?

It did also seem to imply the spontaneous existence of her Persona, but in her case it was more of a metaphor than when Yosuke literally beats his Shadow that way. So the manga offers three different possibilities with how the climactic fights will turn out, and at least two of these ways offer satisfying conclusions to their story arcs. Admittedly, I’d like to see the third approach taken with Yukiko, just to see her beating her Shadow with a paper fan. You have to admit it would be amazing to watch.

One last issue I should bring up with regards to the manga was the addition and removal of certain content. I noticed something was off at the start, when Yuu had an noticeably extended conversation with a completely unimportant NPC from the start of the game. It was soon after that that scened were altered or removed entirely. For example, Mitsuo’s first appearance was edited out, and for some strange reason, the Midnight Channel missions were changed to occur during school, so Morooka started complaining to his class about delinquents. This even extended to the humour, with the removal of entire gags (though I was thankful that Yosuke no longer had to pee during the first Midnight Channel visit) and the addition of odd new ones.

These exact changes are unlikely in the anime, as Mitsuo appears in the trailers, but there’s always a good chance that important info will get removed for the sake of brevity. I’m sure we all have our favourite moments we’d hate to see cut, but in a series like this, it’s unlikely that everything will make it. Still, if the level of content removal is any less than it was in tha manga, I think I’d be okay with it. Granted, I once watched the Makai Senki Disgaea anime, so I’d just tell myself it could be worse.

The anime is coming out in a few weeks, and I’m very excited to see it. From what I’ve gathered, a lot of work has been put into it, and if the manga could produce a largely faithful adaptation, I think the anime should be able to as well. I can’t say for sure if it will treat the original game the way the manga did, but now I can see that there is, indeed, a way to bring the game back to our TV screens. I just hope I can get used to Souji’s new name before it comes out.

And now, for no reason, here’s Teddie with gag glasses.

Persona4-6

Posted on September 28, 2011, in Anime Previews, Persona 4: The Animation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. This is one of the series I’m putting the biggest expectations on…let’s hope it won’t fail me…:P

  2. I have not played the game or read the manga, but sounds like if the anime adopts the approach manga used, it’s going to be something I think I would enjoy. I should definitely check this out.

    • Luckily, I don’t think you need to know too much about the game to enjoy the anime. It’s around the 26-episode mark, so they actually have time to develop everything.

  3. Desperately awaiting the arrival. The game was good, so I hope the anime can measure up….unlike Trinity Soul.

    • You know, I never saw Trinity Soul, and the critical response hasn’t exactly made me want to. But Persona 4 is supposed to be a direct adaptation, so it should be better.

  1. Pingback: Yerocha’s 2011 Anime Awards – Part 1 « Shades of Grey

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