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Persona 4: The Animation – Collection One (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 16, 2012 by  



A series that captures the video game series remarkably well, “Persona 4: The Animation” is fun, captivating and truly awesome!   if you are a video game fan that has enjoyed the “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” series or one wanting to see a video game anime series done right, I highly recommend “Persona 4: The Animation – Collection One”.

Images courtesy of © Index Corporation/P4A Committee. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Persona 4: The Animation – Collection One

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2011-2012

DURATION: 1-12 (305 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

COMPANY: Aniplex/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14V

Release Date: September 18, 2012

Directed by Seiji Kishi

Series Composition by Yuuko Kakihara

Music by Shoji Meguro

Original Character Design by Shigenori Soejima

Character Design by Kazuaki Morita

Art Director: Ayumi Miyakoshi, Shinji Nagaoka

Chief Animation Director: Kiyotaka Nakahara

Anime Production by AIC A.S.T.A.

Featuring the voices of:

Amanda Winn Lee as Yukiko Amagi

Erin Fitzgerald as Chie Satonaka

Johnny Yong Bosch as Yu Narukami

Yuri Lowenthal as Yosuke Hanamura

J.B. Blanc as Ryotaro Dojima

Johnny Yong Bosch as Toru Adachi

Karen Strassman as Nanako Dojima

Laura Bailey as Rise Kujikawa

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Naoto Shirogane

Sam Regal as Teddie

Troy Baker as Kanji Tatsumi

When Yu Narukami moves to the country town of Inaba to stay with his uncle and cousin, he’s expecting a lot more peace and quiet than he’s used to in the big city. What he isn’t expecting is for his uncle’s job as a police detective to spill over into his own life, or for the murders that are occurring across town to be somehow linked to Yu’s own strange experiences, odd local weather patterns, and a mysterious TV show world that seems to be attempting to get Yu to enter it!

Now, together with a new group of friends, Yu must plunge into a bizarre alternate reality where he gains unique abilities that will either help him solve the riddle of the mystery killer… or lead him to his doom.

The “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” role-playing video game series developed and published by Atlus and has won over fans due to its darker storyline and it’s one of the few games to incorporate a Japanese atmosphere incorporating simulation type games relating to its characters.

Created back in 1996, “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” has continually evolved and its fifth installment, “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4” (the fifth installment in the SMT: Persona series) was no doubt a popular title in the series when it was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2008.

The video game would inspire a 25-episode anime series titled “Persona 4: The Animation” , which aired on Japanese television in 2011-2012.

In 2012, with the upcoming release of the PlayStation Vita version of the game (titled “Persona 4: Golden”) and most recently its fighting game sequel “Persona 4 Arena” for the PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360.  And what better time than now to release the anime series “Persona 4: The Animation” on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“Persona 4” begins with a clip inside the limousine as an older man named Igor and his assistant Margaret introduce themselves to someone.  They explain their location, The Velvet Room as a place that exists between “dream and reality” and not many people can find this special room.

We are then introduced to high school student Yu Narukami arriving in the countryside of Inaba.  Because his parents are working abroad, he must live with his uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, the resident investigator and his cousin Nanako Dojima for the entire year.

While attending Yasogami High School, he meets two people who become his friends.  Yosuke Hanamura is a teenager who also moved to Inaba a year prior and his father own the huge department store, Junes (pronounced as “Joo-Ness”).  And his friend Chie Satonaka is a teenage girl with an appetite.  While she is often teasing and hitting her friend Yosuke, she also hangs out with her best friend Yukiko Amagi.

Meanwhile, a student named Saki Koshi is seen cutting class and discovers the body of TV announcer Mayumi Yamano.

With the murder of a known TV personality scaring people in town, leading to Ryotaro Dojima and his partner Detective Adachi investigating the crime scene, For Yu, he has heard of the rumors at school that a “Midnight Channel” shown on television may be connected to the murders.  Apparently, if one watches the channel at midnight, they should be able to see an image of a person  When Yu watches the channel at midnight, he sees someone show up. The image is of a young woman.  When Yu puts his hand on the TV, he is nearly pulled into the TV.

Yu tries to tell Chie and Yosuke about it but they don’t believe him, but Chie said she wants to see if it would happen on a larger television.  So, the three head to Junes Department Store to see if he can duplicate the same situation on a bigger television set and sure enough, when Yu sticks his hand, it goes through the TV set and all three are pulled in.

The trio end up in different world and encounter a bear named Teddie. Teddie explains that they are in a world where if foggy, it would be clear on Earth.  If it is clear on Earth, then it would be foggy in his world.  And to see things in his world, he must wear special glasses.

The trio are then attacked by shadows and fearing for their lives, the persona of Yu Narukami is awakened.  It is learned that Yu has the Persona of the Wild Card and that it could lead to infinite possibilities, which include the use of other Personas or fusing two or more Personas to create something more powerful.

Afterward, because of the discovery of this new world, Yu and friends find out that there may be a link between those who are missing (or dead) and this new world they have discovered.  And along the way, the more they keep visiting this other side, they will be facing danger but also possibly awakening their own Persona.

“Persona 4: The Animation – Collection One” features the first 12 episodes of the series on two Blu-ray Discs.  Here is a brief summary of each episode featured:

  • EPISODE 1 – The introduction to Yu Narukami and friends Yosuke and Chie.
  • EPISODE 2 – Yosuke plans to take Saki out to a movie but the school learns that Saki is dead. Is her death an accident or did someone murder her?  Meanwhile, a creepy guy tries to ask Yukiko out for a date.
  • EPISODE 3 – Yukiko has gone missing and fearing that she may be killed, the three must head to the other world to save her.  Meanwhile, Chie must face her own personal dark side.
  • EPISODE 4 – With Yu, Yosuke and Chie now each having their own Persona, the three must use their abilities to save Yukiko’s shadow.
  • EPISODE 5 – Yu is asked to join the basketball team by Kou Ichijjo and meets the team manager Ai Ebihara.  Ai wants Yu to be her fake boyfriend in order to get closer to Kou.  Will that plan work?
  • EPISODE 6 – It’s Golden Week and this time, the Midnight Channel is showing a student named Kanji Tatsumi who has a very bad reputation of being a gang leader.  As the group tries to help him, they noticed a mysterious boy talking to him for some reason.
  • EPISODE 7  – Yu, Yosuke, Chie and Yukiko try to help Kanji Tatsumi by facing his shadow in the TV world.
  • EPISODE 8 – The group goes out on a school camping trip and meet Saki Konishi’s younger brother Naoki who has been having problems at school.
  • EPISODE 9 – Popular singer and idol Rise “Risette” Kujikawa makes a pubic announcement that she wants to take a break from her career and return to to Inaba to hep her grandmother’s tofu shop.  As the publicity has brought many people to Inaba, Yu who has no idea that Rise is a popular idol, becomes her friend.  Meanwhile, the group becomes concerned with they noticed Rise showing up on the Midnight Channel.
  • EPISODE 10 – Yu, Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko and Kanji head to the TV world to save Saki and must confront her Shadow.
  • EPISODE 11 – Someone has killed the group’s teacher, Morokawa.  Meanwhile, the actions of Mitsuo Kubo begin the worse as he becomes more threatening.  Meanwhile, Teddy finds a way to leave the TV World and join Yu and friends.
  • EPISODE 12 – The group find out who is the murderer and must stop him in the TV world.  But can they each defeat this evil shadow.

VIDEO:

“Persona 4: The Animation” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  The anime series is vibrant and colorful.  The overall look of “Persona 4” is stylish and cool, but it’s interesting to see its use of pink with white on the faces of the characters.  It’s definitely a different use of coloring for characters but watching this anime series, color plays a big part in this series to set a mood.  May it be the looming danger of the fog rolling into Inaba, the use of blues in the Blue Room but for the majority of the anime series, everything is colorful.  Chie’s red hair and green/yellow track jacket, Yukiko and Rise’s use of red and of course the beautiful combination of animation and CG elements, for the most part, I felt the series compliments the video game remarkably well.

But overall anime production from AIC A.S.T.A. is fantastic, the series looks wonderful on Blu-ray with no banding or artifacts.  The series looked sharp, black levels were nice and deep and colors were absolutely vibrant!  “Persona 4: The Animation” looks awesome!

AUDIO:

“Persona 4: The Animation” is presented only with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack.  While the English version is well-acted, it is somewhat of a disappointment that the Japanese soundtrack is not included.  The reason for this is that the Japanese licensors did not want reverse importation of the Blu-ray release, but yet the DVD will include both soundtracks.  It’s sad because the Japanese soundtracks utilize the same voice actors, which would have been nice to see.  But the fear of reverse importation does happen and unfortunately some series are released in America without its Japanese soundtrack.    Interesting enough, on the video game side of things, the recent U.S. release of “Persona 4 Arena” became the first video game to be region-locked for the PlayStation 3.  One again, in fears of reverse importation.

With that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.  And when it comes to voice acting, Sentai Filmworks brought voice acting veterans to the series such as Johnny Yong Bosch, Amanda Winn Lee, Yuri Lowenthal, Laura Bailey, Karen Strassman and more.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Persona 4: The Animation – Collection One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 01: You’re Myself, I’m Yourself (On Air Version) – (26:05) The shorter version shown on television minus the other version featured on the first disc which is over three minutes longer.
  • Clean Opening and Closing Animations
  • Trailers – Trailers for Sentai Filmworks releases

I’m a big fan of the entire “Shin Megami Tensei” video game series.    My first experience with a “Shin Megami Tensei” video game was “Persona II: Eternal Punishment” and I absolutely loved the game for its characters but also it’s darker theme, use of Personas and it’s use of Japanese pop culture ingrained into an RPG game,  the video games were a distinct style compared to other games from the major software makers.

And things changed no doubt with “Persona 3” which included a dating simulator and the ability for one to strengthen relationships, friendships and the overall gameplay becoming much more stylish and cool!  Suffice to say, when “Persona 4” came out, once again, Atlus was able to create cool characters and further the experience for fans and gamers (who love Japanese RPG’s), but most importantly, making the games different from other companies and continuing to set the “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” apart from its competitors.

And more American video game critics have started to take notice in the “Shin Megami Tensei” series.  While many people who are discovering it are wondering, what is the appeal?

“Persona 4: The Animation” is a series that captures the fun of the video game series but in animated format.  It’s one thing to have animated cut scenes but to have a series that compliments the video game is wonderful.  Many people who have watched anime series based on video games, may it be “Final Fantasy”, “Xenogears”, “Tekken”, “Street Fighter”, “King of Fighters” will notice that the stories are much different than the video game.  While there are series such as the “.Hack” anime that does compliment the video games, it doesn’t use the actual characters of the video game series completely.  “Persona 4: The Animation” not only features the characters, but it also showcases the supporting characters and goes into things that make the video game series so fun such as one’s ability to strengthen relationships and friendships.

Like the video game, the main protagonist Yu can make a difference in people’s lives.  From making a difference in the life of his cousin, young Nanako to also his relationship with his female friends…Chie, Yukiko and Rise.  And like the video game, the series shows how Yu can easily heighten his relationship with these female characters if he focuses on it.  The video game of course allows you to build these relationships, but the anime series showcases those relationships and what one can accomplish.

And then there is the Persona element.  With most of the Persona games, there is always a character who has the special ability to use more than one Persona.  The series uses Igor and Margaret from the Blue Room to start off each episode and shows how Yu has received a new Persona for strengthening his bonds with other people.  This is important in the video game and it’s great to see the series start off with the Blue Room and set the tone for the series, may it be to guide Yu or to warn him of major danger.

And with the majority of the episodes for this first collection, we get to learn how Yu’s friends are able to obtain their Persona’s but also utilizing them for battle.

Watching “Persona 4: The Animation” made me feel giddy like a fanboy.  Why?  Because I absolutely love the video games and to see it explored in such a way, like this anime series and getting it right, I don’t know how many times I have watched an anime series inspired by a video game and felt disappointed because it seemed as if the writers of the anime series were not on the same page as those who developed the video games.  But for “Persona 4: the Animation”, the writers were in tune with what happens in the series and managed to incorporate those elements from the video game to this anime series.

The Blu-ray looks absolutely fantastic!  Colorful, vibrant, the anime series looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  As for the audio, I’m sure there are those who are going to be disappointed that the Japanese soundtrack was not included but once again, fears of reverse importation has happened before for an anime series on Blu-ray and in the case of “Persona 4”, it not only has affected this Blu-ray release but also the most recent release of the “Persona 4 Arena”video game being region-locked.

Sure, the Blu-ray may not have both soundtracks (while the DVD does) but if you do enjoy English dubs, the good news is that Sentai Filmworks brought in their veterans for “Persona 4: The Animation”.  From Amanda Winn Lee, Johnny Yong Bosch, Yuri Lowenthall, Karen Strassman, Laura Bailey to name a few, I’m quite pleased with the English dub.  As for special features, you get the usual clean opening and ending animations but also both director’s cut and on air versions of the first episode.

A series that captures the video game series remarkably well, “Persona 4: The Animation” is fun, captivating and truly awesome!   if you are a video game fan that has enjoyed the “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona” series or one wanting to see a video game anime series done right, I highly recommend “Persona 4: The Animation – Collection One”.






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