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Terraformars (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

Image courtesy of © Ken-Ichi Tachibana, Yu Sasuga/SHUEISHA Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Terra Formars

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 312 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 23, 2018


Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki

Series Composition: Shogo Yasukawa

Music by Shusei Murai

Originally Created by Kenichi Tachibana and Yu Sasuga

Character Design:  Masanori Shino, Satoshi Kimura

Art Director: Minami Kasuga

Anime Production: LIDEN FILMS


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Christopher Smith as Shōkichi Komachi

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Daymond as Marcos Eringrad Garcia

Kenn/Steve Cannon as Alex Kandori Stewart

Shizuka Itou/Eric Lindbeck as Michelle K. Davis

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Niosi as Akari Hizamaru

Ai Kayano/Erica Lindbeck as Sheila Levitt

Aki Toyosaki/Erin Fitzgerald as Yaeko Yanasegawa

Akira Ishida/Todd Haberkorn as Joseph G. Newton

Ayane Sakura/Cristina Vale as Eva Frost

Chiaki Takahashi/Cherami Leigh as Kanako Sanjō

Daisuke Ono/Max Mittelman as Keiji Onizuka

Kenji Akabane/Christopher Smith as Ivan Perepelkina

Koji Yusa/Doug Erholtz as Adolf Reinhard

Kouji Ishii/Peter Lurie as Narration

Tetsuo Komura/Kyle Hebert as Liu Yiwu

Tomokazu Sugita as Ichirō Hiruma

Tooru Nara/Max Mittelman as Aleksandr Asimov

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Keith Silverstein as Shichisei Hiruma

Unshō Ishizuka/Patrick Seitz as Sylvester Asimov


In the deep silence of space, the planet Mars hisses with death. On Earth, a mysterious virus is devastating the human race. To find a cure and give humanity a fighting chance of survival, a multinational team of genetically modified citizens must race to the Red Planet and uncover its secrets. What awaits is the bloody aftermath of a colonization attempt gone horribly wrong–hordes of hyper-evolved cockroaches known as “Terraformars” roam keen to kill. Earth’s chosen stand ready for combat and ready to change the course of human history. The question is which species can unite for victory.


In 2011, writer Yu Sasuga and artist Kenichi Tachibana would create “Terra Formars”, a manga series that would become a major hit in Japan.

First serialized in Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump”, “Terra Formars” was ranked #1 in the 2013 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey and an anime series produced by LIDEN FILMS would be air on Japanese TV in 2015.

And now the series will be released on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

With Earth looking to colonize Mars which is undergoing its final stages of Terraforming and now becoming a green planet, a group of 15 men and women have been sent to Mars to check on the Terraformation of the planet.

Meanwhile, on Earth, the planet is falling into ruin due to environmental destruction and energy shortages, so Mars has been the focus by scientists.

Scientists have used moss and a black organism to darken the surface of the planet and causing it to absorb more sunlight, increase temperatures and melting the carbon dioxide.

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

As the 15 men and women of BUGS 2 arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.

The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

And now the humans have become the hunted.

Because the cockroaches exhibit all abilities of a cockroach, it was learned that scientists embedded human DNA in them and their mutation has made them beings that would not just survive in Mars but also exhibiting human characteristics and a hatred towards humanity (as humanity has had a hatred towards cockroaches).

But humanity also has found a way for humans to counteract the cockroaches by using injections of insects on humans that will briefly give them insect powers. But is it enough for the humans to survive in Mars as they are now considered the pests for the planet in which the humanoid cockroaches are the primary species?

The anime series is set 20-years later and Shokichi Komachi is now the new head of U-NASA. As one of the few survivors to escape from Mars and survive the cockroach onslaught, the Earth he has returned to is not just facing an overpopulation problem but also a widespread virus that came from Mars.

The bad news that the only way to stop it is to confirm the existence of the virus and determine its type and bring it back to Earth in hopes to create a vaccine.

But will Shokichi find a new group of people willing to sacrifice their lives for humanity by going to Mars and prepare for the onslaught of cockroach/humans that have infested the planet and want nothing more than to kill the humans?

As the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1, it becomes a battle of survival as the recruits must prepare for a crash landing on Mars, but to find out that not only have Earth’s recruits have evolved, so have the Terraformars!

On Mars, the officers come across different types of Terraformars that somehow have other insect abilities. Did they evolve that way or is someone responsible for the insects becoming bipedal humanoid.


VIDEO:

“Terraformars” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9). Featuring character designs that respect Tachibana’s original manga artwork, overall picture quality is well-done and colors are vibrant.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues with this series on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Terraformars” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.  Both soundtracks are well-acted.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Terraformars” comes with interviews with the English dub talent (Erica Lindbeck, Chris Niosi, Patrick Seitz and Viz Media’s Terraformars Team), clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

EXTRAS:

“Terraformars” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the series.


In America, there have been a number of sci-fi films that have featured humanity taking on various alien species on Mars.

But what makes Yu Sasuga and Ken-Ichi Tachibana’s “Terraformars” so fascinating and also exciting is the science of Terra Formation and how scientists were able to create something that may lead to their own demise.

It’s interesting because of all species to bring on Mars, any human would know that cockroaches are the most resilient insect. Not only are they quick but they are very hard to kill.

Stepping on them doesn’t always fully kill them, throwing them away in a toilet in water also doesn’t kill them as they try to escape. So, for anyone familiar with the resilient cockroach can possibly think if a cockroach evolved to something much larger than a human being, not only would it be powerful but also hard to kill.

And despite humans ability to strategize, without having the same power to fight back, humans on Mars are literally defenseless. And to fight back, the use of insect injections from powerful insects in the planet may be what is needed to fight against these human cockroaches.

This first half features Shokichi recruit a ragtag bunch of people willing to sacrifice themselves in hopes for a payday but also in hopes for a vaccine to help eliminate the virus from Mars that have been killing people all over the globe.  But will these new recruits encounter the same tragic experience that Shokichi had once endured?

And once the humans return to Mars, unfortunately things don’t happen all that well as it all seems doom and gloom from the start as the Terraformars have invaded the spacecraft of Annex 1 and when the crew does reach Mars, they realize that the enemies they have fought, also have gain intelligence and a new brand of fighting back. Which does not sound good for humanity, at all!

It’s a very exciting and action-packed anime series for sure.  But having read Yu Sasuga and Kenichi Tachibana’s manga series prior to watching the anime, there are differences.

For one, the manga began with the first 15 men and women of BUGS 2 to arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.  The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

In the anime series, it immediately begins with the introduction to Akari Hizamaru trying to save his childhood friend Yuriko and then by episode 2, featuring the Annex 1 heading to Mars.

The manga series put a lot of thought into its introduction, a glimmer of what will transpire on Earth and then the introduction to the characters and Annex 1 heading to Mars.  The manga also went into a lot of details trying to describe the insect or mammal/animal they were tested with.

The anime series focuses on Akari and Michelle K. Davis, with other episodes giving certain characters their own introduction.  While still action-packed and exciting, the anime series does miss out on a lot of the character building storylines and that’s unfortunate.

The animation is respectful to the manga series and one thing I like about the anime series is seeing the color differentiation with the characters.  The manga series could get a bit confusing as certain characters look the same (and it doesn’t help that so many characters are introduced), so the animation does have that as an advantage.  Picture quality is good with slight softness but LIDEN FILMS did a good job.   The lossless soundtrack in Japanese and English stereo and the voice acting for both soundtracks are well-acted.

 

As for special features, the Blu-ray comes with interviews, clean opening and ending and an art gallery.

Overall, “Terraformars” is an anime series that will no doubt entertaining anime fans who are looking for a lot of action (but also a lot of violence).  This is a series that spares no expense of offing key characters and a series that showcases the survival of the Annex 1 team on Mars as they take on thousands of evolved cockroaches intent on killing them.  While it does not incorporate everything that the manga series featured, it’s still a solid, action anime series worth watching!

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

January 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

If you thought the first half of “Persona 4: The Animation” was exciting, wait until you watch “Persona 4: The Animation – Collection Two”.  More action, more exciting battles and even more emotional than the first half of the series.  Definitely one of the better anime series that is based on a video game!  Recommended for fans of the “Shin Megami Tensei” video games and anime fans wanting something different for an action anime series but also something unique, stylish, cool!  Highly recommended!

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

TITLE: Persona 4: The Animation – Collection Two

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2011-2012

DURATION: 13-26 (365 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14V

Release Date: January 15-2003

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

With the first volume of “Persona 4: The Animation” featuring the first 12-episodes released in September 2012, the second collection featuring 13-26 will be released in January 2013.

What is “Persona 4: The Animation” about?

“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.

Eventually as Yu and his friends enter the TV set, they encounter other classmates and friends who eventually join the team and together they try to find the culprit responsible for murdering people and also sending people to the alternate world.

“Persona 4: The Animation” consists of the following characters:

  • Yu Narukami – The main protagonist who moves to the countryside of Inaba for a year while his parents are traveling.  He stays with his uncle, local police detective Ryotaro Dojima and his daughter Nanako Dojima.  Yu begins attending Yasogami High School and begins to make friends.  And as he develops these relationships with friends, he begins to attain more stronger persona and is the only person in the group who can use different persona’s during battle.
  • Yosuke Hanamura – A teenager who moved to Inaba a  year before Yu. His father is owner of the Junes Department Store.  He is often thinking about girls and wanting to score!
  • Chie Satonaka – A friend of Yosuke and a girl who is obsessed with kung-fu. She is best friends with Yukiko Amagi and often beating up Yosuke when he is in pervert mode.
  • Yukiko Amagi – Introverted yet popular, Yukiko’s family owns a famous ryokan in the city and is expected to take over the family business.
  • Kanji Tatsumi – A delinquent and bully, but deep inside he’s a tough guy that loves sewing cute things.  He is often teased for liking guys or being interested in Naoto.
  • Teddie – A bear from the TV world, he becomes good friends with Yu and friends and is invited to stay in the human world, where he created a human version of himself.  Always excited and curious, Teddie wants to know more about the human world, but also wanting to remember his past.
  • Naoto Shirogane – A young detective who moves to Inaba to help the police investigate the serial-murder case.  Despite looking like a boy, he’s actually a girl.
  • Ryotaro Dojima – The uncle of Yu and father of Nanako.  Ryotaro is a police detective and is often so busy with his work especially with the escalating crimes, that he has to leave Nanako at home.
  • Nanako Dojima – The young daughter of Ryotaro who looks at Yu as her “Big Bro”.  Nanako likes the companionship of Yu and his friends and although she can take care of herself at home when her father is away, Nanako worries that her father is more interested in catching bad guys than her.

What’s happening in “Persona 4: The Animation – Collection Two”?

In the second half of the anime series, Yu and friends are happy that the serial murderer is behind bars and that their lives can go back to normal.  But young detective Naoto Shirogane is not convinced as there seems to be a few holes that he needs to figure out.  Especially his interest in Yu and friends and their relationship to the case.

Eventually Naoto finds himself in the TV world and Yu and friends must do all they can to save the detective.

Meanwhile, another accident has taken place in the area and it is revealed of what happened to Nanako’s mother and why her father is constantly working late hours.  But with Nanako’s father always at work, Nanako begins to question if her father loves her or prefers catching criminals more.

And things continue to get worse for Yu as he begins receiving letters, threatening him that a family member will die if he continues to save people.  Eventually, the serial-murder case that the group thought was over is not and this time, tragedy hits closer to home.

And finally, a thick fog has entered Inaba and it’s unusual nature has been keeping the residents uneasy. After a major tragedy, the group must work together and find out who is truly responsible for the serial-murders.

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 Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Clean Opening and Closing Animations
  • Trailers – Trailers for Sentai Filmworks releases

If you thought the first half of “Persona 4: The Animation” was exciting, wait until you watch “Persona 4: The Animation – Collection Two”.  More action, more exciting and even more emotional than the first half.  Definitely one of the best anime series created that is based on a video game!

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.

The second half of the series continues the action, but also the friendships that Yu and friends have.  But how these people function almost like a family.  But just when you think the serial-murder case was over, think again!

And what shocks the audience is when an unexpected tragedy hits close to home and a death you never expected.  Definitely makes the series more emotional but everything works itself out by the end of the series that you can’t help but want to watch more “Persona 4: The Animation”.  A lot of twists and turns with this second half but it was definitely worth watching!

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.

If you thought the first half of “Persona 4: The Animation” was exciting, wait until you watch “Persona 4: The Animation – Collection Two”.  More action, more exciting battles and even more emotional than the first half of the series.  Definitely one of the better anime series that is based on a video game!  Recommended for fans of the “Shin Megami Tensei” video games and anime fans wanting something different for an action anime series but also something unique, stylish, cool!

Highly recommended!

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

September 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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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