‘Anime based on the hit video game’ are six words that would usually fill anyone with any semblance of taste with a feeling of utmost dread.
The last notable game to have such an adaptation was Devil May Cry, and the plot of that was even more of a cheesy, indecipherable load of bobbins than the game itself.
Persona 4 ( ペルソナ4 or Perusona Fō) is based on the game Shin Megami Tensai: Persona 4, an RPG set during a Japanese school year where your character and his accomplices enter an alternate ‘TV World’ to save people that are sucked into it for whatever reason. The series follows the same pattern, as main character Yu Narukami moves to his Uncle’s house in the countryside after his parents go abroad, meets up with a load of new friends, and ends up unlocking his ‘Persona’ an alter ego that can do battle with ‘shadows,’ beings that represent peoples’ innermost thoughts, that are often deadly. Yu and his friends solve various mysteries using their personas.
Yes, it’s an incredibly laboured premise, and an absolute ballache to recount, but it’s important to know the finer details before getting into why Persona 4 is as befuddling as it is.
It’s a bit like a more irritating obnoxious version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer; a Scooby Doo style assembly of disparate personalities using their skills to overcome whatever that week’s big bad is. There’s even a bit of Twin Peaks-style mysteriousness too, with episodes starting off with a character getting all cryptic in the mysterious ‘velvet room.’
Those are some pretty high reference points, but alas, rather predictable, Persona 4 can’t live up to them.
It’s spirited for sure, and perhaps better than it has any right to be (seriously, name one vaguely competent videogame adaptation) as well as beautifully animated and stylish, but this is one for fans of anime or the game only. Irritating high pitched voice acting once again blights things, and it isn’t half as amusing or intriguing as it thinks it is. It’s hard to really care about what’s going on either, as it flits from one confusing scene to the next.
It’s very much persona non grata. Sorry.