Title: Persona 4 the Animation Volume 3
Encompasses: Episodes 18-26
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia / New Zealand)
Based on: Persona 4 on the Playstation 2 / Playstation Vita
Genre: Murder Mystery, Comedy, Drama, Action-Adventure etc
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Subtitles: English and…. French
Runtime: 225 Minutes
Classification: This title has been classified as M for Coarse Language and Sexual References
Special Thanks: Madman Entertainment for providing me with a copy of this release to review!
The mystery of the murders seems to have been solved, but the riddle of the Velvet Room and the lethal Midnight Channel is an enigma that Yu and the other students who form the Investigation Team have yet to crack. That’s to say nothing of the question of how their powers of Persona work in the first place, and how the fictional Teddie can exist in the real world. As conundrums wrap in conundrums and the school year burns inexorably towards a blistering summer, the team must prepare for the most deadly challenge yet while still pretending to lead normal high school lives. Unfortunately, that won’t be easy under the evil eye of their new homeroom teacher. And when Detective Shirogane reenters the game with new information about irregularities in the police investigation and clues that may lead to an entirely different conclusion, both team and detective find themselves playing the role of prey once more! The body count is on the rise, the Shadows attack and new Persona are about to ascend as the Midnight Channel launches the ultimate cancellation program!
In what could be considered a frustratingly long wait given that the first volume was released back in early-January, Madman Entertainment’s three-part release of Persona 4 the Animation finally concluded last month. The added volume was used to merit the inclusion of the Japanese dub track, that in North America was exclusive to DVD format. Given that the first two volumes scored reasonably well in their respective reviews on this site, does Persona 4 the Animation end on a high note? Read more to find out!
Despite drawing closer to the crux of the series, Persona 4 the Animation Volume 3 in its early episodes still focused on the few remaining elements and events from the game yet to be covered – a handful of additional social links as well as school festival and hot springs episodes. It did not come as a surprise to see Nanako and Ryotaro Dojima’s social links being merged into a single episode considering they held secondary character roles throughout the series, but the storyline surrounding their family history and dynamic worked well. Sure the events suffered from the necessitated cramming of character arcs into single episodes, but it was well placed chronologically considering the events to follow. The School Festival and Amagi Inn episodes were also welcome additions that were not botched in the adaptation and to some extent I feel were superior to what Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden both delivered.
Once the Investigation Team return from their stay at Amagi Inn, things begin to become more heated. Yu becomes target of a string of mysterious letters warning him to stop investigating the murder case lest someone he is close to will be thrown into the TV world and potentially die. The next victim to appear on the Midnight Channel is Nanako, but after fluffing around with who the potential culprit could be for the entire series this event finally allows them to obtain some critical clues that helps them nab the true culprit.
The final events take place over two dungeon arcs – one based around Nanako’s “Heaven” inspired world and the second focusing on the culprits world. The “Heaven” dungeon series of episodes and the events that followed afterwards proved to be a good adaptation of what was presented in the game. It also creatively drew from a couple of the more frustrating elements from the Shadow Fight that takes place in the source. The final “culprit” arc was also handled well, but for a “final boss” I must admit I was expecting more in terms of the fight.
As the 25-episode TV series only focuses on the games ‘Good End’, this left the True End to be included as a bonus OVA episode. This episode was also localized into English and placed on the disc as its 26th Episode. Unfortunately this episode left me disappointed and while viewers are left with the same primary antagonist as whom appears in the game, the events taking place were heavily re-written. Rather than focusing on the events leading up to the final battle and the battle itself, the story was re-written to facilitate a series of time loops and a battle against Margaret (Originally an optional fight taking place on the players second round through the game). While I liked that they were able to wrap the social link system in this one battle, it felt rushed and could have been handled better.
Many of my comments from earlier reviews still stand and overall while there have been some areas I would like to nitpick across the nine episodes on offer in this collection, it still made for an enjoyable watch. It was good to see that some of the adaptations even in this set worked well and even aided in enhancing the events taking place – in particular the school festival / Amagi Inn events which never seemed to receive enough time in the source material due to more pressing matters and time constraints.
Persona 4 the Animation has maintained a consistent standard of design and visual quality since its first outing on the blu-ray format. Character designs, environments and visual features were of good quality and remained faithful to the original source material, while the animation quality did still jump around between the episodes.
While there were no additional opening or ending sequences in this volume, there were a few new tracks that proved to be quite enjoyable. One of these included “We Are One and All” which was played twice during the final episodes and despite being a softer song helped pack a punch when required during the final fight in Episode 25. Perhaps the biggest musical highlight however was The Bond of Everyone’s Souls. One of the most renown songs in the Persona series is Aria of the Soul which has been associated with the Velvet Room since the very first game. While originally a soft song, it showed its versatility in Persona 3 as the games final battle theme. Taking on a different but still intense theme, “The Bond of Everyone’s Souls remixes this track in another new and mood setting way.
There were no new voice cast amendments in this sets worth of episodes, with special mentions going to Yuri Lowenthal as Yosuke, Karen Strassman as Nanako and once again, Michelle Ann Dunphy as Margaret.
Unlike the second collection which pretty much provided nothing in terms of extra content, Volume 3 pulls its weight will a small selection of goodies on offer. Aside from the OVA Episode also included is the fourth installment in Jikken-kun, a clean version of the second opening sequence and an Arcane Complete version of the very first ending sequence. As mentioned in my original review, both songs came with karaoke style subtitles which was a nice little feature… if you want to sing along to it.
To wrap up this series of three reviews, while there were a few aspects that could have been revised or tweaked Persona 4 the Animation ended up being a rather enjoyable anime adaptation that kept to the source material very well. A memorable cast of characters and events were backed up well by a harmony of school life and action elements that didn’t compromise one for the other. Newcomers to the series may want to check out the game first to be able to fully appreciate the series, but I take it that if you have reached this far in the series this is no longer an issue.