Persona 4 the Golden Animation should not simply be considered a second season of Persona 4 the Animation, as the original season already encompassed many components of the video game quite well – along with its own unique twists which gave considerably more personality to the protagonist and Investigation Team than its source material. Instead, it should be treated similar to how Persona 4 Golden (PlayStation Vita) could be compared to Persona 4 (PlayStation 2), working off the original storyline albeit with many new additions. Across 12 episodes plus a bonus OVA episode, viewers are given a “New Game +” experience, where the focus is less on dungeon crawling and social linking, and more about standalone events / story features introduced in the enhanced port it is based on.
The biggest focus of Persona 4 the Golden Animation is Marie, the mysterious girl who appears before Yu Narukami when he first arrives in Inaba, and later sits alongside Igor and Margaret in the Velvet Room. Unlike the other Velvet Room denizens, Marie frequently ventures away from her post, regularly interacting with Yu and his friends as they go about their daily lives. Because Marie has previously been considered an optional social link and it is possible for players to completely ignore her during a playthrough, she has been written into many of the new events covered in these episodes. In fact, aside from Episode 1 which is an adaptation of the original P4A opening episode, and a couple of other episodes, Marie is treated as a main or secondary character. Including her to such a degree provides her much more development than in the video games, and overall proves to be one of the more interesting characters in Persona 4 to explore. Adachi also receives special treatment, providing more depth to a character which isn’t all that developed in either Persona 4 or Persona 4 Golden.
One important thing to note about Persona 4 the Golden Animation is that you shouldn’t watch it standalone. Each episode tends to be split by a time-jump, ignoring core story events and instead focusing on individual events present in the P4G chronology. To fully appreciate the story and its characters, you will really need to watch Persona 4 the Animation or play one of the video games. This proved to be a smart decision on the creators part. As they have chosen not to rush through all key events and just focused on a select few, there is minimal overlap with the first anime and they have been able to use the extra time to further build the selected events. For example, one episode covers the time when Yosuke recruits Rise and the Investigation Team to perform at an event at Junes. While in P4G this event can take 5-10 minutes to run through, the anime spends a whole episode building a plot which see’s Marie join them on-stage and a new threat arise which could see it all the Investigation Team’s efforts end in failure. Several of the social link characters from the first anime also make cameo appearances in this show.
Design / Music / Voice Acting
Between P4A and P4GA, the animation team shifted from AIC A.S.T.A. to A-1 Pictures. Despite this change, the overall quality presented is around the same if not slightly better in terms of both design and animation quality. It is an aesthetically pleasing series overall, although far from the best on the market. Although not always used in the same context, the show makes good use of locations, events and concepts presented in the source material. The Australian release of Persona 4 the Golden Animation is only available on DVD, which might disappoint those wanting to complete their Persona 4 anime Blu-ray collection. However unlike Aniplex of America in North America, they are offering the entire series in one DVD collection rather than splitting it over two half-season collections.
When Sentai Filmworks got the rights to Persona 4 the Animation, they opted to recruit as many of the video game’s English dub cast as possible. The English dub cast included Johnny Yong Bosch as Yu, Yuri Lowenthal as Yosuke, Amanda Winn Lee as Yukiko, Erin Fitzgerald as Chie, Karen Strassman as Nanako, J.B. Blanc as Ryotaro and more. However, Persona 4 the Golden Animation was acquired by Aniplex of America in North America, and they have opted to release the series with only the original Japanese dub. This isn’t a major issue as the Japanese voice cast is very good, but given the popularity of Persona 4 in Western markets (Which in most cases have been English dub only releases), it is surprising they didn’t opt to include a dub for the sake of familiarity.
Madman Entertainment’s Australian release of Persona 4 the Golden Animation does not come with any physical content, but does come with a small selection of on-disc extras. This content includes a selection of Japanese PV and CM videos and textless OP/ED sequences. Also available on-disc are trailers for the following titles: Sword Art Online 2, Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Noragami and World Conquest Zvezda Plot.
Final Words on Persona 4 the Golden Animation
Although not a highlight in my anime collection, I was overall impressed with what was presented in Persona 4 the Golden Animation. While there is a risk of confusing those who are new to Persona 4, the creative team made a wise decision to only focus on select events rather than becoming a rushed recap series with a few extra events hurriedly added to the mix. Presenting a good level of plot/character development and some entertaining dialogue/personalities, this is in my opinion a great series for those who enjoyed the storyline of Persona 4 previously.
A review copy of Persona 4 the Golden Animation was provided by Madman Entertainment.
Storyline / Character Development: B
Music / Voice Acting: B
Personal Opinion: B
Final Score: B
This review is currently being transitioned over to the new review system.