I’ve been hearing some unpleasant stuff about the first episode of Persona 4, and I can’t blame them for thinking like that. The first episode, while it appealed to the Persona fanboy within me, was a little too rushed.
No. That’s not the problem. The fast pace is a smart move for the director, as it cuts to the chase instead of providing us with infodumping like Fate/Zero did, avoids being annoyingly sexual fanservice-laden like Kyoukaisenjou no Horizon, and being flat-out ridiculous like Phi Brain. However, how they patched the scenes together felt jarring and perhaps incomprehensible for someone who has yet to play the game. They went through a couple of hours of exposition in the game and did it in anime form in 23 minutes. Though I may find it pretty weird, I think it was necessary for the anime to go this way. For the audience that has yet to play any Persona 4, they have to see something that makes Persona, well… Persona, which is well, the godd*mn Personas!
The placement of certain other elements, such as the attempt to bring one of the game’s early jokes, the one where Yousuke was about to piss in his pants, were badly done. The joke was not funny in the game, and it’s not funny here, either.
I am also concerned about the music department. As much as I like the battle music of Persona games to the point of looping it for two hours on my music player, I feel that the background music to non-battle situations could use some remixing. I think this is just my experience with the original game speaking, but yeah.
Now for the good parts. As I have played through the game twice already, the first episode still manages to keep my eyes on the screen, instead of somewhere else like *cough*Horizon and Phi Brain*cough*. It helped that the director or whoever is in charge of it decided to alter some of the chronology and events of the game to fit the exposition into a 23-minute episode. Imagine the scenario where we get left with just the character introductions and them talking about how boring the town is and the rumors about Mayonaka Terebi (Midnight Channel). Wouldn’t leave a good impression, now would it? That’s how the game was for about two hours or so.
Another thing that I liked about this is how they kept some in-game elements in the anime. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the calendar and the character Status screen directly taken from the game itself. They also used emotions icons from the game too. But the most interesting thing about it is how they used the critical hit thing in the anime. When Yuu cast Zio (that lightning spell thingy) on the last of the monsters, I couldn’t help but feel that I was playing the game again. You have my respect for that, AIC ASTA (I can’t wait to see the All-Out Attack eyecatch!).
It was also a good move to end the episode with Yuu summoning his Persona, Izanagi, and giving us a taste of what the random battles are like when animated. But the more important achievement that the first episode achieved was, in my opinion, get us into the TV world as soon as possible. The core plot and concept of Persona 4 revolves around the TV world, and they would do very well to keep to that.
Overall, the first episode of Persona 4 could have been better, but it still maintained the style and the upbeat feeling that the game became famous for. It was very nostalgic for me, as I have played an undub version of Persona 4, to hear most of the original voices again. I liked this episode, next only to the first episode of Chihayafuru.
In before haters start bashing the anime for being an adaptation of a popular video game. Oh, wait…