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DVD Review

DVD cover

Persona 4
The Animation
Volume 1


Starring (voice): Ami Koshimizu, Daisuke Namikawa and Showtaro Morikubo
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 12
Available 24 December 2012

When his parents move abroad for work, Yu Narukami moves to the country to spend a year with his uncle. Naturally laid back he soon makes a couple of friends in the high school second year. Narukami is less than happy to swap the excitement of living in a major city for the apparent dullness of a small town, but as soon as he arrives something starts to happen to him. Strange daylight visions disturb him and the town has a mystery of its own, a television channel which only appears at midnight, during a rain storm. The images it shows are disturbing...

Persona 4: The Animation - Volume 1 is a twenty-six, episode, anime show based on a popular game. The show was written by Yūko Kakihara, Mitsutaka Hirota and Jun Kumagai, directed by Seiji Kishi. For fans of the game this is as true to the original as you can get as the anime retained both artists and vocal actors who had appeared in the game.

You kind of get used to some anime shows being based around computer games, the best take the original concept as a leaping off point for something original, the worst are crappy rip offs, bad anime’s trading on the games popularity. Persona 4 is somewhat different. Although the show stays faithful to the original it is presented with very high levels of both scripting and animation, some of the opening sequences are cinematic in their tone and feel.

The show is split into three elements. Firstly you don’t get away from the fight of the week syndrome. Narukami develops a Persona, a part of himself which he can externalise to fight the show's main villains, the Shadows. Being an anime, his Persona, like that of his friends, is a not a two foot nerd, easily picked on, but a huge hulking bulk of a bloke, methinks the writers must have suffered some childhood trauma.

The second strand of the show involves slice-of-life school relationships, which teenagers all suffer. It is here where most of the show's humour and angst resides, usually involving romantic relationships of large portions of beef meat.

The most interesting aspect of the show is the murder mystery. Narukami and his friends discover that they can pass through television sets, finding themselves in the land of the Shadows. This land is somehow connected to the midnight television show and the disappearances and murders which happen, but just what is the connection?

For the most part the disparate elements gel well together, the shadow realm is suitably surreal, especially the Bear (which looks nothing like a bear) who befriends them. The town is beautifully drawn and only the comedic characters and instances are created in a less complicated level of animation. Now this makes it easy to spot what is supposed to be funny, but I did not feel that the two animation styles contrasted particularly well together.

Persona 4 has been released on a two disc DVD set. Menus are either in English or French. Disc one holds the first four episodes as well as an extended directors cut of episode one. Disc two holds episodes five to nine as well as the extras. Jikken-Kun (Drama 1) (1 min, 24 sec) is an odd little sequence with a ninja answering questions; I’m not at all sure what this has to do with the show. You get some trailers (51 sec), teasers (34 sec) and the open (1 min, 26 sec) and closing (1 min, 26 sec) sequence instead of the usual textless presentation, these come with burned in English subs, so you can sing along to the show's titles, if you’re that drunk.

The show is presented with a 1.78:1 picture transfer, and it’s a very clear picture with good definition. Both the English 2.0 dub and the 2.0 Japanese original audio track are very serviceable, shame they couldn’t supply a 5.1 track for the more atmospheric moments.

If you liked any of the games, then you’re going to love the anime. For non-gamers this is still a high quality show. I didn’t like the mashing together of the comedy elements with the darker aspects of the show, but that is only a personal choice.


Charles Packer

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