Anime Review: Persona 4 The Animation Episode 1

Anime Review:
Persona 4 The Animation Episode 1

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.

Series Premise: Persona 4: The Animation is a weekly anime television series starting in October 2011, based on the popular video game of the same name. In the countryside town of Inaba, there have been a rash of unsolved murders. After moving to town for the new school year, Narukami and his friends discover a whole new world on the other side of the television set, linked to the mysterious murders.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

Spoiler-free Series set-up: Yu Narukami and his family are arriving in the countryside town of Inaba to begin their new life. But strange things are afoot around town, as a rash of unsolved murders is terrorizing the public. Yu begins his first day of school, meets some of his classmates including Chie and Yosuke. He also learns about the mysterious “Midnight TV”, that only occurs exactly at midnight when it is raining. That night, Yu is almost pulled inside the television set. When he explains his unusual experience to his new friends, they suggest they try it with a larger screen at the local store, and they all end up being pulled into a strange fog-enshrouded world with strange creatures chasing them.

My Impressions: I need to preface this by saying that I have absolutely no knowledge of the Persona video game series whatsoever, so this review is from someone who is ignorant of the setting, the characters, the game play, or even the very concept of what it’s all about. Unlike the vast majority of anime fans out there, I have close-to-zero interest in video games, so my impressions are based on someone who is walking into this first episode *cold*.

Persona 4 was one of the most anticipated shows of the season (as I said, lots of video game fans out there), and it appears to have been fairly well received. Out of all the online reviewers, the person whose opinions seem to most closely match my own are The Cart Driver, who (like me) is a Persona-noob, and he absolutely loved the first episode to pieces, calling it a textbook example of how a first episode should be.

So, why, then, did I absolutely hate the first episode?

I wish I could pin-point where it all went so wrong for me, but it’s more of a general feeling of malaise that I felt throughout the entire first episode. I think a lot of it has to do with my complete lack of knowledge of whatever the fuck was going on. As soon as they all got pulled into the otherworld on the other side of the television set, I was completely lost. What’s up with the cartoony teddy bear? What’s up with those strange floating thingies with the huge tongues, like something out of Heavy Metal? I can only suppose that all those video game fans out there know exactly what is going on, but I was just confused to the point that I really didn’t give a fuck anymore.

I can’t say that I found any of the characters interesting. The main character, Yu, is somewhat of a blank slate, yet another Joe Everyman at this point. The ridiculously over-cheerful Chie is annoying in her exuberance. But not nearly as annoying as class clown/loser boy Yosuke who literally trips into the scene. And not nearly as annoying as their teacher, Mr. Moe Howard. Should I also sarcastically mention how fabulous! I found the fabulous! school uniforms with their houndstooth patterns and distracting white stitching details, in all their visual eye-lemon-ness? (Yeah, minor point, I know, but it was quite ridiculous.) The attempts of humor fell completely flat, like the annoying sidekick guy having to pee with a passion, or crashing into the trashcan.

Frankly, I hated it all from start to finish. Enough of that.

Did anyone else find the unusual gradated facial tones just plain weird? It’s like they all had dirty five o’clock shadows…all the time. Mind you, previous experience has shown that I can get used to unusual character designs with time. After all, I was able to get past the cartoony characters in Shiki to see the excellent, gripping horror story; and I was also able to get past the dead, soulless eyes of House of Five Leaves to see…well, the show itself was dead and soulless as well. But in any case, as freakishly weird as the facial shading is in Persona 4, I’m sure I could get past that. As for the boring and confusing story…not so much.

The verdict: – Dreadful, just dreadful.


For more information:

Sampling of Online Reviews:

  • “I loved it. The show oozes style from every ori­fice (please do not try to ima­gine a creature ooz­ing liquid style from its pores. I did, and now I can’t get the image out of my head).” – The Cart Driver
  • “An interesting premise alone doesn’t make a good show. Without knowing anything about what the story is going to be about I can’t make a judgement call. In this case that might be a good thing because I’m dying to explore the world of Persona 4 The Animation and answer the questions this first episode left open.” – Otaku in Review
  • “I got the point from the last series that this material is supposed to be creepy more than horrifying, and there are moments in the premiere that achieve a measure of that. But I have some major problems with it beyond the fact that it was confusing for the novice.” – Lost in America
  • “You guys basically know what to expect, which is awesomeness. There are minor differences from the game and the anime (which is to be expected), and despite few people feeling the first episode is kinda rushed, I think it is really well executed.” – Kansatsu
  • “Seeing as how this was the most hyped up series of the new season… it felt oddly disappointing. I’m not referring to the characters, although that pee-moment certainly didn’t help, but what striked me the most is that the storytelling was completely off. Potential: 60%.” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
  • “Somehow I feel like this show is forcing something down my throat and I am not comfortable with that. A lot of that has to do with Yosuke’s supposedly comedic relief. Having said that, the reason why I want to see this show is because of the story and so far it manages to grab my attention and pique my interest. Grade: 7.6/10.” – Conspicuous Klux
  • “Overall, out of all the series being released this season – I would recommend this one the highest unless something really spectacular comes out over the next week or two. Persona 4: The Animation is not a series to be missed.” – The Otaku’s Study
  • “Really? Is it that necessary to cram the fact that “THIS IS BASED ON A GAME” down the viewers throats? The artwork is kind of weird too; characters look sort of different than their in-game model (below) and it really didn’t look too polished, unlike the game.” – The Notaku Blog
  • “I feel like I’m becoming an angry blogger lately. But come on. This was ridiculous. Tamayura was boring, but ok, some people like cute girls, I can see that. Mashiroiro is crap, but it’s easy to make and it sells. But this episode? I can’t think of a single justification for airing it. It was as if I were playing the game but fast forwarded to the point where you can’t read the dialogue, without any choices to make and on auto battle.” – Draggle’s Anime Blog
  • “Okay, I’m not going to lie; this was really hard to take seriously. For a first episode, the production value was very low…As for the premise, it’s intriguing and typically “gamey”. Grade: 3.25/5.” – Moeronpan
  • “I never felt like I could “get into” the series at any point. It doesn’t arouse much excitement, but maybe a little interest to see the next episode. I need to watch another one to get a feeling for it, ya’know?” – Meeping Anime Blog
  • “The only anime that matters this season is finally here, and all signs point to it being pretty good. Grade: 4/5.” – Janai Blog
  • “Episode one is an introduction, so a slow pace was expected. But contrary to the game, the scenes shift swiftly and fluidly, adapting even some integral details of the game with the calendar and the dialogues. It’s true that they cut it a little but it works out, and doesn’t necessitate a prolonged intro. Seriously, I could have watched this episode with a controller in my hand — I was that excited for Persona 4 to finally air. Grade: 5/5.” – Population GO
  • “That was just an amazing love letter written to all the rabid fans of the game. The music is the same, the script is almost the same and there are a hell of a lot of nods to game mechanics. I made a noise that halfway resembled a screeching possum and an airbag suddenly inflating in excitement when the calendar showing the weather for each day popped up.” – Metanorn

ROUND ONE RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

Thumbs-up for Round One: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Working Season 2, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Season 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose

Thumbs-down for Round One: Morita-san wa Mukuchi Season 2, Kimi to Boku, C3: CubexCursedxCurious, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls, Shakugan no Shana Final, Mashiro-iro Symphony: The Color of Love, Persona 4: The Animation

Coming up next: Maken-ki, Cross Fight Bedaman, Digimon Xros Wars II, Sengoku Paradise Kiwami, Gdgd Fairies, Sora no Kiseki, Kyousougiga, High Score, Infinite Stratos OVA, Hidamari Sketch SP, Boku wa Tomodachi OVA, Lupin III Movie, Ao no Exorcist Special, Queen’s Blade Visual Book, Deadman Wonderland OVA, Toradora Special, Dragonball Z Episode of Bardock, R-15 OVA, Hoshizora e Kakaru OVA

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4 Responses to Anime Review: Persona 4 The Animation Episode 1

  1. cucuc says:

    Trying to answer your question:

    The show is asking its audience to take a lot of its basic anime and video game story tropes for granted, and doesn’t provide any exposition – you’ve already been there, done that, those tropes are like ABC to you, so we’re not wasting any time on them. This rushing through content also makes the storytelling jerky and lacking connective tissues, which would be especially apparent for a viewer who doesn’t grow up playing video games or watching Japanese children’s anime.

    For example, of course there is a dungeon, which contains many “mob” enemies and a boss! Of course the boss is a reflection of a character’s repressed self! Of course there is an animal mascot!

  2. matthigh says:

    I retrospect I think you are right, this show had a very “inside baseball” feel to it — narrowcast to a very certain group of fans. Mind you, this is the type of show that would be very targeted, but I always like to hope that the writers might possibly be clever enough to operate on at least two levels (pleasing the existing fans while providing an opening to newcomers)…and I am invariably disappointed.

  3. Pingback: Anime Review: Recap of the Fall 2011 Season (after watching the 1st episodes) | This Euphoria!

  4. Slashx says:

    Yeah , i can understand your point of view in this one , im a persona fun and i have grown playing those games , but for someone that haven’t it must be like starting a book saga from the fifth book,
    anyway about the character personalities , the idea about the mc is that is the same as the game , you start with a blank slate that isn’t good at anything , and then you mold him acording to your actions , in the anime happens the same , he improves with time and becomes a little better (not much) , and all the characters in the group go through a self renovation process when they get their persona.
    Well those where my 2 cents, in case someone reads this review and the coments. Take care.

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