PERSONA 5 the Animation – Full Season QandA Rundown

PERSONA 5 the Animation – Full Season QandA Rundown

What’s the important information? Persona 5: The Animation is a Spring 2018 anime that aired 26 episodes between April and September. It is based on the Persona 5 video game released by Atlus.

What’s it about? Ren Amamiya is a high school student, who, after being in the wrong place at the wrong time ends up on probation. He moves to Shibuya to start a new life under the roof of a family friend but soon finds himself caught up in something bigger and more important than he could possibly imagine. He has unlocked the supernatural power of ‘Personas’ and with it the ability to change the hearts of wrong-doers, with the help of his new friends they become the ‘Phantom Thieves of Hearts’ a group of vigilantes intent on saving innocents from those who abuse power. But things aren’t ever just that simple…

Where are your eyes looking…

Why did you watch it? I played the Persona 5 game so naturally I’m going to see how much the stuff it up, uh, err, I mean faithfully adapt it for television…

Did you enjoy the show? For the most part, yes I did. It simultaneously made me fondly remember the best parts of the game (the story and the character development) while glossing over the infuriating parts of it (the back-tracking, the repetitive battles) while also wonder why it so faithfully adapted things that could have easily been cut for the sake of a more streamlined experience. Ultimately though it’s interesting and entertaining even for someone who’s played the game so that’s got to be a recommendation of sorts!

Ren’s pretty cool for a video game protagonist.

What was your favourite episode? With so many episodes and none of them specifically distinct the whole series kind of blends together into an amorphous blob but the most faithful episode (at least as far as I’m concerned) was the first beach episode (Episode 18) where Futaba starts coming out of her proverbial shell so I’ll pick that one!

Futaba’s expression is me whenever I see people outside having fun.

What were your most favourite things about the show? Despite the fact that I played the game with English dubs but watched the show with original Japanese voices I still think they perfectly captured the essence of every character (with the exception perhaps being Ryuji who I still prefer in English). Also, unlike Persona 4 the Animation this series feels less like a video game adaptation and more its own thing—which for newcomers is a very important thing.

Don’t mess with these heroes!

What were your least favourite things about the show? This show tries too hard to squeeze every little thing that was even ~vaguely~ significant about the game into the show which adds to the narrative bloat and ends up with a lot of pointless asides that while ostensibly ‘fan-service’ for players of the game fall flat for everyone else. Characters like Hifumi Togo the Shogi player and Chihaya Mifune the psychic are introduced and ~vaguely~ returned to, but never in the same substantial way that they are in the game so their inclusion feels like pointless padding in a show already stuffed to bursting.

Who was your favourite character? In the game it was Futaba, she was best girl—but without the adaptation of her romantic plot line the connection feels lost. The character who came across the best in this adaptation was surprisingly Sojiro, the surrogate father figure to our protagonist and all around good guy—bet you didn’t expect me to pick an old dude over a waifu!

Sojiro’s about as deep as side-characters come, so much backstory and complexity.

Thoughts on the OP (opening) and ED (ending) and the soundtrack in general? Not to keep referencing the game too much but its soundtrack was a definite highlight and thankfully most of it remains for the adaptation, the various OP’s and ED’s are all sung by Lyn as they were in the game but in serving as OP’s and ED’s they draw ~more~ attention to themselves and thus highlight the quality of the soundtrack overall.

What’s something unique about this show? It seems weird to say but the fact that we got 26 episodes of a video game adaptation and we’re still not done with the completed adaptation! Yes, that’s right, a ‘special’ episode will air in late 2018 to wrap up the story proper! Maybe this isn’t especially unique but it kind of felt like it for me!

Makoto is great too!

What other anime are most like it for the sake of comparison? It should go without saying that it’s somewhat similar to Persona 4 but this show carries more style and panache than that show ever could muster. There have been plenty of shows throughout the years that focus on the struggle between oppressed and oppressor but none have felt more nascent and timely than Persona 5.

Who would you recommend it to? If you’ve played the game, then obviously this series comes recommended. Just don’t expect a 1:1 retelling of events nor anything that expands upon the universe. If you haven’t played the game the series is still worth watching for those interested in a compelling drama with interesting and charismatic characters.

Sum up the season in one sentence: ‘Social Justice Warriors; the anime!’

Final score? 83 out of 100.

Go team!

Previous PERSONA5 the Animation Reviews:

Episode 1 Review
Episode 2 Review
Episode 3 Review
Episode 4 Review
Episode 5 Review
(Stopped reviewing weekly after Episode 5)


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PERSONA 5 the Animation Episode 5 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for PERSONA 5 the Animaton Episode 5.

What’s the show? PERSONA 5 the Animation, Episode 5.

And how are things with the show this week? Are we good are we not so good? Hmm, kind of a bit of both really…

Oh, care to elaborate? Well, it’s another case of too many plot elements introduced and not enough time given to let the new elements breath. Like we get some more of the hot Doctor character, and the information that the protagonist is going to be doing clinical trials (mildly important element from the game) as well as the introduction to ‘Mementos’ which is the collective unconsciousness of society and a place to solve the ‘minor-league’ cases of “shitty adults” who are plaguing the city (in the game it’s basically side-quests where you grind your levels up).

Never mind, we need her in the show, she’s too cool.

Uh-huh… and it’s not introduced well? I mean it’s fine, it’s just I have to wonder how necessary either of these plot points are to telling a more streamlined version of this narrative. Obviously the anime wants to adapt pretty much everything and I appreciate that as a ~moderate~ fan of the game, but I think a just as good—if not better adaptation could have been made by cutting out one of these elements from the show. It would have made the pace more consistent at the very least.

Shibuya doggo statue behind them! Unrealistic though, it’s never that quiet around the statue.

At it again with the “pacing problems” huh? Well it is my single biggest gripe with this show so far. Like the first half of the episode has the scenes set at the ‘swanky’ buffet and this was a part of the game that already felt unnecessarily long, but here—when the second half of the episode is already rushing to introduce new elements—it feels even more pointlessly long. There’s a difference between character building and establishing a theme (i.e. that adults suck and make life difficult for those younger/weaker) and shortchanging important information in lieu of hammering home a message that’s already pretty obvious at this point.

When she sends a meme instead of a nude.

I thought you said this was both ‘good and not so good’? I’m only hearing ‘not so good’ so far. We get our first proper scene with Makoto! She’s my second favourite character, if I haven’t said so before. Also we get more hints towards the Madarame subplot, and as you well know the plot is what I’m about when it comes to this series, that and the characters of course.

2nd best girl!

Any other good points? Well there’s the introduction to the Phan-site, a fan blog run by one of Ren’s classmates who seems to know an awful lot about the Phantom Thieves, or as they’ve decided to call themselves ‘The Phantoms’, terrible name if I do say so, I preferred the name gave them in my play-through, the ‘Social Justice Waifus’, though that’s because I played with a mostly female line-up…

For what it’s worth there still continues to be a lot of cool shots in this show, even if they’re hardly brought attention to.

Right… I’m pretty confused now so let’s wrap this up. What are your final thoughts on the episode? I’m still mostly happy with this adaptation, if I’m picky or pedantic it’s only because I think I could have done better—not in reality mind you just in my head. I’m willing to overlook a lot of flaws though because they are more-or-less telling the story as it should be, just at an annoyingly inconsistent pace.


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PERSONA 5 the Animation Episode 4 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for PERSONA 5 the Animation Episode 4.

What’s the show? PERSONA 5 the Animation, Episode 4.

Ah, the show about the game that’s too much like the game but not the good parts of the game? Very succinct, also and I’m super happy to report this but almost every issue I had with the previous episodes and specifically the very flawed episode 3—has been fixed!

What? Really?! I know it might seem hard to believe but it’s not like we were so far gone that the show couldn’t fix itself, I was just sceptical if it ~could~ and in my opinion it absolutely fixed most of the issues I had! Imagine my surprise and delight!

These characters are so great, but there’s even better ones coming!

Well that’s good. Want to go into detail about how? It starts off with a small but appreciated change to the opening credit visuals, among some of the best of any anime this season and much improved from the first 3 episodes. I’m not sure why they changed it but I’m super glad they did, it fits the song a lot better.

Unless you play on the easiest difficulty 😉

And the episode itself? Well the pacing is exponentially better, rather than skipping from new plot point to new plot point with every scene this episode is razor focused on a single plot thread, namely stealing Kamoshida’s treasure and changing his heart and having him confess his crimes.

Demon Kamoshida is gross.

What about the issues you had with it feeling visually too much like the video game in the scenes set in the palace? Also better! Relying less on the video game visuals, having the action feel more cinematic and less like just watching scenes from the video game in anime form and one of my favourite things was how they introduced several mechanics from the video game such as buying airsoft weapons in the real world to use in the cognitive world as well as healing items, acquiring new personas and fusing personas to create different ones. All of these features could have easily been mishandled but they executed the explanation and implementation into the story perfectly!

Fake guns are real in the fake world.

Wow, sounds like you’re impressed. I am! Plus, it hit all the emotional beats of the story as well as the game did, it’s pretty much all I could ask for! The scene with Ann confronting the defeated Kamoshida both in the palace then later at the school assembly in the real world were powerful and raw. Also the sexy, alternative looking Doctor character gets a little introduction, can’t wait to get more of her in the show!

Uh, hey Doc, I’ve got something I’d like you to look at, but I’ll have to remove my trousers.

Right, so you’re more confident in the show’s adaptive abilities going forward? I am, hopeful but still not 100% confident, there’s a lot of plot lines to adapt and it could easily fall back into the pacing problems from episode 3, so I’m fully expecting that to happen but fingers crossed it doesn’t because if the show keeps up the quality that was this episode I will be a happy boy!

PERSONA 5 the Animation Episode 3 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for PERSONA 5 the Animation Episode 3.

What’s the show? PERSONA 5 the Animation, Episode 3.

And are the problems you highlighted in Episode 2 still evident? Unfortunately, yes. The video game stylings and transplanting of the visuals still feels lazy and uninspired, but another problem has presented itself…

😛

Oh? The pacing in the first two episodes was fast, to the point of being confusing for those who haven’t played the game however it was something that could be perhaps overlooked. The pace in this third episode however is way too fast to the point that the show’s hard to follow even for people who’ve played the game. It’s so bad that twice during the episode I had to pause it not only to explain what was going on to the irl waifu, but also just to collect my thoughts. Because of the sheer amount of information that was being imparted and the rapid pace at which it was being imparted.

I loved this shot, wish there were more artful compositions like this.

That doesn’t sound good at all. Like I get they need to get a lot of information across, but there comes a point where it almost feels like there’s no breathing room between vital scenes. Even things as simple as exterior establishing shots between the scenes last like 1 second instead of 3 or 4 seconds, it might seem like a simple thing but it makes the whole endeavour feel annoyingly rushed.

Nice establishing shot, too bad it’s only on screen for half a second.

I can understand that. And what’s more annoying is that there’s some genuinely affecting scenes in this episode but they’re not given the amount of time they deserve to fully cement their impact. The one exception was (and obviously spoilers here) was when Shiho attempts suicide after being abused by Kamoshida, it’s a genuinely impactful moment and the framing and use of silence in this scene shows a lot of restraint on the part of the show’s creative team. I just wish more scenes in this show were given this kind of treatment.

Powerful moment.

Anything else of note? I appreciated an early scene (which I don’t think was in the game, or if it was it was perhaps framed differently) where Ryuji and Ren are talking about what’s going on at the school while getting on the train and Goro Akechi, the junior detective character is just casually listening in. It’s good that he’s involved, even in a background capacity as it will make his integration into the story later all the more natural.

Akechi-kun is watching…

And that’s it? Pretty much, I might end up making these reviews every two weeks because there’s not that much to talk about, at least not a lot of positive things. Which is a shame because the story and characters are worth talking about, I just wish they were being handled in a way that gave them the time they needed to sink in. With the wealth of content from the game this could have easily been a 50+ episode series and not have felt slow. This episode had some really beautifully animated scenes but that was entirely in the scenes set in the ‘real world’, most if not all of the stuff inside the ‘palaces’ didn’t look nearly as good, but maybe that’s intentional to help differentiate. The biggest problem at the moment is the pacing and I’ll keep watching in the hope that the pace is rectified soon but I’m not holding out much hope given how far we’ve still got to go in this story.

And once again the animation in the Palace’s is markedly more derpy than the outside scenes. Oh well…

PERSONA 5 the Animation Episode 2 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for PERSONA 5 the Animation Episode 2.

What’s the show? PERSONA 5 the Animation, Episode 2.

So how’s this video game adaptation going for you? Well…

Oh, bad news is it? I wouldn’t go as far as say ‘bad news’ just disappointing news.

Kamoshida is even more of an asshole here, or at least it seems that way. Maybe it’s just the Japanese voice actor sounds a lot more punchable—in a good way!

Well go on. I still love the story and characters of this game and by extension this anime and the stuff outside in the real world is as strong if not even better than the game. But the stuff in the ‘cognitive world’ known as “Palace’s” is a lot worse.

Like a screenshot from the game, only worse.

Oh, how so? Well maybe I’m biased because I genuinely didn’t enjoy the gameplay of the game (or at least, I didn’t enjoy how much of it there was and how similar feeling it felt). But here it just feels like watching someone play the game, and as much as the flashy visuals worked in the game, they just feel so lazily imported here. Like after the first large battle with Kamoshida’s henchman, there’s almost exactly the same stylised black and red splash screens you’d get in the game after defeating an enemy just minus the stats of levelling up. And not only does it somehow look worse than the game it just doesn’t make any sense for it to appear except for it being an homage to the game.

But does it harm the show in any meaningful way? I think it’s just unnecessary. I’m hoping it’s a one-off homage but I get a bad feeling they’re going to do it with every encounter throughout the show. I think an adaptation of a game should feel more like a TV show and take advantage of the strengths of the medium rather than flat out copy/paste the visuals of the game.

“You’ll never see it coming”

So you’ve gone cold on the show? I wouldn’t say completely, sure it’s an annoyance but I still want to see this adaptation in its entirety. And I’m still keenly looking forward to the other characters being introduced. Besides, compared to the game where you spend way more time in the “Palace’s” than in the real world, the balance seems more favourably skewed toward the ‘real world’ parts in the anime—which is preferred and appreciated!

That’s the look of a teacher who’s completely given up.

Anything else? Oh and Morgana’s finally been properly introduced and he’s as cute and charismatic as ever!

Meow!

So, still recommend it then? Sure, I mean maybe these issues will only affect people who play the game, or maybe nobody has these issues, I don’t know! Either way, if you’re still not sure, I’d say give this show a go because the story is still progressing in a positive way!

PERSONA 5 the Animation Episode 1 – Anime QandA Review

An Anime QandA review for PERSONA 5 the Animation Episode 1.

What’s the show? PERSONA 5 the Animation, Episode 1.

Oh, ‘the Animation’ that means it’s based on a video game doesn’t it? Indeed, and I’ve even played the video game this is based on!

So you already know all about the plot and characters and where it’s going, huh? Sure do!

No spoilers! I’m not an asshole, of course no spoilers.

So what’s the show about? Well broadly it’s about The Phantom Thieves, a group of social justice vigilantes who seek to undo the wrongs did my ‘shitty adults’ by entering their “palaces” and “changing their hearts”.

Huh? “Palaces”, “Changing Hearts”, what’s all that about? Well it’ll be explained in future episodes so I don’t want to go into too much detail but basically our protagonist Ren Amamiya discovers a magical app on his phone that allows him to enter people’s ‘palaces’ which is like their cognitive world manifested as a hyper stylised fortress filled with enemies which reflect the worst aspects of their personality. Inside these palaces are a treasure, which if obtained makes the person have a ‘change of heart’.

I feel like you probably spoiled more than you should have… Maybe, I mean if I had to guess you’d probably find out most of this within the next 3 to 4 episodes, but there’s a lot more to this show than its central premise.

So having played the game does that make your viewing experience different? Absolutely, because it’s so faithful it does kind of feel a little bit boring to watch. But that’s because I only finished the game in February of this year so it’s still fresh in my mind. But the story and the characters were the best part of the game so I’m still happy to watch it all unfold in an animated form.

And how does it compare so far? Well as I said it’s very faithful so far, and it looks great and has some great audio cues from the game but I played the game with the English voice acting so hearing all these characters in Japanese is a little jarring, especially since I put like 80 hours into the game so I’m very used to the English voices. Having said that, Sojiro’s voice acting is great and it’s good to have a voice to the protagonist who was mostly voiceless in the game, but I already can’t stand Ryuji’s voice actor. Everyone else sounds pretty similar to their English counterparts, but Ryuji sounds so different it might be hard to get used to. But that’s entirely my problem and not a problem of the show.

Fair enough, so what’s the final word on episode one? If you haven’t played Persona 5 I recommend the show, it might seem confusing and dense but this is definitely a show where you need to see more of it to fully appreciate the stories and characters, all of which are great. I can’t wait til the show introduces Makoto and Futaba, my two favourite characters in the game, and of course Morgana who we got a glimpse of at the end of episode one. I’ll be interested to know what people who haven’t played the game think and those who have how do you think it fairs so far as an adaptation.