We've been waiting for October to come since April when it was announced that the popular J-RPG Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 was getting it's own anime called "PERSONA 4 The Animation". Whiskey Media members might be familiar with this series from the Endurance Run done by Vinny and Jeff over on Giant Bomb. I got really excited when word came that The Anime Network was going to be providing the legal streaming for the series. I doubt I'll be shocking anyone with this statement. This is the almost literal adaptation of the game's story. If you wanted more voice acting and cut scenes out of this game. This is a love letter to you.
Just for the sake of anyone who doesn't know. Persona 4 was a PS2 generation RPG of a supernatural murder mystery with rather deep social and dating simulation aspects. All while still holding true to the dungeon crawling one expects. That may sound like a bit of a hodgepodge, but the people over at ATLUS really make every bit of it work. Seeing the "4" in the title may sound confusing to someone who had never heard of the game. Rest assured, this is not a prequel or sequel scenario where you may be missing out on some inside joke if you never played the game. Think of it more along the lines of Final Fantasy games. You don't need to of played FFIV to enjoy FFXIII. This is holding your hand the way any good story based RPG begins -- just without long and tedious tutorials to read through.
While being new viewer friendly, P4A is covered in little details that fans of the game will enjoy. The opening theme song is the same from the game, it transitions between days using the weekly calendar that shows the weather, the battle music is the same, and the commercial break image shows ourprotagonist's social ranking stats. This may at first seem kind of ridiculous to see in the anime, but what's shown in this episode does reflect Yu Narukami's personality. He's withdrawn, cold, and socially awkward from the beginning. He doesn't really show any emotion until the final few moments on the episode.
Visually, this episode is beautiful, and the detail work is incredible, Speaking from my graphic arts background. The gradient added to the characters gives everyone a sense of depth. You look at screenshots of the animation work, and you could swear you're looking at highly rendered stills. This is going to look amazing on Blu-ray. It's plays with continuity of events and condenses things to end with Yu's gaining his Persona, Izanagi, by the end. That just feels like it was necessary to show the audience this anime will have action. And this action looks bad ass.
From reports, the anime is intended to run for twenty-five episodes. Looking at how they are so strictly following the dates in story, and the schedule ahead. It feels as if they are planning to have this series end some time in April of 2012. They are naturally going to be abbreviating part of the game's one year time line. Much in the same way movies will condense a book they're based on. Thankfully, this is looking to be more Harry Potter quality adapting and not the Jurassic Park: Lost World standards. You could feasibly go to Giant Bomb right now and spoil the end of this story for yourself, I just hope you'll take my word that it's well worth your time not to skip to the last page.
Watch this episode "You're myself, I'm yourself" here, and I hope you'll be coming back for more.
New episodes air on Thursday at The Anime Network's official website and 3PM EST, then streaming on HULU/HULU Plus the following day.