The Endurance Run of Persona 4 was part of what brought me to the Whiskey Media sites, so while I still haven't taken the initiative to play the game myself--it is around one hundred hours long, after all--I do have fond memories of it. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it would be getting what sounded like a straight-up anime adaptation, and I was even more enthused to learn that the Anime Network would be simulcasting the show. Well, I've been looking forward to this for a good week or so, and after a busy day, it was nice to sit back, relax, and watch the start of my first Fall 2011 anime.
So, how was it? Well, for starters, those expecting surprises will be very disappointed. The first episode is an extremely loyal adaptation of the first two hours or so of the game; there are no meaningful deviations from the storyline. On the other hand, old fans who want to see P4's story in a new format will be very happy with this.
For the uninitiated, P4 begins with high school student Narukami Yu arriving in Inaba, yada yada...hell, any of the 5 people who haven't seen the ER can just watch the bloody episode. In any case, astute readers will have noticed that the main character does, in fact, have a name. In fact, Narukami Yu has a voice, as well as a personality. However, this is one of the few deviations from the original storyline shown in this episode. The rest is a direct adaptation of Persona 4 rife with little nods to the game; since these are the only surprises the episode has in store, I'll refrain from spoiling them.
While the oodles of nostalgia make the show quite enjoyable, it stands up quite well on its own. The animation is solid, the few bits of new music are more than decent, and the only fight scene shown was decent, if not exactly exciting--it's hard to feel any trepidation when you know who wins.
In all honesty, there isn't much to say about this. I can't help but compare this with another straight adaptation job, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. While it was loyal to the original manga, it was also flexible; there were occasional surprises. This show is so loyal to the original game that while I certainly enjoyed the first episode, I don't have much to say about it. I hope to see some reactions from folks who haven't played or watched the game, because I just can't come to this fresh.
In any case, I urge any of the two or three people who might read this to give the first episode of Persona 4: The Animation a whirl. You can find it today on The Anime Network here, or you can wait until tomorrow, when it will show up on hulu.