Friday, August 1, 2014

Persona 4: The Golden Animation

Whoa, boy...this is a complicated one, but I feel like I need to talk about this before any more weeks go by.

As I explained in my Summer preview post, Persona 4: The Golden Animation is something of a second season or, more accurately, a retelling of a previous series (Persona 4: The Animation).  Truth be told, it's the anime of Persona 4: Golden, the PS Vita port of the PlayStation 2 game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4.  See, look, things are already getting complicated.

So I've been religiously watching P4:GA, now into it's fourth week, and have come to a very...involved...opinion of it.

Short version: I love Persona 4: The Golden Animation, but I would absolutely not recommend it.  NOW LET ME EXPLAIN!

As I've previously stated (several times), P4:A, that is to say Persona 4: The Animation (not to be confused with Persona 4: Arena...we'll acronymize that using its Japanese suffix 'The Ultimate' as P4:U) has already come and gone (you can catch it on Hulu if you like, I recommend it) with a 26 episode run in 2012 and, with the assistace of one movie, The Factor of Hope, covered all of the core plot.  That being said, I went into P4:GA under the assumption that it was going to cover it all again, but with the addition of the new content that came from P4G (that's the Vita game...yikes this is turning into a labyrinth already).

Well...I was half right.

As it turns out, P4:GA focuses only on the additional content and pays no nevermind to the the central overarching story, the P4 part of P4G.  Well, that may be a little unfair of me, it gives it a passing nod in the first episode and then abandons it in episodes 2 and we haven't really heard from it since.

I'm not kidding, folks.  Characters are just showing up in P4:GA and we're just expected to be okay with that shit.  Allow me to put this in a bit of perspective for you.


Let's make an example out of Kanji Tatsumi, my favorite character in the game.  Now, in the story, Kanji doesn't join the Investigation Team until after he's been featured on the Midnight Channel, preliminarily investigated, kidnapped, faced his Shadow, and then saved by Yu and the gang.

In the original anime (P4A), this takes 7 episodes, after which time we know who Kanji is, know what his deal is and have a general idea of who the hell he is and what his role in the group is.

In P4:GA, he just...shows up in episode 2 with no...anything!  He's just there, and nobody addresses it.  AND THEN THEY DO IT AGAIN WITH RISE IN EPISODE 3!

To this end, I have come to the conclusion that P4:GA is very much a companion series to P4A.  It's for people, like me, who have seen the original show or have played the game.  It's for people who already know about the Midnight Channel, the murders, the Shadows, the Personas, and like it.  And, honestly, those people don't need my recommendation, they're going to watch this show or not no matter what I say.

And to the others, who wouldn't know...well, it would just be an exercise in confusion, so to them I say, watch the original and then come back to it.  Without going into an instance-by-instance explanation, the show plays like a New Game + anyhow (let's just say that the Hero, Yu, makes choices in the show that would only be accessible in the game on a second playthrough)

Which brings me to the first thing I said about this P4:GA.  I absolutely love it.

Because I've already played through the game, thrice, and I've already seen the original series.  What I wanted out of this show was to explore all of the new and exciting bits that I've only experienced one-and-a-half times now (I'm currently working on my second playthrough of P4G).

I wanted to relive the Okina station event, the beach event, the concert, and the Winter break ski trip.

I wanted to meet Marie again.

And that's really what P4:GA is about: Marie.

Marie was an entirely original character introduced in P4G, she was one the defining aspect that changed it from a simple port to a completely new experience.  And P4:GA is ultimately about her journey.

Without giving too much away, I'll just say that Marie is very connected to the other world, the fog, and...all that stuff.  In short, Marie is a big deal and has been featured in every episode so far, even appearing in events that she was absent from in the game.

To put an incredibly long opinion short: do not watch Persona 4: The Golden Animation if you are new to the whole universe of it.  It will not make any sense if you have not played Persona 4, or at the very least have seen Persona 4: The Animation.  That being said, I'm finding it wonderfully enjoyable and an absolute treat, so you should make the effort, go the distance, reach out to the truth, and get yourself caught up.

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