BREAKING NEWS! Game turned into anime, and it’s not utter crap! PERSONA -trinity soul- does the impossible and surprises us all with a paranormal action series, airing Saturdays at 22:30 JST on MXTV.
Hailed by some as the best Japanese RPG on the Playstation 2, PERSONA 3 was published by Atlus in 2006 and featured high school kids firing guns into their temples in order to summon magical beings known as “personas”. Apparently this was too edgy for television, so they’ve removed that part, but at least the sexy character design remains the same. I’m probably obligated to mention that the PERSONA series is a spin-off of Atlus’ Megami Tensei universe, but it was created way back in 1987, when most of the readers of this blog weren’t even born. Heading the anime is Matsumoto Jun, fresh from his very first directing job with random parts of Blood+ (like, well, the second ending bit). While this may be a bit worrying, I’m sure you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when you hear that the script writer is none other than Mutou Yasuyuki, who made the script for Bible Black.
The setting and plot seemingly take place 10 years after the outbreak of the game’s apathy incidents, but it’s an original story where the protagonists are a trio of orphaned brothers called Kanzato Ryou (age 28), Shin (17) and Jun (14). The eldest is police chief in the city of Ayanagi, and investigating bizarre student deaths referred to as the “Reverse Cases”, due to the corpses being turned inside out. In the midst of this, his two younger brothers decide to pay him a visit, returning to the parental home in which Ryou dwells. Unfortunately he’s switched the locks when they arrive, so they end up having to walk around turn reminiscing about their childhood, and mentioning Jun’s dead twin sister Yuki. On the other side of town, Ryou finally catches up with the killer, who’s about to absorb a girl’s persona into his own. To stop him, Ryou brings out his very own persona, and the two supernatural creatures battle it out on a rooftop. Ryou manages to save the girl, but the perpetrator sneaks away, injured. At the same time, Shin wakes up from a vivid dream, in which he and Jun meet a strange fortune teller, hinting of doom and gloom. Soon Ryou comes back home and lets the two younger boys inside, disappointed that they couldn’t find the hidden door key. As Jun goes to bed, sounding like he’s having a dialogue with himself in dual voices, Shin decides to take a walk. Hearing strange moaning from a building, he wanders inside and comes across the wounded guy his older brother just encountered. And guess what, it turns out Ryou didn’t have a monopoly on persona powers in the family.
This is a solid production, with good animation by A-1 Pictures, and along with the rocking music by Iwasaki Taku it makes for a very slick show to enjoy, although I wish it was made in HD. Perhaps the weakest link is the voice acting; despite the fabulous Koyasu Takehito (Keiki in Juuni Kokki) as Ryou, and the decent Okamoto Nobuhiko (Yorito in sola), my ears simply can’t accept that Jun is male, when he’s played by Sawashiro Miyuki (Shinku in Rozen Maiden), no matter how much I love her voice. I suppose it’s because she needs to manage the multiple personality disorder, but a 14-year-old boy is pushing it, even for her.
I’m always worried when I start watching a game adaptation, because so very many anime have come to suck because they couldn’t make anything decent out of it, but in this case they wisely decided to throw away the game plot and create something new, while still keeping the fresh style that made the game so attractive. Perhaps I should admit that I’ve only spent ten or so hours playing it, but I simply got sick of running through randomly generated floors. Does the combat ever change in the game? Anyway, the PERSONA anime works for me; it’s stylish, dark, has the possibility of an interesting plot, and while the action sequences reminded me a bit too much of Mai-HiME, I remain hopeful that this will become a great show.