OP: 「Shadow World」 by 平田志穂子 (Shihoko Hirata)
“I am art and thou art I.
“Familiar landscapes will reveal a different kind of beauty if you change your viewpoint.
「THE GOLDEN DAYS」
The Persona 4 train keeps rolling on in the form of Persona 4 The Golden ANIMATION (to be abbreviated as P4GA from this point forward), and it’s a nostalgic re-entry into a much beloved franchise (in Japan at least). If you haven’t been keeping up, P4GA comes in as the second anime entry based off of the universe introduced in the PS2 JRPG, Persona 4. Released in Japan in 2008, the game was extremely well received, and it’s since spawned two fighting game sequels and a rhythm game to top things off. The US release later that same year was met with similar acclaim and Persona 4 Golden was released on the Vita in 2012 as an enhanced remake with new game features and a new character in Marie. The latter is ultimately what’s being adapted here, and it’s interesting to note the differences between this and the original Persona 4 the Animation.
First thing’s first though, and that’s the story—which generally remains the same. Once again, the focus is on Narukami Yu, who arrives in the rural town of Inaba in time to witness a series of strange events, including a series of murders and rumors about Mayonaka TV, a midnight program that supposedly allows you to see your other self on a rainy day. Looking into the rumor drags Yu and his new friends Hanamura Yosuke and Satonaka Chie into an alternate TV world where monsters known as Shadows roam about, and that’s generally the introductory episode in a nutshell.
There’s not much different in this context in comparison to the original P4Aand the cast + director here also carries over from its predecessor in P4A. There is a new co-director and new studio behind it all, but overall, P4GA ends up quite similar stylistically, and at times I found myself wondering if I didn’t accidentally watch P4A instead.
That said, the addition of Marie does ultimately change the sequence of how things occur here, and it’s interesting to note how her arrival ends up speeding up the pacing of this episode somewhat. Gone are the early introductions to the characters—we’re thrown straight into a scene where Yu, Yosuke, Chie, and Yukiko are already friends with one another—and it makes me wonder if P4GA might not actually be intended for viewers with no prior familiarity with the universe. One can infer and connect things based on the introductions we receive in the opening (gotta love Shihoko Hirata’s themes by the way), but there’s clearly omissions made here, and although my previous familiarity with the series made this of no consequence, it may not bode true for first time viewers. In fact, it seems like this could very well be an adaptation based on a New Game+ where Narukami’s already achieved certain landmarks power-wise.
At the very least though, Marie comes in as a new character that changes things up a bit, and as someone who didn’t get to play Persona 4 Golden, I find myself quite intrigued by her mysterious nature. The fact that the Narukami Yu we get here seems to be the more gung-ho type rather than the more reserved type we saw in P4A also bodes well in terms of general enjoyment, and it shows itself early on with his handshakes (of which no one is immune to).
Ultimately, the jury’s still out on multiple angles here with P4GA. It’s a bit early to tell whether or not first time viewers would be better off having prior experience with Persona 4 in some way, but I’d recommend sticking with things for now until we see how things progress. There’s a quality story here to be had assuming they actually do a full adaptation rather than a partial New Game+ run, so we’ll have to see how things go. It has to be said however, that it doesn’t look like it’ll be much different stylistically from P4A, so depending on whether or not you liked that, it’s likely you’ll have the same overall opinion here before it’s all said and done.
I’ll continue to watch the series personally, but due to time constraints and the fact that no one else is familiar with the Persona series on the staff at the moment, it’s likely that P4GA will go uncovered. I apologize before hand if this does end up being the case, but do keep in mind that time-willing, I will try to at least do either a mid-season or end of season post about it in the future.
ED: 「Next Chance to Move On」 by 平田志穂子 (Shihoko Hirata)