Persona 4 at a Glance

Oo, look, Digimons Personas!

Persona 4 was the second show this season where I flew in completely blind to a video game adaptation… well, no, ok, let me re-state that, because it isn’t as if I’d ever played Pure Shite Symphony or MajiKoi prior to watching those two shows. This was the second show this season where I flew in completely blind to a video game adaptation which required slightly more than two brain cells to comprehend, the other being Fate/Zero. If we are to measure success of a show in terms of whether it fully tosses off the shackles of its video game origin, then this one comes up a touch short, as its source is clear from the first episode alone, a collection of happenings which are divided by shots of a calendar moving from one day to the next.

However, that’s not really a good way to determine success. The better question is – was it enjoyable? And to this I must say, enough to keep me watching, but not enough to make me excited. I am troubled by the lack of… I don’t want to call it ‘warmth’, but I feel no connection to the characters so far, no reason to care about them and their lives or troubles. It’s a curious lack, although unsurprising in the case of our lead, as he is apparently the player character in the game. It also serves to rob the progression of events in the episode of any organic feeling; its more like we fulfill one event, and then are shunted to the next because that’s how it is, not because one event necessarily connects to the other. Sure, there are indications that they are connected, but it doesn’t feel complete – more like, again, one item pops up in one scene, and then shows up again later because it is supposed to, not because of any cause and effect.

I sound much more negative about this than I feel, though. I wasn’t bored while watching, nor was I repulsed. I just wasn’t terribly impressed, either. I did get a little excited toward the end of the episode, but in large part only because I thought the bear-thing looked like a Digimon, as did the Persona Narukami used to fight off the slug-things. And, there are some parallels to be had here – the kids in the first season of that show suddenly found themselves sucked into a foreign world, and ended up with creatures that fought off other, malicious creatures for them. It isn’t exactly a novel plot, of course, but the designs of the bear-thing and the Persona are what sealed the comparison for me. I get the feeling that this is going be a touch more dark than the first season of that show, though; I certainly hope it is, because as much as I enjoyed that show, I’d prefer to not see it repeated here (also, the best series from that franchise was Digimon Tamers, its third, written by Mr. Serial Experiments Lain himself, Chiaki J. Konaka… so if we’re gonna see a retread, it better be that and not any of the other seasons).

Anyway, I’ve gotta food now. The first episode wasn’t bad. The uniforms, however, were. Let’s see how it goes next week.

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3 Responses to Persona 4 at a Glance

  1. wendeego says:

    Persona 4 (the game, at least) isn’t so much Digimon as it is The Fools Journey reinterpreted through the Japanese RPG, with elementary psychoanalysis thrown in along with a whole lot of references to mythology and history. It’s part of the Shin Megami Tensei series–some of the strangest and most cerebral RPGs out there–so there’s almost always more under the surface than generally present in, say, Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. The previous game was all about the main characters unleashing their Id hidden under their high-school personas in order to fight off the living personification of the human race’s obsession with death, and while Persona 4 is a lot happier it still goes into some pretty complex and dark stuff later on. It’s also one of the few video games I’ve played to deal with homosexuality and transgenderism in a mature manner (although it certainly isn’t perfect in that regard)

    Then again, I agree after seeing the first episode that it was pretty disappointing. Persona 4 was around eighty hours long, and a lot of the brilliance of it came from routine, from learning about the cast of characters bit by bit, from school life bleeding into dungeon crawling and back again. When the Persona 4 anime was announced, I was pretty excited because Persona 4 is one of the cleverest RPGs made in the past decade or so. But what’s the use of that if the anime insists in fast-forwarding through the conversations and the daily life that gave the original game its warmth? It feels a bit like the Persona 4 anime is going through the motions, which is pretty sad considering how good the original was. It deserves better!

  2. TheVoid says:

    Shin Megami Tensei came first. Digimon is basically SMT for kids and didn’t exist until later.
    They aren’t slug monsters but rather slimelike monsters that can take different forms. As seen when they took those forms with a mouth, giant tongue, and a far too many teeth.

  3. Pingback: Persona 4 the Animation Episode 1 « Black and Blue Socks

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