Persona 5: The Animation takes my heart


I remember how I learned of the “Persona 5” video game franchise. I was at a convention in Dallas called A-fest about a year ago, where I saw a person in a white mask, black trenchcoat and bright red gloves. It was a style I had never seen before, but it looked awesome. Curious, my friend and I walked up to ask what show the cosplayer was from, and they said, “Persona 5.”

From then on, I’ve been obsessed with the video game and everything that has to do with it. My friend and I have even agreed to go to our next convention as characters from the game. I’m going as the protagonist and my friend as Haru Okumura.

On April 7, the first episode of “Persona 5: The Animation” came out. It is predicted to be 24 episodes and is an anime adaption of the 80-100 hour long video game. The story follows a high schooler (referred to as Ren Amamiya in the animation) after he is transferred to Shujin Academy in Tokyo following an incident that resulted in him being accused for assault and put on probation. On his way to school, he accidentally ends up in an alternate realm named the Metaverse, where people’s desires are manifested into physical forms and everything is based on cognition. He soon finds himself in a situation that causes him to awaken his persona power, and over the course of the school year, other students awaken their powers. Together they form a group named the Phantom Thieves, who exist to steal the hearts of evil adults with rotten desires. Here are my thoughts on the first episode of “Persona 5: The Animation:”

As far as the quality of the animation, it’s beautiful. The backgrounds and set designs are intricate and well made. One of my favorite aspects of the animation is the use of colors and lighting; it adds depth to the backgrounds, making it look realistic. For example, the use of the purple laser lights in the casino scene made for a gorgeous setting as Joker made his escape. Another one of my favorite scenes in the animation is when Amamiya walks into Leblanc, the cafe he lives in for the duration of the story, for the first time. In the game, you only get to view Leblanc from one angle, but in the animation it cuts from scene to scene, giving several views. The overall feel of Leblanc is cozy yet congested, which is perfect.

Additionally, the same music from the original soundtrack from the game was recycled in the first episode, which had fans like me grinning. To me, the music was a crucial part of the game, so its continuation in the animated series was a nice touch.

As far as continuity with the “Persona 5” plot, the animation seems to be highlighting the important parts with its own flare, but to where the story is being told correctly. Some of the dialogue has changed, but that could also be because I watched it in subtitles whereas the game was in English. This is a bit nitpicky, but there are a few scenes that have cut out small things that happen in the game which I thought were important. For example, Amamiya ’s option to say something to stop Kamoshida before his awakening or in the casino escape scene when Joker runs away and climbs the ladder, only to meet an angry group of police. Other than that, I’m satisfied with how close the animation is sticking to canon.

I’ve been wondering what Amamiya ’s personality would be like in the anime since he’s a “silent protagonist.” Many Persona characters are blank slates, but from what I’ve seen, he has been given a personality. He comes across as awkward and shy, but he’s passionate about helping others. All of that is definitely illustrated more by his actions and expressions rather than dialogue. I’m curious to see how he grows as the series continues.

Something that I, and probably many other fans, feared was the animation wouldn’t be able to fit the entire 80-hour game in it without rushing the plot. However, the first episode made it to only Amamiya’s awakening, which was a good stopping point. The pacing seems to be fine so far, but the anime itself is choppy. It jumps around from scene to scene without explanation or an acceptable transition. If I hadn’t experienced the game, I would be very confused. In the game, you play day-by-day, which provides a transition and makes the story progress slower. In the animation that’s not the case, and Amamiya’s lack of extensive dialogue doesn’t help.

Overall, I was ecstatic to watch the premiere of “Persona 5: The Animation,” and I wasn’t disappointed. I can barely wait to see what the second episode has in store. If you have already played the game, I would recommend you watch the anime. If you haven’t, do a bit of reading on “Persona 5,” then watch it.