Persona 4: The Animation (ペルソナ4) is the anime adaptation of the fantasy, mystery JRPG that originally released on the PlayStation 2 via Atlus. It aired during the Fall 2011 season with 25 episodes. It follows a teenager named Yū Narukami who is a rather quiet dude that moved to the town of Inaba so that he could live with his uncle and younger cousin for one year while his parents work overseas. When he learns about a strange “Midnight Channel” that appears on the tele during rainy days, Yū and his new, local mates end up discovering a mysterious world hidden within the tele. This strange realm seems to have a connection to the recent string of crimes being committed all over town in the real world.
After I finished Poco’s Udon World, I turned to my anime watchlist Death Star mug and randomly chose the next title for my otaku shenanigans. When I pulled Persona 4: The Animation, I felt extremely excited. That is until I went searching for it online. None of the legal streaming sites had it in their catalogue. Feeling completely dejected, I asked my cousin if I could borrow his copy since I had gotten my hopes so damn high. Luckily, he came through. When it finally came in, watching that first episode was like getting blown in the face with a hot wisp of nostalgia that I never saw coming, and honestly, it felt fucking fantastic.
My first-time playing Persona 4 occurred during a very special time in my life, and also a couple years after it released on the PS Vita as Persona 4 Golden. I was essentially homeless, living in the garage of terrible people, trying to navigate through a treacherous life-event that tested me emotionally and mentally like a constant arse-kicking. When I finally got the game and was able to check it out, I ended up creating my very first Safe Place. I played that damned game relentlessly whenever I needed to escape my reality, or to cope through a tough day. Through that game, I also re-discovered my passion for video games and JRPGs again in a way that was completely my own.
So, as I watched Yū sit down to have dinner with his uncle and cousin in the first five to ten minutes of the pilot episode, I was overcome with a wonderful sense of nostalgia that was both joyful and laced with a smidge of homesickness. I already know that because of what this specific title means to me on a personal level, I’m going to have a strong emotional attachment to it, and that’s going to make my watching of the anime rather pleasant.
Putting all of that sappy shite aside, however, and trying to look beyond my biases, the first two to three episodes were so immensely satisfying! Between the animation quality, the characters and their goofiness, plus the snazzy soundtrack—it was quite easy to watch one episode after another after another.
Last month, I finished watched the Persona 5: The Animation specials, so when I began watching P4A, the animation quality felt slightly outdated to me, yet pretty damn decent, considering that the series released eight years ago. It is a bit less polished and doesn’t have the crispness to it that newer titles have thanks to mostly top-of-the-line, high-definition perks, which is mostly apparent in the character designs and transitions between the realms.
Speaking of characters, I had forgotten how much I fucking love the ones form P4. They all have great chemistry and their personalities clicked very well together. Some of my more favourite things about them include Yū’s sass when he uncommonly opens his mouth, especially when it’s brought out by Yōsuke’s idiotic mischievousness. Then there’s Chie, who I didn’t care for too much in the game, but I always appreciated her love for martial arts, and how much I could relate to her tomboyness that prevented the dudes from seeing her as anything other than “one of the boys.” Yukiko was the character I crushed on during the gaming days. Although seeing her in the anime, I’ve realised that I’ve outgrown my love for her. But she’s still cute in a sweetly and introverted way. Lastly, there’s Teddy. Fucking Teddy, where do I even begin? His introduction was something else I had forgotten about, so when he popped up, it caught me off guard and I laughed a hell of a lot. His interactions with Yōsuke are some of my favourite things about the series. They are both so fucking moronic and remind me heavily of Morgana and Ryūji from P5.
Persona 4: The Animation thus far—three episodes in—has been an ooey, gooey trip down memory lane that I hadn’t realised that I desperately needed. It feels so enchanting to watch it and relive all of the joy the game gave me years ago. Similarly to P5, I know that I’ll probably want to re-play it after I finish watching all 25 episodes, and considering the holidays are around the corner (I’m not big on them), I may very well pick it up and immerse myself into the kooky world behind the curtain of the Midnight Channel.
Before I sign off for the evening, I do have a question for you! If you’ve seen both Persona 4: The Animation and Persona 4 Golden Animation, are there a lot of differences between the two? Do I need to watch P4 Golden? If not, is it worth checking out for the differences that may exist between the two? Please, let me know if you can (without spoilers if possible) that way I can add it to my watchlist if need be.