It’s been just a little over a year since Persona 5 first released outside of Japan and was met with a phenomenally great reception, with many fans and critics hailing it as one of the best games of 2017, a year stacked with quality releases such Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier Automata etc.
The hype surrounding Persona 5 had been building for roughly nine years since the release of the last mainline entry, Persona 4, and when that tidal wave of anticipation finally hit, a legion of new fans were swept along with it. And though the buzz has naturally died down a bit over the past year, it’s about to be rejuvenated as the first episode of the anime adaptation of this mega JRPG has finally hit the air.
This opening episode covers about the first 2 hours of Persona 5, culminating at when our protagonist first gets his persona. The opening hours of any RPG are usually the slowest parts of the game, setting up the main plot and easing the player into its world. Persona 5 is no different in this regard and considering the massive scope of the game, it makes sense to get through the initial hours as quickly as possible while still allowing the audience to maintain a coherent understanding of the story’s structure. Persona 5 the Animation manages this feat to a reasonable degree though viewers unfamiliar with the source material may be a little lost at some of the happenings within the episode due to its quickened pacing coupled with Persona franchise’s eccentricities. Still, it manages to properly lay out the structure of its tale and hopefully future episodes will help to better clarify the more confusing events for newcomers.
The story frames itself by opening up towards the end as a heist gone wrong leads to the protagonist, Ren Amamiya, finding himself in an interrogation room and being questioned by Prosecutor Sae Nijima. There, he relates his tale of everything that lead to this situation as the story flashes back to its beginning. The framing used by the series gives its story a hook by which to pull in the audience by building up their curiosity of the circumstances that pushed our protagonist into such a predicament. This narrative hook allows the rest of the episode to be a more mundane affair as it sets up the introduction of part the main cast, the antagonist of the story’s first arc and the world of Persona.
The protagonist in Persona 5 already had a fairly distinct personality compared to his predecessors and with little touches in the first episode, like how he clenches his fist when Sojiro gives him some ‘advice’, it seems that the anime will be accentuating duality of hos personality which compromises of a goody two shoes student and the suave phantom thief.
The art and animation in this premiere episode were both strong and consistent throughout its run-time plus solid direction and framing gave the occurring events, especially the casino heist, a vivid sense of style that is very much in tune with the original game. Another particular highlight is hearing many of the tracks from the game in the anime. Persona 5 featured a superb jazz and j-pop infused soundtrack, and getting to hear it once more is an absolute treat that is sure to both delight fans and showcase the quality of these tracks to newcomers.
Persona 5 the Animation opens up on a relatively strong note despite adapting the weakest part of the game, however things only pick up from here and if the show can nail its pace and tighten its execution, then fans can confidently expect a great adaptation.
You can check out the premiere as well as the the rest of the coming season over at Crunchyroll.