PERSONA5 the Animation – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Ren Amamiya is about to enter his second year after transferring to Shujin Academy in Tokyo. Following a particular incident, his Persona awakens, and together with his friends they form the “Phantom Thieves of Hearts” to reform hearts of corrupt adults by stealing the source of their distorted desires. Meanwhile, bizarre and inexplicable crimes have been popping up one after another… Living an ordinary high school life in Tokyo during the day, the group maneuvers the metropolitan city as Phantom Thieves after hours. Let the curtain rise for this grand, picaresque story! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Persona 5 starts out throwing really stylized scenes and jumping in between time periods and places as the episode continues, making for a premiere that is rather disorienting and confusing except to those who are already well familiar with the original game’s material. It’s clear that the show assumes that if you are watching, you are already a fan of the source material as it never really bothers to lay information out in a straight forward manner that would help set its premise up for a complete newcomer.
Tom: The story feels rushed, as if it’s moving from beat to beat without a care for ensuring anyone new is along for the ride. As people who never played the game (I’ve only played Persona 2 and 3) the flash back was confusing enough that we wondered if it was a flash forward rather than a flash back as we first assumed, and divided our attention between following the narrative and wondering if we had things round the wrong way.
Linny: This first episode is pretty much devoted to a singular character, Ren Amamiya as we start with his capture by the police and then flash back to his origin story. Even then, his origin is doled out in a manner that prioritizes style over substance and coherent information. We’re never given a proper explanation, just a short and basic exposition from one person explaining why and how Ren ended up living on his own and attending a new school far from his family and friends as if trying to cover the most basic of grounds as quickly as possible. It only further cements the fact that maybe this show is more interested in recreating the vibe of the original game, even replicating imagery in some scenes that look like in-game loading screens.
Tom: While we do get a sense of Ren’s desire to push back against an oppressive system that prevents kids from doing the ‘right’ thing, Ren remains distant, far more the player driven character from the video game than a lead hero in this anime. Ren’s barely formed personality works in a video game, where the player is of course the true star, here it makes for an unengaging experience where I just don’t feel connected to the lead. It’s what gives me the impression that like Persona 4’s various anime, this is again something for fans of the game franchise, rather than newcomers.
Linny: Based off this first episode alone, I am convinced that Persona 5 the Animation is unsurprisingly an adaptation made for the fans as its narration style seems to assume the viewer’s familiarity with what’s happening on screen. It is definitely not going to be easy for a complete newbie to dive into this anime and thus ultimately, limits its appeal to a very specific group; those who wanted to see the plot of one of their favourite games in a fully animated form.
Tom: Persona 5 is something best left to Persona fans. I don’t think what’s here makes for a particularly engaging anime and what visual style and quality there is, simply isn’t impressive enough to even offer itself as a feast for the eyes. It’s not actively bad, but it really isn’t all that approachable for anyone lacking in familiarity.
Persona5 the Animation is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.