Persona 4 the Golden Animation

Title:Persona 4 the Golden Animation
ペルソナ4 ザ・ゴールデン (Japanese)
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: HANAZAWA Kana
In the spring when the cherry blossom petals fall, Yū Narukami moves to Yaso Inaba to live with his uncle and cousin due to his family's circumstances. He transfers to Yasogami High School, where his event-filled school life begins. However, when serial murders begin occurring in the peaceful town, Yū is awakened to the power of his heart turned to physical form: A Persona. Within these new mysteries is Marie, a resident of the alternate world, the Velvet Room, who has no memories of her past. Together with his friends, Yū must solve all the riddles set in front of him and save Yaso Inaba from further violence.
(Synopsis courtesy of ANN)

13 episodes

Franchise Persona
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent Stretch [series:2932#628]
(All episodes watched):

I knew nothing about this version of Persona going in (like whether or not this was a Summer TV series or some sort of OVA), and prayed that it would be more than just a fancier retelling of the same story. As I watched episode one of P4GA, I could only guess that Yu's hair has been switched from black to gray as a reminder that this is him, yet it isn't him--perhaps this is taking place in a parallel dimension to that of the original series. As late as episode four I still had no idea where this sequel series 'sits' relative to the original one. At the end of P4 Yu said goodbye and left the town where everyone else lived. Has Yu returned? Was this business with Marie something which the gang did in their spare time while trying to solve the original mystery? I wish it had been made more clear. In the end I guess P4GA turned out to be an add-on story that was taking place alongside the main plot from the original series.

Persona 4 was such a fun show that I have both high hopes and high expectations for this 'Golden' version. If the quality of P4GA is anywhere near that of Persona 4, this looked to be fun and was perhaps the one series I most looked forward to this season. The characteristic wild and colorful animation remains fun. At the end of episode one of P4GA (the Persona series make a habit of including an important bit after the ED sequence) we meet a new character, Marie, who will surely modify this plotline somewhat, though we can only guess exactly how. So far, so good. When I watched episode two I was startled to find that the cast is already complete (plus Marie) and basically this was a comedy filler episode without any forays into the Midnight Channel (there would in fact be very little Persona fighting in P4GA). Episode three and numerous others were likewise. There's nothing wrong with filler episodes, they are often great fun, but I was expecting more of an explanation of how Yu met Marie, who or what she is, what her basic problem is, etc. The thought occurred to me that maybe the entire Golden Animation would consist of this, but if that were so, why has Marie been introduced? I guess P4GA could be described as largely a matter of filler episodes with a plot for Marie slowly taking shape as well, in such a subtle manner that a viewer could be forgiven for not even noticing it, and reaching a climax at the end. I had almost concluded at one point that P4GA would be nothing but silly filler episodes involving everyone goofing off with Marie. The filler episodes are fun, with LOL moments, but I would have liked to have gotten some answers about the numerous questions that sprang to mind about who exactly Marie is and why it matters.

I liked episode five, in part because when Marie substituted for Rise I got a sort of emotional thrill; it's hard to explain, but I felt that this was a meaningful moment which would have significance for the story as a whole. It was good to see Marie pull something like this off, and it came as a surprise instead of the predictable plot development which is usual in most anime. Episode six finally presents a definite interconnect with the plot of P4, namely a look at things from the perspective of Adachi, who of course turned out to be the killer. As usual, questions about how P4 and P4GA were related were continually occuring to me. This episode seems to leapfrog forward through the P4 plot, almost to the end of it; would we learn that Marie had played some previously unknown part in the climax?

Episode seven demanded that I dig up my DVDs of the original climax (and the alternative one) to get an idea of what's going on. Apparently this is an alternative ending to the fight between Adachi and the teens near the end of P4 (perhaps another way the story might have worked out if we had played the original video game?). Why such a thing was needed is anybody's guess, since while the dialogue is different it actually ended in pretty much the same way (and since I felt the original climax was better than this new one); will the giant eyeball-like thing come around in episode eight? And why are things seemingly reaching a climax just over halfway through the season? More filler episodes to come? Even after watching the way the first series climaxed several times, I still can't say that I understand exactly what happened. Something about love and friendship triumphing over pessimism and cynicism. All I know for certain is that the good guys won and I enjoyed it.

At first I thought that episode eight, which begins with a slightly altered version of the awesomely cool OP sequence from the second half of P4 (IIRC), might be nothing more than a replay of a P4 episode, but it gradually became clear that this was mostly fresh material. Again, I would have to do some rewatching of P4 episodes to tell exactly where they differ, but basically this is a variant of the 'Yu mistakenly gives each girl the impression that he's asking her out on a date when in fact he's inviting her to a party' premise. The climax was ridiculous and extremely implausible, but this show is just such fun that I couldn't help laugh-out-louding. I wish that P4GA had more of an original longterm plot, but if it won't, let it be this.

When I heard that P4GA would end after twelve episodes, it seemed that there would be no serious longterm plot, because the development of the Marie thread had been so slow and nondescript. It seemed like a garbled mix of filler episodes, a (slightly) alternate ending for P4, and some mini-plots like Yu having forgotten Marie and struggling to remember her. But who the hell was Marie to begin with? She is so ill-defined and this mini-plot is so vague and lame that I don't remember how or why Yu's memory was erased, or particularly care. It's not just this series, but I can't help feeling that in many anime, like those based on 4-koma comic strips, that plot has come to be considered a luxury which the shows don't really need and won't make the extra effort of including. Was P4GA just an attempt to milk the popularity of the excellent original series, and squeeze a few more Yen out of it without making nearly as large an investment of talent? There was a halfway decent conclusion which did resolve Marie's issues fairly well; although in P4 and P4GA you never completely understand what the hell is going on or why things wind up the way they do. I guess the problem is that P4 was so good that it set our expectations very high, and P4GA, even though a fun show and better than the average anime, didn't live up to them.

Last updated Saturday, October 25 2014. Created Friday, July 18 2014.

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