Persona 4: Golden is one of the highest praised role-playing games out there right now, and it’s a massive fan favorite that’s still being discussed, seeing new gaming spinoffs produced from, and delighting new players across the world. So it makes sense that it should have a slick anime adaptation that follows the story down to the letter to add another dimension for content-hungry gamers and Persona addicts to devour. Persona 4: The Golden Animation is here, and it’s everything you’ve ever wanted from a Persona anime adaptation.
Welcome to the Limousine
With bold visuals, dialogue lifted straight from the original game, and creative additions left in such as day-to-day transitions, Persona 4: The Golden Animation is undoubtedly the closest you can get to actually playing the spectacular game from the Shin Megami Tensei series. Though you should still absolutely play the game, especially with Persona 4: Golden available on the PlayStation Vita, the game’s sprawling narrative having been compressed into one series is handy for players who simply don’t have the time to take it all in.
The anime follows protagonist Yu Narukami, or the default name the protagonist has that’s canon, as he moves to the rural town of Inaba to live with his uncle Dojima and cousin Nanako for a year since his parents have been working abroad. Shortly after the move, a murder occurs. Amid the chaos, Yu gets cozy with fellow students Chie, Yosuke, and Yukiko, who surmise that the murder, and the others that end up following it, might have been a crime of passion. Like most Persona stories, there’s always more than meets the eye.
Soon after, Yu discovers a world inside the TV where the killings seem to be taking place. Just like in the game, it’s up to Narukami and his classmates, dubbed the Investigation Team, to get to the bottom of things before even more lives are claimed, including his own. This is the story distilled in its simplest form, so don’t be coerced into thinking there’s only one narrative to be concerned with, especially since there are several threads to keep up with over the course of the anime.
And like the game itself, Persona 4: The Golden Animation includes several instances from the Golden version, including Marie, a girl from the Velvet Room who’s trying to get her memory back. These small touches make the anime feel like an effortless tie-in to the game that could have been ripped straight from the cut scenes and scenarios within it.
Pursuing Your True Self
At its core, the anime series follows a game with gameplay that seems relatively unchanged from 2008, but there are plenty of tweaks and rearrangements in place that make you feel as though you’re actually playing the game. For instance, the calendar that pops up between days shows the weather changes and the date changes during the episode. It follows Yu attending classes with his crass and extremely rude teacher, joining one of many after-school clubs, and hanging out with his friends. Everything is as if you ripped it straight from the game and formatted it for television, especially the dub actors and the very opening for the anime itself. It all calls forth familiar riffs from the soundtrack as you explore dungeons, get entangled in boss fights, and live everyday life.
The English dub voice actors return to reprise their roles as well, which is an important move for authenticity’s sake. They add another dimension to the game that expounds upon the narrative beyond the daily grinding and focus on building your social links. It provides a chance to take in the narrative (even though it’s not 100% adherent to the source material) from a completely different angle, and that’s something to take note of. So if you’re looking to take a trip to the Midnight Channel for the first time or want to supplement your Persona 4 addiction, this is by far the best way to do it, especially since you get to watch the drama unfold onscreen with the same voices you became accustomed to in-game.
The main question that may arise if you intend on viewing this series is if you should go ahead and watch Persona 4: The Animation over this series. This is actually the second go-around at a series, which adds in the additional content like Marie from the Golden version of Persona 4. If you’ve already seen the first series there’s not a wealth of content that’s all that different for you to go back and watch it again, but there are subtle differences you’ll miss if you only stay with the first series. If you’re truly a die-hard fan you’ll likely want to get your hands on both series, especially since there’s a whole added character to see become fleshed out onscreen that you didn’t have with Persona 4: The Animation.
Persona 4: The Golden Animation is an excellent format to take in the Persona 4: Golden story, but it’s also a fantastic series on its own. There’s something here for anime fans, game fans, and even the layperson who’s not really into either, but is looking for something new and more than a little quirky to get in on. The attention to detail, crisp animation, voice actors from the game, and several other augments make this series one to pick up, especially if you’re hankering for just a little bit more from your favorite Persona universe.