“Persona 5: The Animation” is one of the few gems that make adaptations work when they make it on the air.
In the era in which the entertainment industry scours through every book, television series and, in some weird cases, theme park attractions in order to bait people into watching their screens; it’s almost natural to assume that the TV/film adaptation will suck so bad that it will leave us cringing for years.
“Persona 5: The Animation” is an anime series based on the popular 2017 video game “Persona 5”, focusing on a group of high school students who become the vigilante group, The Phantom Thieves of Hearts, when their powers are awakened.
The series utilizes the same animation style from the game differentiates when the characters are in the real world or the Palace, an alternate version of their world.
The show incorporates themes of picaresque and breaking social limits though the use of reds, blacks, and whites when the characters turn into the Phantom Thieves and battle against demons and other villains, getting the viewer pumped for antics and situations they face.
When the characters are their normal selves in the real world, the style of the environment shifts into realism, making their lives at students bland and typical.
Shoji Meguro, lead composer of “Persona 5”, returned to the series and brought back the signature acid jazz sound to the story, adding another layer of excitement when the Phantom Thieves unleash their Personas, or manifestation of one’s personality.
In the series, main protagonist Ren Amamiya, voiced by Jun Fukuyama, retells the events leading to the development of the Phantom Thieves to investigator Sae Nijima, voiced by Yuku Kaida, after he gets arrested.
The first two episodes focused on Ren arriving in Tokyo after he was placed on probation for a year, meeting his appointed guardian and enrolled in a new school.
He also meets future teammates Ryuji Sakamoto, voiced by Momoru Miyano, and Ann Takamaki, voiced by Nana Mizuki at the school while he deals with rumors spreading about his shady past.
In addition, Ren is given a mysterious app which leads Ren and Ryuji are taken to the Palace, an alternate version of Tokyo, where they gained their Personas, a manifestation of one’s personality, and managed to fight their way out. At their side was a talking cat character named Morgana, who helped them learned more about the Palace and Personas.
The two episodes end with Ren, Ryuji and Morgana plotting to defeat the shadow version of their gym teacher by stealing his “treasure”, or the corrupted desires that manifest him.
Although the first two were a it slow paced, it managed to establish about two hours of game-play into 30 minutes.
Sunday’s episode showcased Ann and her eventual awakening of her Persona as the Phantom Thieves prepare themselves to steal the treasure mentioned in the previous episode.
In the episode, Ann is suffering, like many students, of the abusive nature of school’s gym teacher, feeling forced to give him attention in order to spare her friend, Suzui, from getting physically abused and cut from the volleyball team.
When Suzui jumps off the school roof, no longer capable of handling more of the abuse, Ren and Ryuji decide to put their plan in motion with Morgana as Ann was listening in from behind.
After getting sent to the Palace and was captured by the shadow version of their gym teacher, Ann sees more of the teacher’s perverted nature; hinting that he wanted to sexually advance the second-year high school student.
With the motivation of Ren, Ann managed to not give and to awaken her Persona; planning to take revenge against the teacher for the abuse he gave to Suzui.
The episode ends with the thieves sending the gym teacher a calling card, making the treasure obtainable, getting ready for big boss battle that is implied to happen in the next episode.
The episode brought a lot of heavy elements from the game such as the mental breakdown Suzui has and the gym teacher’s devious plot to expel Ren and Ryuji due to their interference in the matter, trying to tie off all loose ends.
Although the episode has dark undertones such as physical and mental abuse as well as abuse of power, it also marks the beginning of the character’s journey into becoming the masked crusaders who seek for justice and freedom.
The series manages to retain elements and the style from the source material that makes it recognizable, but it also slowly expands through the use of capturing the emotion of the student body as whole, instead of just a text box from an NPC.
Although it is a bit slow paced at the moment, the series makes up for it through visuals and its soundtrack. Its a good alternative for those who don’t have the game or would love to jump back in the Palace with the Phantom Thieves.
Currently the show’s English subtitled version is available through Crunchyroll and Hulu with the next episode airing on May 5.
This review has been corrected for some plot errors.