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The end of Persona 4: The Animation

Sunday 21st July 2013

Andrew Osmond on the final part of Persona 4: The Animation

Persona 4: The AnimationThe third and last volume of Persona 4 The Animation – released like its predecessors as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack – shows the full spectrum of the series. The first volume was adventure-heavy, as hero Yu and his growing circle of friends sought the serial killer dispatching victims in the country town of Inaba; a mystery linked to a foggy fantasy world behind the TV screen. The second volume tied up – well, seemed to tie up – that arc early on, then told lighter-hearted stories tying into the show’s theme of friendship. However, Volume 2 ended with another action-heavy story confirming that the serial-killer mystery wasn’t solved, and recruiting the last warrior in Yu’s band of heroes – the cross-dressing “boy” detective Naoto, voiced by Japanese actress Romi Park (Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood).

Volume 3 picks up the serial-killer thread again, though not immediately. The first episode focuses on Yu’s surrogate family in Inaba – his policeman uncle Ryotaro and Ryotaro’s young daughter Nanako – and how the tragic death of Ryotaro’s wife still hurts the relationship between parent and child. The episode has some interesting comparisons with a plotline in this month’s volume of Tiger & Bunny, about “Tiger” Kotetsu’s difficult relationship with his own daughter. After that rather serious tale, there are a couple of much lighter stories, involving beauty pageants, hot springs and girls and boys in bikinis.

But then everything suddenly takPersona 4: The Animationes a very serious turn. Yu receives a message that to punish him for his past meddling, the next serial-killer victim will be someone dear to him. In what follows, Yu and his friends are plunged into a nightmare that will test their friendship, and their sense of ethics, more than any of their fantasy battles. We’ll draw a curtain over what happens, except to say the solution to the serial-killer mystery is – of course – twisty. Death Note fans will enjoy trying to work it out in advance; and in Death Note’s spirit, remember that some “villains” believe that they’re actually the heroes of their story…

Action fans, fear not – the titanic battles return in force at the finale, taking on apocalyptic dimensions and witty visual ideas. Given that Persona 4 has revolved so much around television, what do you think the ultimate Big Bad would look like? There’s also room for each of Yu’s friends to reflect on what he or she has achieved and learned, and where to go to from here. They may survive the adventure, but has it taught them how to live?

This volume contains the final eight TV episodes of the series (18 to 25), but it also has a bonus – a final, 26th episode that was released to DVD in Japan. While such extra parts aren’t unusual in anime, it’s a rather stylish example of its kind. Some critics might accuse it of redundancy – the episode restates messages that were clear enough in the main series, while finding an excuse for an even bigger Final Battle. Yet as an epilogue, it puts the teenagers’ battles into a grander, more rounded high fantasy context, which fits very well with the mythic imagery beloved by anime actioners. Moreover, like the ingenious ‘fake future’ episode midway through the series, the bonus story forces Yu to confront his own greatest weakness. What good is it for him to be a hero, if he must finally say goodbye to everyone he loves?

The final volume of Persona 4 is out now on UK DVD and Blu-ray.


Persona 4 The Animation Box 3

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The mystery of the murders seems to have been solved, but the riddle of the Velvet Room and the lethal Midnight Channel is an enigma that Yu and the other students who form the Investigation Team have yet to crack. That's to say nothing of the question of how their powers of Persona work in the first place, and how the fictional Teddie can exist in the real world. As conundrums wrap in conundrums and the school year burns inexorably towards a blistering summer, the team must prepare for the most deadly challenge yet while still pretending to lead normal high school lives.
Unfortunately, that won't be easy under the evil eye of their new homeroom teacher. And when Detective Shirogane reenters the game with new information about irregularities in the police investigation and clues that may lead to an entirely different conclusion, both team and detective find themselves playing the role of prey once more! The body count is on the rise, the Shadows attack and new Persona are about to ascend as the Midnight Channel launches the ultimate cancellation program!



Persona 4: The Animation

Helen McCarthy tries to avoid getting sucked into the screen
There's nothing new under the sun. The idea of people caught inside a TV screen isn't new, even in anime: Video Girl Ai did the same thing back in the days of cassette tape. The idea that in another reality, you have special powers and a vital purpose, has been exploited by shows from Sailor Moon to Vision of Escaflowne. The displaced teen hero is found in myriad places, from Princess Mononoke's early Japan to Fullmetal Alchemist's Nazi Europe. The sentai concept, the teen-led team with its mix of strengths and mutual respect goes all the way back to the 60s, with Osamu Tezuka's puppet adventure Galaxy Boy Troop predating 1966 anime Rainbow Sentai Robin.

Unboxed: Persona 4

Jeremy Graves checks out the set
Jeremy Graves checks out the set.

Persona 4's video game origins

Matt Kamen on the video-game origins of Persona 4
Persona 4 was originally released in 2008 on the PlayStation 2 and is currently available in brilliantly enhanced form as Persona 4 Golden on the PlayStation Vita. While the tale of the nameless hero (Yu Narukami in the anime) and his friends in the small but macabre town of Inaba became arguably the most popular entry in the Persona series of role-playing games, it was far from the first.

Unboxed: Persona 4 the Animation 2

Jeremy Graves gets to grips with the new DVD
Jeremy Graves gets to grips with the new DVD


One Piece: Crew Manifest 5

Brush up on this latest volume of nautical nonsense!
The Skypiea arc is well underway in the latest batch on One Piece, taking the Straw Hat Pirates to a floating island where danger and adventure abounds.

Nura Rise of the Yokai Music: Monkey Majik

Tom Smith on a Canadian-Japanese pop outfit
Monkey Majik first shot to fame in Japan in 2006 when their second major-label single Around The World became the opening theme to TV drama Saiyuuki, an updated version of the famous Chinese tale Journey to the West. A fitting introduction for the band, considering the story is widely known as Monkey in English. Magic.

Dragon Radar GT 2

The second collection draws the entire Dragon Ball opus to a fierce close
Dragon Ball GT sees Goku and his allies fighting against some of the toughest foes the universe has ever seen. Take a look at some of the faces you’ll meet as the second collection draws the entire Dragon Ball opus to a fierce close!

Anime on iTunes

Discover a whole new world of anime on your tablet or phone
There's a whole bunch of Manga Entertainment titles available for direct download on the iTunes site, including Shinji Aramaki's Appleseed, Mamoru Hosoda's Wolf Children, and K-on: The Movie.

Baron Omatsuri & the Secret Island

Is the One Piece movie a subtle dig at Studio Ghibli...?
"In the period just after Hosoda left Howl, it must have been devastatingly disappointing, to a man in an industry where artistic achievement counts for more than pay cheques. And so the story has risen: that Omatsuri is Hosoda’s venting of his demons, that Luffy’s howls of despair are Hosoda’s own."


Jack Neighbour prepares you for life in Japan
Hopefully you found the first three offerings in last weeks part one informative and you’d had ample time to calm your nerves and research a new country to emigrate to. So without further hesitation, let's complete the list.


Andrew Osmond has been here before…
Some sci-fi plots are staples of anime. The boy who pilots a fighting robot; humans who evolve into cyborgs; cute space girls who fall for the biggest doofus in Japan. Compared to these, time-travel has never been a big anime genre, though it’s been used on many occasions.

Art Ludique: Studio Ghibli Layout Design

Andrew Osmond rend compte d'une exposition dans un musée à Paris
If you’re a Ghibli fan in Paris in the next few weeks, then you owe it to yourself to visit the Art Ludique Museum and take in one of the most amazingly comprehensive exhibitions mounted on the studio. Filling the building, the exhibition consists of 1,300 layout drawings from the studio’s three-decade history; from 1984’s Nausicaa through to 2014’s When Marnie was There, plus a section on Ghibli’s prehistory.
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