Talking about Persona 5 the Animation and what I think it does well

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Spoilers for Persona 5 boss and character identities.

Persona 5 the Animation as an adaptation certainly has its share of issues. The series has the typical pacing problem that comes with condensing a long game into a TV adaptation, but it goes a bit further than that. The animation quality looks generally disappointing, and the series is missing a lot of the flair that the game had. That being said, the purpose of this post is to focus on the part that I think the adaptation gets right, more so than what I remember from Persona 4 the Animation: a respect for the game’s mechanics.

The simplest example of this idea lies in the ending themes. In the first ending, the animation started by showing the victory animation from the game. In the game, it would show you character experience point gain, but the anime instead uses it as a preview for the next episode. In the second ending, we see the animation used in the game when you sleep. The calendar shifts to the next day of the month, and a knife stabs the new date. The anime instead uses the knife to stab the next episode’s number. These are small things, but they’re great easter eggs for people who played the game.

I made many jokes in the first few episodes about the use of turn-based combat in the adaptation, and how it didn’t make sense in that context. I somewhat stand by that statement, but I also think that it contributes to the idea of incorporating aspects of the game. In Ryuuji’s first fight after awakening Captain Kidd, the three characters face three different Shadows. Ryuuji, Ren, and Morgana each take turns attacking these Shadows, and the scene ends with an All-Out Attack to defeat the enemies.

In the game, All-Out Attacks are triggered when all enemies are “downed”, which happens when a Shadow is hit with an element they are weak against. As it so happens, that’s what we’re seeing in this scene. Each character hits with the appropriate advantaged element from the game, and the All-Out Attack triggers once they all land.

That example may have been too simple, so I’ll give another example. Let’s turn our attention to Madarame’s boss fight. In this fight, the main characters face off against floating paintings of facial features. We start out by seeing the initial mechanic from the game. When a magic spell is cast on the eye painting, it gets drained. The same happens when a physical attack is used against the mouth painting. It’s a basic mechanic from the game’s boss fight.

However, the adaptation takes it a step further. In the game, the paintings have a skill that covers a party member with black paint, making that party member vulnerable to all forms of damage. This mechanic isn’t used in the anime in this way. Instead, the main characters use the black paint themselves to cover the paintings. When they do that, they’re able to cast magic spells on all of the paintings. So, the anime creatively takes a mechanic of the game’s boss fight and uses it in a unique way.

Still not convinced? I’ve got one more example, then. In the game, the protagonist can interact with his allies in the real world, building trust and gaining “Confidant” levels to earn bonuses in the Metaverse. We see most of the non-playable Confidants making brief cameos throughout the anime version. In the game, this mechanic is largely reserved for the protagonist, but we see a different version in the anime.

In the anime, Makoto and Ann reconcile in the real world after Ann accuses Makoto of doing nothing during the Kamoshida incident. It’s a scene that exists in the game, but it’s used for a different purpose in the anime. Immediately after that interaction, the anime shifts back to the Metaverse, and the female pair is shown working together to defeat a Shadow. Real world relationship-building is used to increase their power within the Metaverse. In the game, this type of bonus was restricted to the protagonist, but the anime achieves the same effect without involving Ren at all.

With that all said, I’ll end on this. Persona 5 might be an awkward adaptation, but I suspect that these elements are meant to allow the series to appeal to game veterans in addition to people new to the story. It’s a feeling I didn’t get as much from the Persona 4 adaptation because it was more of a straightforward piece.

Since I played the game, I’m not sure I can speak to whether the series appropriately accounts for viewers who aren’t familiar with the game. For me, these scenes along with the random side character cameos are what make the series more fun to watch. So for the people who didn’t play the game, how have you felt about the series?

5 thoughts on “Talking about Persona 5 the Animation and what I think it does well”

  1. I feel like it’s a good series so far. Everyone likes to shit on it, but I serious am just enjoying watching it, and that’s not to mention that brainwashing first opening song and opening animations. So good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I’ve played the game, so I can really answer your question at the end of the post xD But, I CAN give my opinion ahah

    First and foremost, the points you gave are good ones! The easter eggs are great and I loved to see that scene with Makoto and Ann. However I think you failed to understand the Maradame case…

    In the game, the way you easily win the paintings is by doing the same as they did in the Anime. So, they really didn’t take a step further, they just used the same strategy you would use by the end of the battle against Madarame. In the game, it takes a moment where you can send one character from the party to go grab the paint and throw it against the boss. This way, making it vulnerable to all of your attacks. So, in this case, the Anime stuck with what was in the game.

    Now, my opinion on the subject (I still didn’t watch all the episodes that came out though). I’ve watched it until around episode 13, or something like that? And, from what I watched, they are trying to be strict with following the game plot. Although the creators already came and said the ending will be a little different.

    I think that if you played the game you will like the game more. For example, the pace, in the beginning, gets a little slow (as the same with animation). This, because most of your time will be spent in dungeon crawling and well, you don’t want to make a lot of episodes about that. However, I feel that they have time and space to go and show all of the main characters’ confidants. All of those stories are good to go to 1 episode each, or you can even go with 2 confidants in one episode and it will be interesting since their stories are in fact interesting xD

    But, well, need to watch everything before I can do an “official” review xD Nice post eheh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh nice, i totally forgot about that part of the madarame fight. i knew i should have done an NG+ run before i wrote this. i remember the fights having a mechanic where you can send a character to do something, but i forgot what that was for this fight. i even watched a video of the fight for reference, but the player won before that became a factor. thanks for pointing that out!

      i agree that the adaptation is being pretty strict to the game plot. i had the same feeling in the persona 4 adaptation, so it didnt surprise me (and why i didnt point it out). as a random thing, part of me wonders if “the ending will be a little different” just means they wont do that one scene where everyone…goes away.

      haha i actually played the game for heavy completion, so the adaptation isnt that far off from that approach, since you try to go as far in the dungeon as you can in a single day to give yourself more time to do the social things. and i think that’s what they’ve been doing. many of the episodes have been stopping to take a look at a single character’s confidant. i think we’ve seen makoto’s, yusuke’s, and ryuuji’s already, and they started ann’s as well. i wish the non-playable confidants had more of an appearance, but at least it’s something.

      Liked by 1 person

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