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?

Phantasy Star Online 2 First Impressions (1): Seiga Academy featuring Sonic the Courtyard

I had a lot of complaints about this episode, so I’m trying a new format with this post where I go through specific scenes in the episode. In case you didn’t know, this series is actually about people playing Phantasy Star Online 2, rather than experiencing it, so don’t go in expecting a “trapped in game” scenario.

The opening song for the series wasn’t a bad start…it broke a very painful starting scene with a more mellow song. Now we fast-forward through a couple of minutes depicting the main character getting to school, which by the way gives us this great shot:

[HorribleSubs] Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.27_[2016.01.09_14.46.45]

The security guard scene that follows just makes no sense to me. The main character, who is obviously the right age to be a student, walks into the school wearing the uniform and apparently, the fact that he forgets where his ID is makes him suspicious enough for the security guard. That is just not a normal reaction and deserves an explanation…you can’t just wave it away with “there has been a lot of suspicious stuff recently”. This is a private school, not an American airport. Also, there’s a subtitle error in the Crunchyroll/HorribleSubs version of this scene when the student council president shows up. She’s confirming that the main character is actually a student, but it’s translated as though she’s agreeing with the guard that the main character is suspicious.

[HorribleSubs] Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.06_[2016.01.09_15.06.24]

Oh…Seiga Academy! I get it…because Phantasy Star Online is made by…gotcha. Yeah, that wasn’t subtle at all and neither was this:

[HorribleSubs] Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.26_[2016.01.10_09.07.44]

Anyway, from there, the story reveals its true intention by having the student council president call the main character to the student council and give him an assignment.

[HorribleSubs] Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.38_[2016.01.09_15.10.28]

Yeah…we’ve never seen anything like this before in anime, right? Surely, someone as dignified as the student council president (at least that’s how she’s presented) would have a good reason/explanation for this.

[HorribleSubs] Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.02_[2016.01.09_15.18.27]

…for what reason? Is the academy secretly the creator of the game? Is the academy performing some sort of psychological study on MMORPGs and that game just happens to be popular in the school? Are the students having problems with their coursework because they’re playing this game? Did the academy just randomly come up with this or was someone else doing it up until they mysteriously vanished? Come on, give me something!

From there, the main character gets assigned to play the game for the student council for…reasons? Skipping the obvious jab at randomized character creation on the first try and moving on to actual in-game. The player character dancing on the stairs in the opening world was actually a nice touch…because that actually happens in every MMO in existence. But then we get to the battle scene…

[HorribleSubs] Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.36_[2016.01.10_09.19.16]

I can’t tell whether this is a subtitle error or just obscenely bad script. Didn’t SORO just say to aim for the weak spot on the back of the enemy? Why would the main character be asking for confirmation on aiming for the head? No one said to aim for the head, right? Unless I missed one of his friend’s instruction pages or something, this line is entirely wrong.

There’s also the big reveal at the end that the student council president was SORO all along. Were we supposed to infer from the scene that she was the one originally writing the reports to the academy? As for the ending song, I had to mute the video because the dancing robot was actually pretty funny, but the song was pretty bad.

[HorribleSubs] Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.58_[2016.01.10_09.25.43]

This might actually have been the best scene in the episode…but was there any indication that the student council president had this kind of personality from the first episode?

 

God Eater First Impressions (1): This certainly looks…different

[HorribleSubs] GOD EATER - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.44_[2015.07.12_11.31.44]

So this is a series that has been hyped up pretty hard going into this season. I’m personally going into this series fresh, with no prior knowledge of the game. While there are a lot of holes that aren’t explained, my interpretation of the story from the first episode is this: The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where Amagami, some form of monster, terrorize the remaining humans.

The humans fight back with God Eaters, a subset of people who are trained to use Amagami blood to wield over-sized weapons (seriously…how are those practical?) to face the Amagami. Also, it’s pretty obvious from this episode that the Amagami came about as a result of the scientists in charge of the God Eaters…apparently, they discovered some sort of new energy source that turned against them (it looks like it was a new type of cell that probably mutated into the Amagami).

[HorribleSubs] GOD EATER - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.42_[2015.07.12_11.57.26]

Decent introduction episode…I’m a little skeptical about the main character, Lenka Utsugi, but we’ll see where it goes. He’s been described as a “New-Type” a lot in this episode and I’m curious what exactly that means. Is it just because he can make his weapon transform? It should be more than that…maybe it has a link with how he arrives at the facility at the start of the episode. Presumably, he’s an outsider of sorts. Speaking of weapons, why does the sword seem so ineffective compared to the gun? Lindow’s use of the sword involved something like two hand motions…

Perhaps more importantly, where is the show headed? Are they just going to keep fighting Amagami over and over again until Lenka overtakes Lindow? Or is there some greater purpose of it all? A final boss of sorts, maybe…

Devil Survivor 2 First Impressions: I’m Waiting for Some Serious Death

[HorribleSubs] DEVIL SURVIVOR 2 THE ANIMATION - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.49_[2013.04.04_21.17.07]

Let me just say that I am super hyped about this show. I love the Shin Megami Tensei series and I played the first Devil Survivor. First off, as a veteran of the first game, I can note some similarities. There’s the devil summoning program in the phones, the fact that deaths can be predicted, and the cast has the same distribution of two guys and a girl. It also seems like we have a similar quarantine situation trapping our protagonists. This bodes well…I’m looking forward to it. Similar to the Persona 4 adaptation, the voiceless protagonist has taken quite a lively role (I can’t remember if he’s supposed to be a typical protagonist from this game).

[HorribleSubs] DEVIL SURVIVOR 2 THE ANIMATION - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.17_[2013.04.04_21.29.52]

I’m definitely satisfied with the music in this show. I think the opening is great. The ending is shaky at first, but it picks up. So far, I have no knowledge of the game, but I’m considering playing it so I can make comments on adaptation. It looks interesting. So far, the story looks very similar to the first Devil Survivor, where the main characters use their knowledge of the time of death to save lives. Also, when the main character was summoning Byakko, it seemed like there was someone watching. In the first game, the main character had a brother who was mysteriously watching the whole time…something similar? Seriously…I’m so looking forward to this.