Persona 3 The Movie: Spring of Birth Review

persona3springofbirth

My video game backlog continues to grow because there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete everything I buy. Perhaps I should consider migrating over to Persona 3’s world, because over there days last for a total of twenty-five hours. Sandwiched in between midnight and 1am is the Dark Hour were machinery goes dormant and much of the populace get transported into coffins, where they are forced to hibernate for a total of sixty minutes. The only people unaffected by this phenomenon are the select few who command the power of Persona. Able to summon mystical beings, they patrol the streets of Iwatodai City protecting citizens against the Shadow creatures that manifest when midnight strikes.

OVERVIEW

Watching Makoto Yuki do his thing, in this anime adaptation of the hit JRPG, makes me thankful for picking the female protagonist over him in Persona 3 Portable. The Emo hairdo he sports suits his personality to a tee. Makoto is rude to those around him and is so apathetic that he doesn’t even show concern when his life is put in mortal danger. His one saving grace is that he is able to command multiple Personas, making him highly effective at taking down Shadows. Those skills are what saw him get recruited by a team of adolescent Shadow slayers known as SEES (Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad.) With Makoto in tow, SEES begin to explore the mysterious Tartarus Tower for clues on the origin of Shadows.

Despite being a fan of the Persona 3 video game I found this movie a little dull. I guess that can’t be helped because it is the first part of a four film series. As a result what we get is mostly setup. Many of the game’s notable villains have yet to make an appearance and my favourite robot waifu Aigis is limited to a post credits teaser. On the plus side the soundtrack is top notch, borrowing several of the RPG’s catchy tunes. The production values are also impressive, boasting great artwork and animation. On the visual side of things I liked the eerie green hue that colours the environment during the Dark Hour segments. Replacing black with jade makes the action easier to see. Usually when watching an anime set at night I can’t follow what is going on unless I crank up the contrast ratio.

VERDICT

My rating for Persona 3 The Movie: #1 Spring of Birth is a two out of five. Overall I thought the movie was mediocre, which will leave anyone unfamiliar with the JRPG wondering why the source material is so highly lauded. Some fans may appreciate an abridged version of Persona 3 that can be consumed without replaying an eighty-hour epic, but I personally was disappointed with the end product. Condensing a lengthy game into a ninety-minute feature meant that sacrifices had to be made. On a regular basis the narrative jumps ahead several days, so I don’t hold much hope that the game’s enjoyable side quests will get much coverage in this adaptation. After a while I began to lose interest and by the end I started to nod off on my comfy sofa.

Hopefully things will pick up in the sequels. One positive about this slow start is that it will deter impressionable youngsters from watching the film. That’s a good thing because we don’t want kids mimicking Makoto and chums by blowing their brains out. In case you didn’t know summoning Personas involves putting a pistol shaped evoker to your temple and pulling the trigger! That’s just asking for trouble. Whoever came up with the crazy idea of shooting yourself with a gun deserves to be “fired.”

Given how enjoyable Persona 4: The Animation was I cannot help but wonder if Persona 3 would have worked better as a series. This flick even feels like three episodes stuck together. Makoto transferring to a new school and awakening his powers could have been the first episode. Episode two could have been the part where jealous Junpei Iori tries to prove that he is Makoto’s equal by rushing into a haunted train. The finale, were SEES enter Tartarus to save a girl who has been trapped there by her classmates, could have been episode three. Wow, Japanese students are cruel. During my school days I was the victim of insults and physical abuse, but no one ever locked me inside a spooky tower. People who toss innocents into a ghost filled structure are the worst kind of boo-lies… um bullies.

28 thoughts on “Persona 3 The Movie: Spring of Birth Review

    • You may enjoy the movie more than I did. Spring of Birth didn’t click with me, but I have read a number of positive reviews online.

      The gun thing is weird. Good thing that Persona 3 is relatively niche. If the mainstream media, who always want an excuse to bash games, got wind of the RPG they would have a field day with it.

      • Aye, any excuse to launch an attack seems to stick these dates, and turning a gun on yourself is certainly one that they’d make good use of. I’ve not played any of the Persona games at all though, so I don’t know if that affected how I enjoy adaptions.

      • I feel it is not something that matches my personal taste. Based on what experience I had, it seemed mostly to be group of teenagers interacting with each other in a kind of high school setting. Well, it is maybe more appropriate to say in a “small town” kind of setting but the high school aspect about these teens hit me too hard. The storyline just seems very… “High variance” and I don’t like the gameplay. What’s more important than don’t like the setting in the other world where they summon their Personas. Not for any particular reason other than it looks weird to me and doesn’t fit atmosphere-wise. The music is also not my cup of tea, it sounds like 90s jazz music.
        This is mostly me thinking about Persona 4 as I’ve had most experience on that one.

  1. Don’t you just hate first movies in a series? They’re always more about the build up to the second movie instead of trying to be entertaining. I might give this a watch though since I want to get into Persona.

    • You mentioned on your blog that you plan to buy a PS4 so I guess you can get acquainted with the series by playing Persona 5. It’s coming out in the west soon and the Japanese reviews have been very positive.

      • I’m not getting a PS4 any time soon. I want to buy at least two Nintendo Switch consoles first. Maybe this holiday season I’ll have one, but it’ll most likely be next year. I’m putting it off because there are some good rumors that Nioh is dropping on PC some time in the future and if that happens I won’t need a PS4.

    • Persona 4 worked as an anime so I think Persona 3 could work too. I still think a series format would be better than a bunch of movies. Hopefully the later films win me over. I haven’t watched Trinity Soul because I only recently learned that it existed. Is the series really that bad?

      • It’s pretty rough. Part of it’s because the creators didn’t really seem to care much about the source material, but otherwise… yeah, just wasn’t all that great.

  2. Like yourself, I also have a small backlog of games to complete. I’ve just recently started blue dragon (a game that is on the 360) via back compat for the xbone. Anyway, whilst I’ve played 4. I haven’t played 3, but read the whole putting the gun to the head thing to initiate your persona. I think one of the character does a cameo in 4 as well. Good review Judge, mind blowing stuff xDD.

    • There are references/cameos to both games in Persona 4 Golden and P3P. The characters from both titles even meet in the fighting spin-offs. I wonder if the old characters will get a mention in the upcoming Persona 5.

    • I suppose they animated that show to coincide with the release of Persona 4 Golden on Vita (plus it is the most popular of the Persona games.) The anime was well received so that must have encouraged the studio to go through the back catalog and make more stuff. Persona 3 and 4 are set in different cities and star different characters so it doesn’t really matter what order you watch them.

  3. Persona has always been a universe that’s intrigued me. I’m not much of a gamer, which seems to be a problem. Is this film (and or the series) recommendable if you haven’t played the games? Your review has just got me all fired up to check it out, that’s all!

    • The Persona 3 movies and Persona 4 series retell the story of the game so you could watch them in place of playing the RPGs. Obviously a bunch of content is missing, like when a book gets translated to film, but it’s better than nothing.

  4. I honestly liked P4’s story more than P3’s. P3 was too “RPG generic” for me with the whole “let’s save the world” plot and the dark oppressive atmosphere, so maybe that makes a difference.

    Anyway, no Aigis in a Persona 3 movie, even if it’s just about establishing the setting, justifies a low score.

    • My recommendation would be Persona 4: The Animation. It does a decent job of condensing the lengthy game into an anime series. Avoid Persona 4 Golden though. I read a few negative reviews about that show when it originally aired.

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