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.
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.
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.