Yu Narukami is back in all his glorious swagger in Persona 4 the Golden Animation, an expansion series that plays off the plot of the original Persona 4 The Animation. In case you didn’t already know, Persona is a popular roll playing Playstation game starting in 1996 from Japan, and Persona 4 is actually the 5th game in the series, but the first one to have an animated series. In the enhanced remake on PS Vita named Persona 4 Golden we are introduced to new characters and more is revealed about the original plot, so unless you have seen Person 4 the Animation in its entirety or played the game, not much in Golden will make any sense.
Yu moves to a small rural town called Inaba to live with his Uncle and cousin for a year, and getting off at the train station he meets a young woman for just a fleeting moment. Yu makes some friends at the local high school and hears about the mysterious Midnight Channel and it’s not long before they are at Yosuke’s family electronics store walking into another dimension through big flat screen TV’s. In this bizarre place they battle monsters called Shadows using their Personas, meet Teddy (Kuma) and attempt to solve some very disturbing murders (this is all explained in the original series). Quite a while later he meets the young woman again and has a proper introduction in the Velvet Room, and is soon walking her around the small town he lives in. Her name is Marie, and she has no memories of who she is or where she came from, and initially comes across as prickly and a bit rude, but soon warms up to Yu, Chie, Yukiko and the boys.
Together they are soon doing the regular teenage things, like starting a once off band, have a Quiz Show style competition and there is the token beach episode where the girls get to show off their Bikini bodies. Marie starts to struggle with identifying who she is and eventually reveals to the others that she is suffering from Amnesia, which brings them a bit of clarity to her odd questions and behavior. They attempt to search for clues using one of her belongings, an old wooden comb hoping to reveal something, anything about her past. Nothing really substantial comes up and Marie finds some peace in her heart and with all her wonderful new memories, she seems content as life is in the now. We never see Marie enter the alternative dimension, which makes me think they all decided not to get her involved, but it isn’t really explained.
It is several episodes in until there is some action in the alternative TV world with the Personas, which is a relief from the almost mundane episodes until this point which has been mainly building up Marie’s relationship with Yu and the others. They are not bad episodes as there is always something happening to keep you interested, but a change in pace is welcome to stop from becoming stagnant. It’s from here the story seems to jump back and fourth a bit over the timeline, which is really why previous knowledge of the series is necessary as it touches on important scenes.
There are also some nice bonding moments between Yu and his little cousin Nanako, and he ends up eating something questionable to avoid upsetting her, but I think it’s more to stay as a good big brother in her eyes. Yu’s good guy personality is a bit self destructive, which usually leads to misunderstood situations and running himself ragged trying to please everyone. As entertaining as his misfortune is, it’s this trait of him that reaches Marie and pulls him through the frantic battles in the last few episodes. I think they wrapped this up neatly to co-inside with the original series, and didn’t leave too many loose ends and unanswered questions, a bit more action scattered through the first half would have been nice but not absolutely necessary.
We are also in for a treat as the opening themes are performed by Hirata, who also did an opening for the Persona 4 anime series. The opening piano jive, stacked TV sets and overly colourful opening animation is all familiar, and there is an alternative opening for the first episode with a different song also performed by Hirata. There’s not much in the way of extras on this 2 DVD set, and it’s only available in the original Japanese release with English subtitles (which I am totally fine with).
Overall this is a good watch for anyone who enjoyed Persona 4 The Animation series or the game, however I wouldn’t jump into Golden as a newbie.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.