Like the previous two games in the series, Persona 5 is slated to receive an anime adaptation. However, Persona 4: The Animation and Persona 3: The Movie didn’t fare so well. To find out why, and what the upcoming Persona 5 anime can do differently, let’s take a closer look at what made the games so special.
The Persona games take place over a year of time. This provides ample opportunity to explore the city, engage in side quests, and get to know the people surrounding the main character in greater detail. In fact, Persona 5’s loading screen says it all: “Take your time”.
In contrast, with just a few hours total runtime, both P3:TM and P4:TA have to cram in as much plot development as possible. This means drastically reduced amounts of social interaction, which were the real attraction of the games themselves. This isn’t too much to ask as Persona 5 has ample amounts of filler that could be cut. Take the majority of the Memento’s missions, for instance. These have minimal bearing on the plot and could be safely pared down without any real issues.
Those attempting to view the Persona adaptations as a standalone experience will be sorely disappointed. Essentially, they tell a highly condensed version of their respective games while attempting to shoehorn in references that only someone who’s played it will understand. This leads to a confusing, diluted story which satisfies no one. Persona 5’s Day Breakers OVA, however, managed to capture the feel of the game while moving the plot along at a reasonable pace. If this approach is taken with the animated series, that’d be an excellent start.
The Persona games have always been known for their unique aesthetics. Despite this, the animation in the adaptations was often inferior to that of the games (which, we remind you, were released in the PS2 era). If Persona 5’s adaptation can consistently capture the quality of the game’s beautifully drawn cutscenes, it’s already halfway there. Of course, the music is vital too, but in the past, the adaptations have actually been pretty good at including key tracks from the games.
Realistically, a 25-episode show isn’t going to be able to offer a bespoke replacement for an RPG that takes dozens of hours to finish. That said, if A-1 Pictures give this adaptation half the care that went into Your Lie in April or Sora no Woto, it has the potential to become a real success, one that satisfies not only people who have played the game, but newcomers and people who are interested in Persona but who can’t commit to the time it requires.