Out of the Shin Megami Tenshi series, Persona is the one I have had the most experience with. I played persona 1,2 and 3. And most likely 4 when I manage to get my hands on it. They are very strange and unique games, quite different from your average RPG. The first game had a basic story of evil corporation screws with little girl with powers for profit, hell ensues. The second game had a more strange and interesting plot of rumors coming true no matter how ridiculous they are. Personal highlight of that game was when a rumor went around that Hitler wasn’t dead and is preparing a new army for war. And yes, you do fight Hitler. They were flawed but decent games. Persona 3 is what defined the series with its social links and simplified gameplay.
I am not here to talk about the game of course though in this case it would be hard to avoid bringing it up. This is essentially the game stripped of its gameplay and length so it does suffer from it. This story was not meant to stand on its own and you can see that clearly. The pacing is breakneck, the plot jumps forward days at a time and the characters get bare bones screen time. But truthfully while the game was great the story did have its flaws. I for one have always found the stories in the persona series to be a bit preachy. Usually using supernatural elements as metaphors for problems possibly encountered in adolescence. For example in this movie we have a character who is suppressing his persona with a drug with grievous side effects. The way his friend addresses the matter is similar to how one who approach someone with a drug problem. Same goes with apathy syndrome, aka people who go through school life without caring to make the most of it. I even really love the symbolism of firing a gun at your head to summon a persona. A nice way of “killing” who you were to become something new.
Really the story of persona 3 is something I would label as alright. What really made it special is an element that anime can’t replicate. Its difficult to pin down but I suppose I would call it camaraderie. You spend a long time with these characters with you in the seat of an avatar and in that time you come to care for them. In doing so the story has much more impact to you. This is also something Visual novels have over anime as well. So what can I say about this movie? Well first off the animation is rather limited. During Action scenes it becomes excellent but the daily antics seem lacking in movement. I would give this a break if this was a tv series but for a hour and a half movie such a thing is inexcusable. However despite the breakneck pacing and constant time jumping the movie is quite watchable. The art is fairly pretty but it really looks like someone is a bit too fond of messing with hue with high saturation settings. Especially with the daytime scenes where the colour can just be blaring with intense brightness. Overall the whole film just looks to have too many gradient and bloom effects that it didn’t need. If they held off on the light and colour effects and just let the art speak for itself this would be a far better looking movie. Also this is a pet peeve of mine but I hate the way they removed the gunshot from the guns. It just is so disappointing in to see a character put a gun to their head and fire some pixie dust with a weak off putting clang sound. Overall If you want to know the story of Persona 3 but don’t want to spend 70 hours of your time playing it then this is probably the best condensed experience of the story of persona 3. Or if you are a fan and want to see your favourite characters and moments animated then this will deliver.