Movie: Persona 3 The Movie: Chapter 1, Spring of Birth

Persona 3 The Movie – Part 1

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AlexAtlus is forming a trend of turning quality games and stories into anime, but oddly enough, Persona 4 went before 3. Instead, a year or two later, Persona 3 gets 3 movie adaptations, and this is the first of them, which is essentially a love song to the 7 year old story.

Every day, there is a hidden hour; the thirteenth hour in the night, known to a select few as the Dark Hour. Arriving late to his new lodging due to a fatal accident on trainlines, Makato Yuki arrives in this mysterious extra hour, and signs a contract with a mysterious boy who then fades into darkness.

From here, he gets introduced to the rough speaking Yukari Takeba, and the beautiful Mitsuru Kirijo, residents of this dormitory. Also living in this dorm is Akihiko Sanada, a boxing champion, and nobody else, with the idiotic Junpei Iori moving in shortly after Makoto.  These five individuals create the initial team of heroes and heroines that venture through the dark hour and save the world, but only when they’re not at school.

On the topic of school, the rude and standoffish Makoto starts his new life at Gekkoukan High, a revolutionary high school that’s funded by businesses to deliver a top-notch education. However, when dozing off on the train-ride back from his first day, a strange dream awaits him, with a large nosed man named Igor and a quiet lady named Elizabeth waiting for him in a location named the Velvet Room, a place that exists between dream and reality.

Makoto’s relatively normal life comes to an abrupt end only days after transferring schools, when mysterious beings attack the dorm during the mysterious hour. With Yukari attempting to help him get away, after being cornered on the rooftop, she….points a gun at her face when the monsters are attacking. Unwilling to shoot, these shadowy creatures attack her and knock the gun to Makato’s feet, at which point he takes the chance to blow his brains out. The guns are a special kind of guns, designed to summon an over-wordly being, named a Persona. And thus, Makoto Yuki gains the ability to summon his persona, Orpheus.  I’m not actually going to cover the story from here on out, as it’s relatively difficult to describe to someone, but even if you havn’t seen it, you can tell from how it kicks the storyline off that it’s a pretty interesting storyline, and this theme goes all the way throughout this particular instalment.

Whilst seeing all the old scenes re-enacted is pretty awesome, the biggest change is in the main character. In the original version, Makato Yuki didn’t really have much of a personality, and you could only attempt to guess his personality from the dialogue choices that you were given in the game. In this proper adaptation, he’s an incredible narcissist, actively saying on several occasions that he doesn’t mind dying. He doesn’t think things through, and doesn’t appear to care about very much at all. I think it’s a really good change from typical main characters, and he’s easily interesting enough to carry the storyline. The other characters also carry the story, obviously, but they all have established personalities which may or may not be interesting to some people. I think that most people will be interested by Makoto, even if they don’t like him.

On a personal level, I’m really interested in him for a few reasons. I liked him in the game a lot in the limited part we got to see, and I’ve never really been a fan of stoic badass characters or typical and boring main characters. Makoto does take things quite severely in one direction, but it works quite well, especially considering how I’ve thought and acted like him quite a lot in the past, so from personal experience, I know that people really are like that.

This adaptation actually does patch in some holes which were left for the player to speculate on previously, and it’s nice to see them filling in said holes. Granted, most of the holes are filled in by Makato’s actions and the small amount of dialogue that he has, but there are still an armful of new scenes which fills in the gaps. However, it also tries some things which I didn’t expect it to even try, such as combat.

I’m surprised that they actually try to explain the battle system, but the battles that they do show off both work and are executed incredibly well. It’s flashy and pretty and animated well, but it’s also how a real battle would take place in the Persona world.

I do think that the movie skipped a lot of things, though. A calendar is used that’s almost directly ripped from the game, but they skip dates around so much and undergo so many timeskips that this is only really included to show everyone moving forward so rapidly in time. In a short matter of ten minutes, a week has passed in in-game time, and they just used a montage to fill in the games. I don’t know exactly how these things work, but I can’t help but think that this would have been better suited to an OVA series or even a full-fledged series, simply down to the amount of content that the game contains.

I mean, overall, the movie is a really nice effort to turn Persona 3 into an animated form, and whilst it’s better than the Persona 4 anime, it still has a few glaring holes in it, and the only way to tell if things will get better is to watch how the movie moves forward…considering that they’re going to have to pack a lot of content into these next movies.

Alex8 stars

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