This doesn’t “Steal Your Heart” as promised
I know that I am not the only one saying that Atlus has made one of the greatest RPG series in Persona. From its humble beginnings with the original game, every iteration of Persona game has increased in quality, storytelling, and production values. Starting with Persona 2: Eternal Punishment on the PlayStation, Atlus has put in anime cut scenes in the series, and has even put out a few anime that tell the story of its later iterations. Now that Persona 5 has been announced, Atlus is teasing their rabid fan base with a special one episode anime special. Does this special have the quality that fans expect for the series, or does it fail to attract people into buying into the beloved franchise?
Enter A-1 Pictures, the animators behind THE DAY BREAKERS, as well as the second Persona 4 anime. This animation company is being increasingly more known as having shoddy quality standards, due to budget constraints and producing way too many shows at a single time. In pretty much all of their standard anime fare, their is about 5 minutes of decent animation, surrounded by poorly drawn outlines. The story, even with their more faithful adaptations can be all over the place, and generally have characters dump information constantly to avoid any motion besides mouth flaps. Unfortunately (to myself at the very least) the Persona series consistently comes over to A-1 Pictures for their anime adaptions. Its saddening, especially when you compare the different companies that have done various Persona anime adaptations. The original Persona 4 anime by AIC Asta is leaps and bounds better looking and directed next to the sequel series (Persona 4 Golden: The Animation) by A-1 Pictures. The same thing goes for the first Persona 3 movie, before the quality drops when A-1 Pictures enters the scene. They also did a pseudo sequel anime series of Persona 3 (but the less said about that mess the better).What does this mean for THE DAY BREAKERS, however? Well, we can take into account that the main story is written by the Persona 5 team, which is a massive good sign, as well as directed by Takaharu Ozaki, who helped out with directing Terraformars and a few other shows that have decent action. It also helps that this is comes from a game that isn’t out yet, to help build intrigue.
Why bring all of this up? Well to put it simply, Persona 5: The Animation -THE DAY BREAKERS- falls right where A-1 Pictures standards lie. Its not the worst thing they have produced, but its pretty easy to see that in terms of quality, this got mostly shafted. Animation is mostly boring, with ugly face designs for minutes at a time, even with the main characters. The backgrounds range from bearable, to fairly decent, especially near the end when the world changes into a dark twisted version of a train station. The character designs are great, but that is due to Atlus and their amazing artists. The animation budget kicks in during the battle sequence once the group finds their bad guy, but even then it jumps quickly between good and bad constantly. A cool trick that I have to give props for is when the characters tag turn to each other and the screen switches to the opening that Atlus has released for the game, even though it may have been used to same money. Another decent thing is the phone applications being large enough to see, which is a small but nice touch as plenty of anime make it hard to see just what is on screen. Its at the very least, much better than the Final Fantasy XV specials that are also being made around the same time and also made by A-1 Pictures. The best part is the very ending, where the main character is chained up and right before he gives his name, the show abruptly ends. While this sounds disappointing, it works well since you always name the protagonists in the Persona games, and shows that Atlus cares about that feature.
The story works well for what this special is: a quick glimpse into what the world of Persona 5 has to offer. Its not a prequel as what I was expecting, but rather it jumps in a bit to the story, where the main group tries to turn a gang of criminals’ hearts into good humans. While not explaining much of anything, it gives almost enough to where you can see some of the main characters’ personalities will be once Persona 5 releases proper. The voice acting is strong, with none of the characters sounding poor, though again, that is due to Atlus bringing their group in from the game to record this special. Every character is strong, even the ones that are only in the special and will probably not be featured in the game. If from what other sources are to believe, the story in this will not be in the Persona 5 game itself, so its a special treat for those that see this and get the game itself.
The music for THE DAY BREAKERS is fantastic, and by far is the best part of the special. The main piece that plays multiple times throughout the 24 minute episode is from the main game, and anyone who has seen pretty much any trailer for Persona 5 will recognize it. The other pieces that play it feel extremely like they belong in the Persona series, so if what little was played is actually in the game, then its safe to assume that Persona 5 will have a stellar soundtrack. If they released a version of this without voice acting or sound effects, I would almost recommend watching this from just that, the songs are that good.
Its a bit too difficult to fully recommend this to anyone who isn’t already a hardcore Persona fan. For those that are interested in just what the game may feel like, go ahead and watch this. Its the length of a single standard anime episode, and gives just enough to bring interest to the real game, which is exactly what Atlus wants. For those that have little interest, or dislike the animation company in general, I’d say there is no point to spending time on THE DAY BREAKERS. I have a strong feeling that THE DAY BREAKERS is not going to get too many people to buy the game due to its flaws, sadly, as Persona 5 is shaping up to be one of the greatest rpgs this year (Or next if you are not in Japan). If you want to watch Persona 5 -THE DAY BREAKERS- legally, Crunchyroll has the anime streaming now for those that pay, and will be available September 10 for free.
Final Verdict: 2/5