Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: NIS America
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 307 minutes
Release Date: Available Now
Welcome to Ayanagi City, where it rains feathers and your shadow is downright cool.
Being huge gamers ourselves and aficionados of the role-playing game genre, we were all pleasantly surprised at the fact that an anime based on the Persona gaming franchise was made and finally available thanks to NIS America. Volume 1 Premium Edition of Persona: Trinity Soul is an original story that even those who have never played the games can really enjoy if they like their anime dark, complex and utterly intriguing.
Ayanagi City is a modern and slightly futuristic city that is suddenly the target of a string of murders and odd disappearances such as the arrival of a tanker with no people onboard. Returning to the city after a 10 year absence, Shin and Jun Kanzato come to live with their older brother Ryo who is not only a Chief Officer but alos a lead in the investigation of the tanker ant the murders. There is only one problem: Ryo does not want his younger brothers living with him and even more so now that the victims of the murders in the city happen to be High school-aged.
Oh, but Shin isn’t giving up on living in the house that belonged to their deceased parents and despite the fact that their older brother is acting cold towards them he wants to return to the way things were before the tragic accident that changed their family forever. There’s also the fact that Shin feels something deep within himself stirring. It isn’t until he witnesses a frightened young man summon a ghost-like armored avatar that forces Shin to suddenly summon his own armored protector. As it turns out, these specters are called Personas that are attached to certain people called Special “A” Latent types much like a shadow is attached to the rest of us.
Shin isn’t the only one with his own Persona, there are students in his class who know about Personas such as the lively Megumi Kayano and the afro-sporting Takuro Sakakiba. On top of that, there is a secret group called the Marebito who are on their own mission to capture other Special A Latent’s Personas. Their attack on a girl from Shin’s new High School is proof of this but Ryo saves the girl on time and thus becomes a target of the Marebito group.
As Shin and his brother Jun become closer friends of a small group of friends that include Margumi, Takuro and a seemingly shy girl named Kanaru Morimoto as they all learn about Personas and the group that is trying to extract their guardians. Meanwhile, we get a look into Ryo whose investigation practices have the higher ups in the police department looking into him by sending cops to spy on his as well as Shin and his friends who have a strange incident in a karaoke place involving a Persona.
While Ryo’s side of the story is complex and drawn out, this doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. Sure, he’s not the most likeable of characters but there are moments that flesh out his personality and the reason he’s so cold towards his younger brothers and his childhood friend, Eiko, who clearly likes him enough that she hoped that the two would become a couple. There are some lighthearted moments connected to him such as the time he puts on a bear suit to cheer up a group of children. He even cries at a kid’s movie when he goes with Jun and a mystery girl that befriends Shin and his friends.
The best episodes are mainly directed at Shin and his friends as they try to understand Personas by coming to terms with their own inner demons. Why is it that Megumi doesn’t want to summon her Persona and why isn’t Takuro unable to control his? In one episode they even help their friend Kanaru who is addicted to a practice called Shadow Extraction that has a person manipulating the Persona of its owner. Plus, we learn more about Jun who has a most unusual ability that is connected to the tragedy that took the lives of his family.
There’s also a deeper mystery as Ryo confronts the group that is after people like his brother as well as a spy within the students who wants to get close to Jun and his friends. There’s also a mysterious redheaded girl whose role is yet to be revealed and an enemy who knows Ryo. While the series starts a bit on the slow side, things definitely get more interesting somewhere in the middle and just gets even more intriguing.
As far as the Premium Edition version is concerned, the set includes a book with an official art book that is more like an episode guide with a brief character bio and even a series of four-panel comics. On the opposite side there’s “A Whale’s Feather” that is the story that shows up in the anime series that is written and drawn by the brothers‘ parents. It’s actually a very beautiful and strange story with some gorgeous art.
Persona: Trinity Soul is a complicated anime series but it is also a deeply involving one that will keep you hooked up until the very end of Volume 1. The characters are just as complex as the storyline and thus makes them more fleshed out than in other anime series and that’s a very good thing. While this one has a slow start, the next upcoming episodes just promise to be even more stimulating.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Two brothers return home to live with their older brother who happens to be a Chief in a division of the local police department looking into a rare case involving people able to summon “Personas” and the murder of High school students in the area. As Shin and his brother try to adapt in a new city, they discover power and a group that will stop at nothing to steal Personas from those with the ability to summon.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The series has some really lovely animation that works well for this series and the visual effects are equally good.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The voice acting in this series is stellar and the talent does a great job conveying every emotion. Sorry, no English dub is offered but you won’t mind thanks to the great performances and wonderful original score. The opening theme, “Breakin’ Through” by Shuhei Kita is simply awesome and “Suicides Love Story” is a new favorite in our office.
The second DVD contains the extras such as clean opening and closing theme songs and all the original Japanese promotional videos for the series. The best extras in the Premium Edition is the hardcover book included that has an episode guide (with four-panels comics and cool production art) on one side and the full “A Whale’s Feather” story that appears in the series complete with gorgeous artwork.
A somewhat complex but riveting story that keeps getting better with each episode, Volume 1 of Persona will not fail to keep you intrigued. While I wish the beginning wasn’t so slow, the story has all the right elements in place to make the next volume one you will not want to miss. On top of that, the Premium Edition makes for a great package.
Review copy provided by NIS America