Review for Persona 3 - Movie 4 Collector's Edition
Here’s the moment I’ve been hoping for/dreading. Anticipation because this is the final Persona 3 feature film, and that once I’m done with this, I won’t have to touch anything with the name Persona attached to it again. Dread because I have to actually watch the film through for review before that can happen. If the hint has been too subtle, I haven’t been enjoying the Persona 3 films to this point, and the final film will have to be spectacularly good for it to change my opinion now. Still, stranger things have happened, and I could conceivably see myself enduring three dull movies to watch a spectacular climax. After all, I put myself through season 2 of Haruhi Suzumiya, including Endless Eight, because I know that The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya will follow.
The anime adaptation of the Persona 3 videogame tells the story of Makoto Yuki, who lives in a world where everything stops at midnight, heralding the Dark Hour, when Shadows are abroad, preying on the unfortunate souls that have become trapped in that eldritch hour. Yuki and his friends in the S.E.E.S group have the ability to awaken their Personas, manifestations of their power in the form of mighty avatars, to do battle with the Shadows and protect their world, although oddly enough, the Shadow activity seems to centre on their High School, which during the Dark Hour transforms into an ominous tower dubbed Tartaros.
It seemed meaningful at first, albeit somewhat fantastical; the idea of heroes, using their Personas to protect the world from the menace of the Shadows. But with a conclusion to their battle becoming evident, Makoto Yuki was beginning to wonder what his place in the world afterwards would be. Things became more complicated with the appearance of the Strega group; assassins that use the Dark Hour to commit their murders with impunity, and suddenly S.E.E.S now have to fight other people, not just Shadows. In the previous film, their world was turned upside down following a betrayal and the revelation that their whole mission had been subverted for ill-purposes. Makoto Yuki withdrew into his shell, and it was only the arrival of transfer student Ryoji Mochizuki that got him to open up again. But then the truth about Ryoji himself was traumatically revealed. The end of the world had only been postponed, and now that the Appriser has manifested, the date of Armageddon has been set. And while the Apocalypse can’t be averted, Ryoji gives Makoto Yuki one chance to live out his final days in blissful ignorance.
The final Persona 3 movie gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer on this Blu-ray disc, and it isn’t much changed from the first film. It comes across really quite well, clean and crisp throughout with good levels of detail, sharp line art, and strong colour reproduction. There is minimal banding, only rarely apparent, and certainly not as extensive as it was on Kazé’s Persona 4 discs. Black levels could be a little stronger, but by and large the film is very watchable. When it comes to character art and the gradated colour palette, you can see a similarity of style between the two iterations of Persona, but the theatrical presentation means that the animation is a lot stronger, more detailed, with the action sequences looking suitably impressive.
The sole audio track is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Japanese track, with optional translated English subtitles, in a yellow font. They are timed accurately and are free of typos. The surround is adequate at best. Persona 3 is a pretty front focussed affair, with a little bit of ambience, but with most of the directionality saved for the action sequences. While I didn’t think too much of the opening theme, Persona 3’s music generally hits the mark with its electro-pop beats, driving the intensity of the action sequences well.
The disc boots to a static menu. On both the BD and DVD, you’ll find a 4:56 trailer reel for the movies, and a 32 second Promo Collection. While there is a standard DVD release, this Collector’s Edition Blu-ray is a combo release, but I can’t comment on the packaging or any physical extras.
It’s a clean sweep, or rather clean sleep! For the fourth movie running, I’ve drifted into a slumber at its tediousness. Actually this one was the worst one yet, as I fell asleep three times during its runtime, watching the 1 and three quarter hour film actually took me three hours in total, and given my somnolent state of mind, I’m still not too sharp on what actually happened, what the film was about. This much I have decided. The Persona franchise, including these Persona 3 movies are really there for fans of the games, who have the back story, the appreciation of the characters, and the understanding of just what is going on. If you’re a neophyte like me, then all you have to go on are the films at face value, and they really do leave out the important things like character motivation, narrative focus and dramatic intensity.
For instance, it was in this movie that I learned that Makoto Yuki has amnesia. For four movies I’ve been wondering at his antisocial personality, just why he’s motivated to fight the Shadows, why he freezes at crucial moments, and then at the start of this film we get a flashback to a childhood trauma, a car crash, flames, and the inaudible words of a trapped woman. Then Ryoji with “So you’ve finally remembered.” Now given my tendency to nod off, it is entirely possible that I missed this little character note, but I suspect that given the way it’s revealed here, that it is new information. But it is still information that we should have known in movie 1.
The film begins with the big reveal about Ryoji, the impending end of the world scenario and the shock that comes with it. There then follows a period of moping and introspection as the characters try to come to terms with it. As you might expect, they decide to fight back, leading to the film’s big climactic action sequence, and it all concludes with a somewhat ambiguous ending.
If you like Persona 3 then you like Persona 3, the films will no doubt compliment the games ideally, and the structure is solid, the film proceeds in a way that will entertain and get the dramatic juices flowing, and no doubt the climax will enthral as well. One thing that I did notice however is that the film is all about Makoto Yuki, and the supporting cast do get hard done by with the story, you don’t feel as if anyone else’s arc is sufficiently addressed, But all of that is if you’re invested in the characters, and care about the story.
I couldn’t care less. The Persona franchise is just so much white noise for me, and while I did hold out hope at the start of this film series that it would reward me for sitting through the bilge that was Persona 4, I find that instead, Persona 3 has dispensed with the bilge, but has nothing of interest to take its place. Or in the words of Evil Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Bored now.”