I have to admit upfront that it’s been a long time since I’ve walked home from my local retailer of physical entertainment media with an extravagant anime box set in hand – mostly due to the combination of an increasing lack of shelf space in my apartment and the typically prohibitive prices of anime media. As a massive fan of Atlus’ wildly successful JRPG Persona 5 though I really couldn’t resist wrapping my hands around both volumes of the just-released Persona 5: The Animation Limited Edition Blu-Ray. And while the shelf space problem is still yet to be solved, the folks at Madman Australia were at least kind enough to spot us a copy to check out.
I’m genuinely shocked that the reception for the Persona 5 anime in the community isn’t unanimously positive – I’d heard mostly good things but still held off watching it with any sort of urgency until now. After absolutely binging it in a few short days though I can say with certainty that I’m a fan.
Perhaps it’s because I’d already sunk 400+ hours into both the vanilla Persona 5 game as well as the newer Persona 5 Royal and Persona 5 Strikers but I found myself immediately in my comfort zone with the characters I know and love on-screen regardless of already having experienced the original game’s story that the series re-tells. Whether I was completely engrossed and picking out details in each scene that come straight from the game or letting it play in the background safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t miss much that I didn’t already know I found it easily the most watchable anime video game adaptation in recent memory.
There are a lot of reasons for that whether it’s the recognisable locations rendered in very pleasing anime art, the return of the original English voice cast making the dub unusually worthwhile, the added fleshing out of some important character relationships or numerous easter eggs and motifs lifted from the games. A solid favourite choice of mine was to have the game’s mostly-silent protagonist, here given the name Ren Amamiya, finally enter the conversation. It’s an obvious choice for an anime adaptation but it was still reassuring to be able to enjoy the same story without feeling responsible for making crucial social decisions. Although I’ll admit that at one point I’d zoned out slightly and almost made a grab for my controller when Ren was asked a question – old habits die hard, I guess.
It’s definitely not a total pass for Persona 5: The Animation, with a couple omissions and issues that do slightly bring the experience down. The pacing of the anime’s narrative and its character arcs can sometimes feel jarring without the context of the dozens upon dozens of hours of interactions in-between major events in the game, and there’s a huge lack of screentime for the game’s memorable cast of Confidants. It also struggles to remain as visually engaging throughout as the unnaturally-stylish game but that’s probably for the best – too many flashy visual elements would certainly have distracted from everything else.
Luckily, Persona 5’s effortless catchy and jazzy musical stylings have made the jump completely unscathed with composer Shoji Meguro and vocalist Lyn back to produce more iconic bangers like the anime’s stellar opener, BREAK IN TO BREAK OUT. Never getting that out of my head.
Of course there’s a good chance you’ve already seen Persona 5: The Animation in full, as it wrapped around two years ago in Japan. That’s where both of the Limited Edition blu-ray volumes come in – because if you’re a fan there’s a lot to love about what’s been done with this set.
Straight off the bat, the striking red visual motifs and gorgeous character art from the game and anime wrap the outer cardboard sleeves that contain each volume of the anime. In typical fashion, Part 1 in its Limited Edition form arrives inside a sturdy and gorgeous outer box that contains enough space to slot in Part 2 to complete the set.
With 15 episodes across two blu-ray discs, the Limited Edition of Part 1 also packs six beautifully-printed art cards featuring character portraits on one side and stills on the other. Part 2 adds the remaining 11 episodes plus the series’ two specials rounding it out to a total of 28. The second volume’s limited edition also contains a scant few bonus features on-disc and a small, 28-page art book inside the slipcover.
In all it’s a nice package, but I do have gripes – namely that between the outer boxes, the amaray cases, the art cards and the art book most of the art is the same. It’s great art, but it’s a tad disappointing that almost each piece is repeated three times over by the time you make your way around the set. The art book is the saving grace, containing all of the included artwork plus a few extras. The overall impact of the set is still quite striking though, and if you’re anything like me and value your collectibles’ impact on the shelf more than actively poring through their materials you’ll still love it.
As far as the blu-rays themselves go, the quality of the video is fantastic, coming out incredibly crisp for a FHD transfer with great colours and typically decent audio for anime. The volumes are light on extras, featuring the usual culprits of trailers and a textless version of one of the ending sequences but that seems par for the course with these things. Given the option I’d definitely still watch this series on blu-ray disc over streaming it, though either option is a good one depending on your budget and penchant for slick Persona merch.
At an RRP of $119.95 AUD and $109.95 AUD respectively for Parts 1 and 2, Persona 5: The Animation’s Limited Edition blu-rays are certainly an investment, but for Persona 5 fans the combination of the excellent anime adaptation and gorgeous packaging are reason enough to want to pick these up. This one’s an All-Out Attack!
You can pick up the Persona 5: The Animation Limited Edition blu-ray volumes for yourself at both JB Hi-Fi and the official Madman store below:
Thanks again to our friends at Madman for providing us this set for review.