Persona 5: The Animation Episode 1 [First Impressions]

Shadow’s First Impression

HOLY. CRAP. I have been SO HYPED for this series ever since it was announced. I was having trouble sleeping because I was excited today. When I finally sat down and watched it on crunchyroll I was already hyped over how crisp and clean everything looked. HOWEVER, as much as I love this game, this episode was paced semi-poorly. Now, I can understand why they did it since it literally takes two hours or so to get to the actual plot of the game. They had to cram a lot of set-up in this episode AND get to the actual plot of the game in 24 minutes. I had a feeling that the pacing might be a bit fast since it’s hard to shove 100 hours of gameplay into 24 episodes. I mean, look at the Persona 4 anime. It was actually pretty well paced until episode 13 and all of the sudden the pacing took off at hyper speed to cram the rest of the game in, which was kind of disappointing.

But I’ll try to see this more as a summarized retelling of the game and enjoy it nonetheless just to see all the characters I love again in animated, 2D glory. Hopefully they won’t go too fast in the pacing though where people who haven’t played the game can still enjoy it without feeling lost or left behind. As one who has also played Persona 4 I was both shocked and ecstatic that they referenced so many Persona 4 characters. (i.e. Naoto Shirogane and the picture of Rise Kujikawa). I’ve always enjoyed the fact that the Persona series (at least from 3 to 5) kind of acknowledge the existence of the other characters from the other games. Makes for some nice Easter eggs for long time Persona fans. I like how they even threw out some early spoilers that people who have played the game will recognize. (I see you, Takemi)

The interesting thing about Persona 5 is that everything in the game up to a certain point has already happened. And after being arrested and interrogated, the plot is essentially a retelling from the protagonist, in this case Ren Amamiya’s pov. So be prepared for a lot of jumping from past to present through out the episodes. (It got pretty ridiculous in the game at certain points where it would jump to the present after establishing a bond with certain people lol) The pacing definitely felt super fast in the first five or so minutes of the episode but I do appreciate it slowing down and giving some breathing time for the start of the interrogation with Sae.

But the fact that they crammed in so much information was a tad overwhelming. From a failed heist, being interrogated, first arriving to Tokyo, weird app causes the world to halt, meeting his guardian, telling why he’s on probation, seeing his new school, introduced to the velvet room, learning a teacher was a target, meeting two new characters, walking into a weird castle, being attacked by weird creatures, to unlocking his persona… that’s A LOT to take in, especially for the first episode. Hopefully after this episode it’ll slow down a little.

We get the gist that Ren has committed a crime of assault and is sent to the city on probation under the care of a cafe owner, Sojiro Sakura, who took him in out of a request of one of his regulars. I believe one of the weaknesses this first episode experienced is that in the game we are shown a lot of instances where everyone just seems to be against Ren from the start, but how the episode was portrayed, I feel like Ren just experiences a lot of indifference from everyone. It still shows that he’s in an unfortunate position, but I don’t feel as strongly for him as I do in the games. I know I shouldn’t compare the anime too harshly to the games, but it’s bound to happen. But hopefully they’ll expand on it in the next episode or so.

Right now, Ren feels like the typical self insert, bland protagonist. But considering he has to stay out of trouble and keep a low profile, it makes sense for him to be kind of soft spoken as he was flung into a really terrible situation. Hopefully the anime can give him some good character development to help him flourish into a character of his own instead of the silent protagonist.

Overall, I can’t say this was a solid first episode due to it cramming in so many plot points. However, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy seeing this game being animated. I’m still super hyped for this series and there’s no way I’m missing any of it. I just hope that they can pace this series so that people who haven’t played the game can enjoy it as well because this series deserves all the recognition.

Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed

Possibility of Blogging: High (Though a lot of people want this so I can share if needed)

Midnight’s First Impressions

I loved Persona 5, I bought a first game copy and I played and played and then once I was done the game. I played again, this time in Japanese because why not right? So when I heard there was going to be an anime I was genuinely on the fence because on the one hand it’s Persona 5 and all aboard the hype train.
That being said the first episode leaves me with a lot of the same worries I had before it aired. Which is mostly the idea of rushed content because this is a long game with a lot of things that go in it and animes only have so much time to tell that same story.

The first episode covers the games prologue and tutorial with some neat added bits of foreshadowing, such as Crow shooting at Joker and causing a diversion. It also covers the first bit of gameplay with the MC [Named Ren here] coming to Japan and taking up residence at Cafe Leblanc, getting to visit the school and the start of his first palace excursion into the castle of the gym teacher Kamoshida. Hearing Joker being called Ren is going to take some time for me after being so used to him being called Akira by most of the other official material.
I can’t recall if they gave him a name in the OVA that came out featuring a more in depth phantom thieves mission of one of the mementos missions in the game. This is something i’ll have to look into later, but I can not recall him being called Ren at any point prior to the announcement of this anime.

There were various little clues and easter eggs for people who have played the game and people who enjoyed Persona 4. The news interview discussing Akechi and how he is considered the second coming of the Detective Prince after Naoto from Persona 4. The giant image of Rise [which is something actually in persona 5 the game if you move the camera around to look], spotting Takemi in the crowd and the maid service flyer falling out of Kawakami’s pocket during the school meeting.

I am genuinely curious to see which Confidants [Social links…god calling them Confidants is still weird] the anime if going to choose to cover. Of course, it will cover the ones of the main Phantom Thieves team but I am kind of curious to see if they will do any outside of that.
I want to think that the pacing after this will improve because a lot of what was cut from this episode was game tutorial. For example the first shadow fight in the casino and the ‘How does anyone navigate this subway system’ parts of the game that were meant to teach you the basic controls.

I come out of this episode with a sense of “Well, it has a lot of potential.” and can only hope that the anime taps into that potential and goes for the gold.

Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: High [But i’ll step down if I need too]

Berry’s Impression

I’m going to give a quick background of myself when it comes to the Persona series. Persona 5 is the first and only Persona game I’ve played. I had played maybe about 20-30 hours of Persona 3, but stuff happened and I lost my save file and stuff like that and I never went back to it and I never went to play the fourth installation. But I really wanted to give the Persona series a chance and had tried out P5 and was absolutely hooked. I ADORE the game, with its story, its characters, music, visuals, everything. So I was extremely excited when an anime was announced and was equally as excited when I sat down to watch this episode.

And just like Shadow and Midnight, I basically share the same worries as them. Yes, I found the episode to be rushed with lots of things being thrown at us. I haven’t seen the P4 anime, but I saw how fans complained about the adaptation and was worried the same would happen with P5. I mean, fitting 100+ hours worth of gameplay into only 24 episodes? Sounds kind of crazy, but I still want to remain positive.

One positive thing I can say is what Midnight said, that the episode hinted at some stuff to come later on such as mentioning Akechi. The opening sequence at the casino was as stylish and sexy as it was in the game, and the art itself looks great. Also, they’re using music from the game so that’s an automatic 10/10.

Also, Ren/Akira? Looking like an absolute snack. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

And while the episode was rushed, they included all of the important information such as the palace, the Velvet Room, Arsene, the train incidents, and Ren transferring to the school and living with Sojiro. But I do have to agree with Shadow when it came to feeling for Ren. Anime Sojiro is actually a lot more nicer and indifferent, whereas in the game he was a lot more hostile towards Ren for his situation. The same goes to Kawakami and the principal. They looked down on him and Kawakami showed clear disdain for having to have him in her homeroom class. In the anime, it was more like “Okay, make sure not to screw up, okay? Bye.” I felt real bad for Ren in the game because the characters treated him pretty badly, but in the anime it’s kind of whatever. And as for Akira, so far he’s sort of quiet and bland. Of course in the game he’s the silent protagonist, but you get to choose some dialogue options that could either be serious or funny. But even then, in the game I felt like he had a rebellious and cunning personality that I’m sure we’ll see later on. Poor kid has to get used to his new life right now.

The anime is following the game very faithfully, but I still do worry about the pacing. But I can’t lie and say that I didn’t enjoy it. I love Persona 5 a lot and consider it being maybe my favorite video game of all time, so I’m going to enjoy watching this series a lot. Let’s hope this anime goes well and brings in lots of new fans!

Possibility of watching: Guaranteed

Possibility of blogging: High (we….kinda gotta figure this out among us;;;)


A somewhat lazy but hardworking individual who loves anime and making fanart and fanfiction for them~

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5 Responses

  1. Kazanova says:

    I’m always wondering why anime based on games like this must always consisted of 24 or so episodes that always lead to the plot and all being cramped. Personally, I think Persona 5 is better in animation than Persona 4 anime at least. The animation of Persona 4 anime is not bad, but compared to this Persona 5 anime, this one is much better. The people from Atlus said that Ren’s calm and seemingly quiet attitude is simply a ruse that hide the mind of a trickster, which means we haven’t seen full personality of Ren yet in the anime. I hope they can do a great characterisation of Ren in this anime.

    • zztop says:

      IIRC Persona 4’s anime made its MC a cool, deadpan snarker, whilst retaining the outward look of the silent stoic protagonist.
      It was quite funny to see the stoic mask slip in times of humourous panic.

  2. zztop says:

    Persona 5’s game producer said in an interview that the story was originally going to have a backpacking, world tour theme ” flying around to various places (in)…a journey of self-discovery.”

    The 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami changed all that:

    “I felt that at once, my mood about Japan had changed as I rethought things…I wanted to refocus on Japan rather than direct my feelings to the outside world…
    …Since Persona is a contemporary drama involving (youth and society), and you get the feeling that the mindset of the people of Japan had changed (to a more inward, contemplative mood following the disaster), we felt we had no choice but to change the concept of the look at the adventurous spirit of the human mind instead.”

    • Berry says:

      I hadn’t known all that, that’s so interesting! I’m guessing the sudden change in direction was the reason why the game had been delayed for so long.

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