Best girl has arrived.
Unlike my post on the first movie, there will be lots of big spoilers here. So play the game first.
Like the first movie, I have a lot to say about this one, mostly in the form of comparisons back to the game. However, I do think that this was a better movie altogether. By a very small margin.
Most importantly, this movie gives us AIGIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There was plenty of creative liberty with the story, far more than in the first one. As in they completely rewrote how plenty of things played out through the course of the film, not simply changing how certain events happen.
The story picks up with the Hierophant/Lovers event, then works through the trip to Yakushima, four new characters joining the team, the Chariot/Justice fight, conflict with Strega, the Hermit fight, and the Fortune/Strength fight tied with Ken and Shinji’s issues.
Some of the massive changes to the story are more problematic than others. For example, Shinji’s entrance wasn’t nearly as theatric originally. In the game, he decided to join after learning that Ken had joined SEES, but here he came in just in time to save the day during the Chariot and Justice fight. I don’t even think that they ever acknowledged that the battle with the tank was two Shadows in one. So if you weren’t already familiar with the game, you wouldn’t have a clue that it was the case.
The entire thing with Shinji and Ken. Originally, Ken joined SEES because he wanted to find and kill Shinji to exact revenge for his mother being killed (which was an accident, but he didn’t know that). In the movie, they completely changed this. Here, Ken has no idea who or what killed his mother, and becomes closer to Shinji. Then, after learning the truth, he still decides to try and kill Shinji and then commit suicide, even though the events that led up to this should have made it extremely clear that his mother’s death was actually an accident. But you know, he’s a whiny self-entitled brat.
They took a dump on Social Links once again.
The Fortune/Strength fight really only works in the context of the game, with the wheel determining how your party and the enemy are affected from turn to turn. I think they handled it decently though, because the battle happened alongside the conflict between Shinji and Ken. Unlike the first movie, I think this one ended at the perfect part of the story – they didn’t create an artificial and overdramatic conflict to use as an ending, but did a pretty good job covering Shinji’s death and the beginning of the aftermath. I really wish that they had ended it with Akihiko attaining Caesar though, as that’s going to be an awkward way to start the third movie, whereas it would have fit in perfectly as a way to cap this off. And it would have added a touch of optimism to the ending.
I was pretty sure the first movie had this problem, but the second has guaranteed it – during regular daytime events, the contrast is unusually high and everything is way too bright. The Dark Hour stuff is obviously dark, but it’s lit and colored well so that it looks good. But during the day, it’s obnoxiously bright, and there’s weaker animation and abuse of still frames. I know one comment I made about the first movie was that it should have been longer, but even if this was, we’d probably just have inconsistent animation quality and more CG poop.
Fortunately, when this movie looks good, it looks really good. One example is Aigis’s fight against Chariot and Justice. It’s a shame that CG animation was used for a few of the Full Moon Shadows, but it’s weird that they weren’t even consistent with it. My guess about this would be budget issues, but what do I know?
To sort of carry over what I mentioned in my post on the first movie, the Japanese voice-acting is very different for plenty of characters. The most important difference this time around is Aigis – she sounds so much better here in Japanese than she did in English in the game (although her voice was more agreeable in The Answer, Arena, and Ultimax). In the game, her voice was this very annoying artificial voice with extremely random and over-emphasized intonation, but here it simply sounds rather flat and robotic. You know, because she’s a robot. It’s far more fitting for her character and generally more pleasing to the ears.
Ken sounds a bit less like a whiny self-entitled brat, but he still acts like a whiny self-entitled brat (he was voiced by the same person who voiced Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion after all). Koromaru sounds like a human making dog noises, which is really weird. Thanatos was the same way in the first movie – it didn’t sound half as good as its more primitive and inhuman voice in the game.
As with all of the non-game Persona stuff (and P3P), the new music is meh. Pretty much every new track sounds like it’s just a snippet of a full song that ends short. To make matters worse, a lot of these tracks are paired with scenes that already feel too short. The combination is very distracting, as it draws attention to its own problems.
But above all else, the general tone of the music is very different from that of the game. The game’s music was an eclectic mix of hip hop, rock, and a bit of everything inbetween that worked perfectly, with tons of focus on ambience during the Dark Hour. The new music for the movie is not only underwhelming, but just feels completely out of place, especially when it transitions from a song like Deep Breath Deep Breath to something that feels like a generic filler track. However, the OPs and EDs have been great so far – I can’t complain about those. Let’s just hope all of Meguro Shoji’s efforts have been going into the soundtrack for Persona 5.
Even when the game’s music is used, it’s not always very effective, mostly because it’s not looped, as odd as that may sound. Looping a track would frequently sound better than forcing a transition to a new blegh song. At least the first movie used Mass Destruction for one of the coolest scenes in the movie. This one’s use of the song was… awkward. For multiple reasons.
So, what do I think about this movie as a whole? I don’t know. It bastardized many elements of the story, but I think it handled rushing through the plot a bit better than the first did. It was sometimes enjoyable, and sometimes annoying. And we only got one blood puddle. As a movie, I’d say it’s better than the first. As an adaptation, it’s definitely the weaker of the two.
I believe that it was stated that there would be five movies – based on the pace and naming trend for the first two (well, three, since we know that’s going to be called Falling Down), the fourth movie will be the end of The Journey, and the fifth will be The Answer. So I’m really, really, really hoping that they put a ton of effort into those two.
+ Generally good animation
+ Usually improved character designs
+ Mostly superior voice-acting
+ Ended on a nearly perfect note
± Meh new music/meh use of game’s music
− Rushed story and events
− Social links are shat upon
Price – On Rightstuf, you can get the regular edition for $59.99 US, or the limited edition for $79.99 US. Personally, I got the limited edition from CDJapan for 8000 yen, because the conversion rate, purchase of the first movie, and shipping charges all ended up working out in my favor. Also, these do include English subtitles, as with most Aniplex releases.
Recommendation – Unless you really like Persona 3, I would not recommend shelling out the money for the movie(s) at this point.
If you have played the game, I’d say it’s worth watching the movies. Just don’t expect them to do the game justice. If you haven’t played the game, do that first. Otherwise, at least wait for the first four movies before jumping into the series.