There’s something of an opportunity for Persona fans who would like to watch the whole of Persona 5 the Animation with English voice acting, but wouldn’t have the means or money to pay a few hundred for the Blu-ray set. The show is streaming on Funimation. As someone who previously was only exposed to the manga adaptations of the games, it seemed like the perfect excuse to give it a try. While it can’t capture everything, the Persona 5 anime basically feels like a great CliffsNotes sort of catch-up.
There are two important things to know about Persona 5 the Animation and the dub. The first is that it does manage to cover the events of the game and even touch upon some of the social links and other elements like Mementos. The other is that the English voice actors from the game reprise their roles, so there’s no sense of dissonance. Everyone looks the way they should, sounds the way they should, and behaves the way they should, which adds to the authenticity of the adaptation.
What I also loved and found critical to this representation is the sense of pacing. In the more recent Persona games, there’s always at least some sort of downtime between dungeons and events, to help build up relationships, show interactions between characters, and offer that sense of a life sim to the experience. The Persona 5 anime adaptation captures that too. For the most part, each “palace” and major story segment is given about three episodes. This ensures you have enough time to get to know the new member of the group, understand what’s happening with the latest suspect, and tackle some of the group dynamics and enemy conflicts that might have come up.
What I also appreciated is how there is this sense of downtime is still represented in Persona 5 the Animation. There’s typically an episode where the characters get to be high schoolers and Ren (Joker) can live an ordinary life. For example, the first episode that really gives them this chance is the fifth one, where we see them celebrate at that buffet after beating Kamoshida and head to Mementos for the first time. Again, in the ninth episode we see the social link between Ren and his teacher form after he calls the maid service to clean his room at Le Blanc’s.
But the one thing that is such a complete and total distraction is one voice actor. Ren is voiced, naturally. And Xander Mobus has a good voice and has a great job as characters like Sergei in Tales of Zestiria and Groh in Soulcalibur VI. And his voice was great for small sound bites in the Persona 5 games, but here he sounds so much older and more mature than his classmates. When I would suddenly hear him speak, it pulled me out of the otherwise welcome familiarity of the experience.
The takeaway is that while it doesn’t cover everything, the Persona 5 anime adaptation manages to bring enough of the moments that matter to the format. Persona 5 the Animation moves along at a good pace and, should someone enjoy and want the English voice acting, it really helps maintain a sense of consistency with the localization. Also, Persona 5 the Animation is a much shorter experience than actually replaying Persona 5.