Persona 3 – 3: Falling Down and 4: Winter of Rebirth Review

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The Persona 3 adaptation comes to a close (rather quickly, but hey-ho, that’s what you get for reviewing them two at a time I guess!) as new friends and enemies appear, sometimes both at once! Read on to find out more! (unless you don’t want to get it spoiled, in which case scroll down until you see the Overall Thoughts section for a sum up and a rating!)

Synopsis:

A teenager who was orphaned as a young boy returns to the city of his childhood. Shortly after transferring to Gekkoukan High School, he awakens his Persona, Orpheus, as his only chance at defeating mysterious creatures called Shadows. He soon discovers that he shares this special ability with other students at his new school. He joins the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES), and with his new friends, confronts the threat of the Shadows during the “Dark Hour”, a time between one day and the next where the Shadows appear in greater numbers…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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A perfect example of the stunning animation style…

Makoto Yuki (Akira Ishida) – Makoto was getting used to having friends, both in the real world and mysteriously in his head, but is soon about to be knocked backwards, emotionally…

Yukari Takeba (Megumi Toyoguchi) – Yukari fights to erase her father’s past sins, at least, that’s what she thinks… The truth may end up being more depressing…

Junpei Iori (Kōsuke Toriumi) – Your classic class clown, though a class clown who has fallen in love with the enemy, in this case Strega member Chidori. Hmmm… That’s probably not going to end well!

Aegis (Maaya Sakamoto) – Aegis is an android whose only goal is to protect Makoto and destroy Shadows… This isn’t the first time she has been booted up, however…

Mitsuru Kirijo (Rie Tanaka) – Mitsuru is the founder of SEES, the anti-Shadow group, along with her father. Sadly for both of them, the true enemy may not be the shadows themselves, but somewhere much closer to home…

Akihiko Sanada (Hikaru Midorikawa) – Akihiko is still reeling from the death of his friend Shinjiro, but he keeps fighting on for his sake… literally fighting on, both with his Persona and without!

Fuka Yamagishi (Mamiko Noto) – Fuka and her Persona are only useful for information gathering, but she still performs as a key member of the team.

Ken Amada (Megumi Ogata) and Koromaru – Much like Akihiko, Ken is still reeling from Shinjiro’s death, but is starting to overcome his grief and guilt. … Er, Koromaru is a dog. With a Persona. Because.

Pharos / Ryoji Mochizuki / Death (Akira Ishida) – The harmless little boy from Makoto’s head turns into a really fun school mate for Makoto! … and then turns out to be Death. Typical school dilemma, am I right?

Strega (Nobutoshi Canna, Masaya Onosaka and Miyuki Sawashiro) – A group of Persona users who wish to make sure the Dark Hour continues forever, innocent people be damned!

Igor and Elizabeth (Isamu Tanonaka and Miyuki Sawashiro) – Igor, and his assistant Elizabeth, are in the mysterious “Velvet Room”, where they converse with Makoto on his journey…

and many more!

The Good:

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Noooo! Let go of the cool Dad with the eyepatch!

Film #3, Falling Down, certainly lives up to its name. While I didn’t like the rushed feel to the start of the film, it results in the SEES team finding out they’ve been lied to and that their goal of taking down the 12 Shadows that would bring an end of the Dark Hour was all a hoax and in fact all they’ve done in possibly bring about the apocalypse… whoops! A SEES higher-up, Ikutsuki, who had only really been a side-character, turned out to be the man behind the betrayal, and in doing so is killed, but he takes Mitsuru’s father with him. This combination of more loss, all their goals having been a lie and an up-coming apocalypse means everyone falls into depression. It’s unpleasant to watch, but it is well written, especially when they all start to put the pieces back together.

Sort of introduced (although he’s technically been in the other two films!) is Ryoji Mochizuki, a super-friendly new student who manages to make Makoto snap out of his depression and soon everyone is having fun on a school trip to Kyoto. Ryoji is a very likeable character, but then given what he turns out to be, that’s rather the point. Throughout the film Aegis is instinctively suspicious of Ryoji and it turns out that’s because the two had a battle in the past and that he is actually a Shadow-like being simply known as Death… oh and their battle was the incident that caused the car accident that killed Makoto’s parents. Just as an added bonus. A good cliffhanger ending.

Also during the film is Junpei’s relationship with Strega member Chidori, eventually getting her to see that life was worth living, then she joins back up with her Strega brethren who convince her she’s wrong, before the usual “she comes back round and sacrifices herself to save the one who showed her the right path” moment. The other Strega members then fought back in a good pitched battle of Persona users. It’s nice to see the comedy character get some emotional depth. Also during the film Yukari finds out her father wasn’t the cause of the Dark Hour, and therefore she also gets some pleasant memories back, which isn’t as big of a change in character, it’s nice to see them get some focus again.

The fourth and final chapter, Winter of Rebirth, is pretty much one final battle, with some good build up beforehand. Ryoji / Death tells everyone that a demonic force known as Nyx will arrive at the end of January and end the world, and that they have two choices: kill him in one months time and live in ignorance of the up-coming apocalypse, or spare his life and try to fight Nyx in a futile effort. It was a fun dilemma to see everyone deal with, the end of the world causing a few people to slip back into depression, although not as long this time. Makoto is snapped out of it by Igor’s assistant Elizabeth, who he takes on a sight-seeing tour. It’s a fun montage, and it’s nice seeing the Velvet Room duo do something other than advise the player / viewer on the lead character’s progress.

Makoto spares Ryoji’s life, and after managing to calm down and convince Aegis of the decision, they all agree to gather on the school rooftop on graduation day after the ordeal is dealt with. This leads to the final battle, with some lesser party members fighting off shadows, others stay and fight off the two remaining Aegis members, and of course, Makoto battles Ryoji / Nyx himself. There are plenty of well animated fights leading to Makoto defeating Nyx with a large and powerful final Persona. The ending of the film is everyone suddenly remembering everything that had happened and meeting back on the rooftop at graduation day. A satisfying conclusion!

Once again I’ll mention the great visuals, I still love the art style when they’re in the Dark Hour, and the music holds up too.

The Bad:

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Awww, he just wants to be friends… and then bring about the apocalypse. Awww… no, wait…”Argh!”, that’s it.

The only thing that really stands out is the opening third of “Falling Down”, where we start with the end of a battle with Strega (with little to no context), a final Shadow being defeated, the big reveal and two deaths in a climactic showdown, all within half an hour. I know the RPG is long and that splitting into four movies was going to be troublesome, but to literally cut out the beginning and middle of a battle, and to so quickly skim over such a dramatic plot point… I couldn’t help but think maybe it should have been five films, or at least some of the scenes of everyone depressed could have been lessened to give the start more room to breathe.

Overall Thoughts:

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and there they go, off into the sunset …. or away from the sunset, I guess…

While Film #3 had some issues at the start, it settles down into good viewing, and most importantly sets the stage for a very satisfying and enjoyable finale. I’m sure a lot had to be cut from the original game’s plot, but these four films have been extremely fun to watch, and highly recommended, whether you’re familiar with the games or not.

#3: Falling Down –

4 Star Watch

#4: Winter of Rebirth (and indeed the series of films as a whole) –

5 Star Watch

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