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"PERSONA -trinity soul-": Personally, I Think It's Great

PERSONA -trinity soul- (that’s the way NIS America is formatting the title) starts off with two brothers, Shin and Jun Kanzato, leaving their relatives in Tokyo to reunite with their elder brother, Ryo Kanzato, in Ayanagi City after being separated for ten years. As it turns out, their brother isn’t particularly interested in meeting with them and doesn’t even bother to pick them up from the airport, as he’s busy with his duties as Chief of the Police Department. Ayanagi City has been suffering from a series of murders labeled “reverse” due to the victim’s body being stripped, looking as though they have been turned inside out. Moreover, there have been several cases of “apathy syndrome”—people losing their ability to do or feel anything, and simply staring off into space—which have also been linked to the murders. While a good old mystery is always fun to watch, PERSONA takes things a step further and adds in a supernatural element, a physical form for a person’s other self, hidden deep within one’s mind, called a persona. Basically, if you like a suspense-driven series with a few layers of mystery in it and a good mix of action and fun, this show is for you. But if you dislike waiting for answers, “pretty boy” character designs, and working through a lot of build up, it probably isn’t up your alley.

PERSONA utilizes mystery in almost every aspect of the show, whether it is in the plot, the characters or even the setting. The plot moves a bit slow in Volume One, which spends a lot of time establishing the characters and its elements. The slow pace, fortunately, does not cause the show to drag, what with fights involving personas and the characters going through developments of their own. When personas fight, for instance, it’s a battle between large, god-like entities with various powers; suffice it to say that watching two or more personas going at it is pretty intense. These fights are also related to the overall plot: an individual’s persona can be taken from them if they are defeated by another individual’s persona, and this is actually the reason behind the “reverse” murders. A group known as “Outsiders” is collecting personas for a reason not revealed until the end of Volume One.

Meanwhile, the three brothers, Ryo, Shin and Jun (oldest to youngest), are entangled in familial dramas. They were orphaned in a tragedy that took place ten years before in Ayanagi. Because of this, Ryo took on the role of the strict, cold-hearted guardian of the family, and he dislikes the fact that his brothers have returned home during a time of chaos. Shin in turn is confused by Ryo’s actions, and wants them to act as a family again. Jun is a sensitive boy who can read others emotions. The drama isn’t that successful, though. Ryo’s act as the tough-yet-secretly-soft guy comes off as fairly annoying, while Jun comes off as too perfect at times. Sure, it is evident that they both have deeper issues (like the fact that Jun seems to have a split personality) but it doesn’t carry all that well when compared to other characters. Shin, the main protagonist, is pretty fun to follow, but that is perhaps because we don’t really know what is special about him other than the fact that his persona (all three brothers have a persona), Abel, has the ability to get rid of another persona without killing the human.

When the supporting characters, Shin’s classmates, are introduced I wasn’t expecting them to become a big part of the series. I thought they would be Shin’s friends and really nothing would be explored with them. Instead, you find out that each has a mysterious past, their lives being altered in some form by one big event that is revealed as the story moves. It is fun to watch as their pasts slowly become revealed while they at the same time begin to grow as people. Megumi, one of the female supporting characters, in particular gets some personal development. She distrusts her persona because its activation when she was young resulted in the death of a family member, before she ended up realizing that in order to save her friends she would have to overcome this hatred for it. Of course, this process is easier said than done, and seeing her growth is really inspiring. The villains, on the other hand, so far leave a bit to be desired at this point because we know next to nothing about them, with their leader only being revealed in episode twelve and a vague description given of his motivation for taking personas. I suspect that in the next volume they will be fleshed out a bit more, and of course this will lead to some great persona battles.

As I mentioned earlier, the males in this series definitely have a ‘pretty boy’ look to them and it works for the series; the females also look nice. The animation in general is pretty good, especially during the action sequences between the personas. I’ll also note that the packaging for the premium edition is awesome. In addition to the two discs (Japanese with English subtitles only), NIS America has also included an original art book. It has two sides to it. One features “A Whale’s Feather,” which is a story within the show and yet another mystery that is apparent throughout it. The artwork is gorgeous and the story itself is a fun read. The other side contains a bit of information about the series, ranging from episode descriptions, character descriptions (as well as their persona’s description), gorgeous scenery pictures, interviews with the creative staff, and a series of comedic four-frame comics. Obviously a lot of effort has been put into the book, and it is a fantastic supplement to the show. A slight warning about the book though: I’d wait until around episode six to actually look through the character descriptions, otherwise you will be spoiled on who has a persona and who doesn’t!

PERSONA -trinity soul- is a suspense driven series that relies on the mystery aspect, and so far the series is a blast. I was on the edge of my seat by episode 13 and can’t wait to finally get into the answers this series has to offer.

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