This review may contain spoilers.
Persona 3 Movie #1: Spring of Birth is based on the popular JRPG game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 . The story follows a group of students who aim to uncover the truth about the Dark Hour, a hidden period of time that exists at the end of every day. Only a few people who have the power to summon Personas, which are a manifestation of a person’s true self are capable of battling the terrible monsters known as Shadows that appear during the hidden hour.
The game was originally released on the PS2 in 2006 in Japan and 2008 in the UK. More recently it was also released on the PSP with added content in 2009.
The movie opens with high schooler Makoto Yuki moving to Iwatodai City and meeting the other students living in the Minatodai Dormitory. After experiencing the Dark Hour, his battle as a member of the “Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad” (SEES) begins.
The film is directed by Noriaki Akitaya, director of the Bakuman series. He’s also been an episode director for series such as Code Geass , Honey and Clover II and Nodame Cantabile . Shouji Meguro returns to provide the music, which is of course, incredible.
The first big-screen outing of Persona 3 is roughly 90 minutes long and it covers April to June. They have cut out much of the school life aspect, and there is no mention of the characters joining clubs or taking exams. Instead, it focuses on the members of SEES and how their bond grows stronger. Makoto Yuki was a blank canvas in the game and at the beginning of the film he still feels like one; he is quiet, doesn’t say much and doesn’t really care about his own life or have much of an interest in those around him. Seeing Yuki piece together his emotions and learn what it means to have friends and comrades is a nice touch to the movie.
If you’ve never played the game but have seen or played Persona 4 , the first Persona 3 movie is darker and doesn’t have as much comedy. It focuses more on jealousy, bullying and friendship. It jumps from one Full Moon battle to the next, with moments in-between where the group gets to know each other better. Yuki, Yukari and Junpei’s first battle within the Shadow-infested tower, Tartarus, is very fun and beautifully animated. Junpei ends his battle with his famous line about levelling up, before becoming jealous of Yuki’s abilities. Akihiko and Mitsuru haven’t had their time to shine yet, but there is plenty of time for that in the next movie.
After the credits we see a certain character opening their eyes and are told that the second movie is coming Early Summer 2014.
I couldn’t help but smile when the opening credits started accompanied by Burn My Dread: Spring of Birth Version and that smile stayed on my face for almost the entirety of the film. Shouji Meguro’s music is always fantastic and this film’s soundtrack is no exception, the memorable themes of Tartarus, The Velvet Room and Gekkoukan High School all return. These familiar pieces alongside the impressive animation makes the film that much stronger.
As a fan of the game, I found Spring of Birth very enjoyable, Makoto Yuki’s character development, the battles and the fantastic animation made it well worth the wait. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the side characters and school life, but overall it did a really good job of bringing the characters to the big screen.