Persona 3 and 4 are some of Atlus' finest games.
Not only are these Shin Megami Tensei spinoffs both excellent role-playing games in their own right, but they're some of the few titles from the Atlus stable to have enjoyed some slightly more "mainstream" success than other titles from the troubled Japanese developer-publisher. While fans may endlessly argue about whether or not they're better than mainline MegaTen titles, the Persona series -- particularly in its latter incarnations -- has always managed to be a little more approachable than the more hardcore, unforgiving MegaTen games.
Apparently it's a lot more marketable, too. Persona 4 was the first to really capitalize on the series' sudden and apparent popularity in a high-profile manner, putting out a fighting game quasi-sequel, a Vita rerelease with a substantial amount of additional content and an anime series several years after the base game's original release. (There's also a free-to-play card battle game based on Persona 4 available in Japan, but the less said about that the better.) The fact that Persona 4 gained enough traction for this number of spinoffs -- notably, both inside and outside of Japan -- is all the more remarkable when you consider it came out in 2008 on the PlayStation 2, some two years after the PlayStation 3 had hit the market. Not bad for a game on a "dead" system.
Persona 3 hasn't had quite so much attention lavished on it since its 2006 Japanese release, though it's still had a few spinoffs. Specifically, it saw an expanded version (known as "FES") with a new brutally difficult 20-hour epilogue scenario just under a year after its original release; a 26-episode anime series called "Trinity Soul" set ten years after the events of the game; and a PSP adaptation with the option to play as a female protagonist -- a first for the series. Japan also saw an official manga adaptation, and the Trinity Soul series made it over to America thanks to NIS America.
Now, though, the original Persona 3 story is getting an official movie adaptation, produced by prolific Japanese anime studio AIC. The original Japanese voice actors are reprising their roles from the game to lend it an air of authenticity, and, judging by the trailer you see below, the movie is either using the same anime footage from the original game's cutscenes or almost direct shot-for-shot recreations. The new parts also look remarkably true to the 3D polygonal settings of the original game.
Those who have played Persona 3 and 4 will know that, as games, they are both 100+ hour epics with a significant amount of narrative content. Persona 4's 26-episode anime series showed that it was very much possible to condense a lot of that story down to about 8.5 hours of animation, but some of you may be concerned at the prospect of condensing a complicated story down further to fit the length of a movie.
Fear not, though, because the upcoming Persona 3 movie, set to be released in Japan in November of this year, is only the first in a proposed series. Subtitled "Spring of Birth," further details -- such as how much of the game the movie covers -- are somewhat hard to come by at present, but we can likely assume each entry in the series will end at a significant plot point from the game's story. And if we stroke our chins and conjecture a little more, perhaps the "Spring" part of the title suggests that each movie will be loosely based around a calendar season. Persona 3 certainly starts in the springtime, so that would be in keeping with this theory, but this is, as noted, purely conjecture at present.
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