Roughly six weeks ago I reviewed the second movie adaptation of Persona 3. Today I’m back again to cover the third entry, which promises some trying times for our gang of Persona users. Subtitled Falling Down, is the world as our team knows it about to fall apart?
As a general warning this review contains spoilers for Persona 3: The Movie #3, as well as the previous two films. If you haven’t read my previous reviews then you can find the first here and the second here.
The story kicks off with the SEES group fighting the final of the 12 shadows they need to defeat to bring an end to the Dark Hour. Ultimately they’re successful; however, before our team can relax, the Dark Hour returns the following night and bells toll from Tartarus…
It turns out that our young Persona users have been lied to by the SEES leader, Ikutsuki, who informs them that defeating the 12 shadows has brought about ‘The Fall’: an event that could end the world as we know it. Ikutsuki brainwashes Aigis and takes Yuki and friends captive, as well as Mitsuru’s father (Takeharu Kirijo). Mitsuru’s father manages to break free and launches into a shootout with Ikutsuki, which results in the death of both characters. With everything that Yuki and co. believed up until now proving to be false, and heavy losses to cope with, just what will become of the SEES team?
If I had to sum up the theme of this movie, it would be loss. Between the death of Shinjiro at the end of the previous movie and now Takeharu’s death, the grief overwhelms Yuki, who begins to distance himself from his friends. Yuki firmly believes that if he isn’t close to anyone he will never have to feel the pain of loss again, and much of this movie is spent exploring this theme. It’s not just explored through Yuki, however, as Mitsuru takes the loss of her father hard and also distances herself from the SEES group. When it came down to it, she couldn’t protect her father and thus questions why she was fighting at all.
Having recently played the latest entry in the Persona video game series, Persona 5, it’s been interesting for me to watch this adaptation of Persona 3. It’s a lot darker than Persona 5 in many ways and I’m amazed by how quick the movie was to kill off more characters following the death of Shinjiro. While I think some of the plot progression has been predictable (the SEES leader being evil, for example), I’m honestly quite impressed with the way the characters are handled. Sure, there is a world-ending evil on the horizon, but the way Yuki and the others deal with their grief and feelings throughout this movie is well done because it feels very real. They’re shutting themselves off from their friends, which is largely how some people do deal with grief when they need time to work through their emotions. I’m not expecting much more than a huge battle for the final movie but at least I can go into it knowing that these characters have already received ample character development over these three parts.
Animation studio A-1 Pictures have once again provided some excellent animation for this part. I was recently saying for my review of Your Lie in April Part 2 that A-1 are very talented in how they make use of colours, and I think the Persona movies are also a great example of this. The studio have always made use of dark, spooky colours like green and orange for the Dark Hour, which work really well and give off a Halloween-like vibe. These eerie shades of green help to bring out the bright colours of the cast and their Persona, too, and struck fear into my heart during the Dark Hour. In contrast, the scenes outside of the Dark Hour were always much brighter. It’s a nice balance and left me very impressed.
Where music is concerned my opinion hasn’t changed from movie 2. Composer Tetsuya Kobayashi continues to deliver a perfect score for every scene and overall everything slots together very well. On a slightly different note, thanks to an interview with the director of Persona 5, I recently learnt something interesting regarding the usage of English vocal tracks in the Persona franchise – which this movie also includes. Apparently when choosing music with vocals for the Persona 5 game, they decided to use English lyrics instead of Japanese because the Japanese audience wouldn’t understand the language. This meant that Japanese players could tune the singing out while they played (which is very important for a 100 hour game). I find this interesting because the Persona series, as the movies also demonstrate, have a history of using tracks with English vocals and I’ve always been curious why. I’m guessing that the English tracks for the movies were also chosen because they’re ‘cool’ and wouldn’t distract the audience from the action on-screen as much.
Just a quick note on the voice actors. Everyone continues to do a wonderful job overall but my favourite this time around is Hideyuki Hori (Captain Ginyu in Dragon Ball Z, Bartholomew Kuma in One Piece), who plays Ikutsuki. Hori injects some real menace into the character when he reveals his evil ambitions and it’s a joy to hear, even if his plans are brought to a swift end.
Persona 3 The Movie #3 is brought to the UK thanks to Anime Limited, who have released it on both Blu-ray and DVD. The Blu-ray is a Collector’s Edition which also includes the DVD version and comes packed with a booklet. As was the case for the previous two movies, this release is subtitle only.
Overall Persona 3: The Movie #3 proves to be another interesting watch. The cliffhanger at the end of the movie leaves me eager for more and overall I’m still enjoying my time with the series. It’s hard to know just how movie #4 is going to tie up the whole plot but I’m certainly looking forward to seeing it! This continues to be a must-see for Persona fans.