After a few months being entangled with the Persona series thanks to Persona 5 and the Persona 3 movies, I’m here to review the fourth and final entry in this series of movies, which promises to bring an epic conclusion to a much loved story.
As a general warning, this review contains spoilers for the previous three Persona 3 movies and the video game it’s based on. If you haven’t read my previous reviews then you can find them all here.
Persona 3 The Movie #4: Winter of Rebirth kicks off where the previous one, Falling Down, ended. Yuki has finally remembered his past and in doing so, learns a grave secret about his new friend, Ryoji. With the world about to fall to ruin, Ryoji warns SEES about the coming of his leader, Nyx, who will end the world as they know it. Ryoji then disappears after destroying a major landmark to prove he’s too powerful to be defeated. Yuki and the team are left in total despair and struggle to accept that all that’s left for them is death. Can they find a way to take down this new threat or is the end of the world truly here?
With this being the final movie, I won’t say much about the plot. After all, if you’re reading this now, then you’ve either played the game and know the plot or you’re looking to make sure that the movies don’t stumble at the last hurdle. Overall the plot is tied together nicely. Even though it’s very predictable to a hardened Persona fan like myself, that doesn’t take away from the emotion on display here.
However, that doesn’t mean Winter of Rebirth is problem-free either. This movie is the longest entry in the collection at 105 minutes, and, perhaps because of this, it suffers from a real lull in the middle. This downtime is necessary to explore the state of mind of our cast but some scenes do linger just a little too long. To an extent, all of the Persona 3 movies have suffered from this, it was just more noticeable here due to the longer runtime. It’s not even a fault with the adaption, it’s simply due to the fact that the endings of Persona games are very often dialogue-heavy and amble on forever until you get to the point.
Another problem is the way Yuki’s character is handled. Up until now the anime studio has given extra personality to this character, who never had one in the games. This has worked out fairly well, and Yuki is an interesting person in the movies, but the balance is off for Winter of Rebirth. During the first half of the movie Yuki doesn’t say much at all but from the middle onwards he is given a lot more dialogue. It just doesn’t feel natural. If anything, the fact he says so little earlier on is more off-putting because over the course of the four movies Yuki has been gradually getting better at sharing his thoughts and opinions. None of these problems stop this movie from being one of the best entries in the collection but I think it does ultimately hold it back from being truly excellent.
Where animation is concerned, A-1 Pictures have once again done some superb work. This section of the story takes place during the winter months, which is a fine excuse to shower everything in snow. A city coated in fresh, fluttering snow is a wonderful sight and something that A-1 animate very well. Each of the snowflakes looks individual and the rate at which they fall looks very lifelike. Where action scenes are concerned there were a couple of times that I found it hard to follow what was going on, but much of that is due to how hectic these battles are and not necessarily how they were animated. Overall, the camera angles were good and I really enjoyed watching these scenes.
The music on offer for this final movie remains a joy to listen to. While a lot of it is reused from the previous entries, all of the music works for the scenes in question and it’s a soundtrack I could happily listen to away from the show. Voice actors also continue to do a fine job, but my favourite performance comes from Akira Ishida (Yellow Radio in Accel World, Shusei Kagari in Psycho Pass), who plays Yuki. As I said when I reviewed the first movie, I think it’s very difficult to play a character who shows little emotion and Akira Ishida has done really well to evolve with Yuki throughout the role. He always adds just enough emotion to his voice when necessary.
This release comes to the UK thanks to Anime Limited as both a Blu-ray collector’s edition and on DVD. The collector’s edition includes the movie on both Blu-ray and DVD, and comes with a small booklet. The only on-disc extras to speak of are trailers and, as with previous releases, this movie is subtitle only.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed my time with the Persona 3 movies. I may not have originally finished the game but I’ve had a lot of fun seeing the story through to its conclusion. For Persona fans this is a must-see collection.