Photo: youtube.com/watch?v=lJLWwHDYUoI

The Spring 2018 anime season is underway and one of the hotter shows to begin recently is A-1 Pictures’ Persona 5: The Animation. However, many anime fans may not be sure what to make of this highly-anticipated series.

Fans unfamiliar with Persona 5: The Animation’s source material may feel overwhelmed (there is a “5” in the name, after all). Meanwhile, those who already know the story are wondering if it’s worth their time when they already know what happens.

Here are nine things you didn’t know about Persona 5: The Animation!

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#1. It’s a Hit Video Game

Persona 5: The Animation is an anime retelling of Persona 5, a video game released for PlayStations 3 and 4 in mid-September 2016 in Japan, and early April 2017 for the rest of the world.

The Persona series itself is a part of the Megami Tensei franchise. It shares elements and designs from the franchise.

Besides the main games, the Persona series also has numerous spin-offs, with three more planned for 2018.

Technically, Persona 5 isn’t even really the fifth mainline game, but the sixth. Persona 2 is made up of two separate games.

#2. You Don’t Need to Play the Other Games

While they all take place in Japan and share elements (namely the titular Personas), the games’ plots are not connected. They can be enjoyed without any knowledge of the others.

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The only recurring character is Igor, the master of the mysterious Velvet Room. He is always introduced as if the player is unfamiliar with him.

With that said, there is the occasional reference or cameo, such as a Persona 4 character appearing on posters throughout Persona 5 (The Animation and the game).

#3. What It’s About

If Persona 5: The Animation isn’t tied to the rest of the series, then what is it about?

Well, it follows the protagonist (Jun Fukuyama) after he moves to Tokyo to attend a new Shujin Academy. It is the only school that would take him after a false assault charge left him with a criminal record.

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Soon after arriving, Jun is granted the ability to enter the Metaverse, another world created by humanity’s subconscious. There, he can force people to feel extreme guilt for their crimes.

Taking the codename “Joker,” Jun and a group of friends with the same abilities, form the Phantom Thieves of Hearts to punish evil. Their personalities give form to defeat any Metaverse threats by using the power of Personas.

#4. The Protagonist Gains a Name—and a Personality!

The five mainline Persona games feature a silent protagonist (whose name is decided by the player), who also shapes their personality based on their responses. But since having a speechless, blank slate main character doesn’t work too well for television, Joker in Persona 5: The Animation is a fully fleshed-out character.

Dubbed Ren Amamiya, he is depicted in the first episode as very passive due to his arrest. Although he wants to avoid trouble, Ren still has a strong sense of justice. However, expect that to change, given his reckless actions as a Phantom Thief in the prologue.

Ren’s personality will likely be the major point of interest of the anime for those who have already played the game.

#5. It Isn’t the First Persona Anime

Being such a popular franchise, Persona 5: The Animation isn’t the series’ first foray into anime.

The first related series was Persona: Trinity Soul in 2008. It’s an original story that takes place 10 years after Persona 3, with a few returning characters.

Persona 3 was divided into four films. They were released annually beginning in 2013.

Between 2011 and 2012, Persona 4: The Animation aired, including a compilation film in 2012. It also received a sequel, Persona 4: The Golden Animation, in 2014. It covered the material added to the original PS2 game in the PlayStation Vita version.

Persona 5 itself has also already been animated. Persona 5: The Animation – The Day Breakers was released before the game as a preview. The events are an actual sidequest in the game, which The Day Breakers expands upon.

#6. The Series Is Controversial

Persona’s parent franchise, the Megami Tensei series, is notable for its use of supernatural creatures based on various stories, myths, folklore, and, most notably, religions. This has caused the potential for some serious controversy, especially with the Shin Megami Tensei series’ depiction of the Judeo-Christian God as the primary villain.

The Persona games have not been safe from such attention and criticism, either.

Aside from using deities and the like for the Personas, the first game had a character changed to African-American for the English release. Meanwhile, the second game featured a resurrected Adolf Hitler, and the third saw the party summon their Personas by pointing a gun-shaped tool at their head and pulling the trigger.

#7. The Theme Is “Freedom”

As opposed to “death” for Persona 3 and “identity” for Persona 4, Persona 5’s main theme is “freedom.” More specifically, it refers to how the rules of society can hold people down, especially in a culture like Japan’s.

Corruption is also noted as a means of stifling freedom. This theme is, in part, reflected in the party’s initial Personas, which are based on real and fictional rebels. These include master thief Arsène Lupin, pirate William Kidd, and masked swordsman Zorro.

However, with its limited runtime, these themes may not be as clear in Persona 5: The Animation.

#8. There’s a New Song

A large part of the Persona series’ popularity is each game’s unique soundtrack, with many tracks featuring English lyrics.

Persona 5: The Animation, like the adaptations before it, looks set to reuse its game soundtrack due to its popularity (and likely cost savings). However, the anime did get at least one new song for the opening.

Rather than use the game’s intro, “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There,” Persona 5: The Animation’s intro is “Break In to Break Out.” Both songs are sung by Lyn and you can listen to the new song opening here.

#9. How to Watch

Persona 5: The Animation is licensed in North America by Aniplex of America.

The series is being simulcast in Japanese (with subtitles) on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and AnimeLab. It is scheduled for 24 episodes.

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