When Shin and Jun Kanzato return to their hometown to live with their elder brother Ryou, his cool welcome soon becomes the least of their worries after a series of strange events. As the mysteries continue to mount up, Shin and his brother are drawn into a world of psychic powers and powerful alter egos known as Personas, but amidst the increasing danger can they still enjoy the semblance of a normal high school life?
Much to my shame, I have yet to play Persona 3, the RPG that acts as a prequel to this series (I absolutely promise that I will, but so far time and money have conspired against me), but in order to tide me over until that time arrives, an anime series set ten years later seemed excuse enough to break my vow never to watch RPG-based series yet again. Unfortunately, whilst Persona Trinity Soul at least managed to stand out from the usual insipid fantasy world fare, ultimately it could not break the curse of the RPG to anime transition.
Having not played the original game, I was fully prepared not to understand what was going on, and indeed, the early episodes of Persona Trinity Soul were as mystifying as Mushi-Uta had been in its time. By day, our protagonists attended school like any other students, but at night their town became a world of conspiracies, monsters and, most confusingly of all, ‘whale’s feathers’. On the plus side, the whole tone and the atmosphere of the series made me desperate to play the game, but other than that it was just a mix of elements that were either underwhelming or just plain confusing. Instead of ever explaining anything, events just became more complex and twisted, with people’s consciousnesses switching bodies, Personas manifesting themselves left, right and centre, artificial humans (actually the basis for one of the few genuinely moving episodes of the series), evil factions, addiction and a mysterious universal consciousness all playing a part. Managed a little better, it could have been engrossing, but with all these things shoddily thrown together with little planning and poor pacing, it all ended up rather dull and not worth watching.
Even if the plot had been more accessible, in all likelihood it would have been let down by what are ultimately a rather dull bunch of characters. The Kanzato brothers are pretty standard personalities- we having the brooding, secretive older brother, the normal-seeming middle brother with access to destined plot brother, and an effeminate little brother who is more than he appears. Add to this a bunch of shallow friends and foes, and there’s even less incentive to care about what is going on.
Visually, Persona Trinity Soul opts for a rather understated look, using technically solid yet largely bland character designs, basic CG effects and uninspiring monsters. Background music is light, game-inspired fare, contributing to the feeling that you’d rather be playing the original than watching its animated sequel.
Not so much a notably bad anime as one that simply fails to inspire much in the way of interest, Persona Trinity Soul may be different to the average fantasy RPG adaptation, but it still fails to break the curse and offer much in the way of quality. In the end, it seems its chief worth lies only in the realms of parody.