Anime Review: Persona 3 The Movie #2 - Midsummer Knight’s Dream (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 14.04.2017

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Persona 3 The Movie #2 - Midsummer Knight's Dream (UK Rating: 15)

The Persona series is certainly in the spotlight at the moment thanks to the superb latest instalment, Persona 5. Now is the perfect time to enjoy some other stories from one of the greatest JRPG franchises ever. The first movie, Spring of Birth, was a great adaptation of the beginning of the game. Now, as the story develops into deeper territory, can this second film keep the quality high, and does it have enough content to adapt since there are another two more films yet to come? Coming courtesy of Anime Limited, this second of four movies is out now.

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The first film covered only the initial parts of the story, introducing most of the core cast up to Fuuka's addition and wrapping up her story. It also mixed in some characters' social links and development, interweaved the story here and there, with even some little Easter eggs in the background. This second film starts right at some real action, meeting up with the SEES team as they take on the third full moon boss in a certain love hotel. This includes a certain shower scene that players of the game will remember well, and it's even more enjoyable in the anime. After the boss fight, and as the team leave the great Tower of Tartarus, the group of antagonists for this film is shown in full after only previously being glimpsed.

This trio is known as Strega and is also Persona users. Strega is using a website to sell its services during the Dark Hour to anyone willing to pay, and it is happy committing any crime, up to and including murder, with a perfect alibi after the Dark Hour has ended. It makes quite the lucrative living doing this and, as such, the trio has no interest in SEES removing Tartarus and the Dark Hour. New characters are very much the core of this second film, as teased in the post-credit stinger of the first movie; the anti-shadow android killing machine and artificial Persona user, Aegis, is one of a few new members of the SEES team. These are some great characters; Aegis has long been the face of Persona 3 and it's easy to see why. It's a classic trope for the android that struggles to become human, but it's done well here, with Aegis acting the straight man in some comedy, and it is a cool addition to the combat scenes, with a great story to tell. The other new additions to the SEES team include a pup Persona user in Koromaru, a young boy named Ken, and a returning member of SEES, Shinjiro.


 
With the first film spending so much time on the initial members of the cast and Fuuka, this one lets the new cast shine, with most of the other members shifting into supporting roles for the duration of this instalment. This movie is dedicated to Aegis' introduction, the threat of Strega and, of course, Ken's story. Sad to say, even this movie is unable to convince the audience to like Ken. There's also a ton of world-building here after a considerable lack of such in the first film. There is a stack of exposition delivered from the Kijiro group at the beginning, explaining the Shadows, the full moon, Tartarus, and so much more. It's all a bit much to pile on, and those who haven't played the game could require repeat viewings to take it all in. Repeat viewings are well worth it, though, since, as with the first film, there are tons of Easter eggs hidden in montage scenes, with plenty of little details stuffed into the background from the developed social links stories in the game.

This release comes as either a standard DVD release or as a Limited Collector's Edition Blu-ray and DVD set for the hardcore fans out there. The presentation within is top tier, too, with stunningly faithful representations of the characters, locales, Persona, and abilities. As with the first film, the movie looks gorgeous in both daylight and the Dark Hour, with a wonderful colour palette and absolutely fantastic lighting for an original visual style. Audio wise, the Persona series has always had a superb soundtrack and it's adapted perfectly here, with familiar tracks, new rearrangements, and even some brand new pieces from composer Shoji Meguro. The voice acting is filled with some of the very best Japan has to offer, too. Heading up the cast, as the protagonist Yuki, is veteran Akira Ishida, who has played Byakuya Togami in Danganronpa, Gaara in Naruto, Zeref in Fairy Tail, and many more anime besides, not to mention voicing major characters in movie dubs, including Luke Skywalker. The rest of the main cast are equally as good, including Ciel Phantomhive's actress Maaya Sakamoto as Aegis.

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8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Persona has always achieved a great balance between the light-hearted moments and the darker themes and this adaptation, Persona 3 The Movie #2 - Midsummer Knight's Dream, perfectly captures the essence and heart of the series. The movie is stuffed with quality, and it manages to adapt enough of the story to fit without stretching out developments or rushing through content (other than the bombardment of exposition), although it would be nice to see more of the social links rather than just having them in the background. There are two more films to go, and if they continue this level of quality, they will outshine the Persona 4 animation. Hopefully, the story of The Phantom Thieves gets this treatment, too, one day!
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