Anime Review: Persona 3 The Movie #4 - Winter of Rebirth (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 10.06.2017

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Persona 3 The Movie #4 - Winter of Rebirth (UK Rating: 15)

The Twelve Arcana Shadows have been destroyed, Death has been reborn and he brings The Fall. Soon a cataclysm will befall every living thing on the planet, wiping out all life and nothing can stop it. The S.E.E.S team has to try and come to terms with that reality, or fight against it. This final movie in the series comes courtesy of Anime Limited and is out now.

These movies love opening on big level battles and this time it's in the form of a flashback, a flashback to the event that caused this whole situation. 10 years ago, Aegis was locked in a huge battle with Ryoji's former incarnation, the 13th Arcana, Death. This battle was devastating, leaving many innocents that were unlucky enough to be nearby fatally wounded and fighting for their lives. One of these innocents was a young Makoto. As the battle raged on, Makoto lay bleeding out, watching his parents die. As he began to slip away himself, he saw a figure approach him with a bright light.

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This instalment finally gives a full explanation of the situation. Explaining it was Mitsuki's grandfather who caused Death to appear, his obsession with "The Fall" had him gathering shadows en masse and it was only Yukari's father's actions that stopped the world ending back then. It was merely a stay of execution, though, as the fallout caused the split of the Shadows into the Twelve Arcana and the battle that cost Makoto his parents. After the battle, the actions of Aegis saved Makoto but set him on a path to annihilation. The light Aegis carried was Death, she sealed it into Makoto, and it has harboured there; Makoto has carried it and reunited it with pieces of itself as the S.E.E.S team defeated each of the Arcana Shadows.

The new friend the team thought it had found in Ryoji has revealed himself as Death, known as "The Appraiser" - a creature who heralds a giant being that will wipe out all life on the planet. Think the Silver Surfer and Galactus. Just like Galactus, too, it's pointless trying to fight Nyx. Practically a god, it's not an enemy that can be punched until it goes away. The realisation is huge. This isn't like the other shadows, it is certain death. To fight Nyx is suicide; she isn't some shadow they can punch to death. She's a physical manifestation of death itself. Regardless of what they try, "The Fall" seems impossible to avoid. This realisation gives a death sentence to each of the team and they all begin to deal with it in their own way - each trying to come to terms with their inevitable fate. Trying to accept that in a few months they will be dead.

There is still a choice available to them, though - Ryoji will be returning on 31st December and he wants to help them, in a fashion. He will let Makoto kill him. If he dies, The Dark Hour and all memories of it will vanish. Nyx will still come and every living being on the planet will still die, but they will not have to go toward their death knowing what's in store; instead they will be blissfully unaware and live out the remainder of their days in relative happiness. It's a hard decision and a spectacular tale unfolds from it.

Again, this new Persona 3 The Movie looks absolutely stunning. This is mostly thanks to the gorgeous art, stark lighting, and charming colour palettes in Winter of Rebirth. Combined together, they deliver a final product that is not just a loyal adaptation of the original game but also an improvement on it. The best part is that this high quality is kept throughout, not just shown off in fight scenes or dynamic moments. It keeps that high quality even in the slow or quiet moments; for example, there's a point where Junpei and Makoto drink a coffee together while outside the snow falls, the room half-lit, the shadows of the snowflakes falling over them both. It's just all so striking.

Each instalment has contained a combat sequence seeing the team take on a floor of Tartarus and eventually a boss character, the best of which was definitely kept until last here. There's a fantastic fight sequence where the team tears through numerous shadows in a co-ordinated assault before eventually splitting up to each accomplish specific objectives. It is great, showing off a highlight reel of each of the cast; unleashing physical abilities, magic, and Persona in an outstanding sequence. All of these gorgeous moments build to an absolutely beautiful ending that completely alters the style of art and colour, changing the dark, yet rich, tones to beautiful bright pastels and gorgeous blooms.

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The sound department ensures it is not shown up by the visual colleagues, too - taking the themes so familiar from the game, and over the course of these films, and delivering more new rearrangements that help to accentuate the action on-screen, which is perfect for some of the emotional themes and moments of this finale. Also on the audio front, the Japanese voice actors have delivered quality performances to these characters for some time now - from the original game to recent spin-offs and, of course, to the previous films, and yet the cast somehow manages to up the ante even further in this finale.

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
These films have been a heck of a ride. The decision to tell the Persona 3 story as a series of movies instead of as an anime series has certainly proved to be the correct decision. Each has felt like a well condescend and contained story that can stand alone, and the quality of each film has been ridiculously high, giving a series of cinematic experiences that truly do justice to the fantastic source material. This final instalment is easily the best of the bunch, with dynamic action, moving moments, an amazing soundtrack, and top tier quality. This is how adaptations should be done.

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