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Screen to screen: “Persona” series gives fans the best of both worlds with games, anime

     For much of video game history, those characters with whom we fell in love have simply remained trapped in whatever platform was the latest for gaming. From the original “Pac Man” arcade game to new titles like “Battlefield 1” and “Mass Effect: Andromeda,” we’ve controlled the lives of the characters and changed worlds. There aren’t many of instances in video games where the characters aren’t under the player’s control and where the action a direct result of what the players do.

     However, those precious cut scenes that pop up when you just walk into a room can give little snippets of our characters’ lives and personalities that we don’t normally get to see through choosing dialogue options or battling it out with the same boss for the fifth time in four hours. One gaming franchise, however, has taken those cut scenes and run with them, turning them into full animations that have really elevated the level of their fan base. That franchise is the “Persona” series.

     Created by Japanese gaming company Altus, “Persona” is a spinoff series of games based on the “Megami Tensei” games from the same company, and it has become a staple for anime and gaming fans across the world. This franchise is actually an oldie; their latest title, “Persona 5,” celebrated the series’ 20th anniversary when it was released last September. The first of the six major titles was released all the way back in 1996, under the name “Megami Ibunroku Persona.”

     Thanks to the excellent story concept, the variety of possible endings, and the likeability of the characters, the series has come to include multiple side games that cater to other tastes, such as those who are fans of arena-style games or those who enjoy dancing game. Each side game also fills in some of the missing pieces or gives extra information that there was no room for in the main games. This is nothing incredibly new to the gaming community, as games that do well tend to produce new titles or spinoff fairly regularly. But “Persona” does more.

     Taking animated cut scenes to the next level, Altus has released several short, animated series as well as animated movies beginning with their “Persona 3” title. While it’s true that fans can’t control the fate of their favorite characters, no matter how much they think the Protagonist should totally be dating Yukari or that Narukami doesn’t always need to be so stoically sarcastic, these animated series and movies provide a new depth and perspective to familiar characters while catering to fans of the series that don’t actually play the games.

     As an avid anime fan and a subpar gamer, Altus was still able to cash in on my business by marketing a product that has a full plot for me to enjoy without ever having played video games. “Persona 4: The Animation” and its extension “Persona 4: The Animation Golden” can be seen by an anime fan as a two-season anime that will make perfect sense without ever having played the games. Likewise, the four-part animated movie series for “Persona 3” covers much of the game while still giving enough detail that those unfamiliar with the game can still enjoy the series.

     This should be seen by the gaming industry as a potential new avenue. Already, several major games have received the life-action treatment such as “Assassin’s Creed,” “Tomb Raider,” and perhaps the most famous one, “Resident Evil.” Each of these, however, only made it into the realm of movies and not into any sort of TV show or mini-series.

     While not all games would be a good fit for same style of animation as the “Persona” series, there is definitely a market out there, and it would be awesome for those who don’t play video games or those who don’t want to hope and pray that the latest movie will hit Netflix sometime soon if they could get a TV-style series of some games. Who wouldn’t tune into their Netflix account if a “Resident Evil” or “Hitman” mini-series popped up on a must-watch list? “Persona” may be leading the way, but there are some great titles that could really benefit from following that path.
And for those fans out there of anime, definitely take time to check out “Persona 4: The Animation.” It’s well worth the watch.


Each game in the “Persona” series follows a group of high schoolers in Japan who utilize Personas–the manifestation of their true personality–to fight evil beings called Shadows in order to save the world. Makes for some action-packed entertainment, thought-provokin entertainment!

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Arianna Erdman, Author

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