Originally jettisoning out of the Shin Megami Tensei legacy like an aggressive skin growth, and since the release of Persona 3 that elevated the visibility of the then-sub-franchise, Persona blasted past all expectations to more or less becoming the third most popular JRPG series.
Turns out that people just love role-playing as cool high school boys with cool uniforms and cooler hair who date aspiring idols, billionaire heiresses, and androids!
Though only one mainline entry’s dropped in the last ten years, Persona’s grown big enough to drop plenty of its own off-shoots, great for fans but making entry difficult to newcomers. Being so popular, myriad anime adaptations of the series have manifested into our comparatively less cool reality.
For those who’re either Persona curious or want to relive old memories without sacrificing literally 100s of hours of their lives, they may want to go the Persona anime route. Some of them aren’t too bad.
Here is a simple guide to all the Persona anime.
A Chronological List of Each Persona Anime and Their Offshoots
- Persona 3 the Movie 1: Spring of Birth
- Persona 3 the Movie 2: Midsummer Knight’s Dream
- Persona 3 the Movie 3: Falling Down
- Persona 3 the Movie 4: Winter of Rebirth
- Persona: Trinity Soul
- Persona 4 the Animation
- Persona 4 the Animation: The Factor of Hope
- Persona 4 the Animation: No One is Alone
- Persona 4 the Animation: A Brief Lesson on Izanagi & Izanami
- Persona 4 the Animation: Mr. Experiment Shorts
- Persona 4 the Golden Animation
- Persona 4 the Golden Animation: Thank you Mr. Accomplice
- Persona 5 the Animation
- Persona 5 the Animation: The Day Breakers
- Persona 5 the Animation: OVAs
- Persona 5 the Animation Specials
Persona 3 the Movie
Canonically the Persona 3 The Movie quadrilogy would be the chronological start to the Persona Anime experience. However, they actually came out after Persona 4 The Animation and a whole lot of fan clamoring.
It retells the story of ‘shadows attacking a modern urban landscape during “The Dark Hour”‘ a cursed time every night where the majority of the population turns to sleekly designed coffins. The only people who can fight against this menace are a bunch of overly stylistic teenagers and one dog who carries around a knife in its mouth. These teenagers are living in a dormitory together and have to shoot themselves straight to their head to summon their own even more powerful demon-like manifestations called Personas.
With a movie budget in tow allowing for ambitious animation, much of Persona 3’s distinctive style and flare was successfully translated to the big-screen version of its events.
What Is Persona: Trinity Soul?
Persona Trinity Soul remains a distinct entity not just regarding Persona anime, but the franchise as a whole. Not only was the early 2008 series the first animation from the franchise, but it remains the only original Persona animation.
Envisioned as a loose sequel to Persona 3, Trinity Souls revolves around an entirely new cast awakening to their mysterious Persona powers and unraveling some subsequent mysteries. Bluntly, the TV show’s all too forgotten, and with the advent of Persona 4 ushering in an extended Persona canon, the jury’s out to lunch on whether Trinity Soul’s canon anymore.
Even if it isn’t though, A-1 Pictures did a commendable job imagining a Persona story and world exclusive to animation, with the same types of spirited characters and eerie atmospheres the games are famous for.
Persona 4: The Animation
A scenic rural Japanese town, a bunch of zany new friends, and a string of murders happening inside the TV dimension! While Persona 3 reinvented Persona, Persona 4 was what solidified the franchise as a fixture in the gaming landscape.
Fans weren’t too pleased with Persona 4 the Animation at the time, but in retrospect, it’s a perfectly faithful adaptation that strived to not just tell the story but impart the essence of the games onto its viewers. While it had abridged itself to some degree, the P4 anime is a perfectly good way to revisit your favorite cast of characters without the time commitment.
Persona 4 Golden: The Animation
Persona 4 fans could tell you this in detail, but those just starting their Persona anime quest might be confused with both Persona 4: The Animation and Persona 4 Golden: The Animation existing. Golden was a remastered and expanded edition of Persona 4 that came out a few years after the original game. Instead of just making an OVA or film to cover the new content, an entirely new Persona 4 anime that takes place from the beginning of the game was animated.
Unfortunately, it tells a much more truncated version of events that more or less demands you to have either played the game or seen the first anime, despite it telling a story you’ll have already experienced two or three times.
Skip it unless you love or want to love Marie, pictured above.
Persona 5: The Animation
That a Persona 5 anime would eventually manifest was nothing but a forgone conclusion. The other two Persona anime adaptations and the franchise in general were so populat that Atlus and Aniplex couldn’t not make a P5 anime.
Centering around The Phantom Thieves, a do-gooder group of heisters delving into the hearts of troubled citizens with the power of their Personas to save them, fans ate up the game version after the eight-year wait post Persona 4. The anime interpretation of the thieves and their annoying talking cat met mixed reviews, but you’ll save yourself dozens of hours of grinding if you choose cartoon Shibuya over virtual Shibuya.
Keeping Track of the 5th Persona Anime Specials and OVAs
We’ve listed each individual piece of Persona 5: The Animation above, but make no mistake; the two specials ‘Dark Sun…’ and ‘Stars and Ours’ are very much the canonical end to the 5th main Persona anime, and should be treated as part of the actual show. The first OVA ‘Proof of Justice’ also expands upon a certain character in the show, making it a necessary part of the experience. The Day Breakers actually predates Persona 5: The Animation and was actually just a prequel episode to the Persona 5 game itself released around the same time. Not a must-watch for either experience, but a fun introduction if you’d like.