P4 The Golden Teaser 001Good news! Persona 4 is getting a new anime series!

Bad news! The series is a reboot of the first show, based off Persona 4 The Golden!

Last night, during the “Dark Hour TV ~Persona Hour~” live program on NicoNico, the staff and cast of the Persona 4 game and anime series announced that a TV anime adaptation of Persona 4 The Golden was greenlit for production. The series, which begins airing in July, will retell the events of the first Persona 4 anime series, with the addition of new character Marie.

The show’s website contains the following plot outline:

Spring. A rural town, far removed from the city, that spends its time peacefully. A boy arrives at Yaso Inaba Station, where the cherry blossom petals are falling. His name is Narukami. Due to his family’s situation, he moves to Inaba to live with his uncle, and attends Yasogami High School.
From there, his school life begins: The shopping mall after school. The serial murders happening in the town. The Midnight Channel that comes on late at night…

What days are waiting for and his friends “this time”?

In addition, the “Dark Hour” program announced that the show’s cast will return to reprise their roles, including Marie’s in-game voice, Kana Hanazawa. The full cast list is as follows:

Daisuke Namikawa as Narukami

  • Yosuke Hanamura: Showtaro Morikubo
  • Chie Satonaka: Yui Horie
  • Yukiko Amagi: Ami Koshimizu
  • Kanji Tatsumi: Tomokazu Seki
  • Rise Kujikawa: Rie Kugimiya
  • Kuma (Teddy): Kappei Yamaguchi
  • Naoto Shirogane: Romi Park
  • Ryōtarō Dōjima: Unshou Ishizuka
  • Nanako Dōjima: Akemi Kanda
  • Tōru Adachi: Mitsuaki Madono
  • Igor: Isamu Tanonaka
  • Margaret: Sayaka Ohara
  • Marie: Kana Hanazawa

P4 Golden Marie 001In addition, Seiji Kishi will return as Chief Director, and Shoji Meguro will handle the musical arrangements with Tetsuya Kobayashi.

At a glance, the Persona 4 announcement will strike a lot of people as unusual. Reboots of popular anime series aren’t exactly uncommon. Shows like Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Dirty Pair Flash, and even the upcoming Sailor Moon Crystal tend to dot release lists with a decent amount of frequency. Still, there are very few that have hit the market within three years of the ending of their predecessors. Even Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which was seen as an early remake, didn’t hit the airwaves until five years after its predecessor ended.

With this in mind, three years is way unusual… right?

Well, yes and no.

For a typical anime franchise, this is pretty much unprecedented. To release an anime series so soon after its forebear ended would normally be suicide in such a competitive and fickle marketplace. Most companies would be better served to release either a sequel, a side story, or a movie of sorts, which would cost less, and appeal to different markets while drawing in the same viewers from the original.

But this isn’t a typical anime franchise: It’s Persona 4.

P4 Golden Narukami 001Persona 4 is currently Atlus’s cash cow. Since it hit stores in July 2008, the title has grown into a sales force to be reckoned with. The original title sold over 410,000 copies in its first year on-market, and proved to be a highly profitable venture for Atlus. Persona 4 The Animation, which hit in 2011, was received well by fans and critics alike, and garnered enough attention to allow a compilation film – Persona 4 The Animation -The Factor of Hope- to hit Japanese theaters in 2012.

Persona 4 The Golden, the anime series which this is based on, was a bona-fide hit for the RPG maker. It was a title that was so strong, so well received that it managed to give a 157% boost in sales to the PlayStation Vita – a platform which was averaging about 13,000 per week in Japan at the time.

To top it off, the title’s seen fantastic reception in its spin-offs, like fighting game Persona 4 Arena, which moved 181,578 copies in its first month. Then there’s Persona Q, a 3DS dungeon crawler that mashes the casts of Personas 3 and 4 together, and Persona 4: Dancing All Night, a rhythm dancing game from the makers of Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA, both of which are seeing a strong, positive reception in the marketplace.

Yes, you read that correctly: A Persona 4 dancing game.

Persona 4, at this point, is a title that Atlus is leaning incredibly heavily on. The market responds well to it, to the point that nearly anything with the brand attached sells. With this in mind, rebooting the Persona 4 anime makes sense on a financial level. At the same time, there may be benefits to the franchise fans, as well.

Persona 4: The Animation, while well-received, had some valid criticisms levied at it. Specifically, the show’s pacing and consistency in animation have both been regularly called to attention in discussions about the show. Persona 4 The Golden Animation grants A-1 pictures the benefit of hindsight. Since this is a re-telling of the original Persona 4 The Animation, the studio can use what worked from the original series, while addressing the complaints levied at AIC ASTA’s work. If done well, this could result in a stronger final product that will be held as the gold standard for the franchise to date. If handled poorly, though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it treated as little more than a lazy cash grab.

Either way, the show will sell because, well, Persona 4. On the plus side, at least the show’s teaser looks nice so far?