Review: Persona 3 vol. 1

Those of you that have paid any attention to my unboxing videos will know that Udon Entertainment’s Person 3 vol. 1 was included in the August box. I’m a fan of getting manga in the box, but having never experienced anything Persona related, outside of a dance video game at E3 last year, I had very little to go on. I knew that characters killed themselves in order to release the magic in them or something, and that was about it. persona-3-vol-1The start of this volume was no help. We’re quickly introduced to our main characters as they regroup to fight some monster that’s harder than they imagined. After the battle, we flashback, which even in a manga is an overused writing technique. Why? Because having no idea about the world, the characters or the story I was going to experience is a bad thing. Being thrown into a fight was the worst possible beginning. The real beginning eased me into everything, explained the world and still established the characters leaving me to wonder why the action opening was even needed? Even more so, when we get back to that point in the story, I will have completely forgotten what happened and instead will just remember being annoyed.

Outside of the opening, the rest of the story is okay. I found it easy to follow along with the world and especially easy considering how strange I’ve heard Persona to be. I like the concept, but I can’t see myself digging into this series and finishing it. The characters are all pretty generic. The threat seems beatable, and the only part that caught my attention was that people turn into coffins and that killing yourself lets out a monster that can fight for you. The author states that it will take a couple of years to finish the story and that it’s likely to be the last thing based in the world of Persona 3. This might move some of you; I won’t pretend to know.

Hey look at that, the art is splendid. No surprise that a manga has good art. It comes down to persona-l taste at this point when reading manga. The action wasn’t easy to follow. There’s just not enough pages dedicated to the battles to make them flow properly. There are numerous pages dedicated to people standing or sitting and talking. One thing I failed to mention above is that there’s a lot of exposition, but the art at least keeps your interest enough to make it tolerable.

Persona 3 isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Having very little knowledge about the world, the games or if there was even a previous manga series, I thought I would be an outsider looking in. Thankfully, after the shaky opening, the story does manage to invite you into the world and get you up to speed. It leaves plenty of mystery for you as well, but for me personally, I can’t see myself returning. Maybe it’s the fact that this is a third the size of a typical manga or maybe it’s just that the material didn’t grab me. I’m sure it’ll do fine with the fanbase and kudos to Udon for the format and presentation. Even if it was short, I still liked that it wasn’t so cumbersome in my hand, but maybe it just wasn't enough to hook me.

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Persona 3 vol. 1 Writers: Shuji Sogabe/Atlus Translation: M. Kirie Hayashi Artist: Shuji Sogabe Publisher: Udon Entertainment Price: $13.99 Format: TPB; Print