Examining Persona 5’s Opening

It’s so coooooooool…son of a bitch.

Feel The Rhythm

You know, I’d really love to delve deep into the unique aesthetics of Persona 5’s opening video, but I’m pretty sure I’d require multiple art degrees and ten textbooks’ worth of animation knowledge to even touch Atlus’s artwork. So instead, I’m just going to talk about this opening based on what anyone with a passing interest in the art would be able to see, and what they’d see from the start is a rough red screen followed by buildings popping up out of nowhere in sync with the start of the music. And as anyone who’s praised the music video for Uptown Funk whilst booing the one for Payphone should notice, the music and visuals really do a good job of complementing each other. Whenever the tempo shifts from slow to energetic, an action always takes place on screen whether it be Yusuke painting a bunch of walls or Ryuji jumping into view for a second. The only visual that doesn’t quite match with the singing is Futaba’s, Makoto’s, and Haru’s only appearance in the opening. It feels like it was thrown in at the last minute and the typing that goes on in it doesn’t quite match any particular beat.

Also, I think the song is pretty cool. I know some people don’t like the singer, but I say she does a fine job given the Engrish she has to speak.

Color Me Impressed

The Persona series starting from the PS2 era are known for their unique color aesthetics, from P3’s blue one in order to symbolize death/sadness (which incidentally, is part of the reason I chose that color for this blog given that I’m mostly sad, and most anime that come here leave as a corpse) whilst P4 used a yellow color scheme in order to symbolize happiness/youth. Those of you aren’t color blind will notice that the fifth entry is going for a red theme, but for what reason? I can only speculate having not played the game, but given what I know of the premise, I suspect it was chosen because it was the best color to symbolize the anger and sorrow the characters feel towards society.

Red is the color of extremes. It’s the color of passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the color of fire and blood – energy and primal life forces – and most of red’s symbolism today arises from its powerful associations in the past.

Red is also a magical and religious color. It symbolized super-human heroism to the Greeks and is the color of the Christian crucifixion. Red was almost as rare and as expensive as purple in ancient days – a fact that may explain its magic and power. Paradoxically, today’s intense red dyes come from crushed insects (the lac beetle and the cochineal). Color Matters

Red is most commonly seen as the color of fire and blood, so naturally it’d be used for all sorts of emotions that require energy. Specifically, the kind of energy you’d associate with a fight, whether it be physical or emotional. And given that the game is about wanting to break free from the bonds placed on you by society, naturally there’s going to be a lot of that throughout its storyline. Thus, I can’t think of a more perfect scheme to use in all the promotional materials, menu options, and whatnot, especially when you pair it off with black, the color of mystery and emptiness. Whoever says animation and color scheme does not matter should watch the above video and picture it with all the red exchanged with purple. Yeah, doesn’t quite work when you’re watching characters jump around to the color of Barney, does it?

Free To Be Wild

Aside from when Igor and his two new assistants show up, there are no shadows or even shading used in the animation for this OP at all. Whilst there definitely will be shading in the actual game, this opening is all about symbolizing the characters’ desire for freedom in the coolest way possible, and what cooler way to show lack of restraints than by taking a page from Mind Game’s or Tekkonkinkreet’s approach to visuals? The latter especially came to my mind due to the large number of times the characters jump off buildings like they can fly in P5’s OP, right down to the similar reasons they have for doing so. If either of those films or this opening had used proper shading, all the jumping around would have resembled the sorta-famous jumping scene from the first Ghost in the Shell adaptation, and whilst that’s cool on its own, it feels professional and controlled, which is not what Persona 5, Mind Game, or Tekkonkinkreet are ultimately about.

I won’t delve too much into the latter two’s themes here, but suffice to say that without the proper freedom of expression through the artwork, their would be no point in being animated in the first place. And whilst shading is consistently used across most anime for a reason (less you want to end up like that shitty FMA: Brotherhood movie), the lack of it can accomplish things normal animation cannot when used correctly. To those who say Persona 5 doesn’t use it correctly…

I mean how can you watch the animation on this music video and not feel unrestrained joy at the energy on-screen? And the funky dancing? After all, nothing expresses jovial teenage freedom more than dancing does it?

Anything Else?

Nope. Like I said, I’m not qualified to go too deep into the aesthetics of Persona 5’s opening, and honestly I have freed up so little time for myself as of late that I haven’t even gotten to seeing the new video of gameplay footage that was recently put up on Atlus’s site, let alone freed up time to play Tokyo Mirage Sessions aka Persona Warm-up. All I can say as of now is that this is a fantastic opening, if a little flawed on the character marketing side of things (I mean the ninth playable character, Goro Akechi, isn’t even in the OP, which has caused some people to wonder whether he’s a permanent character or not) and I could watch it over and over again whilst waiting for the final product to come out and blow me away.

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