Warning: Here Be Spoilers
Back in the thick of battle, our heroes are facing down legions of the Queen of Hearts’ card soldiers. The P3 cast helps to defeat the Queen as she shouts that she’ll never let them leave and references an unnamed “king.”
Inspired by her new friends, Rei decides she wants to help them. A sparkle descends, and everyone is – to their surprise – healed. Interestingly, Rei has no visible persona that should make her able to cast healing magic, but without a memory it’s hard to pinpoint where the power comes from.
With one of four labyrinths completed, the group comes together back in one of the shadow schools, and they begin introductions. Sidenote: I’ve had P3: FES sitting on my shelf for a good 5 years now (thanks, Zelyhon! I’ll get there someday!), but have yet to play it. Needless to say, seeing Koromaru for the first time filled me with a tiny bit of warm fuzzy joy.
The first volume of Persona Q: P4 Side pretty clearly explained Persona 4’s storyline, and volume 2 of P4 side does a good job at succinctly explaining the background of Persona 3. In my review of the first volume, I referred to Persona 4’s protagonist as “Yu,” a name given in the manga series but not in the game. However, his name actually isn’t revealed in Persona Q, and neither is the protagonist for Persona 3, who is just called “Leader.” In a role-playing game I understand having an unnamed protagonist, but in the manga it’s a little distancing from the characters.
Mitsuru nominates Yu to be the new leader of their combined group, and Leader takes a step back to “Vice Leader.” Back in the Velvet Room, there are two doors which seem to lead back out to the real world. Both are wrapped in chains and locks. When one breaks, the group realizes that each lock is connected to a labyrinth, and they must defeat the rest of the guardians to escape.
When a break to enjoy the shadow school’s cultural festival leads to a Group Date Café, the group finds themselves in the next labyrinth. Which for some reason includes Cupid riding what appears to be a person doing horseplay, but Persona always was a little risqué. What’s in the Labyrinth? Who is Yu’s destined love partner? Can a group date ever end well? Pick up Persona Q: P4 Side volume 2 to find out!
Looking back, I think I was a little unfair to the first volume of P4 Side. In this volume, we saw the characters develop a lot more – I think in part because of the contrast provided by P3’s more emotionally diverse group. With characters like Aegis and Misturu added in, the playful attitude shared by P4s characters seems a lot less generic. While some of the chibi art is a little standard, the characters are well-drawn and some of the backgrounds are gorgeously detailed – which is great, considering Persona 4’s lovely graphics.
We still don’t have much information on Zen and Rei, who are the only new additions to this series. Given Persona Q’s success in bringing together two only-partially related storylines, explaining the wildcard characters has a lot of potential. Because I haven’t played Persona Q yet (I’m terrible, I know), I’m learning the storyline as the manga comes out.
If you liked P3 or P4, it’s definitely worth picking up Persona Q! My only word of caution is that if you haven’t played Persona 4, there are some spoilers, though they aren’t necessarily huge ones.