Warning: Here be spoilers
Confession: I have not played Persona Q. P3 FES has been sitting on my game shelf for a few years, right next to P2. But I have played, and thoroughly loved, Persona 4, which ate up most of my life for at least a couple weeks straight. I’ve been really looking forward to revisiting the characters and their world, and while I certainly will pick up Persona Q: P3 side at some point, it was P4 that had me the most excited.
The chibi art style is an interesting choice, but the characters and backgrounds are still detailed, and the art doesn’t suffer for it as much as I worried it might. While going into the series with some knowledge of what happened in P4 is helpful, the volume starts off by introducing the reader to the basic plotline – the mystery of the midnight channel, and local murders.
Our main cast of characters – Yu, Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Kanji, Teddie, Rise, and Naoto – turn up at their school at night, where they hear a strange noise. Going to investigate, they run into Margaret (a supportive character from the game who runs a small space called the Velvet Room and teaches Yu about personas) and she warns them that something is about to happen. The group enters the Velvet Room, and is shocked to find it completely transformed.
They’re even more shocked when they try to leave and instead find themselves in a busy hallway, complete with both students and shadows (enemies faced in the Persona games). Forging ahead they come across a serious-looking boy named Zen and a schoolgirl named Rei. Zen reveals that there is no exit from wherever they have found themselves. Margaret is able to uncover that they are in a world similar to the tv world, and concludes there’s something they must do there before they will be able to leave. It doesn’t take long before the labyrinth they are begins showing similarities to Wonderland (yes, of Alice fame).
We get a brief look at a mysterious figure who appears to be responsible for the events in question, and then quickly are back to the “school,” where the group rejoins Margaret, and meets Marie. Recalling a locked door in the labyrinth, the group returns, discovering a series of bottles that shrink them to doll-size. They’re able to find the boss of the labyrinth, and during this battle we get our first manga-glimpse at the cast of Persona 3 before the volume closes out with a “to be continued.”
First impressions for this series were pretty favourable. The art style wasn’t really a problem to start with, but as I continued through the book, I barely noticed the chibi characters. The Persona Q manga reads like a video game, complete with dungeons and bosses. I guess that’s to be expected, given the source material.
One concern I have so far is that the characters weren’t really embellished at all. In the game each character has a distinct personality. Rise is cute, Chie is full of fire, Kanji is a tough guy… At the close of volume 1, I felt like if I didn’t already have a background with these characters, I would have no idea who they are. My big worry is that the characters will get lost in the shuffle of the story and the sizable cast. Persona Q: P3 Side Volume 1 is already out, with P4 Side Volume 2 expected June 14th, 2016.