The writing in this book is great, mixing good storytelling with awesome humor; it feels like FLCL and Paranoia Agent with sprinklings of Samurai Champloo. There's no denying the very Western feel of everything, and it makes for an interesting perspective on the classical manga-style storytelling. Held to a slightly more realistic standard (as much as a story about ninja magicians can be - there's just no pop-out eye panels or chibi moments) than its Eastern counterparts, Persona operates on the premise of memory loss to help introduce us to the world and handle exposition duties. At times, it feels a little like a video game tutorial section, but there are cut flashes that hint at a much more interesting underlying story element that has great potential to make a huge change to a world that, though new, feels somewhat familiar. There's the same kind of potential here that I felt playing through Xenogears, and I think that this story's big McGuffin may be just as wild and interesting as that game's was.
The artwork also feels like Western interpretations of manga, with structure and form remaining less fluid and more based on creating a believable physical universe. The black-and-white panels contribute to this feeling, but there's incredible talent in the pencils and shading of every page. There are no breathtaking vistas you'd want to have on your wall, but the artwork serves the story incredibly well and you're transported to a world that seems as plausible as this one, if a little more interesting. The body language in every character is incredibly engaging, and everyone seems captured brilliantly in motion; there’s no stillness unless it’s intentional. The most interesting thing is not happy or sad, but the transition between the two. That’s what engages us as readers, and the team behind this work seems to know it on a very deep level, as every character seems to be reacting to the moment and we’re always seeing them just as something changes. It’s very, very cool and exciting to look at.
Anyone who digs Toonami anime will get a surefire kick from this highly kinetic and smartly funny collection. There’s a good sense to the mystery, and the pages fly by faster than you’ll realize.
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