I would like to open this review by saying that I have played Persona 3 portable but I will review this movie not as a fan, but as a person who has no prior knowledge of the game whatsoever save for watching the first movie. I understand that some fans have a love/hate relationship for these movies and I do as well, but I think the main purpose of the 3 movies is to introduce others into the Persona franchise. With that said, let us proceed!
The movie starts off with a (literal) slap as we are introduced to a scene between Makoto and Yukari in a love hotel. It also includes a bath scene that comes off as rather fanservice-like but I felt it acted as a rather hilarious Segway to the slap and what came afterwards. But, this scene is both good and bad, in that while it lightens the mood and coaxes a few chuckles out of us, it also sets the tone for the latter of the film.
Unlike the first movie which felt dark and mysterious, Midsummer Knight’s dream plays out more like a slice of life comedy, but thankfully that tone is shifted for a much darker one at the end. Despite this, the damage is already done and as a result the movie feels like a bad mix of both genres. At the beginning, the movie was fast paced and the action was brilliant, but as the story progressed, the pace soon slowed to a crawl and left me wanting.
The characters also remain as flat as ever namely Akihiko and Fuuka. Makoto is supposedly the ‘main’ character, however, other characters like Junpei steal the spotlight with their seiyuu’s exceptional voice acting and Shinji with his character development. In addition, I felt that the tension between SEES and their antagonists were pretty well done, and this gives Shinji an important role as a common ground of sorts between the two groups.
In the end, the only parts of Midsummer Knight’s Dream that I really enjoyed were the start and the scenes towards the end. The middle ground leaves much to be desired, and while I understand that these characters are essentially still high school students, the seriousness of the whole dark hour situation is never truly conveyed throughout and only shines through during some scenes. It can be slightly jarring to the viewers coming fresh off the first movie, but it still does a somewhat decent job at setting up the third and final movie.
Overall score : 7/10
Now that the review portion is over, I want to express my thoughts as a fan of the Persona 3 game. Like I said above, I felt that this installment was much more boring than the first, which contributed to my dislike of this movie. I personally found it difficult to like Midsummer Knight’s dream because I felt that the game did it much, much better.
I don’t know why they decided not to include Junpei’s jealousy Makoto but it definitely served in turning me off even more and increased my disconnect with the movie. Without it, Junpei’s sole purpose in the Persona movies is to be the comedic relief and he continues to be as two dimensional as he was in the beginning of the game/movie. This applies to the rest of the characters save for Shinji and Ken.
Mitsuru and Yukari’s rocky relationship was not as serious as it was in the game, and for that reason I’m sad to admit that both of them could have been replaced by potted plants for all I cared, and the story still would have gone on its merry way. True, Yukari’s discovery of what happened to her father was quite intense, but without any of her ire towards the Kirijo heiress, Mitsuru still cannot break out of that ‘Overachiever’ and ‘rich girl’ archetype that she’s been bound to at the start of the movie.
The only thing I truly enjoyed was Shinji and Ken’s moments on screen and how they eventually resolved the tension with one another. This was the only aspect that was done better than the game and something I thoroughly enjoyed in the movie.
Aigis is also another disappointment and since the movie changed the meeting between her and Makoto, I felt that it didn’t have enough impact that it should have had. But her lack of character development can be overlooked since this is the first time she’s appeared.