Izanagi. In the game Izanagi's just a cool-looking Persona with low-tier stat growth/elemental affinities/skills that most players will have gotten rid of by the second dungeon; but in the anime he comes off as the biggest badass of the entire bunch, regularly being the go to Persona when Yu needs to wipe out a particularly dangerous Shadow.
Beelzebub is a good and late game persona but he's far from the best. When Yu fuses him in the fight against shadow Naoto, it uses Megidolaon and turns the entire dungeon into a smoking crater. Then later in the anime, when Namatame takes control of Yu, he summons various persona to fight the rest of the gang. They don't mind much, until suddenly Beelzebub is summoned. Rise looked about ready to shit bricks after scanning him and realizing it was the same guy Yu used to beat Naoto.
Several of Yu's other Personae count as well, during the True Ending episode. A prime example being Rakshasa (a level 16 Persona in the game) going toe-to-toe with Yoshitsune (who is a whopping level 75) during Yu's battle against Margaret.
Adachi certainly became one of these in episodes 24 and 25. He went from being a simple battle that's mostly warm up for the fight with Ameno-Sagiri to being able to defy gravity, teleport and create clones of himself. Heck, he even has the reaper on his side! Not to mention that he royally schools Yu in the first part of their Mirror Match, even managing to bring him to his knees.
Rise's Personas get a moment of badass in Episode 25. Note that in the game proper, Himiko and Kanzeon have no attacks and are glorified Mission Control. In the anime, Himiko and later Kanzeon join the other Personas in directly attacking Ameno-Sagiri.
Believe it or not, Kanji is even more badass than in the game during his dungeon. Rather than the gang defeating his shadow and him facing it afterwards, he personally knocks his shadow out with a single punch (to the surprise and shock of everyone in the room) before facing it.
Adaptation Distillation: Very little of the dungeon-crawling (which was at least half the game) is on-screen. And when they're on the way to the boss fights, usually they're providing exposition and character development on the way. As a bonus, it eliminates the Fridge Logic of where these kids managed to get perfectly functional weapons and the ability to use them like experts.
Episode 9 shows Rise letting her manager knowing she's done being an idol and even lets us hear one of her songs (in lieu of an Opening).
Episode 10 expands the scenes right before the Shadow Rise fight, especially when she splits into seven and each clone drops rather brutal verbal bullying on the real one.
Also of note is episode 12, which gives considerable Character Development to Yu/The Main Character, something he lacked in the game proper due to being pretty much a vessel for the player.
Episode 15 expands on the King's Game by having Yu get in on the crazy hijinks, whereas he usually responds to player choices in the game proper (See Mundane Made Awesome below). The girls get in on it, too. After Chie is forced to sit on Yu's lap, Yukiko and then Rise decide to "show her how it's done." Yosuke demands that Yu stops hogging them all, to which Yu pushes up his glasses and responds "It's because I'm... the king."
Certain relationships are also made more important in the anime than in the game. Naoto and Nanako, for example (see Big Brother Instinct below). Kanji and Naoto also get a lot more Ship Tease.
Additionally, the killer is hinted at much more obviously in the anime. Take for example the fact that in the anime the cop Naoto was fighting with was Adachi, rather than some random, unnamed officer.
Unlike the game, a person stays conscious whenever their shadow goes berserk.
What happens to people trapped in Izanami's fog is explained, along with what happens to somebody hit by her One-Hit KillDragged Off to Hell move. A person is trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine where what they see is shaped by what they want to see the most.
Izanami can briefly be seen conversing with a few residents in the now fog-filled Inaba in episode 22.
Adults Are Useless: Justified, no rational adult would believe there's an alternate dimension that can entered through a TV.
And the Adventure Continues: Despite the series' supposed end with Episode 25 (The battle against Adachi and Ameno-Sagiri), the REAL final episode, "No One is Alone", was released when Vol. 10 of the anime was released this past August in Japan. Naturally, the episode focuses on the final battle against Izanami as well as a battle against Margaret, though not necessarily in the manner someone who has played the original game would expect...
What was once a throwaway line in the game about cabbage became Adachi's signature item thanks to the fandom. And that meme became immortalized in the animated adaptation.
Also, the line "Bitches and Whores", a line misattributed to Adachi courtesy of a fan edit to a Persona 4 Hentai doujinshi is now actually said by him in a plot centric piece of dialogue in Episode 24.
As Long as There Is Evil: Ameno-Sagiri comments that he is a manifestation of the collective unconscious of humanity. As long as there are people who want him, he will reappear again.
Attractive Bent-Gender: Naoto, who has at least one male and at least one (albeit off screen) female character crushing on her. Teddie is also an example, winning the cross dressing pageant by a landslide. It's commented offhand that Naoto won the beauty pageant because there were both boys and girls voting.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: During the fight against Shadow Naoto, every male except Kanji is hit with Galgalim Eyes, which inflicts HP to One and the "Enervation" status. This is expressed by them all turning old. Naturally, none of the female characters are afflited.
The Bechdel Test: It passes, having featured numerous conversations between Yukiko and Chie.
Yu is the bigger example. He may be irreverent and a little cuckoo, but he really loves Nanako, taking up the mantle of her older brother with ease and frequently having her around when he's hanging out with friends. The depth of feeling between the two is especially evident in episode 22.
Naoto is an inversion, because she is a girl. The first time we see Naoto's true colors is when Nanako is upset about her "case," dressed up in her Detective Loveline costume. Naoto picks up Nanako's abandoned magnifying glass, hands it back to her and encourages her not to give up by telling her that a detective should see the case through until it's over. When they visit the Amagi Inn and most of the others want to stay up in the baths, Naoto falls asleep with Nanako, and the two share a bed.
Bland-Name Product: Episode 5 has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it portion where Ai and Yu go to "Atzrbucks Coffee" (though it's only visible written that way in the background with an abstract logo, and the top portion only shows the end of "-RBUCKS COFFEE" so it could easily be mistaken for Product Placement).
The first thing Yu kills is one of the shadows attacking the group in Episode 1 — he does so by plunging Izanagi's sword through the shadow's head. In the sort-of final (25th) episode — in the fight against Adachi and his Persona Magatsu Izanagi? Yu's Izanagi plunges his sword straight through Magatsu Izanagi's head. The scenes even look exactly the same.
Yosuke's social link is the first non-automatic social link that gets initiated in the game. In the adaption, it's also the last one that gets resolved.
When Narukami first arrives at Yasoinaba train station, he is alone and depressed by how boring his new home seems. When he departs in the end, he is surrounded by friends and his memories make him smile despite having to say goodbye.
After seeing Shadow Yukiko on the Midnight Channel, Yu states that he wished he recorded it. By episode 10, this has turned into a running gag. This includes Yu rapidly hitting the record button while Rise is "showing her stuff", and then immediately trying to view it after the Midnight Channel ends. Unfortunately for Yu, it doesn't turn out as planned.
Bungled Suicide: Happens in episode 25 when Yu defeats Adachi, who promptly turns his own gun on himself and tries to pull the trigger before Yu can stop him. He's found to be alive after Ameno-Sagiri is defeated though.
Butt Monkey: The guys for some episodes, with Yosuke taking the brunt of it.
Many scenes that were changed or added to the anime still borrow directly from other events featured or mentioned during the game.
A flashback detailing Chie and Yukiko's first meeting in episode 3.
Yukiko's pet bird in episode 4, hinted at during the opening cinematic of the game.
Adachi coming back from shopping at Junes with nothing but cabbage in episode 7.
Rise's decision to quit being an idol in episode 9.
After the school exam, Yu mentions that "His pen seemed to move on its own", which is the caption you receive in the game if you've studied enough for any exam.
Personas and Shadows demonstrate abilities related to ones they have in the game.
Chie's shadow has her Persona Tomoe's weaknesses in episode 3.
Also, Nice Guy and Tough Guy causing Chie and Yukiko to get mad and making Yu and Yosuke collapse reference two abilities Shadow Kanji has in the game; Roar of Wrath (which inflicts Rage on female characters) and Forbidden Murmur (which inflicts Poison on male characters). They're also unaffected by Yukiko and Chie's magic, a reference to the fact that Nice Guy absorbs ice and Tough Guy fire.
Shadow Mitsuo inflicts Fear status on Yu using Evil Touch.
In the same episode, all the Personae that Yu uses in the battle against Shadow Mitsuo reflect their abilities in the game — Pyro Jack absorbs fire, Ara Mitama is strong against physical attacks, High Pixie uses Lightning, et cetera.
Shadow Kanji's flunkies have the same immunities as they did in the game in episode 7. Also, Yamata-no-Orochi is fused with the same Arcana combination that would be used in the game (Magician x Priestess = Moon).
During the battle with Shadow Naoto, when she turns Yosuke, Yu and Teddie into old people, she's actually using her Galgalim Eyes attack, which causes the Enervation status. The connection to the game is further established by having Kintoki-Douji use Energy Shower to reverse the effect - in the game, the skill Energy Shower cures the Enervation status effect.
Shadow Naoto also fights like she does in the game, by exploiting weaknesses. Yu keeps having to change Personas because she keeps preparing to use attacks that his current Persona is weak to (though thanks to Rise, Yu is one step ahead).
During the Shadow Naoto fight, Yu has Mot use Mudoon, which doesn't work. Naoto's Persona, Sukuna-Hikona, resists Dark attacks.
Kuni-no-Sagiri, in possession of Namatame, takes control of Yu. When he breaks free, he takes control of the entire party.
Kohryu is the Ultimate Persona of the Hierophant Arcana, attained by maxing out the Ryotaro Dojima Social Link. In the series, Dojima's spirit somehow assists Yu across worlds, allowing Yu to fuse Kohryu.
Sraosha using Mahamaon to exorcise the shadows that possessed Namatame, a Light-based One-Hit Kill that can instant kill regular enemies.
Chie finishes off the Reaper (at least, the one she and Yukiko are fighting) by having Tomoe use God Hand on it.
Ameno-Sagiri uses Nebula Oculus (complete with "charging" mode) to flatten Yu and the landscape surrounding him. Then he tries to attack Lucifer with a light-based beam attack... which Lucifer reflects right back at him. Lucifer learns Repel Light at level 96.
During the True End episode, Margaret uses the Personas Helel, Yoshitsune, Cu Chulainn, and Loki in her battle to make Yu come to his senses; these are four of the Personas she uses during her actual boss battle in the original game. Also, all of her Persona cards are gold-colored, just like the Aeon Arcana card in Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden.
Cosplay: When she's investigating Yu, Nanako cosplays as an in-universe fictional Magical Girl detective named Loveline. Apparently the cosplay's so good, some kids actually think that she is Loveline.
The "Steamy Bathhouse" sequence in Episode 7, with Shadow Kanji and his flunkies' flamboyance cranked Up to Eleven.
Parts of Episode 8, as well. Bathed in Morooka's vomit much?
Curtains Match the Window: Almost everyone, except Aika Nakamura, who has aqua teal hair and brown eyes, Izanami with black hair and red eyes, Kanji Tatsumi who's blond with beady black eyes, and Teddie's human form, with blond hair and blue eyes. Kanji is actually a double subversion, as he dyes his hair.
Cutaway Gag: Twice in episode 11, both times when the team realizes they've left the head of Teddie's original body behind. Cue some kid crying at its white-eyed, soulless stare.
Igor, due to his Japanese seiyuu having passed away. All of his lines in the animation are taken directly from his speaking parts in the game itself.
Also amongst the S-Links, since the Sun S-Link are two separate stories, they chose Ayane's S-Link and as a result, the only time we see Yumi is when she's silently annoyed at Kou hamming it up in the Culture Festival drama play.
Eleventh Hour Superpower: In the TV series semi-finale, during the battle with Ameno-Sagiri, Yosuke finds the strength of heart to evolve his Persona from Jiraiya into his Ultimate Persona Susanoo, which he uses to save Yu's life. The rest of Yu's friends then express their belief in him by doing the same, evolving into Suzuka-Gongen, Amaterasu, Rokuten-Maoh, Kanzeon, Kamui, and Yamato-Takeru to drive Ameno-Sagiri back and give Yu the opening he needed to fuse the Persona of the Judgment Arcana, Lucifer. The same thing happens with Yu in the True End OVA: after getting out of his self-induced Heroic BSOD"Groundhog Day" Loop, he awakens to the power of the World Arcana, and obtains his Ultimate Persona, Izanagi-no-Okami.
Enemy Without: Of course, the main characters' shadows appear and have to be defeated before they can gain their respective personas. Special mention goes to Yu's shadow in the final episode, which didn't appear in the game. He immediately accepts its faults as his own and thereby gains the strength to escape the Lotus-Eater Machine and defeat Izanami.
Entitled Bastard: Adachi. He apparently has had a lot of things in his life not go his way, so he does a ton of crap because he feels the world owes him.
Even the Girls Want Her: Naoto gets a love letter from a girl after she returns to school after her kidnapping. It's also implied that she wins the pageant in large part because of the female vote.
Evolving Credits: One of the ending credits (first appearing in episode 2) involves a lot of falling, rotating tarot cards. First one (or two) cards fall past Yu's face and he grabs it/them. This card is the Social Link(s) he gained in that episode, otherwise it is blank. Then all of the cards are shown and their faces are left blank until Yu has earned the appropriate Arcana.
Eye Catch: Used to show Yu's character stat growth. It also changes at times to reflect events in the current episode: in Episode 12, all of the stats are blank, the first major clue that something is very, very wrong. In Episode 19, after Yu seamlessly plays the part of a girl in the group date cafe, his Understanding ranking is changed to "Effeminate".
Face Palm: Yosuke does one when he's exasperated over Yu's drunk shenanigans.
And after Kanji shows up, he's often seen wearing a sleeveless shirt, which lets the animators focus quite a bit on his rather muscular arms.
Final Exam Finale: Episode 12 / the mid-season finale, where the entire team needs to work together and Yu needs to unleash all the Arcana he's gathered except Star over the past 11 episodes to take down Shadow Mitsuo.
Flanderization: Condensing the game down to a 26 episode series is bound to make this happen, though Yosuke and Chie get it especially bad.
Chie kicks Yosuke over the smallest of annoyances (i.e. he says her handwriting is sloppy).
Yosuke has his Jerkass tendencies exaggerated quite a bit. Additionally, he was the de facto Mr. Exposition in the game (given the Silent Protagonist), and basically in many ways acted like the leader of the group. Now that Yu is Suddenly Voiced, Yosuke has much less competence.
Foreshadowing: A very subtle one in episode 4. When the spotlights hit Teddie's eyes they briefly change from his usual black into a Shadow's yellow. Hinting at his status as a shadow.
Teddie's Persona holding off the Dice in episode 11 while the character discuss their strategy for dealing with the Shadow... Tediie's Persona just bouncing around in the background, occasionally casting a spell.
In episode 13, keep an eye on Kanji, frantically eating his watermelon at top speed.
Yu pulls this trope on Yosuke during the fight with his Shadow. Yu claims that it was an accident, but turns it into a straight example with the lines he delivers after the punch.
Margaret does this to Narukami after his Heroic BSOD in the True End episode.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: While Narukami is watching Rise's shadow on the Midnight Channel, we see his right arm moving rhythmically. The next shot reveals it's his hand around the remote, continuously clicking the record button.
The Glasses Come Off: All members of the Investigation team (sans Teddie) do this at the end of the 3rd opening. And, of course, there's Yu removing his damaged glasses before unleashing the full power of the World Arcana on Izanami.
Yu has enacted this trope at least twice now, seemingly for no other reason then to be a ham. Namely, during his attempt to catch the guardian, and during the anime's version of the "King's Game" event.
When Yu is dragged into Shadow Mitsuo's Lotus-Eater Machine, he catches on that something is up when he tries to put his hand in the TV and it no longer works. With the deception revealed, Shadow Mitsuo reveals itself and starts giving him one hell of a Hannibal Lecture.
The True End episode seems to start off normally, but it immediately becomes apparent to Yu that something is wrong when the events of the day before he is set to leave Inaba keep repeating themselves. Turns out it was the result of a "Groundhog Day" Loop he created after suffering an absolutely epicHeroic BSOD watching Izanami kill all of his friends.
Harmful to Minors: How Yosuke tries to stop Teddie from removing his head, as it would scar the kids for the rest of their lives.
Heart Symbol: When Naoto tells the group she was scared, Kanji gets these floating around him.
Heroic Safe Mode: In episode 23 Nanako's apparent death causes Yu to enter this state, and it's scary as hell, particularly his expression◊ when he nearly kills Namatame. He's able to regain control of himself long enough for the situation to calm down, but once everyone goes their separate ways (save for Youske), he snaps out of it and breaks intotears.
Hidden Depths: A key part of the series is exploring various characters' hidden depths.
Yosuke seems like he hasn't got a care in the world, but he's really bored with everyone and everything in his life.
Chie is a tomboy and tries to be an ideal best friend and protector for Yukiko, but she's often jealous of Yukiko's looks and the attention Yukiko gets from boys.
Yukiko plays the part of the perfect daughter and future innkeeper, though she feels stifled by the fact that her path in life has already been decided for her.
Ai is a stereotypical Alpha Bitch on the surface, but underneath it all, she's a bundle of insecurities.
Kanji acts like a stereotypical punk/manly man, but he also loves cute things, is kind to children, loves his mother and enjoys sewing and knitting.
Rise, the ex-idol, doesn't know who the real Rise is, and is struggling to find herself in the midst of the identities that have been manufactured for her.
Teddie realizes the implications of the fact that despite his cuteness, he is empty inside.
Naoto plays the part of a mature young man, but is actually a young girl who is insecure about her age and gender because her chosen profession is one dominated by men.
Dojima has spent so much time dedicated to his work, he's never taken up the role of father the way he should have.
Nanako is a sweet young girl with abandonment issues brought on by the fact that her father never seems to have time for her.
Even Yu gets in on the act. Outwardly, he comes across as both The Stoic and The Ace with a really strange sense of humor (the audience isn't sure whether he's a Deadpan Snarker or Cloud Cuckoo Lander; it's hard to tell). Turns out that he's a Broken Ace who harbors a strong need to be connected to people because he views himself as being weak and powerless on his own. This was first hinted at in episode 12 when he gets hit by a "Fear" affliction from Shadow Mitsuo; and later confirmed and explored further in Episode 26, when Yu ends up facing his own Shadow during his battle with Margaret:
Shadow Yu: I felt depressed when I was separated from everyone... losing your friends and advancing alone is terrifying... I don't want to be alone. It's too much to bear...
Episode 12 seems to have a lot of this between Yu and Yosuke. Yosuke pulls Yu out of Mitsuo's Shadow's illusion, and they then look each other in the eye while in Jiraiya's arms. At the end of the episode, Yosuke calls Yu by his first name.
Episode 15 and the Love Hotel, Chie, Yukiko, and Rise in the rotating bed having giggle fits. Something similar happens when Teddie, Yosuke, and Kanji end up in a bed together, except in that case the only one laughing is Teddie.
Episode 19 has some tension between Yu and Yosuke during the group date. Yosuke says that he feels he was "about to cross a line that should never be crossed," and searches frantically for a drink.
Episode 25 had something similar to Episode 12. Yosuke shouts Yu's name while being the first to awaken to Susanoo-o and uses it to save Yu from Ameno-Sagiri.
Let's face it, the girls surely don't get their comeuppance for their mistreatment on the boys in episode 20. Somewhat mitigated in the dub, as the reason the girls don't forgive them is because whilst the girls are at fault for the mix-up with the hot springs, they accuse the guys of trying to perve on them, which Yosuke admits to.
Yu himself is one in episode 15 as he doesn't get punished for taking a picture of Kanji, Teddie, and Yosuke together in their hotel room, much to the latter's dismay.
Large Ham: A few of the characters get to indulge in some hamminess, but the crown goes to Yu. The cross-dressing pageant is just one example of Yu seriously hamming it up.
The anime assumes most of the viewers have already played the game, and because of this, certain scenes are played with much less fanfare (Teddie revealing his human body was a big deal in the game, in the anime he just popped his head off and things continued from there). They also put less effort into hiding things (Naoto was harder to figure out in the Japanese game than in the anime).
Averted with the revelation of Adachi being the killer. The episode before the revelation ended in a cliffhanger towards his identity. Then, episode 24 starts with multiple scenes that try to avoid revealing his, and when it's finally time to let the viewers know, it has tremendous buildup.
In episode 5, we have Ai dating Yu to make Ichijou jealous, since he's actually in love with Chie, who Yosuke tries to hook up with Yu because he thinks she likes him, incorrectly. Though Chie's reactions in later episodes when Yu compliments her suggest Yosuke might not have been wrong.
And of course, we also get the complications from Yu being a love interest for basically any readily present female Social Link.
Love Hotel: In episode 15, complete with funky lights and a rotating bed that all of the room's residents have to share. Hilarity Ensues.
Love Hurts: Discussed by Margaret when discussing the Lovers Arcana.
Margaret: Romance in moderation can fertilize the heart. But if you go overboard... it will prick you.
Chie gets quite a few closeups of her thighs in Episode 2.
Episode 8 has the camera pan up over Yukiko and Chie's bodies after they change into their bathing suits.
In Episode 9 they literally switch into Yosuke's point of view while both he and Yu momentarily gaze at Chie's thighs (apparently Yu likes them, but Yosuke doesn't). Episode 15 also has a closeup of her backside as she's about to sit in Yu's lap.
In episode 9, when Rise bends over to get some ganmodoki for the guys, Yosuke stares at her ass. That he does like. Oh, and he openly gapes at her chest.
Manly Tears: Both Yosuke and Yu indulge in these in episode 23.
Meaningful Background Event: In the background of episode 6, Nanako leaves a television show playing while the conversation with Yu and Dojima is going on. The words are fully intelligible, and it's very obviously reminiscent of Naoto's show on the Midnight Channel, much later on.
Mr. Experiment: Thanks for tuning in, all you curious kiddos! With the body of an adult and the heart of a child, lovely whiskers and gentlemanly ways, I'm Mr. Experiment! [...] In this corner let's try to solve mysteries found in your everyday lives!
Mood Whiplash: Episode 22. It starts with Nanako having to be rescued from the TV world before getting sent to hospital and just when things are looking up, Yu gets called to the hospital, and the episode ends with Nanako flatlining.
Yu catching the King's Chopstick/throwing the dart in episode 15. The battle theme from Persona 3 plays as the last button on his shirt falls open, and the a battle animation flashes across the screen when he reveals his command.
Yu commanding the other boys to hold the line while the girls chuck washtubs at their heads in episode 20.
Episode 23 has Yu finishing the Rainy Day Special, complete with dramatic music.
Yu's ringtone for when Ai calls him is Zigeunerweisen, also known as the Game Over theme from Catherine, and his inner monologue after she calls plays out exactly like one of Vincent's.
In episode 25, after Ameno-Sagiri proclaims he'll bring Order to the world by transforming everyone into Shadows, Yu summons everyone's favorite champion of Chaos in the main Shin Megami Tensei series: Lucifer, the Rebel King of Hell.
The 13th and 14th episodes' plots are basically an extended one to the whole aspect of building up Social Links in the games, with the 13th episode focusing on Nanako's and the Investigation Team's reactions to Yu wandering around with so many strangers.
Never My Fault: Played for laughs, the girls in episode 20 continue to insist that the guys are perverts because they walked in on them at the hotsprings. They conveniently choose to ignore that Yukiko was the one who caused the mix up in the first place. Even worse, when the boys try and go into the other of the two hot springs because the girls are in the first one, it turns out that the girls have switched. The boys get blamed again. The mistake is pointed out to the girls by the boys and they still won't apologize.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: Yu can awaken and fuse Personas in the middle of combat. He summons Pyro Jack for the first time during Shadow Yukiko's boss fight, negating the fire attacks that had almost wiped out the investigation team.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: A fantastic one delivered by Yu to Shadow Mitsuo after he comes out of his Heroic BSOD. He summons Persona after Persona to pound the shield around Mitsuo into dust. Every single one of those Personas are powered by his Social Links: his bonds with his friends. WHO'S empty, Shadow Mitsuo?
Nosebleed: Kanji gets one of these in episode 8, and again in episode 19 during the beauty pageant. Both times, it's girls who cause it, which really adds to the confusion of his sexuality.
Not Drawn to Scale: Teddie and Naoto get this the worst. Walking out of the Textile Shop in episode 6, Naoto is just taller than Yu's shoulder in one shot and barely shorter than his shoulder height in the next. When Naoto and Kanji are talking outside, in one shot the top of his head reaches just below Kanji's chest. In a few seconds, Naoto only seems to reach Kanji's waist. Later on in the episode, he is shown as up to Kanji's shoulder. Episode 21 has Naoto looking slightly taller than, slightly shorter than and the same height as Adachi.
No Theme Tune: Episodes 23 and 24 open with just the title cards, no theme song. Epsiode 25 also forgoes the theme tune, instead showing the title card just as Adachi is presumed to have shot Yu in the head.
Pragmatic Adaptation: In an effort to condense a 90+ hour game into 26 half-hour episodes, the anime seems to be showing no class time and cutting out the vast majority of the dungeon crawling—basically showing condensed versions of the dungeon plots and then skipping straight to the boss battles. It seems that they will also be showing the very sidestory-ish Social Link plots, however. Similarly, the team no longer uses weapons, since it's a whole lot harder to convince viewers that the investigation team has been sneaking swords and chairs into Junes under their clothes when everything is being fully animated.
The name of the third-last episode: "The World is Full of Shit"
In the final confrontation with the killer, Yu kick's off the team's epic Shut Up, Hannibal! with this.
Yu: I've heard enough. It's all Bullshit!
In the English Dubbed version of Episode 20, Kanji says "Fuck off" in his sleep. This is the only instance of the F-word in the English translation.
Promoted tothe Not Love Interest: Yosuke. In light of Yu not forming a romantic relationship with any of the females in the anime, Yosuke undoubtedly becomes the closest to him. He is always the one who jumps to Yu's aid when he is in serious trouble, is the one person who stays behind for Yu to cry on when Nanako dies, and Yosuke is the first one who evolves his Persona in order to rescue Yu.
In episode 9, Yukiko calls Chie's Persona a "Chie pet". As if that single pun wasn't enough for her, she then goes off on a short tangent about Tomoe — Chie's persona is Tomoe, Chie is moe.
Episode 15 has one that gets Lost in Translation. Teddie and Yukiko laugh at a pun on Kanji's name, "ii kanji," which means "good feeling/s". The subbers settle for using the pun that was used in the game, "Great Kanjecture". For bonus points, the latter isn't just lame — it doesn't make a lot of sense.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Igor's role is severely reduced because his voice actor passed away and they're only using his archived dialogue from the game.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Applies to Yu and Adachi, who are the Blue and Red Oni, respectively. When they meet face to face in Magatsu Inaba, Adachi gradually has Villainous Breakdown while Yu calmly tells him to Shut Up, Hannibal!. Also, Adachi's Magatsu Izanagi is primarily red in contrast to Yu's Izanagi and its blue aura. It could also apply in the game, but it applies more here due to the fact that Yu has a personality here.
Red Herring: Like in the game, the in-universe version is Mitsuo. For the audience, we also get Naoto as a bit of a Red Herring early on. When Yu first sees him eerie music plays and the shot fixates on his eyes during a tense sideways glance. That's not to mention that he spends time with Kanji, right before Kanji disappears. The Spoiler Opening ruins the latter example, though.
Yu and his attempts to tape the Midnight Channel programs.
Aika making deliveries/working in increasing unlikely places. Not only does she work at Aiya, make a delivery in the middle of a chase scene, and bring food to the protagonists on top of a mountain in the middle of the school camping trip, but she also has a job at a noodle shop at Tatsumi Port Island and at the Amagi Inn. They try to explain away the job at Tatsumi Port Island, but by the Amagi Inn episode, the writers stopped caring.
Scenery Censor: In addition to Censor Steam, episode 20 uses this to hide the girls' lady bits from the audience. There are many, many conveniently positioned arms. At one point, a washtub held at a funny angle is used to hide Naoto's entire upper half.
School Festival: Episode 19, complete with a cheesy play, beauty pageant, cross-dressing pageant and a "Group Date Cafe."
Once while Chie and Yosuke spy on Kanji and Naoto in episode 6.
Again in episode 8 while the rest of the group watches Kanji and Hanako.
In episode 9, Yosuke and Kanji while they're staking out the tofu shop.
Sequel Hook: At the supposed end of the TV series, Igor presents Yu with the Orb of Sight, forged from the strength of his bonds and which can dispel falsehoods. The late introduction of this element hints that there's one plot line left dangling...
Episode 2 has Chie and Yosuke share a hug. She then knees him in the groin.
Chie's acting disapproving of Ai and Yu's relationship cues Yosuke to ship them in episode 5. Naturally, Yu/Chie fans like this one, too.
Episode 8 has Yukiko and Narukami hiding in one sleeping bag together and Chie and Yosuke in another. When the time comes for actual sleep, they switch it up and Yosuke and Yu, and Yukiko and Chie sleep next to each other. When Yu says good night to Yukiko and turns around to go to sleep, he and Yosuke are spooning (though they apparently don't do this for the entire night).
Pretty much most scenes with those 4 in it, or Naoto and Kanji are some form of shiptease. The studio sure knew the fanbase well.
Episodes 9 and 10 have a lot of moments that would make Narukami/Rise fans Squee with joy, including a rather nice moment by the riverbank.
Episode 15 features some between Yu and Chie; they share a personal moment on a alone on a park bench as the sun sets, with some blushing on Chie's part. Yu and all of the other girls get this, too (except, of course, Naoto, still presumed to be a boy). King's Game, yo. The King's Game also gives us a rather (ahem) interesting Teddie/Kanji moment, if you're into that sort of thing. Kanji/Naoto gets teased as well. Kanji blushes when he looks at Naoto across the train station. He does the same again when they're all out "drinking" and Teddie is embarrassing him.
Episode 17 gives a healthy boost to the Naoto/Kanji ship by showing that he's still attracted to her. He even gets some floating hearts when talking to the group at Junes. (See Heart Symbol above)
Episode 22 has the first major tease of Yu/Naoto, a fan favorite. Naoto talks about being happy to be seen as valuable for something other than detective skills. Naoto then blushes, and rushes off and heads in the wrong direction, forgetting it's still the middle of the school day.
Yu does an absolutely awesome nonverbal version to Shadow Mitsuo in episode 12.
In the final confrontation with Adachi in the game, the party delivers one to their foe as a group, and this person all but brushes it off. But in the final TV episode, where they've been split up, every group of party members delivers its own rebuttal to Adachi separately, wearing him down. By the time we get back to Yu and he delivers his own Shut Up, Hannibal!, Adachi completely loses it.
Simultaneous Arcs: Episodes 13 & 14 are the same series of days, except they're told from the point of views of Nanako & Yu respectively.
Skinship Grope: In Episode 20, the rest of the girls grope Naoto in the hot springs while admiring her soft hair and skin.
Soundtrack Dissonance: In episode 21, the first chords of the soft, mellow ending theme start playing while Dojima is laying injured in the street, begging Yu to save his daughter, "his only reason for living." Even more jarring in that only moments ago we saw Yu, whose video game counterpart was a Heroic Mime, have his first true (however brief) emotional breakdown of the series. It is then averted for effect in Episode 22. The credits play with no animation or music after the end-of-episode scent, setting episode 23 up to look very, very bleak.
Spoiler Opening: Just like in the game, the opening gives away many of the kidnapping victims, as well as the identities of the full investigation team. If one hasn't played the game, the script and direction of the anime is clearly intended to make a Red Herring out of Naoto (see above), but simply watching the credits pretty much tells you she's a good guy all along. It also shows everyone's Personas right from the start.
Spurned Into Suicide: Almost played straight (and for lulz) by Ai Ebihara in episode 5. After she overhears that Kou doesn't care for her romantically and likes Chie better, Ai is so distraught that she runs off crying to the roof of the school and prepares to climb over the fence and jump over the edge. Luckily, Yu gives chase and manages to talk her out of it.
Stat-O-Vision: How Rise's support role is represented in the anime, via Himiko's "visor." It displays the traditional game interface, including enemy HP, skills, stats, and what they (or Yu's Personas) are planning to do next.
They tend to show whatever Yu sees on the Midnight Channel.
Also, The TV run of the anime ended with Igor handing Yu an "Orb of Foresight," hinting that things aren't quite over yet...at which point a trailer for Volume 10, and the "True End" episode, immediately aired.
The movie, Factor of Hope, ends with a flashback to 2010, where Makoto Yuki (the film name of Persona 3's protagonist) is preparing to shoot an Evoker at his head. This became the offical teaser trailer for the upcoming Persona 3 movie.
Super Dickery: Episode 26 begins with Margaret slapping Yuu and preparing to kill him for no explained reason. It then flashes back and reveals that Margaret was pulling a Get Ahold Of Yourself Man]]
Surprisingly Good English: While at first, most of the episode titles were in pretty good English, the winning streak ended with Episode 18 with the awkward-sounding "Anniversary to Become a Family".
The Teaser: Every episode opens with a short meeting with Igor and/or Margaret in the Velvet Room, except for three episodes. In one episode, Velvet Room is empty with message from Igor apologizing they couldn't be present. In the second to last, Teddie is in it. And the last one doesn't start with it at all.
Third Option Adaptation: Averted for the most part. Yu's Strength and Sun social links are Kou and Ayase respectively (with Daisuke being a supporting character and Yumi being Demoted to Extra) and a lot of Yu's talking parts are actual responses that the player can give in the game. Subverted in the King's game, where he settles on Chie sitting on his lap, but Yukiko and Rise join in later anyway.
What the Hell, Hero?: When Teddie covers the girls from Shadow Naoto's Galgalim Eyes, and his fur is subsequently aged rotten, the girls all squeal in disgust and abandon him to his fate, prompting this reaction from him.
In episode 2, when Yosuke faces his shadow, Yu reminds him that even though part of the reason he's inside the television is because he's bored with his life, he still really did love Saki.
Likewise, in episode 3 Yu snaps Chie to her senses by reminding her that even though her shadow is the embodiment of her secret jealousy toward Yukiko and secret desire to keep her best friend dependent on her so that she can feel superior, she is still Yukiko's friend.
Yukiko's shadow is manifested from the fear that she can't control her own destiny. She feels worthless because she always looks to others, specifically Chie, to rescue her. Episode 4 has Chie telling Yukiko that she can soar if she wants to.
Both Kanji and Naoto get these in their dungeons. Kanji, when Yu lets him know that he likes cute things, too, and Naoto when Kanji tells her she isn't the only one who has trouble making friends.
The title for the True End episode: "No One Is Alone".
During Espiode 12, after Yu is pulled from Shadow Mitsuo's fantasy wherein Yu is beset by loneliness, emptiness and despair, the entire Investigation Squad holds off Shadow Mitsuo's defenses and rallies behind Yu:
Rise: Go on! Now's your chance, Yu! Kanji: Yeah! Take him out! Yukiko: Please, get that guy! Chie: Yeah!! Hit 'im good and hard! Teddie: You can do it, Sensei! Yosuke: I'll let you take the final blow! (the camera zooms to Yu, standing on his own, but not alone) Yu: I am far... from empty!"
Zettai Ryouiki: Look no further than Rise, who wears thigh highs with her uniform.