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Spring of Birth...happened. It wasn't necessarily bad, but it didn't try to be more than it was, or take advantage of its being an adaptation of the first three months of the game. The fight scenes? Forgettable. The character interactions? Dull and standard. The pacing? Rushed beyond belief. Its saving graces were in the beautiful animation and the characterization of Makoto Yuki, our protagonist - who now has a personality that fits him extremely well, considering his backstory and character traits.
And the Dark Hour is presented fairly and realistically nightmarish, which is a plus, but it's hardly a saving grace. It's a mediocre movie on its own, but it's reasonable as a starting platform for the rest.
But Midsummer Knight's Dream blew all the flaws of Spring of Birth out of the water. For the most part. Character interactions are very well done (except in regards to Yukari and Makoto). The writing and screenplay is tight, allowing the story to diverge from the original storyline, but not by too much. The action scenes (especially the ones with Aigis) are fast-paced and a spectacle to see. However, it does have a few flaws, the biggest of which is...the characterization of Makoto, the previous film's greatest asset.
Makoto is presented as wanting to keep fighting the Shadows with his friends so he won't have to return to his lonely and empty existence, but he greatly fears seeing his friends come to harm. This leads to him making borderline stupid decisions which do little to nothing but infuriate the viewers. And make October 4 sadder and more rage-inducing.
That, and his interactions with the other characters, especially Yukari (who is supposed to have a crush on him at this point, but does barely anything to show for it), are bare-bones at best. His best interactions are with Aigis, whose relationship with him is presented actually fairly well.
Overall, MKD is way better than Spring of Birth, and the sense of progression is really well-done. However, I'd like for Falling Down to find a balance between the two: have the tight pacing, character interactions, and fight scenes of MKD yet keep the very well-done execution of Makoto's character from Spring of Birth.
I have to admit I was a little worried when I heard Persona 3 was getting a series of movies rather than an anime series. But for the most part it seems I was worrying over nothing. Spring of Birth, the first movie, makes for a very enjoyable experience through it's slick animation, solid characterization and good storytelling. It manages to fit a good deal into one movie, from the start of the game through to Fuuka's rescue mission, and hinting at Aigis' arrival in The Stinger.
One of my favourite things is the portrayal of the main character, named Makoto Yuki in this adaptation. Part of me worried that he'd be a clone of Yu Narukami, but to my surprise they managed to work with what little was in the game to make a very distinct and interesting character: playing up his apathetic nature and tying that into both his origin and actions during the Dark Hour.
I find Yukari, Mitsuru and Akihiko as enjoyable as I did in the game. Fuuka was even much more bearable, owing to more light being shed on her connection with Natsuki and not having that droning voice that the English dub had. Even Junpei was slightly less shit this time as a little more focus was put onto why he envies Makoto.
All in all a good movie, I look forward to seeing the others.
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