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Persona 5 Mementos Mission Manga Volume 1 Review

Persona 5 Mementos Mission Manga Volume 1 Review

-Written by: Chris T.

You know the story by now. It’s pretty cliché at this point. Boy breaks up an assault, only to get charged himself. Parents ship him off to the big city, where a practical stranger lets him shack up above a coffee shop. Boy then stumbles into his gym teacher’s subconscious mind, meets a talking cat, forms a gang with a bunch of other high schoolers and fights crime in another world, all while trying to pass all his classes. We’ve seen it before plenty of times.

In the 5+ years since the Phantom Thieves first stole hearts in the hit video game Persona 5, fans have been enamored by the exploits of Joker and his team. We’ve been presented with two games which expand the story, anime and manga retellings, and even one game where the cast just puts on silly outfits and, as the title implies, dance all night. But in Rokuro Saito’s manga series, Persona 5: Mementos Mission, we get an untold chapter of the Phantom Thieves’ fateful year in Tokyo.

A panel of Joker on the street (Persona 5 Mementos Mission Manga Vol. 1, Ch.1).

In the first volume, we join Joker (known in this book as Ren Amamiya, the name used in the anime, as opposed to the manga adaptation’s Akira Kurusu,) crashing his friend Ann’s modeling gig. But when an entertainment honcho is poisoned before their eyes, Ren and Ann put the Phantom Thieves into action to investigate who is responsible. Meanwhile, strange goings-on with the local doctor and model shop owner - who will be familiar to fans of the franchise – have the gang wondering if they’re potential leads to the poisoning, or just odd coincidences.

Tie-in series like this are always a risky proposition, as comparisons to the original source material are bound to occur. But Saito does a great job handling both the writing and art. Story wise, he gets the characters spot on. Their personalities carry over perfectly from the game, and as Ren is a bit of a blank slate in the game, it’s fun to see him be the (mostly) calm, confident core of the team. The story can feel a bit crowded at times, with 3 or 4 different plot threads going on and Ren seemingly involved with all of them, but as only a 3-volume series, it does a good job of laying the foundation for an intriguing mystery. It might be a bit daunting to casual readers not familiar with the game or anime, but it’s not a deal breaker if this is your first trip to Yongen-Jaya.

Sae Niijima (right) fights an enemy" (Persona 5 Mementos Mission Manga Vol. 1, Special Chapter).

As far as art goes, Saito nails the feel of Persona 5. His work with the characters looks straight out of character designer Shigenori Soejima’s sketchbook. Saito’s poses and angles give a great dynamism to the art, making this a breezy, fun read. There are some minor flaws, though. Many of the scenes have only a panel or two of background setup before just using a blank backdrop until the next change of venue. Also, the character designs on a few of the original characters don’t mix well with the familiar faces, so that can take you out of the story for a moment. But it doesn’t ruin Saito’s energetic display of art technique.

Persona 5: Mementos Mission is a great “lost story” of the P5 saga, giving fans an opportunity to spend more time with its iconic characters. At the same time, for those willing to jump in media res, it’s a fun introduction to the adventures of the Phantom Thieves.

Persona 5 Mementos Mission Manga Volume 1

Persona 5: Mementos Mission Manga Volume 1 features an original story written by Atlus with art by Rokuro Saito.

A mysterious group of phantom thieves skulks in the shadows of Tokyo, changing the hearts of corrupt adults. But behind their masks are... normal teenagers and a talking black cat?! PERSONA 5: MEMENTOS MISSION is an all-new mystery featuring the cast of PERSONA 5.

The attempted poisoning of an influential CEO… Suspicious happenings at a local doctor's clinic… Sketchy job requests at a back-street military shop… High schooler and phantom thieves leader Ren Amamiya tackles these mysterious incidents together with his trustworthy friends and the famous high school detective Goro Akechi!

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