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Sega Considering Live-Action Persona Project

Sega’s head of film and TV, and lead producer of the Sonic movies, Toru Nakahara, recently stated that the company is currently exploring live-action film and TV projects for Atlus’s various IPs, as reported by IGN. Nakahara spoke generally about their various franchises, but specified that “Stories like those from the Persona franchise really resonate with our fans and we see an opportunity to expand the lore like no one has seen — or played — before.”

Atlus, a subsidiary of Sega, is the acclaimed Japanese development studio behind franchises such as Catherine, Shin Megami Tensei, and most notably, Persona. Shin Megami Tensei, though not as well-known in the west, is an iconic RPG series which popularized the creature-collecting concept that is now so commonplace. Persona actually first spawned as an SMT spinoff but has now clearly risen above the original brand after the unbelievable phenomenon that was Persona 5.

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Launching worldwide in 2017, Persona 5 led the franchise to global recognition, and near-universal acclaim, earning itself a Game Award for Best Role-Playing Game, and several nominations in other categories, including Game of the Year. The title received two spinoffs and a definitive edition with a bunch of new content. Its story was also turned into a mini-series anime. Yet, we may not be quite done with Persona 5 content.

After all, it does make sense for Sega to want to adapt Atlus’s most popular game, however, we’ll have to wait and see just what they do with it. As of now, Sega has yet to commit with any particular company or streaming service, IGN writes that they’re exploring projects with “various studios and producers.”

Live-action adaptations of video games have had their struggles throughout the years, but Sega has just recently struck gold twice with both of its commercially successful Sonic movies. It’s clear they’ve found this to be a profitable strategy, and are now looking around to see with which one of their other IPs they can recreate this lightning-in-a-bottle triumph. The story-heavy Atlus games aren’t a bad bet at first glance, but there are higher hurdles to get over than with Sonic.

The Sonic movies were kid’s movies at the end of the day, so their financial surplus didn’t really align with their critical reception; they didn’t really need to. The same cannot be said for content aimed toward a more mature audience. They need to be sure to get the story right. Furthermore, this isn’t just a video game adaptation, but an anime-to-live-action adaptation as well, which has also had a rocky past.

Unlike Sonic, which is already a cartoony 3D character in his games, Atlus characters would go from being anime to being real humans. This visual difference is more striking immediately, and you often find fans saying that the characters just don’t feel right. Persona and SMT are known for their demon enemies; very other-worldly, and often eldritch, creatures, that if transitioned to live-action might look odd in practical or CG effects. Sometimes, things are better left off in their original style, but we’ll see if Sega can go three for three.

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