Persona 4: The Animation – 02 Review

I said, I am yet to be impressed

Episode 02 – The Contractors Key

After last weeks opening episode for Persona 4, the question that has been on my mind (and probably some others too) is whether this second episode has managed to redeem itself.

I was tossing up between reviewing Persona 4 or Guilty Crown tonight but as you can see Persona won and I shall leave M0rg0rth to review Guilty Crown for tonight.

Review

[Disclaimer: have not played the Persona 4 game] I shall keep this review as short as possible.

My general opinion of this show was that this episode had somewhat piqued my interest about the mystery of the deaths despite the fact that the show still suffers from the same issues that episode 1 had.

Once again this episode has yet to integrate a personality into the main character and it is looking like this would be the case with the series being lead on by a shadow like main character. This would probably make the fans happy due to the mere fact that this show seems to stick true to its origins, but for someone like me who has yet to play the game, a dull main character makes for a dull show.

Yuu takes on the role of the provider of knowledge in this series. (At least this was how I saw his character as being) He enlightens the cast with useful deductions that pushes the plot along like his observation of the poster for instance. Throughout the episode he continues this trend and pushes the supporting cast to act and move the plot forward.

The supporting characters (bear, flirting duo –  Chie, Yousuke) have personalities that simply over empower Yuu and it feels like they take the main stage. I had found this episode more interesting than the last simply due to the focus placed on Yousuke whilst Yuu takes on a background role.

The bear was…. odd to say the least. He appears as a comic relief for the series and whilst it does lighten up the mood, I did get annoyed by his voice and his random reactions.

The start of the episode was the same as the first episode’s with the 2 characters in the car(?) talking to the audience/Yuu. This show has its moments of being in 1st person and I find this to be slightly annoying. Once again, it works well in a first person gaming scenario and this scene would be faithful to the game (i assume) but when I am watching the show as a 3rd person, I tend to not want to be suddenly tossed into a first person role. It felt disruptive towards the whole atmosphere building of the show in relation to the audience.

This brings me to the atmosphere. The only time a decent soundtrack is used is when the production team felt the need to point out an important clue or turning point in the plot. The rest of the time, we are once again filled with empty silence. I did like those “new clue” moments, but I would have like things to have a more consistency and a more fluid trend.

Then we have the plot, it once again felt rushed. Points were thrown out at us one after another and we are forced to absorbed all the facts. We jump from one scene to another and the plot moves along at such a fast pace that no thought is paid to the buildup of the atmosphere. Others have said that this is most likely due to the amount of content that the game has and how it would be hard to fit it into such a limited amount of time. However, this does not change the fact that I felt like the end product was a choppy episode that made it even more obvious when they were transiting through the various scenes. It basically felt like a power point presentation episode with the writers having a list of things that they needed to cover in this episode and they simply went “check, check, check”.

Talk about being Mr. Obvious by that point in the scene. =P

Even the fight scene this week felt choppy and quick. There was not much of a fluidity when it came to the way the fighting happened in my opinion and whilst there were decent moments of action, the end result felt pretty much like a “final blast. bam. the end.” (Sine the buildup of the fighting scene focused more on the characters) However the psychological aspect between the characters was played out in a decent manner and I quite liked that part.

The good thing about this episode were that the clues that were dropped in this episode has finally made me feel like the mystery is taking shape and a more front seat role which means that I am getting more interested the development of the story. Also, I appreciated the explanation of the Personas as well as the process by which Yousuke had obtained his as it was fun to watch.

A few other things I would like to mention in a more powerpoint style:

  • I would like an explanation of how Yuu knew about Personas (intro scene does not say much about what had happened)
  • Explanation of what a Persona really is about. (as in about their form and backstory)
  • Character designs still suffer from the same terrible use of gradient on their faces
  • Why do they go to the store to enter the TV when Yuu manage to enter the screen (his hand) from his home TV set?
  • Who gave them the idea that a rope would even be of any use?
  • What normal store would not question the actions of the 3 teens in the Television section?
  • The auto-tuning of Yousuke’s shadow to make it sound evil was fun to watch and came across nicely.
  • Only time we actually get to see some personality with Yuu was when he punched Yousuke and took a more proactive role and I liked it

It is good that all of us agree on this point when it comes to this show.

Overall it was a more entertaining episode as compared to the last but we still get no resolution regarding the issues that I had with the series as judged from the first episode.

Episode Rating: 7/10 – had some fun with it despite its more obvious issues (or maybe I had such a crappy day with maggots in my food and drink spilt all over me plus a fly landing in my lunch, that I am merely too numb and everything looks better than they may be. I am just saying…)

I guess my question is, which is worse in your opinion?
Too much information too quickly (Persona 4) or too little information over a long period of time (Blood-C)?
Both are at the different extreme ends but which would you enjoy more? At this point, I am not too sure.

-ra (tried to make it as concise as I could)

About Saranaufogus

An Anime fan who can't seem to keep her thoughts to herself. Find me on: Instagram | Twitter

Posted on October 14, 2011, in Anime, Persona 4: The Animation, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Persona 4 enthusiast

    Even though I’m a huge fan of the games, I can see exactly the point you make with regard to slideshows/ not filling the audience in entirely. Indeed the scenes should flow, not jump all the time. I suppose the only solution would be to make the show 52 episodes long instead, but i doubt that’d be viable.

    I agree with the fight scene analysis – some of the action was too quick and flashy – not really showing off much. However, given that persona is a turn based rpg, I must say the animators have been innovative enough so far with the more open fighting between shadows and izanagi.

    The gripe about the main character should disappear in the next few episodes – when you observe the eye catchers of the show (i.e. half way mark), you’ll see the main char’s stats displayed – his understanding etc was pathetic in the 1st epi. In the 2nd epi his courage has jumped a bit. I think over the next few episodes his social stats will increase, resulting in a more solid personality, breaking the mould of many jap animes where the main character is the focal point at the beginning of a series with an amazing jumped up personality.

    Overall 7/10 is a good verdict for those who haven’t played the games. Fans would rate it 8-9/ 10 IMO.

    Like

    • “I suppose the only solution would be to make the show 52 episodes long instead, but i doubt that’d be viable. ”

      Well, with this sort of animation plus the whole rumour about the production situation and the state of the jap animation industry, it would probably as you said, not a viable option.

      “you’ll see the main char’s stats displayed”

      Man, this is really like watching a game. lol. The thing is that with his change in personality it all seems too sudden. You don’t really understand where everything is coming from and his sudden change in actions becomes something we have to accept. =/

      “Overall 7/10 is a good verdict for those who haven’t played the games. Fans would rate it 8-9/ 10 IMO.”

      Well, I am not surprise about what the fans would rate this show. As for my 7/10, well I did enjoy this episode a lot more than the previous and have resigned myself to the fate that this series is going to play out to be in the manner that we have already seen from the first 2 eps. =) The mystery also does pick up in this ep and I sort of want to see more clues. heh

      Like

  2. tsubaki.seishuu

    I nearly thought that the rope part will be cutted, i thought that was funny X )
    and I saw your questions, i wanna answer them, without affecting the story i think…

    I would like an explanation of how Yuu knew about Personas?
    -The introduction, at the velvet room,
    Igor made a contract with him acquiring powers & new personas

    Explanation of what a Persona really is about.
    – just like its original meaning persona is the aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others. It’s like the manifestation of their self in another form. In the game, they are obviously used to fight, you can combine other persona to have even greater ones, but i guess this show will only stick on the original.

    Why do they go to the store to enter the TV when Yuu manage to enter the screen (his hand) from his home TV set?
    – originally they joked before that Yuu’s story (about his hand) is more believable on big screen, maybe that is why.

    Who gave them the idea that a rope would even be of any use?
    – That was just yosuke being stupid. no doubt. lol.

    What normal store would not question the actions of the 3 teens in the Television section?
    – I agree, maybe video cams was just being made that time.

    I am seeing the main character as going to be the supporting character in this story, well, originally he was portrayed as depicted as being a distant, but otherwise friendly, loner with a pessimistic outlook on life, he’s just being himself. blame the author for making him a dull character. If only he was made a lil’ cooler, then it’ll be more acceptable.

    & i agree with teddie’s horrible voice, ugh.

    Last question, which is worse in your opinion?
    Too much information too quickly (Persona 4) or too little information over a long period of time (Blood-C)?

    I like persona 4, at least it doesn’t make me sleepy.

    Like

    • Hey tsubaki.seishuu, =)

      “I nearly thought that the rope part will be cutted, i thought that was funny X”
      I wanted to smack my head with my hands when I saw that. It was a really “omg, you serious?” moment. lol. Stupid boys.

      “- I agree, maybe video cams was just being made that time.”
      Well, staff members usually roam the area as well. lol,

      “I like persona 4, at least it doesn’t make me sleepy.”

      Awww, Blood-C had me laughing at how bad it was at times. lol

      P.S: They should have made Teddy a silent character that holds up those paper cards with notes on them. =P

      Like

      • tsubaki.seishuu

        yeahp that’s why I thought it was funny, I could’ve sworn I even remember yosuke bringing a mop along with him 😄

        – well, aside from video cams,
        normally people would check first if the coast is clear, plus, yosuke is the son of the manager in junes, they were just lucky or the staffs just don’t really care about them, besides, I think they only got 2/3 staffs there since in the middle of nowhere.. and no good security around.

        -I can’t even laugh at blood-c, i was concentrating wishing it to end so badly, i only appreciated it until the late 2 episodes…

        and ohhh~ i actually like teddie’s voice in the game, and even more at the half of the game ; )

        Like

      • tsubaki.seishuu

        @eterychan

        -Yosuke is the sooon of the manager, they must have think they don’t need to pay him attention, plus not much staffs or visitors to see them i guess.

        -about teddy? hmm, i dunoo, but i don’t think so, Teddy has his own mystery himself

        -That is right, Tv is actually not the problem, its just a chance that junes was their rendezvous place since its the very first place they all get sucked on the tv

        Like

      • “-I can’t even laugh at blood-c, i was concentrating wishing it to end so badly, i only appreciated it until the late 2 episodes…”

        Aww, that sucks. You have to think of it as a horrible comedy. I think it was so bad that it was kinda entertaining at times. =P

        Like

  3. Why do they go to the store to enter the TV when Yuu manage to enter the screen (his hand) from his home TV set?

    Isn’t his home TV set too small for the whole body to go through?

    Like

    • I thought they could crawl into it. =P hahaha, i mean, it is a bit less… erm… conspicuous.

      Like

    • tsubaki.seishuu

      -actually, when you play the game. you’ll really use your television at home.

      Like

    • I don’t know if this count as spoiler, but here’s the explanation.

      1. Persona = People’s mask
      As persona series is heavily influenced by Carl Jung’s theory, persona itself means a mask that you put on yourself when you’re facing other people. In this ep, you’ll see Yousuke’s mask, where he put a happy-genki chara, while actually he feel annoyed by everything around him, trying to ignore them by putting his ‘mask’.
      Later on, you’ll find the other characters’ ‘mask’, and about the explanation of what ‘persona’ is, Naoto will explain it later, and I think it would be more interesting if you found it by yourself.

      2. About the chara design
      I guess it’s Shigenori Soejima’s style.

      3. Why at Junes?
      Actually they could go to the TV world from any TV, but they could end up at a very different location, and it’s not always a safe place. The place where Kuma’s always lurking is the safest one, or at least in the game.

      4. Rope
      Yousuke is the one coming with the idea.

      5. 3 teens entering TV
      The TV section in Junes is usually deserted.

      6. MC’s personality
      He doesn’t even has a name on the game. Poor guy ^_^

      Like

  4. – Why didn’t any staff or worker or visitor see them entering the TV?
    – How come nobody approached the girl asking her “what happened over there?” when she complained and ramble on the floor?
    – The design of the bear is too kiddy/stupid and doesn’t match the dark theme of the story.
    – TV size is not a problem, didn’t they exit that yellowish world through old, small television?

    Like

    • tsubaki.seishuu

      @eterychan

      -Yosuke is the son of the manager, they must have think they don’t need to pay him attention, plus not much staffs or visitors to see them i guess.

      -about teddy? hmm, i dunoo, but i don’t think so, Teddy has his own mystery himself

      -That is right, Tv is actually not the problem, its just a chance that junes was their rendezvous place since its the very first place they all get sucked on the tv

      Like

  5. This episode was hands down better than the last one, but as it’s been said, its still missing something to set it apart. I have however pretty much accepted that I will be watching it now that its available for streaming on hulu + lol.

    What I think this episode did do correctly, was to have those supporting characters play more of a role, and from the way things went, it a bit easier to predict that at some point the girl will have to deal with some deep-rooted psychological issue and then gain control of a Persona of her own in an episode down the road. If anything this anime will be redeemed by everyone except the main character, nothing personally against him, its just that with such an underwhelming personality, its hard to view him as central to the story, beyond the fact that he made the first contract, and stumbled onto the TV world first.

    As far as this vs. blood C, I think Persona’s first 2 episodes are stronger than Blood C’s; we know more or less that its a murder mystery, and we can kinda guess what direction the show is going to take as far as mood and plot. Blood C started out as essentially an inconsequential slice of life with a well animated 5 minute fight scene at the end of the first few episodes, and that’s probably what killed its viewership. If its a choice between going to fast or too slow, I say go fast, I’d rather be confused and entertained, instead of confused and bored.

    Like

  6. @eterychan

    “Why didn’t any staff or worker or visitor see them entering the TV?”

    Your guess is as good as mine.

    “when she complained and ramble on the floor?”

    My question is why haven’t we seen any of the store clerks or staff?

    “TV size is not a problem, didn’t they exit that yellowish world through old, small television?”

    You are right. Which means that they could have simply gone through his TV at home anyway. lol

    @vishous
    Still no wordpress account or twitter or facebook? =P

    “its still missing something to set it apart”

    A coherent storytelling format and a personality. =P

    “What I think this episode did do correctly, was to have those supporting characters play more of a role”

    Yup, I liked that fact as well since it made it so much more interesting to watch.

    “I’d rather be confused and entertained, instead of confused and bored.”

    So I guess this won’t be a case of “slow and steady wins the race?” =P

    Like

    • lol, I guess I’m easily swayed by peer pressure. but on the plus side perry the platypus is cooler than that random bat.

      I found that that format was easy enough to follow in this episode, as far as being able to process the information they did give, the problem was that they still left some presumably important things out, like why the persona’s became playing cards or, how he keeps ending up in the velvet room.

      Actually the biggest storytelling issue I had with this, was right when they went into the TV world and started doing slapstick with the bear, I could’ve sworn they were visibly torn up because a classmate, and yosuke’s crush, died literally two scenes earlier. In that case I concede that fast wasn’t better because it was a less believable character reaction, but then again I don’t think it would’ve helped the ep if they had spent that entire time wallowing about it.

      Off to amazon to find a super cheap used version of this game an order it if possible. Even if it is a shaky anime at this point, the game looks like it would be an interesting story to get into based on the show’s silent protagonist adaptation.

      Like

    • “lol, I guess I’m easily swayed by peer pressure”

      I call it a positive influence. =D

      “but on the plus side perry the platypus is cooler than that random bat.”

      I am sad to say that i think that is the definition of cute – ugly but adorable. But it does look kinda psychedelic.

      “Off to amazon to find a super cheap used version of this game an order it if possible.”

      Do you usually use Amazon for your games? Have you checked out the prices at YesAsia? They do free international shipping and their pricing are usually pretty decent. (at least a lot cheaper than most local places)

      Like

      • I’ve used amazon for games 2 or 3 times in the past, the prices for the older games tend to be very reasonable, whereas a store like bestbuy or gamestop would still try to sell them at near full price, even 2 or 3 years down the line if the game is popular. I checked YesAsia, but they only carry the Japan version, and its a bit more expensive than the used copies listed on amazon, plus I can’t read kanji, or speak the language aside from the very commonly repeated phrases in any anime’s I’ve seen. Looks like it would be a good import site, tho, I’ll keep it in the bookmarks

        Like

      • I usually use that store for new games since it is cheaper.

        Bookmarking it is a good idea =)

        Like

  7. I am very comfortable watching this series. The flow of information seems normal to me. Honestly, I did not try and think of watching this through the eyes of someone who did not play the game first.

    Now that I tried, I think your review is spot on, if a little harsh. Yuu, at the beginning of the game, feels like an outside. It’s only until later that more of his personality (Which is shaped by the player) appears.

    Maybe the anime is fan service to the game’s players.

    Like

  8. “Why do they go to the store to enter the TV when Yuu manage to enter the screen (his hand) from his home TV set?”

    because they have to gather in one place

    “Who gave them the idea that a rope would even be of any use?”

    chie will use the rope to pull them out if they not meet that bear

    “What normal store would not question the actions of the 3 teens in the Television section?”

    because yosuke is the son of the mall owner

    Shadows are malevolent manifestations of one’s inner thoughts, while a Persona is a manifestation of the same feelings but tamed

    hope that explained it for youa

    Like

    • Not to mention that the TVs they have at home are too small to enter. They do lamp shade that in the game, I think. But not until later (One of the characters ask “Why Junes?”)

      I don’t want to spoil.

      Like

    • “chie will use the rope to pull them out if they not meet that bear”

      The rope was never going to work though. I mean, it is kinda like a cross dimension thing anyway.

      “because yosuke is the son of the mall owner”

      I understand that but even then, mall owner does not mean that they have control over the stores. Also, the people working there would be curious if they saw someone enter a TV anyway.

      “hope that explained it for you”

      yup. that helped. thanks!

      “I don’t want to spoil.”

      good good, don’t spoil it for me =P I shall wait and see. As long as it is explained I won’t worry about that then.

      Like

      • “The rope was never going to work though. I mean, it is kinda like a cross dimension thing anyway”
        just yosuke and MC don’t think that

        and please keep review it without playing the game, i want to know how someone who never played the game feel about the anime

        Thank you

        Like

      • and stay out of any youtube, anime forum, review about this anime/game (myanimelist forum for example), some of them already spoiled who the true killer without spoiler tag, the only safe place i found is animesuki, and people there seem to be really nice

        Like

      • “and stay out of any youtube, anime forum, review about this anime/game (myanimelist forum for example), some of them already spoiled who the true killer without spoiler tag, the only safe place i found is animesuki, and people there seem to be really nice”

        Thanks for the heads up on that! =) Will try to keep my eyes closed and avoid spoilers. =P

        Like

  9. I thought this episode was an improvement with the support characters doing more and Yuu is getting more involved as well. The music was also better integrated in.

    I think Yukiko’s … admirer should have set off everyone’s rapist alarms. So, some guy with blank eyes you never met has been waiting for you all morning while standing in the rain. Without even introducing himself he asks, no, demands that you go “hang out” somewhere and storms off calling you a bitch when you refuse. Yup, I’m sure he will never bother you again! *crowd laughter*

    Like

    • “I thought this episode was an improvement with the support characters doing more and Yuu is getting more involved as well”

      Yup, it was definitely better in that aspect.

      “I think Yukiko’s … admirer should have set off everyone’s rapist alarms.”

      I have not lived in a small quiet town that has murderers. Maybe this is a common situation. =P Lol

      Like

  10. I also have something to say about the game/anime characterization, in this, not only persona but characters also divided in 22 MaJor Arcana of the tarot card, each Arcana represent a personality and possible future.
    MC or Yuu represent The Fool Arcana: A person just start their journey, they are nothing yet but hold infinite potential and can become anything
    Yosuke represent The Magcian Arcana: action, initiative, self-confidence, manipulation and power but somewhat immature.
    i will explain Chie and others later because it would be spoiler, but i can tell you that Chie represent The Chariot Arcana

    Shadow here is also not some random big bad monter, They also represent A Major Arcana, but the reverse meaning, or the negative side of the card (note that the characters also represent the reverse meaning of Their Arcana before they face their shadow)

    Shadow Yosuke represents the reverse of not only Yosuke himself, but also the Magician Arcana. The reversed Magician represents one with power, but who is cruel and misuses that power. Shadow Yosuke has the power of insight into Yosuke’s motives, but uses that power to mock and humiliate him.

    As you can see Yosuke before face his shadow also misuses his power as the son of Junes owner

    Not only big shadow, but the first three shadow also represents the reverse Meaning of their Arcana( you can tell what’s their arcana through their mask, in this case, they also represents The Magcian Arcana):the reversed Magician aloso means someone who is ruthless and extremly immature. This is the reason those shadow relentlessly followed the team even thought they ran away. and sill attack even when MC have summoned his persona that seem much more powerful than them.

    Like

  11. I’d like to say that they enter the other world from the same t.v so they dont end up in a random place…but i do agree that the show does feel kind of rushed even for someone who played the game

    Like

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