Persona 4 – 03 Review
Okay, so you may notice how I avert calling the main-character by his name, here’s why: He’s clumsy, lazy and has only basic understanding-capabilites. If you ask me that sounds like a description for a monkey rather than a human! Perhaps I will call him by his name when he levels up a bit…
Episode Reviewed by M0rg0th and Saranufogus
This week the Midnight Channel is once again the centre of attention for all the fun-seeking teenagers in the boring little town of… wherever the story plays. And surprisingly as if last episode’s death wasn’t bad luck enough this time it’s even someone who actually had a fair share of screentime! But before the main-chara, Yousuke and Chie can help Yukiko, it’s time for Chie’s ‘Me&Me’-session so that she can man up enough for her own Persona. And once again we’re taught the valuable lesson that being evil is NOT bad… but not knowing that you are is!
A few years ago Yukiko is sitting in the rain holding a puppy as Chie appears trying to cheer her up since Yukiko is heartbroken over the decision of her parents to abandon this little nice dog. But Chie announces to take care of the dog so that he won’t end up alone again. But what Yukiko doesn’t realize is that Chie didn’t just mean the dog with that.
Back in the present Chie storms into the classroom telling Yousuke and the main-dude that the girl in the last Midnight Channel was Yukiko. But as soon as Chie wanted to go again to search for her, she gets a message from her saying that she’s busy helping her family and can’t come to school. Asking themselves who then is that girl who supposedly dies this night the three go to the electronic-store and use their usual entrance-point to talk with Teddie. But he hasn’t seen anyone entering the world so they leave again confused what this all means. In the following night the Midnight Channel makes it clear that it is Yukiko who’s about to die. The next day after some complications with the police the three enter the TV-World in search of Yukiko but Chie’s Shadow is acting up once again tormenting its original by telling her what kind of douche she exactly is. But with the help of Yousuke and the main-dude she can overcome the shadow and can accept what a douche she is judging by the darkest corners of her soul. After that they go back but as Chie starts to pity herself the main-dude interjects by assuring her that she did the right thing by acquiring her Persona since the difficulty-level of the enemies increases exponentially after this point.
Old news, pal… That’s obviously why they have to rescue her and not the other way around.
I still feel like Persona 4 is flawed on a basic level. This series appears to be so faithful to its source-material that I get the better deal by playing the game while the anime doesn’t add anything to the experience of the story. If you want to know what Persona 4 is like you play the game while the anime is just a kind of summary without the gameplay elements (the interactive ones at least…).
This episode continued the mystery of the Midnight Channel and its predictions for the next murder-victim. Episode 02 also alluded to the fact that these victims all ended up in the TV-World and perhaps not because they wanted to spend their holidays there. The mystery-aspect doesn’t get deeper this episode and since I’m assuming there’s more to it than what I know right now, I didn’t really like the way the characters basically accepted what they know and based on that the story repeated itself more than it developed. The Midnight Channel shows the next victim, it’s Yukiko and so they try to rescue her. It doesn’t add anything to what I’ve learned from the first two episodes. But I guess this is better than the rushed development in episode one so it isn’t good that there’s no real development here but I think if that means the pacing is planning for the long-term perspective now, I’m okay with that.
When I say that the story repeats I mean of course Chie’s ‘Me&Me’ this week where we learn again that some of us shockingly aren’t the innocent angels we expect to be. It’s really simply what kind of trope is chosen here and how psychology is used as a camouflage for your usual drama of teenage-insecurity. It’s surely not the most subtle way of dealing with characterization but as a game-mechanic it’s a neat idea as you can link these ‘Me&Me’-sessions to battles. Exactly, it makes sense in a game. In an anime there should be a bit more subtlety and complexity added to that.
Yeah, because it must be a miracle in case that ever happens…
I can just say that the story’s totally fine – but it’s one made for a game. It has the straight-forward, linear structure a game must have because it’s bound by the game’s rules. For God’s sake, making the main-character a blank slate whose character comes into being through character-interaction which also makes his Persona’s stronger and gives him new options in choosing his Personas – that’s a goddamn game-mechanic! Actually I find the idea hilarious of taking over such a “XP-system” for an anime-adaptation. You just have to feel like watching someone play the game when the main-chara’s attributes are raised each episode due to his achievements. Something like that happens in games – not in TV-series.
So it’s understandable that our low-level protagonist is still very bland and dull but I think, the rest of the cast is decent enough. They won’t win a charisma-award in my book but Chie, Yousuke and Kuma are solid characters so far. What surprised me was how well the series can handle actual humour. The best moment was when the dull main-guy punched Yousuke and said with a monotone “Ah, I’ve punched the wrong one.”. That was good. At other times the jokes are about how emotionless the dull main-guy is and at times like this I laugh, it’s funny – but I feel like I laugh about the series instead of with it. These sequences feel more like the series’ pointing at its own mistakes and says: “See how stupid that is?!”. Well, it is stupid – and as far as I remember Persona 4 isn’t a comedy-series. That’s why I think some of that humour is kinda mood-breaking because it goes into completely another direction than the psycho-horror of the shadows and the rest of the mystery-setting. I don’t know how it’s done in the game where the story has more time to build up and give the player a break before the mood changes again. But in this series it’s just inconsistent how the humour and horror jumps around like the ball in a squash-match.
One part of the story, though, I really hate and I think I would also hate it when I encounter it during the game: The Velvet Room sequence… Perhaps someone who has played the game can tell me that I’m hopefully wrong but as what I understand these sequences mean that the main-dude met at some point the guys from the Velvet Room. And they told him a whole bunch of VERY useful information – he just can’t remember anymore… except in some convenient moments so as to create a strange kind of plot-twist. And this whole thing seemingly happens to him every time he sleeps (?) so as to provide moments for exposition explaining why he’s awesome and the rest’s just a side-dish. I hate this kind of obvious plot-device. The only way to stop me from hating this is getting a reasonable explanation for this from the story. But until this happens, I simply hate it.
The first episode left me doubtful whether I will ever learn to like this series but the past two episodes did some good work in winning me over again to follow this series. But some of the more basic problems I have with this show still remain and while I have to say that it’s a good story, as an anime-adaptation it fails. It’s just a very unimaginative copy of the game’s story produced with minimal effort. Whatever you may like about this series, you get more out of it by playing the game.
Here is my late review of P4 ep 4. =P
By now we have probably resigned ourselves to the fact that this show is a animated version of a game play, it is not an adaptation of a game or the story, nope, it is the game…just animated… So I guess the questions comes down to, how does it actually feel watching such a show as someone who has not played the game?
My biggest gripe with this series is probably the way the characters are not given enough time to deal with the situations that they are thrust into. The episode did well in using the fact that we know already about Yukiko and is simply building upon that fact. As such, the plot did not appear as rushed this time around for me since some prior character development was done. Because of that, we are able to understand Chie’s fixation with Yukiko and her what Yukiko is really like (whom I am going to assume will play a major part in this series soon enough).
However, when I had said that the characters are not given enough time to deal with the situations, I was referring to things like how Chie accepted the Persona without any questions asked, she did not ask about what the Personas are meant to be used for or why she was even chosen etc. (things one would expect a normal person to ask). Then we also have the situation with how Yu attains his second Persona and is told that he is the “chosen one” (which I am expecting the series to explain what that means in the near future). Yu simply looks in awe and uses the Persona yet never questions what the whole Chosen One thing is about or worry about it. =/ I am hoping that the Velvet Room scene at the beginning of the episode are snippets of something that had happened before Yu’s arrival at the town and thus the reason behind’s Yu’s peculiar acceptance towards all theses things is due to this prior meeting/knowledge.
Speaking of the Velvet Room, I actually like the use of the scene to disclose small titbits of information. I am hoping that this will go on through out the rest of the series but at the same time, I am hoping that this does not turn into a Blood-C where the information is so little that we are constantly still baffled by what things are in the show. It would be nice if it was used as a “buffer” or sorts for the episode by letting us know information that would pertain to our understanding of what happens next as it is easy to still feel lost amongst all this plot development.
Moving on from that… I am also going to talk a bit about the whole idea of the Yu’s stats being shown in the mid-ep break. =P
I guess this is an example of the show wanting to bring the game to the front of our minds. However, as a stand alone item in an anime, it is a very odd thing to be shown stats on a main character, especially when personality of that said character is included. =P There is no explanation of why the main character would even have stats to begin with and the setting of this series is not set up in a game manner (e.g. their powers having a gauge etc) but takes itself as though it is reality in the Persona world. I am not sure if the stats are something that every human will end up having in this series or if there is a reason why Yu started off with a blank slate (maybe something to do with being the chosen one?). For now, this element is just another fan-service aspect that makes me feel that this show is very obviously targeted at the fans and I am starting to wonder if they are deliberately trying to ignore the rest of the population (or perhaps include us non-gamers in on the reason as to why Yu is the way he is through this). Personally, I am confused about what this element is meant to do.
I thought that this was actually kinda funny but I am wondering if this is him really taking a crack at a joke or his lack of a personality shining through thus acting as good comic timing?
Similar to last episode, Yu takes a back seat once again and we are left dealing with Chie’s issues. I actually quite like the fact that although Yu had cracked that joke and is showing some personality. However, his stats quite obviously shows us that he is yet to be up to par of being an entertaining main character. Hopefully the rest of the cast will driving the series whilst Yu slowly “grows” his personality. =P
What I did not like was the lack of progression with regards to the mystery and that the format of the episode played out similar to Yousuke’s one with Chie coming to the realization about herself (in a cliche manner) and accepting the Persona. However, I did like Chie’s story a lot more than Yousuke’s one so I was entertained watching it.
Half blue half hair… A smurf that hasn’t shave in a few days? I know! A new alien species! =D =P
The show still has the issues that it has had over the last few episodes – which is the terrible gradients (which will obviously never change and I am starting to sound like a broken record. I don’t care about the reason, just change it dammit, it’s getting on my nerves and it’s ugly T^T I keep thinking that even the little girl has a beard. It is kinda disturbing. hair growth everywhere).
The soundtrack still sticks out like a sore thumb (no longer because it is odd, since I think I am used to it) but more due to the overwhelming silence prior to any music being played, it is always so sudden and does not take the time to ease into the music. This is similar to how the show’s transition between scenes is choppy in manner and does not try to ease into the different scenes but simply cut from one to another.
I think the dog would have made a cuter guide than the bear. =P That dog looks so cute!
Overall, this episode’s plot is better than the last couple of episodes and the show is slowly building up. I am still not fully sold on how the show is going to play out and what the main focus is meant to be since it is split between the Personas and the actual alternate universe mystery/death at this stage. Hopefully things will become clearer soon and hopefully the series will learn to build on it’s atmosphere instead of rushing things.
Since it is only episode 3 in a 2 season run show, I am assuming that we are still in the character development stage and plot building stage so I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Thus far, the plot line is no intriguing masterpiece. Perhaps by episode 7 the show would have eased into things, slowed things down and the anticipation levels would have been built up by an interesting plot then.
Episode rating – 6.5/10 – Still waiting to see if the plot would end up becoming more interesting since it is only mediocre right now.