Persona 4 – The Animation continues onward, and with the lead case and centrepiece of the story seemingly dealt with, everyone begins to refocus on being goofy teens again. Three of these eight episodes deal with something a bit serious, but in general this batch of episodes is all about goofy school hijinks and having a bit of a laugh. Does this makes-sense-given-the-game switch to school life comedy work in the anime series? Read on!
Yu Narukami and his friends are finally free from the shadow that had been cast over them by the murderer and his involvement with the alternate TV world. Now all that’s left is to remember how to be a kid again… well, until a certain detective shows up and starts to wonder if the case truly is over…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The cast… mostly. Missing is Naoto (again!) and Yosuke is an old man, but hey-ho. Close enough.
Yu Narukami (Daisuke Namikawa / Johnny Yong Bosch) – After finishing off the case that has been hanging over his head, Yu begins to live a normal life again, which for Yu means being the literal nicest guy in the world, to anyone… anywhere.
Yosuke Hanamura (Showtaro Morikubo / Yuri Lowenthal) – Yosuke, relieved to have the killer of his friend behind bars, now concentrates on his responsibilities with his father’s Junes store, and his friends. (School is a distant third!)
Chie Satonaka (Yui Horie / Erin Fitzgerald) – Like her friends, Chie is once again settling back into her life as a normal school student, the drama and madness seemingly behind her.
Yukiko Amagi (Ami Koshimizu / Amanda Winn-Lee) – Yukiko is back to being partly a student, partly a worker at her parents Inn, where she is now settled and fine with her destiny to one day inherit it.
Kanji Tatsumi (Tomokazu Seki / Matthew Mercer) – Kanji is a tough, thuggish guy outwardly, but actually a nice guy underneath. This is something he is still coming to terms with as he continues to hang out with his new group of friends… though that’s not the only thing he’s struggling with…
Teddie (Kappei Yamaguchi / Sam Riegel) – Teddie is a mystery. He was a large, empty teddybear-like thing in the TV world, but since then he “grew” a human body inside the suit and has began living with his friends there. His whole past is still unknown to him, but he’s decided to live in the present and try to ignore the past…
Rise Kujikawa (Rie Kugimiya / Laura Bailey) – Rise was an idol who has since settled into being a regular student with her new friends. That being said, somewhere deep inside Rise still wants to walk the path she left, but somehow differently. Either way, with the murderer behind bars, she can concentrate on such things now…
Naoto Shirogane (Romi Park / Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) – A child detective prodigy from a proud family of detectives, Naoto has a big secret that’s eating away at him, and it has nothing to do with the murder case he is still convinced is not over, and everything to do with the “him” part…
Tohru Adachi (Mitsuaki Madono / Johnny Yong Bosch) – Adachi is a rather pathetic member of the local law enforcement, made even more obvious by the straight laced work done by his direct superior, Ryotaro Dojima.
Ryotaro Dojima (Unshō Ishizuka / John White) – Ryotaro lost his wife in a hit and run, and that case is still all that drives him, to the point where he has began to neglect his daughter. Sooner or later he has to face up to this fact…
Nanako Dojima (Akemi Kanda / Karen Strassman) – Nanako is Ryotaro’s daughter and had gotten used to being alone, until his cousin Yu arrived. The two have formed a brother-sister relationship and this has made the void left by her father all the more obvious to her…
Igor and Elizabeth (Isamu Tanonaka / Dan Woren and Miyuki Sawashiro / Michelle Ann Dunphy) – Igor and his assistant Elizabeth are the mysterious denizens of the “Velvet Room”, this time taking the form of the inside of a limousine. They guide Yu on his journey, but never directly interfere.
and many more!
Yeah, this picture has been meme’d to hell… oh well, it was still funny!
Well, first up let’s talk about the final party member recruitment adaptation involving the child detective Naoto, which takes place over episodes 16 and 17. You see, Naoto is beginning to hang out with Yu and co. because he thinks they know more about the case than they let on, and in fact ends up targeted and placed in the TV world himself. I say himself, but it turns out that Naoto is a girl, having dressed and did her best to look like a boy because she wasn’t being taken seriously in her role as detective otherwise. It’s an interesting story, seeing the normally so calm and collected Naoto become more emotional as her true story comes out, and eventually becoming okay with who she is was a good story. Once again Yu is the super-nice anchor that helps her through the battle with her inner shadow.
The next episode on from that, Episode 18 in case you’ve lost the ability to count, is far more serious still and involves Ryotaro and the truth that he’s been battling with the case of his wife’s death all this time and the effect its had on his daughter Nanako. Despite the silly premise of a lot of the game/show, this episode manages to be actually quite dramatic and touching.
As I said in the opening paragraph, the rest of the episodes are silly fun episodes. The one that sticks out the most in my mind is episode 15, where everyone goes on a school trip to Tatsumi Port Island and eventually ends up “drunk” in a bar together. There are some properly funny moments, especially Yu suddenly becoming some weird open-shirted pimp.
Episode 19 sees a cultural festival and is a mixed bag. Yu is once again the star here (literally being the lead protagonist, but you know what I mean) when their class’s group date concept ends up with two girls and four boys and he jumps at the chance to be on the girls side and takes it weirdly stoically seriously, which effects Yosuke in weird ways. It’s juvenile, but I can’t say it wasn’t funny. The episode also featured a side story about Yu doing his super-nice guy shtick and helping a young girl who is trying to play the trombone, which is a nice little… thing.
Episode 20 ending on Yu receiving a note simply saying “don’t save anyone anymore”, which was a nice notice to the viewer that things are about to get a bit more serious…
A classic example of a picture that will make no sense to someone not familiar with the scene in question!
Episode 20, set entirely at Yukiko’s family’s Inn, has its moments (showing how Yukiko has matured for one) but is mostly that old anime cliché of the boys trying to sneak into the girls bedrooms and of course your typical hot spring mishaps. It’s not bad, it’s just … an old trope by now, and I wasn’t that interested.
Episodes 13 and 14 are fine, I like how the story of Yu having several jobs to pay for several things spiralled out of control, but in the end he was a super nice guy again to a bunch of strangers (as he needed to be in the game to get all the arcanas, but you know, just saying within the anime it seems funny). Episode 13, which focused on Nanako and her attempts to find out what Yu was doing felt… I don’t know, unnecessary, and the two episodes could have easily been one single one.
Nothing major, each of these episodes had good in them, but were more negative than positive. Oh, actually, I nearly forgot, but the fact that Yu and Yosuke got aged to old men during the battle with Naoto’s shadow but the “camera” was always positioned so you couldn’t see their old man faces was just plain weird. Why not? Why censor that??
Wait, what’s happened to Yosuke’s hand? Ah whatever.
Unlike when I watched the Persona 3 films, which had to cram the game into four parts, Persona 4 has the space to do more comedy and to feature the NPC side characters from the game, and it’s mostly paid off. The way they did it, by having the more serious case over the first and final parts and having the middle as the mostly light-hearted comedy bit is a good way of doing it, though I’ll admit by the time the Inn antics of Episode 20 were happening I was ready for something a bit more interesting to happen… Still, not a bad set of episodes overall.