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Amateur vs. Expert: PERSONA 4 #11

> You begin to suspect that your bowl is a portal to the Meat Dimension.

Welcome to Amateur vs. Expert, a new column wherein noted anime layperson Nick Robinson (Babylonian) squares off against anime savant Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt). The goal? To take our two columns, Anime Amateur and Anime Examiner, and combine them for your reading pleasure. Let's get started!

Nick Robinson:

As this show goes on, I'm starting to think that my sole motivation to keep watching is for its moments of comedy. I mean, if I'm being totally honest, there's not a whole lot else here for me to chew on. It's a show with a plot I already know, a cast I associate with a different set of voices and an animation style which is frequently kinda ugly. Once you strip all that away, what's left is the fun little character moments. Luckily, this episode was full of those!

My predilection for hangout-y episodes has been well-documented in this column. While there's really no such thing as a slow-paced episode of Persona 4: The Animation, this episode had a relatively high amount of scenes where the cast is just sitting around, hanging out and talkin'. There was a lot of truly funny stuff in this episode: the humanoid Teddie reveal, the beef bowl stuff, the face on the decapitated bear suit, the fight Chie and Yosuke have in the background after they find some clothes for Teddie. It just felt like there was no shortage of stuff to smile at this week, and to me, that's when P4A is at its strongest.

What did you think of this week's episode, Kris?

Kristoffer Remmell:

I love funny gags in a series, as well; but my motivation is more toward a well crafted drama with interesting characters. Normally, I enjoy murder-mysteries to work out the mystery, but I already know the outcome from watching the Endurance Run. That doesn't stop me from enjoying what is an interesting show with a rather unique message, awesome battles, and cool music. I'm getting to see parts played out that the game glossed over. The beef bowl special was one of my favorite moments of the episode, but I'm a bit disappointed in one part of it. I think it would have been funnier if Chie had finished 20 minutes in and was waiting on the rest of them.

I wouldn't call this a "hang-out" episode. A twist has been thrown in with the death of Morooka. This episode was about building the plot around the idea that this nutcase Mitsuo Kubo is the killer everyone has been after. He's sure as hell creepy enough, but you don't need to be a master detective to know he's not. He's good at picking on people he sees as weak, but he backs down when challenged by someone bigger. Speaking of detectives, I love how Naoto was able to figure out that all the people who've disappeared originally appeared on the TV. It took the entire Investigation Team to work out that detail, but Naoto got it alone. It sells him better as a master detective. I will add that Rise has a lot of nerve telling him that he's playing around when that's what adults would say to them.

Readers may remember that Persona 4 has really worked to return the entire Japanese cast to reprise their roles. They even went so far as to use the old work of Isamu Tanonaka for Igor after he passed away. This episode bucks the trend. Noriko Kashiwagi is introduced, but she's voice by Hitomi Nabatame (voice of Margery Daw and Nanao Ise). In the game, Kashiwagi was voice by Sayaka Ohara, Margaret's actress. Strange that Sayaka is voicing Margaret but not Kashiwagi.

Nick Robinson:

Yeah, you're right, the action and music are both good. It just all ends up feeling like disposable entertainment to me. I still look forward to it each week, though! I think silly, for-fans-only type stuff like the beef bowl scene are a huge part of what keeps me watching P4A. I have to admit, though, I couldn't tell if the show was self-aware with the whole "beef bowl as a metaphor for the investigation" bit at the end of that scene. They seemed awfully sincere about such a goofy-ass topic!

Also, because I can't not say something about it: this episode was preeeetty ugly at times. Between Kanji's perpetual beady-eyedness and Naoto's eyes being drawn so far apart that he wound up looking like an alien, there were definitely parts of this episode that felt like the results of someone frantically trying to finish their homework right before class. I think we agree that Shigenori Soejima's character designs for Persona 4 are fantastic, which makes it all the more tragic that the show frequently looks like someone shittily traced one of his original sketches. Maybe they blew this episode's budget making Teddie as gorgeous as he was? Who knows!

Still, this episode was one I enjoyed. Even though we've seen Naoto in the show before, this episode felt like the character's introduction in earnest, and I consider him as much a member of the Investigation Team as anyone else. I'm definitely excited to see what goes down next week. What about you?

Kristoffer Remmell:

I certainly wouldn't describe it as disposable entertainment. That's more what I saw in Highschool of the Dead or Panty & Stocking. Sure, Persona 4 has gags, but it deals with character relations and themes that has me thinking outside of watching. There's a message to take in this. I think it's totally self aware of it's own humor. Just look at how it handled the special nikudon. How Aika even points out how it's normally only served on rainy days. It knows who the audience is. Seiji Kishi knows who his audience is.

The animation didn't bother me at all here, but I will agree that Naoto did look awkward at times. Though, things could be a lot worse. As to Teddie's transformation into a human. I don't know if it's just me, but his speech feels more annoying as a human than as a talking bear. I wonder if we give a level of concession to talking animals. Think of Scooby Doo. That speech impediment seems fine from a dog, but a boy talking in that way would be awkward. Though, maybe I just have to get used to it. Before he was innocent, and now he's so sexually aggressive. Keep this bear away from Nanako.

With Episode 11 behind us. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens in the next one. This episode showed a crack in the wall that is Yu Narukami. It's that sudden sign of vulnerability that this all may be over for his adventure that I find interesting, It's a funny twist for a guy who originally described himself as "stuck" there. He's really take on the role of the protagonist, and it's time to go back into the Midnight Channel. These dungeons are always a joy to see animated. Kubo's dungeon was a bit meta as the game within the game, but now how will those graphics look as anime? We shouldn't have long for that answer.

Seeing how this is the last Amateur vs. Expert before the holidays. On behalf of Nick and myself, I'd like to wish our readers a happy and safe holidays. Hope you all enjoy yourself, and we always like hearing from you in the comments.

Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ animevice / @ FoxxFireArt

Nick Robinson (Babylonian) is a Whiskey Media intern and a journalism student. Won't you follow him on Twitter at @Babylonian? He'd be ever so appreciative

TehFlanon Dec. 22, 2011 at 11:13 a.m.

The fact that the words 'Meat Dimension' were never uttered during the episode was incredibly disappointing.

Username_Undefinedon Dec. 22, 2011 at 11:22 a.m.

"I think it would have been funnier if Chie had finished 20 minutes in and was waiting on the rest of them."

This.

Also, maybe I just wasn't paying close attention, but I didn't really notice any bad spots in the animation, or if I did, I've forgotten about it.

mutha3on Dec. 22, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.

@TehFlan said:

The fact that the words 'Meat Dimension' were never uttered during the episode was incredibly disappointing.

Word.

Though, that particular bit of Endurance Run history might have been delivered to us by Atlus USA's badass localization team. (On that note, I'm pretty sure that scene with the beef bowl was meant to be tongue-in-cheek)

I'm with Nick on why this show is so fun. I love the fact that the people producing this are clearly big fans of the game. They really do a good job on hitting the right notes with the fanservice(that bit with the headless Teddy: Priceless). Two scenes impressed me this week:

Mitsuo flipping out in the chatroom. That was really well-done(the part where his hand hovers over Nanako was a little silly, though!) and this:

With Episode 11 behind us. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens in the next one. This episode showed a crack in the wall that is Yu Narukami. It's that sudden sign of vulnerability that this all may be over for his adventure that I find interesting, It's a funny twist for a guy who originally described himself as "stuck" there. He's really take on the role of the protagonist, and it's time to go back into the Midnight Channel. These dungeons are always a joy to see animated. Kubo's dungeon was a bit meta as the game within the game, but now how will those graphics look as anime? We shouldn't have long for that answer.

Agreed. Yu seemed really upset when he heard that the investigation might be over. I'm hoping they do something interesting with this later on. In the game, Adachi's whole " YOU ARE JUST LIKE ME YOU JUST DID IT BECAUSE IT SEEMED FUN" was pretty dumb, since they hadn't shown the IT being disturbingly invested into the thrill of tracking down the killer. Good of the anime team to sow some seeds!

EDIT: Also, Nick, did you deliberately pick those screenshots of the anime to emphasize your complaints with the artwork or is this a case of you randomly selecting images? Because, man, only the first and last screenshots look palatable.

PewPewLazerson Dec. 22, 2011 at 3:47 p.m.

About Teddie. The voice itself is weird but I don't find it that jarring when placed on his new form, after all this is Teddies approximation of what qualities he deems important in a human. As he mentions he has two main goals behind wanting to assume a human identity, those being to spend more time with the investigation team, and also to *ahem* 'score' with the ladies. Which is why he looks like your typical bishonen. I think his character design is really quite clever in that regard.

@mutha3:

I never saw his attack as forced, I mean its mentioned a few times in the game that the investigation itself gives them all a sort of binding purpose even if it isn't in itself something inherently fun. But I do agree that its a moment that could be lent more weight now that Yu has an actual definable personality. Before it was a comment that could probably be interpreted as something that was breaking the fourth wall, considering his status as a proxy for the audience
Draxyleon Dec. 22, 2011 at 6:37 p.m.

Great episode overall. Only wish that there was a little more tension buildup to the Teddy reveal. That moment was probably the most shocking in the entire game for me, it's unfortunate that they had to sort of rush through it. And the voiceactor.. makes me very glad for who we got in the English version. The JP one is a bit much and it definitely doesn't translate well into the human form as well as the NA version did. Nitpicky details though.

Loved the meat dimension cameo, it really amazes me how little they leave out of the anime. But where the hell is the fox? I hope they have plans for him.

l1ghtn1non Dec. 22, 2011 at 9:42 p.m.

@ReplicaRex said:

As this show goes on, I'm starting to think that my sole motivation to keep watching is for its moments of comedy. I mean, if I'm being totally honest, there's not a whole lot else here for me to chew on. It's a show with a plot I already know, a cast I associate with a different set of voices and an animation style which is frequently kinda ugly.

You should try and give it another shot. The first 3? episodes feel really odd with their pacing, almost like they are trying to rush through those parts or didn't know exactly how they wanted to structure the show; I was about ready to give up on it myself. However after that it really picks up the pace, and besides a few low points here and there it's been fantastic. I also loved the game and the Giant Bomb Endurance Run however so there may be a little bias; even so I think it stands on its own for someone who doesn't have any familiarity with the property.

zaldaron Dec. 23, 2011 at 6:48 p.m.

Ok question for those who have seen the show but not played the game or watched the endurance run. My problem with this show has been the pacing. We got a little closer to nanoko this episode which was necessary and I am glad to see. I agree they didn't spend enough time with the reveal of the body of teddy. Check out the endurance run to see the suprize this gave people in the game....the way they stopped and went..what the hell..was truly great. I also can't wait to see what they do with the next dungeon...

Did you remember who King Moron was? Did you feel bad about his death?
PewPewLazerson Dec. 24, 2011 at 3:20 p.m.

@zaldar: I refuse to believe that this works for non-fans, it would seem a bit of a mess truth be told.

You're right in that a lot of the familiarity with the characters is lost in translation, Nanako being one of the main culprits of this. In the show she is seemingly wheeled out at regular intervals to remind the audience that she is important in some way, you'd probably dislike her for this reason as a newcomer as she serves little purpose.

The same applies for Teddie, playing the game there are long stretches that you don't jump into the TV, and Teddie is left on his own. So when he says he is feeling lonely, you already know by that point.

zaldaron Dec. 24, 2011 at 8:13 p.m.

@PewPewLazers: I agree do we have anyone who hasn't watched the endurance run or played the game here that can tell us if she is annoying though? I think it was a mistake not to make it for non fans of the game to...would have had to add stuff sure to extend it some (or have more dungeon fights) but that could have been done well I think.

TwistedGameron Jan. 2, 2012 at 4:23 a.m.

"Even though we've seen Naoto in the show before, this episode felt like the character's introduction in earnest, and I consider him as much a member of the Investigation Team as anyone else."

something is wrong here

Babylonian staff on Jan. 3, 2012 at 8:53 a.m.

@TwistedGamer said:

"Even though we've seen Naoto in the show before, this episode felt like the character's introduction in earnest, and I consider him as much a member of the Investigation Team as anyone else."

something is wrong here

There are a few readers here who are 100% new to Persona 4. Early on, Kris and I discussed the best way to handle the Naoto 'twist,' and what we landed on was just using the male pronoun until the big reveal comes around. It's not perfect, but it's the best we could come up with!

darksakulon Jan. 8, 2012 at 1:46 a.m.

One day I should get into this game series. Think watching the anime is a good place to start, or should I head to the games first? Although I all most sold on the words "Meat Dimension" if I thinking it means food.

Dig Deeper into Persona 4: The Animation

Persona 4: The Animation is an anime based upon the popular PlayStation 2 game. People are going missing in the rural-town of Inaba. A team of high school students discover a world within the TV that is linked to the murders.

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