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!
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?
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.
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?
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.