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!
They say that there are two sides to every story, and that can't be more true than in this Persona 4 Ep.14. It was Nanako's simple act of kindness to a Mysterious Fox that set what could have been a boring break from school into a sitcom summer for Yu Narukami. Even Nanako dressing up as Loveline was able to effect events that tied into Yu's job at the daycare. Though, how is it that he just happen to have the Teddy suit nearby? Best not to dwell on that detail. It was funny as hell. Having Yosuke narrating the story was an elegant touch. It wasn't really needed. It just added a certain level of grandeur to such silliness that made things even funnier.
The narrative of the game actually took a back seat in these last two episodes, and everything from the Investigation Team was summed up in the last few minutes. Part of me was hoping when this series began that they would flesh out the festival scenes more from the game, but what I saw here with the job side quests was much more fulfilling. Also, this series got me again! I never thought Tanaka or the books would appear. Yet here they are. That was a lot of fun.
I'm really amazed that here I was looking forward to the sensual scenes of Sayoko Uehara, but it was actually the tragic romance of the elderly Hisano Kuroda that really touched me. People love to romanticize big gifts given on birthdays or Valentine's, but it can be these simple gestures during less important events that hold so much more meaning. I think you lack romance in your heart if you didn't find that flashback emotionally moving. We didn't lack in some flirting. We now know that it's Arcana cards that pushes Margaret's buttons. When the boss isn't around, she's pretty forward. I like that. I still got to see something impressive from Sayoko that I didn't expect. That small woman can serious put away the beer. What are your thoughts on this one, Nick?
I really liked this one. This show is good at two things: doling out fanservice and providing original perspectives on the game's events. This episode was both of those things rolled into one!
I feel like I'm repeating the same criticisms of this show's visuals over and over, so I'll just say this: this show is at its best when the content is so pleasant that the frequently stilted visuals move to the back of my mind. This episode had its share of slideshow montages and scenes where nothing but the mouths moved, but I was so into what was actually happening onscreen that I just didn't find it as grating as usual. Crummy animation aside, this show is gradually swaying me to the position that it's a totally decent adaptation of the game. They had a fine line to tread in terms of balancing the risk between changing too much (as Trinity Soul did) and not changing enough. It's something they've pulled off a lot better than I ever would have expected. There's all the fanservice you'd expect, but also actual value in this show for P4 fans beyond the superficial "hey, I recognize that!" stuff.
And yeah, the last half of this episode was insane. In those last ten or so minutes, everything was popping off at once, Social Links were getting maxed out left and right, and Yu was struggling to keep up with it all. The breakneck pacing hearkened back to episode one for me, but instead of feeling like a Cliff's Notes, it felt like they abridged the game's side missions into one episode in a totally unique way. I'm down with that!
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I felt satisfied by this episode. From the throwaway references like Tanaka and Timid Teacher to the insane density of S-Links they managed to introduce and complete over the course of 25 minutes, this week's installment was nothing if not impressive. More episodes like this, please!
You can really tell that they shot this episode with the assumption that you saw the previous one. That's not too bold a step. The episode was interesting the way everything all tied into the last. Almost as if they filmed both together then cut it into it's individual parts. It could actually be kind of interesting if someone was to edit this and last episode in continuity to watch it as a whole.
A nice story element is how Yu was working so hard for cash that wasn't even going toward his original goal. If I learned anything from this episode is some of the outlandish prices of things in Japan. I mean, 8000 yen for an umbrella with a character printed on it. Sure, I think that talking magnifying class came with it, but still. Don't even get me started on the Neo Featherman robot. Exorbitant is an understatement. Yu may not have been saying anything, but I'm sure we had the same reaction to that price quote. "Bull$%&#!".
If Yu had just stayed out of business that wasn't his own. He could have earned the money quickly enough for Nanako's umbrella, It's through this process he helped a lot of people, earned a boat load of Arcana, and had one eventful summer break. At the price of a lot of sleep, apparently. It was through helping the fox that he still earned what he needed. That's just a good way to tell a story. Don't find the obvious path of getting to your conclusion.
I went back and checked. Once again the anime has reunited the original game cast for the voice actors of the major players here for Eri, Shu, Hisano, and Sayoko. That's pretty impressive for such brief roles, but that probably made it easier. I'm just hoping for that same level of dedication for the English release. I'm just not trying to get my hopes up too high. The game had a pretty good dub cast, but I was seriously disappointed in Sentai Filmworks previous dub.
It's definitely crazy that they got even the minor voice cast back. With no official sign yet or whether Sentai's gonna bother getting the game's cast back, it's growingly starting to look like the Japanese dub is the only one that'll get such a treatment. Bummer!
I don't know how I failed to mention it earlier, but man, seeing all the bear suit stuff from Yu's perspective only made it better. Seriously, what an hilarious and unique idea that was! That shot of his slumped over and exhausted in the smiling bear suit on the back of a city bus is gonna stick with me for a while. Haunting.
Between sleep-deprived, baggy-eyed Yu sprinting around the festival trying to get everything done and that ridiculous as hell fishing scene, this was one of my favorite episodes of the show yet. They packed so much stuff into it, but all of it was entertaining. As exhausting as it was to watch, it must've been even more exhausting to make. Well-done, P4A!
So what did you guys think of the episode? Let us know down in the comments!