Anime Vice News

Amateur vs. Expert: PERSONA 4 #23

The Investigation Team confronts Namatame at long last, with surprising results! Sort of!

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:

Phew! Another intense episode, but I guess we should get used to it, since everything's finally coming to a head. But man, cold-opening the show in a hospital room with Dojima standing over the body of his dead six-year-old daughter? Harsh! Appropriately, they held this relentlessly dark tone for pretty much the entire episode, and I think it mostly worked. The Dutch angles during the Investigation Team's reaction to Nanako's death were a little too wacky and kind of distracting, but other than that, everything was pitch-perfect. That many of the scenes had no musical score at all was a particularly effective choice, I thought - it made Yu and Yosuke's moment outside the hospital that much more poignant, and made it probably the first Yosuke scene I've ever been able to take seriously.

The ways this episode handled some of the events were, without a doubt, better than in the game. This is the part in Persona 4's story where things truly begin to jump off: tempers flare, lives are threatened, and things are at their absolute tensest. Although the game did an admirable job, it's still a very difficult thing to communicate with just voice work and simple PS2 character models. Because Persona 4: The Animation is, well, animation, the characters are able to interact in meaningful ways. Because of this, we get moments like Yu dragging Namatame across the hospital room by his shirt or, my favorite, holding him up to the TV the way someone might threaten to throw someone else off a building. These are fantastic, intimate dramatic details that you can't really get from a game whose character models scarcely ever touch.

In particular, I think Namatame's flashbacks explaining how he got wrapped up in all this are leagues better in this show than they were in the game. In Persona 4, his side of the story is told primarily through verbal explanation and a few narrated shots of him in his room. What we get in P4A is much more dynamic: watching him watch the Midnight Channel, his facial expressions, his reactions to the news of Yamano's death, his termination from his job, his failed attempt to convince Saki that she's in danger. It's all here, and it gives me a much better understanding not just of the moment-to-moment events that transpired, but of Namatame's perspective of the whole thing. He's a much more sympathetic character now and much less an unfortunate, slightly deranged city counselman.

If I had one issue with this episode (and, inevitably, I do), it's the way they depict Nanako's resurrection. As ambiguous as it was kept in the game, it's even more strange here: in one shot, she's practically laid out on a slab, dead as dead can be, just pale and surrounded by floral arrangements and just super dead, right? And then, in literally the next shot, she's back in her hospital bed surrounded by medical equipment with a pulse and everything? What gives? "It's a miracle" only explains away so much. I want to know how that nurse reacted when the dead girl she was prepping for the morgue suddenly had a heartbeat again. Did that stand out to you as weird, Kris?

Kristoffer Remmell:

While I agree with much of the criticism that BLEACH readers had against the Fullbring Arc. What I loved about it was where it took Ichigo Kurosaki emotionally. He always fought before to rescue someone, but you never felt he really hated the person he was fighting. He was more interested in defeating them and not killing. Though, when an enemy purposefully targeted all of Ichigo's friends and family to turn against him. He was the one who suggested killing. We get that same dark turn with Yu Narukami in this episode. That little red glare of rage in Yu's eyes as he was ready to kill Namatame was intense. It really felt as if he was going to cross that line, and it still felt completely natural when later he breaks down in tears outside the hospital. The dimensions of Yu have come a long way from the blank slate he started as. Persona 4 has turned out as one of the more brilliant examples of character development in anime I've seen in a long time. Along with that stat sheet. We have watched him grow in all areas.

The Namatame interview scene did not have this same level of intensity in the game. The animated version was boosted by seeing the dark atmosphere, the look in eyes of the team that Namatame could get away with murder, and the passion behind the voice acting. Though, finally getting to hear Namatame's side starts to make sense. You could almost understand his delusions. All the people he had thrown into the TV personally survived. He just didn't know it was because they were rescued by someone else. The Midnight Channel can only bee seen at.....midnight. Though, it also raises the question who threw in Mayumi Yamano and Saki Konishi.

The revival of Nanako was an intense change given how long she had been dead, but seeing how Teddie went missing at the same time. It's not hard to put some of the pieces together. Getting to see that revelation could have been nice, but that is yet again a really cliche scene. This is handled as a bait and switch to realize the person hooked up to the machine isn't Ryotaro Dojima, but Nanako is alive again. I don't have a problem with the anime catching me off guard.

Nick Robinson:

Yeah, that there's a Teddie connection is obvious - I just find the internal logic behind the inclusion of the "dead Nanako with flowers" shot problematic. Maybe it's just me, but it absolutely begs the question of what happened between that moment and her being hooked back up in a hospital room. Weird.

There are people out there who will inevitably make the argument that it was cheap to kill off Nanako only bring her back, and while I don't disagree, I also think her death brought the show dramatically to the best place it's been yet. This was the most grim episode yet, maybe ever, and it almost made me wish Nanako would just, like, stay dead. Is that weird? That's probably weird.

I'm glad to see this show finding its footing more steadily in these climactic episodes. It is, at long last, occasionally outpacing the game's handling of major story beats, which is a big deal! The actual quality of writing and dialogue in P4A might not live up to Persona 4's fantastic localization, but at the very least, I'll remember the anime's telling of Namatame's involvement when I think back to the final moments of this story. There are some stories better told in animation than by polygonal, isometrically-viewed characters, and Namatame's flashbacks were one of them. What are your final thoughts, Kris?

Kristoffer Remmell:

I can understand how the audience could look at Nanako's revival and see that as cheap, but it worth reminding that if the player in the game had chosen to kill Namatame. Nanako would have remained dead as part of the "bad ending". It was an option for the story. Her life was put into the hands of the player as it was with Yu. There was never any hint that taking the noble path would bring her back -- providing someone didn't read the strategy guide ahead of time. Their target was to find the kidnapper and learn the truth. Giving into wrath would have doomed her.

People will commonly mistake their own perception of things as the absolute truth, but that's not always the case. Truths are more often found when you take in another perspective and find it somewhere in the middle. As Sherlock once said, " -- when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?". You can see as Yu is taking what he's learned to put things in place. Namatame has never killed anyone, Kubo was the copycat, but that leaves the real killer unknown. It's someone who could approach Yu's home unnoticed several times to leave the notes, who arrived around the same time these killings started, and could possibly know that Yu was even involved. If the people watching have been paying enough attention. There is only one person who fits all those conditions. It's not as if the Dojima family has had many other house guests. The answer is elementary, but is it the whole truth?

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!

AlKusanagion March 26, 2012 at 6:29 p.m.

To be honest, I was a bit bored with the episode. It seemed slower and more drawn out than it needed to be, especially after seeing episode 24 and where 25 is heading. It seriously looks like the show will not have the "true ending" unless the final episode is an hour long episode or there's a secret 26th episode (which I really hope there is as meta as the show has been). Also, I GOTTA know who the Xmas date is!

Babylonian staff on March 26, 2012 at 7:52 p.m.

@AlKusanagi said:

It seemed slower and more drawn out than it needed to be, especially after seeing episode 24 and where 25 is heading. It seriously looks like the show will not have the "true ending" unless the final episode is an hour long episode or there's a secret 26th episode (which I really hope there is as meta as the show has been). Also, I GOTTA know who the Xmas date is!

That seems totally plausible to me! I'm no anime expert, but isn't 26 episodes a much more common series length than 25?

Or, if they want to get really crazy with it: make the 26th episode a DVD exclusive. How perfectly sinister would that be?!

FoxxFireArt moderator on March 26, 2012 at 10:18 p.m.

@AlKusanagi: @Babylonian:

It's really unlikely that the DVDs would add anything narrative wise. Anime DVDs may add OVA specials to DVDs, but they are normally just little extras that tell some side story. It's just something for laughs or accents the end. Code Geass had the Miraculous Birthday OVA, and Highschool of the Dead had a special Blu-ray OVA HOTD: Drifters of the Dead that was sold with the special edition of the seventh volume of the manga.

YotaruVegetaon March 27, 2012 at 6 a.m.

There are actual examples of people coming back from death, and that's without a magical bear boy at their side. Speaking of magical bear boys

Oh, Kuma. :(

Dunchadon March 28, 2012 at 11:14 a.m.

@FoxxFireArt said:

@AlKusanagi: @Babylonian:

It's really unlikely that the DVDs would add anything narrative wise. Anime DVDs may add OVA specials to DVDs, but they are normally just little extras that tell some side story. It's just something for laughs or accents the end. Code Geass had the Miraculous Birthday OVA, and Highschool of the Dead had a special Blu-ray OVA HOTD: Drifters of the Dead that was sold with the special edition of the seventh volume of the manga.

Well, to some degree, sure. But finishing up a series with an additional OVA or movie release is fairly common. Touch, Kimagure Orange Road, Sekai no Senki 3, Irresponsible Captain Tylor just to name a few - they all do that.

And then we have these dating sims turned anime types of shows that love to make an OVA/movie with an alternate ending or spin on the story - like Clannad, KgNE, Da Capo, Air etc.

Since P4 is also based on a game with multiple possible endings, I think it very likely they would go for a "alternative ending" type of OVA that shows the true ending while finishing up the TV series with the good ending. Maybe even throw in a NG+ Margaret episode - would love to see that. :)

nocturne98on March 28, 2012 at 6:58 p.m.

It's true that the anime is handling this portion of the story better than the game, most notably Yu's reaction. In the game there were three options for dealing with Nametame: go insane and murder him, let Yosuke and Kanji kill him, or blandly convince the team not to kill him. Incidentally, I was surprised in both the game and the anime that Naoto ( who's supposed to be the calm and collected detective) was the one who suggested killing Nametame. I hate how they never explained why Nanako is alive, and assume people will just roll with it. It's funny that a game and show that has a mostly coherent story becomes riddled with plot holes as it reaches the end. Nevertheless, I can't wait for the next episode, and I'm hoping that the writers did something with Naoto's Christmas scene.

FoxxFireArt moderator on March 29, 2012 at 12:19 a.m.

@nocturne98:

What makes Narukami far more interesting in this scene is that he wasn't saying anything. It made what he was going to do more unknown.

I'll disagree with a small portion of this. Naoto wasn't as blatant.If you listen to her. She wasn't technically suggesting anything. She was more "thinking out loud" about what could happen if Nanamate was throw in. She was incredibly collected in this suggestion. That sort of makes what she was saying more scary.

I'm a little surprised how the series seems intent on summing up the story before Christmas.

mutha3on March 30, 2012 at 4:13 p.m.
 @AlKusanagi
@FoxxFireArt

 
Hahaha, amazing. 
 
Seems like @Babylonian:  was right. They're releasing the true ending as a seperate episode on Bluray. That's some bullshit!
 
Reminds of the post-ending message of ME3. BUY MORE DLC
nocturne98on March 30, 2012 at 4:42 p.m.

@mutha3: Goddamn it. Wonder what are the odds we'll see it before Sentai releases the DVDs over here.

FoxxFireArt moderator on March 30, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.
@mutha3
Oddly enough, this image was not shown on The Anime Network's airing. 
@mutha3 said:
Seems like @Babylonian:  was right. They're releasing the true ending as a seperate episode on Bluray. That's some bullshit!  Reminds of the post-ending message of ME3. BUY MORE DLC

Here's the major difference between this and what MC3 did. You paid $60 for the game. You didn't have to pay anything to watch Persona 4 The Animation. You get the Good Ending, but not the True Ending. That will more than likely be added to the DVD as extra content.
In Japan, they have to by the DVDs separately in volumes, which are not cheap. When it comes out in the U.S.,  we will get the whole package.
zaldaron March 31, 2012 at 7:17 p.m.

Ah was going to break this myself seems I was beat to it. Interesting but not all that surprising really and no you didn't have to pay anything to watch the show here just watch the commercials on hulu or elsewhere. Have not played ME3 so I can't comment on that but an ambiguous ending isn't all ways that bad. Dragon Age had somewhat of an ambiguous ending that was expanded on with dlc that one didn't bother me all that much. Video games as comics...

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.

Edit/View the Wiki
Hit the Forums (45 Posts)
Add/View Images (1270 Images)
Watch Some Videos (2 Videos)
Pokemon Black and White Looks Delicious in Motion

First video of a Pokemon battle in Black and White.

Comment & Win: One Piece Vol. 52, 53

Time for a giveaway folks! Now, act civil, we don't want anyone to get hurt in the mad rush to win.

Beginner's Guide to FLCL

Gainax's madcap, surrealist anime, broken down for new viewers.

Ballz Deep

Steve gets intimately close to Dragon Ball Z, for science!

Top 3 Awful Anime Dubs

Grit your teeth and get your ear plugs ready cause this week we're taking on the three most amazingly bad dubs of all time!

NARUTO Ch. 685 Review

In some ways, NARUTO is becoming the TWILIGHT of manga.

TOKYO GHOUL #1&2 -- Special Review

Fancy a bit of the ol' ultraviolence, my droogies?

When JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Gets Really Gross...

STARDUST CRUSADERS #15 -- Watch & Learn. Squatters, am I right?

DRAGON BALL's Embarrassing Early Days?

#12 -- Retro Review. The monkey's even scarier!

BLUE SPRING RIDE #1 -- Special Review

She's really getting all bent up over this guy?

Community Spotlight 7/27/2014

July is nearly behind us, and these super users are looking ahead to the Summer releases.

ARGEVOLLEN #1 -- Special Review

Well, I can say the suit looks cool, at least.

NARUTO Ch. 686 Review

Things start to get heavy, but they just wind up falling flat.

DRAMAtical mURDER #1 -- Special Review

Must all nerds be bullied?

TOKYO GHOUL #1&2 -- Special Review

Fancy a bit of the ol' ultraviolence, my droogies?

When JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Gets Really Gross...

STARDUST CRUSADERS #15 -- Watch & Learn. Squatters, am I right?

NARUTO Ch. 685 Review

In some ways, NARUTO is becoming the TWILIGHT of manga.

ARGEVOLLEN #1 -- Special Review

Well, I can say the suit looks cool, at least.

NARUTO Ch. 686 Review

Things start to get heavy, but they just wind up falling flat.

TERROR IN RESONANCE #1 -- Special Review

It's slow, yet it feels... rushed?

Community Spotlight 7/27/2014

July is nearly behind us, and these super users are looking ahead to the Summer releases.

Mandatory Network

Submissions can take several hours to be approved.

Save ChangesCancel