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!
So that was kind of a curveball, wasn't it? From the flashback sequence to the changes in Chie's Shadow World encounter, they're finally starting to stray from P4's path in some serious ways! If this doesn't completely silence those of us who have criticized the show for feeling a bit regurgatory, it should at least quiet us for a bit!
I think what I like most about the changes is that they are significant and interesting without altering the plot in any sacreligious ways. Example: we knew Chie and Yukiko were longtime friends, but we'd never seen their first meeting or what they were like as kids before. I really dug it.
What are your major takeaways from this episode, Kris?
Curveball is a great way to put it. There were so many surprises in this episode. They seem to be hinting at the Social Link aspects for the original game. When this anime began. I was absolutely certain that Yu Narukami was only going to have Izanagi as his only Persona, but they gave him Pyro Jack. It makes me wonder how many different Persona from the game we will see. It's exciting.
Story wise, Chie really stands out in this episode for me. Everyone has a dark side to them with deviant thoughts. It's hard enough to accept those parts of ourselves, but to have other people see it. It's as if having someone reading your private thoughts. Who would accept that? Notice how Chie's Shadow went from being a dominatrix to a knight for her Persona? It's all creating a great sense of character drama. With each episode, the series is grabbing me more and more. I love the scene where she nearly tried to strangle Adachi in anger. Yu also gave some pretty good funny lines. It was sort of awkward how the episode ended with Yukiko left trapped in the Midnight Channel, but it wasn't as frustrating as that first episode of The Walking Dead's new season. Also, no deer.
There is a bit of interesting trivia from this series that people have already been talking about, but I think deserves mentioning. The voice actor for Igor, Isamu Tanonaka, actually passed away back in January 2010. Due to his tragic passing, they are just using the dialog he recorded years ago from Persona 4 the game. That is an amazing level of dedication to keeping the original cast for this series. That's impressive. Can you image any Western production that would go to that extent?
I heard about that! That's an impressive level of commitment to pleasing the fans. Unfortunately, since the group who have licensed Persona 4's English release aren't willing to divulge their dub casting yet, it's tough to say whether that level of fanservice is something we can look forward to when the show gets brought here.
I'm with you on how the Shadow World stuff; it's continually stood out to me as very dark and personal, and I really dig it. It almost feels like there's a bizarre dichotomy forming: whenever the characters are in Inaba, they act like prototypical, kinda boring anime characters, but once they enter the TV and confront their Shadows for the first time, their anime character persona (heh) vanishes and they're held accountable for their real motivations. It's pretty interesting!
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how great the segue into the Shadow World fight was this time around. Episode 2's liquor store transition was good, but the black and white (with red) scene in Yukiko's room with her shadow talking to Chie was really tastefully done, I thought. Really great stuff.
And yeah, Yu being funny is great ("I wish I'd taped it" really caught me off guard, in a good way), but it's indicative of an even more exciting trend: Yu actually having personality! It seems like we finally have verification for the theory that as the protagonist will develop a personality as his stat wheel expands.
As this show goes on, they're really not pulling any punches in terms of using the Persona 4 soundtrack, are they? It feels like the number of songs lifted directly from the game doubles with each episode (which, for the record, I'm totally fine with). Is that something you enjoy, or does it feel a bit pandering to you?
I think they are really going to try to get as much of the original voice actors from the English cast that performed for the Persona 4 game. You just never know with contracting, or what the schedules are for them. I do remember the English dub actors for the game had very good quality. It even used Japanese honorifics in places. I just don't have much faith in Sentai Filmworks after that horrible English dub they produced for H.O.T.D. (Highschool of the Dead).
I suspect that the red and black motif of Yukiko's castle was intentional. Chie had always told her that she looked good in red. In reflection, her shadow world is filled with it.
I'm with the viewers that support the idea that Narukami will be evolving along that character chart. Otherwise, what's the point of showing the changed attributes every episode? Some of the lines he gave in this episode were dialog options in the PS2 game. It's also a nice touch how Yosuke failed on his first magic casting. Shows he needs some practice.
They shouldn't pull back on a soundtrack of that quality. I remember that game having some really cool music. The battle music always stuck out to me the most. In an RPG, it's very easy to get sick of battle music.
In conclusion, the character building and drama are really coming along for the series. This episode swings open the doors to more of the possibilities for the story. Having Margaret point out how building relationships with others will help Narukami increase the powers of his Persona may be a hint at more character interaction in place of just bulldozing down through the plot points. I feel sorry for anyone who just dropped the series because something in the first episode rubbed them the wrong way. You really can't treat series such as this like sitcoms.