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Amateur vs. Expert: PERSONA 4 #5

Catfights, purikura and balls - oh my!

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:

First of all, let's get this out of the way: the fact that this episode was called anything other than "Yu and Ai" is probably the biggest oversight of 2011. Like, seriously! So obvious!

That said, I thought this otherwise was a pretty good, highly efficient episode. By rolling Kou Ichijo and Ai Ebihara's sidestories into one episode, they were able to get two of the S-Link stories out of the way at once. Dedicating an entire episode early on to non-essential social link stuff pretty much gets them off the hook for the rest of the series, but no one can accuse them of underutilizing the characters, because we just got 25 minutes of nonstop Ai and Kou stuff.

Still, I could have used a bit more inadvertent, Tobias Fünke-like ball humor from Kou. Maybe next time. What was your take on this episode, Kris?

Kristoffer Remmell:

This series has had some pretty unbelieving things going on, and I'm able to brush it all aside. This episode crossed the line. To think that you could have two high school girls smacking each other around at a basketball game and only one person noticed...... Inconceivable!! Seriously, I have to admit that seeing Ai get so pissed that she smacks Chie across the face was quite the shock, then Chie gave her one back. In the game, Ai was interested in Daisuke Nagase, and Kou never mentioned liking Chie. Which is perfectly fine in trying to condense the narrative. Seeing how they Rank 10ed these social links in a single episode. It makes me wonder how S.Links will go for Yu with the main female cast.

This episode felt sort of along the lines of a comedy sitcom, but it was nice given all the recent angst and symbolism we've had. I don't mind the drop in action for an episode to tell a story, and it also means more Persona to see for the future. We can see there is a payoff to these events. I just find it more awkward that the real plot relevant event was placed after the ending credit. Though, the series has had these scenes after the end theme long enough that no one should be surprised about it.

I would like to draw some attention to one aspect of the episode. I noticed that Ai Ebihara really liked to toss around the word "ai" and wanted Yu to use it. That's not a word that gets tossed around in the Japanese language lightly. More often you will hear people use the term "suki", which means "like". If you want to be more passionate. You'd say "daisuki", which would mean "really like". Using "aishiteru" is basically telling someone that you are seriously in love with them.

Nick Robinson:

Dag, that's something I never would have picked up on! Between that and your past observations about their motivations for naming the protagonist Yu, it seems totally possible that the "Yu and Ai" wordplay was deliberate. Bravo, P4A producers!

Like you alluded to, this was a violent-ass episode. Between the totally odd Ai vs. Chie catfight and Dojima straight up punching Adachi in his head, there was a lot of cast-on-cast injury this week. That slap war during the (fantastic-looking) climactic basketball scene did stand out to me as weird, but for whatever reason, the fact that no one but Yosuke noticed didn't seem that strange. It was just a practice game, so it's not like there was anyone there but the players and the two managers, right? Still, if you want to talk about how totally crazy it was that Chie and Ai's first interaction with each other ever was an actual physical altercation, then yeah, I'm right there with you, brother.

You're right that the only real plot stuff in this episode was in the post-credits bit, which is strange, but like a friend of mine pointed out, the truly upsetting thing about this episode's ending is how they totally glossed over this scene. Unforgivable! Still, I thought Yu's exhausted sigh at the end of the episode proper was a pretty great character moment for the guy. As much distaste as I have for him as a lead character, it's perfectly in line with his personality so far that getting caught up in the middle of all this weird drama would be nothing but draining for the poor dude. It was a nice touch, I thought.

Oh, you know what's totally worth bringing up? This episode was our first formal introduction to Aika Nakamura, a brand-new character created specifically for P4A! She's a classmate at Yasogami High and the heir to the Aiya Chinese restaurant, and while I doubt she'll play any sort of hugely significant role in the main plot of the game, I'm also sure we haven't seen the last of her. She doesn't really have any personality to speak of yet, but honestly, if we get to learn through her about the awesome guy who runs the shop in the game, that alone will make her a valuable addition to the show.

For all the increasingly bold changes they're making to the Persona 4 we know and love, they've also maintained their slavish devotion to duplicating the game. To me, that's a good thing and a bad thing. I mean, I still really don't like Yu as a protagonist; he's awkward and weirdly quiet, and it's tough to buy the other characters acting like he's anything other than a blank slate. Seeing the colorful, intense personalities that make up the cast of this game fawning over this whispery, uninteresting grey-haired kid is a little off-putting.

On the other side of that, they know who this show is for, and as a result, there's tons of great fan touches: the fact that Yu had "Love is Over" from Catherine as his ringtone for Ai is a fantastic touch in a lot of ways. Likewise, it seems like pretty much every over-the-head emote from the game made an appearance in this episode: the sweat drop, the flowers, the frustration squiggles. I'm still wrestling with the idea that if I wasn't a Persona 4 fan going in, I would not care about this show at all, but since that isn't the case, I'll continue to happily shovel this fanservice mélange right into my eyes' mouths.

Kristoffer Remmell:

Oh, I loved that scene of Dojima just popping Adachi in the head. It's all a little slap stick, but it was honestly funny. I thought the cat fight showed me even more why I like Chie. This episode summed up Ai and Kou's S.Link to Level 10 within an episode. It has me wondering if the series will be touching on any of the S.Links with Yu and any of the main female cast. Before, I would have said no way, but this series has made it a practice to go beyond my expectations. Will there be a Christmas night scene with someone?

That is kind of interesting that they would introduce a new character to this Persona 4 cast not from the game. It's curious, but Yosuke seemed to know her. As I think about it, there were a lot of gaps in time for the Persona 4 game that there was nothing to do. It was time for S.Linking and jobs. I wonder if they would be creating some more Midnight Channel adventures for the anime with this new addition.

I would like to think that if this wasn't based on a great game that I'd still be watching it. Though, I'm a big fan of murder mysteries. Having Yu being being so dead pan I think makes him a great character to play off all these personalities. He's the straight man. He has some great lines, and I still think he'll becomes a bit more emotional as the series goes on.

In conclusion, we were given a fun episode that got some laughs out of me. It's showing they aren't following the game's story to the letter, and there are some who will rant that's a good or bad thing. I like that this isn't trying to be a one for one translation from the game. It gives us a chance to enjoy the side stories mixed in with the main plot without taking up too much time. As I've already said, these stories also mean we could get to see more Persona in the future. Now, we toss it off to the readers. What were your thoughts?

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!

buhssuhton Nov. 8, 2011 at 5:26 p.m.

i liked the direction they were going with, except the catfight scene. that part just seemed off. the interaction part is still good since that was major part of persona. i do wonder if we will see those characters again.

CH3BURASHKAon Nov. 8, 2011 at 6:20 p.m.

Oh my god, that cat fight... I recently saw a video of two women having a slapping contest, and I couldn't believe my eyes - they were going at it as hard as possible, one at a time. There's something incredibly epic and surreal about seeing two women slap the shit out of each other; fighting outside of martial arts dojos should look sloppy, slighlty uncoordinated; the fact that they kept such a rhythm and respect for their spontaneous rules of engagement was amazing.

As for the "slap-sticky" punch from Dojima, there was nothing slap-sticky about it. Usually, when accentuating the humor of the situation, they do something dumb like have a huge tear drop covering their head, or do the "gloomy" wavy lines or say a dumb pun. None of that happened. This is probably where the series really diverts from the game, because Dojima just put Adachi into a coma.

This was probably the most violent episode of the entire series. I'll be re-watching it every once in a while.

Ryu_Kishinon Nov. 8, 2011 at 6:36 p.m.

I disliked the catfight scene as well, Chie would have kicked her ass. They spent the previous two episodes establishing that she's a tough chick. This show doesn't have have the investigation team fighting themselves but Chie's physicality is a major part of her character that is shown through her persona and a lot of her actions.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 8, 2011 at 7:46 p.m.

@Fire_Foxx_Art: Ai was actually interested in the member of whichever club you joined. If you're in basketball, she likes Kou, and that's the only way to find out that Kou likes Chie.

I liked this episode, but Kou's storyline seemed to go a little too quickly. There's a lot more depth to his storyline in the game, with a big emphasis on his family being aristocratic and his own self-worth in terms of that family, and it ends with a complete twist of him learning about a letter from his birth-parents! Kou's was one of my favorite Social Links in the game, and while I'm disappointed they went over it so quickly, I'm okay with it on the basis that it would've been silly to use him for that at all. At the same time, Daisuke also could've been the Sports Club member we developed, so...

Hailinelon Nov. 8, 2011 at 7:57 p.m.

@Ryu_Kishin said:

I disliked the catfight scene as well, Chie would have kicked her ass. They spent the previous two episodes establishing that she's a tough chick. This show doesn't have have the investigation team fighting themselves but Chie's physicality is a major part of her character that is shown through her persona and a lot of her actions.

Chie would never have just flat-out kicked Ai's ass. She's a tomboyish martial arts enthusiast, not a violence junkie. Could she have kicked Ai's ass easily? Yes, but would she? No. The only person that she's actually committed any direct violence against in the series (thus far) is Yosuke. Once in tripping him up when he returns the busted DVD, and then the kick to his gut.

Remember, being a tough chick does not mean being a bloodthirsty amazon. She is a well-adjusted high school student.

All of that aside, I really enjoyed this episode. The way that it tied both Kou and Ai's Social Links into a single episode felt natural; If you follow both of their stories in the game, it is true that Ai has a crush on Kou, and Kou has a crush on Chie, but beyond one or two bits in the game, their Social Links are almost entirely separate from one another. While accelerated (both Social Links basically reached Rank 10 in the span of one episode), I appreciated the way that the show did its own thing, and it particularly did a good job of highlighting Ai's personality as an incredible drama queen.

I'm guessing that the show is going to try to cover most if not all of the Social Links in this way. They certainly have more than enough material to work with for the span of the series.

Turambaron Nov. 8, 2011 at 8:33 p.m.

My reactions to this episode is pretty well recorded over on metalsnakezero's blog on GiantBomb, so there's no need for another long winded argument. If you're interested, go take a look. Suffice it to say, I hated it.

OriginalGmanon Nov. 8, 2011 at 8:50 p.m.

As someone already stated, in the game Ai initially falls for whichever dude whose club you joined. And Kou totally does have the hots for Chie, and him being jealous that you sit next to her was a line stolen right from the game.

That said, I'm amazed at how good this anime is. I had no idea how they were going to pack a 100+ hour game into 26 episodes, but episode 5 proves that they can open and close a character arc (or even TWO) in just 22 minutes, which is awesome. Perhaps the show is moving too quickly for people who didn't play or watch the game, but they are using the time they have very wisely. I cannot wait for the next episode.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Nov. 8, 2011 at 10:15 p.m.

I love that the reactions to Chie and Ai's fight are so varied. I personally loved it. Just something about their anger felt so genuine. I really feel for Chie and Yu in this one. They were two people who just got pulled into a complicated situation without realizing it.

I wasn't as surprised that AI would smack Chie. I was more shocked to see Chie give her one back. In a series when you feel that you know everything that's coming, plot wise. It's nice to be surprised by some things and get a laugh.

@Little_Socrates:

OHhhhh! O_0? I never realized that. Thanks for setting me straight on that. Sorry you lost your favorite S Link story, but it's best to sum these up fast. We don't want these to go on for too long.

@Turambar:

I respectfully disagree. There's always room for more long winded arguments. I specialize in them.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 8, 2011 at 10:33 p.m.

@FoxxFireArt: Absolutely agree, it would've been ridiculous to let Kou's run as long as it probably should have. Merely pointing out that I was a little disappointed, but Kou's just not really essential.

Also, my overall favorite social link is Yosuke, followed by drama girl. Stupid well-executed.

ComicMan24on Nov. 9, 2011 at 12:46 a.m.

It felt like a filler but it was a funny episode. I really laughed at Yu's reaction when his cellphone rang in the classroom and the catfight was so funny.

asian_prideon Nov. 9, 2011 at 2:39 a.m.

The Catherine ringtone was the best part of the episode.

mutha3on Nov. 9, 2011 at 5:28 a.m.

I dug the episode because of its fanservice, but it was not a very good representation of the Moon/Strength S-link at all and I would have preferred if they had chosen to focus on the main party exclusively instead.

Still, I can't deny that seeing Yosuke be a total cock and dat hilarious catfight kept me perfectly entertained throughout.

Hailinelon Nov. 9, 2011 at 6:43 a.m.

@mutha3 said:

I dug the episode because of its fanservice, but it was not a very good representation of the Moon/Strength S-link at all and I would have preferred if they had chosen to focus on the main party exclusively instead.

Still, I can't deny that seeing Yosuke be a total cock and dat hilarious catfight kept me perfectly entertained throughout.

How were they not a good representation?

mutha3on Nov. 9, 2011 at 7:33 a.m.

@Hailinel said:

@mutha3 said:

I dug the episode because of its fanservice, but it was not a very good representation of the Moon/Strength S-link at all and I would have preferred if they had chosen to focus on the main party exclusively instead.

Still, I can't deny that seeing Yosuke be a total cock and dat hilarious catfight kept me perfectly entertained throughout.

How were they not a good representation?

I already went through this in that other thread: http://www.giantbomb.com/shin-megami-tensei-persona-4/61-21373/my-journey-in-to-persona-4-animation-ep-5/35-522741/?page=last#reply_form

Short version: they're awkwardly paced and lack proper build-up(there was a scene transition every 30 seconds in the first half of the episode), supply the characters with shoddy motivations("HEY TRANSFER STUDENT WHO I HAVE MET 2 DAYS AGO AND HAVE HAD 2 MINUTES OF ON-SCREEN CONTACT WITH: HERE'S MY DEEPEST DARKEST SECRET"), nonsensical resolutions("yo man, i realized something while playing basketball......i like basketball") etc etc.

Ai/Kou in the original were also straight-up, undeniably much more multi-layered characters beyond the slapsticky representations that they are in P4A(Especially poor Kou! At least they kinda sorta glossed over what made Ai interesting as a character).

Episode was fun, though. So no biggie. This show is just for fans and that's fine of course.

MeatSimon Nov. 9, 2011 at 7:44 a.m.

I really enjoyed the comical violence in this episode. It didn't look like light slap stick hits either the slaps and the punch look like they hit hard.

Babylonian staff on Nov. 9, 2011 at 11:48 a.m.

@mutha3 said:

"HEY TRANSFER STUDENT WHO I HAVE MET 2 DAYS AGO AND HAVE HAD 2 MINUTES OF ON-SCREEN CONTACT WITH: HERE'S MY DEEPEST DARKEST SECRET"

@mutha3 said:

"yo man, i realized something while playing basketball......i like basketball"

Gahaha! Both totally excellent points.

Yeah, this show is definitely more than a little dumb, but that's not enough to stop me from (for example) seeing Kanji and going "AW SHIT IT'S KANJI GET BENT HAHAHAHAHA". Like, it might be 25 episodes of 25 minutes of silly-ass fanservice, but in my case, that's totally enough to get me to watch the whole thing.

mutha3on Nov. 9, 2011 at 12:06 p.m.

@Babylonian:

Real talk:

They could dedicate an entire episode to Dojima's bowel movements, and I'd still find a way to derive some enjoyment from it because its fucking persona 4 dawg.

The show definitely isn't horrible or anything.Its made to appeal to fans and it does that fairly well. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. It serves its purpose well enough(Get people who played P4 back in 08 excited for the upcoming P4 products).

It just doesn't really stand out in any significant way when taken on its own merits(well, the character designs are really good, but that's kind of an unfair advantage!) 2-3 star show so far, basically.

Turambaron Nov. 9, 2011 at 2:27 p.m.

@Babylonian: They annoyance is not that the episodes are not entertaining. They annoyance is that the show has contrived both combat and S.Link mechanics and forced itself into a position where it needs to dedicate more episodes than it has time for towards S.Links better left untouched less they be represented in horrible ways.

Everyone loves saying how they are doing the best they can in a bad situation as a defense for this episode. The point is they should have never put themselves in that position in the first place.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Nov. 9, 2011 at 3:02 p.m.

@Turambar:

I don't see that as forcing anything. I see it as a great opportunity to tell more stories and actually have a reason for it.

The episode felt like a sitcom, but they've only done this once, so far. As long as they don't do this too often. I don't see a problem with it.

Turambaron Nov. 9, 2011 at 3:34 p.m.

@FoxxFireArt said:

@Turambar:

I don't see that as forcing anything. I see it as a great opportunity to tell more stories and actually have a reason for it.

The episode felt like a sitcom, but they've only done this once, so far. As long as they don't do this too often. I don't see a problem with it.

When you don't have enough episodes available to actually do the S.Links justice, contriving yourself into a corner that forces you to do all S.Links is not a good idea.

They have forced themselves into a corner both via battle mechanics (available persona are limited to only S.linked arcanas) and thematically (The end of episode 5, the closing credits show 22 cards falling. The P4 world has 22 Arcanas total.)

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