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Amateur vs. Expert: PERSONA 4 #6

Kanji and Naoto have arrived! Time for things to get bent and get ambiguous.

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!

Kristoffer Remmell:

We're finally back into mystery mode with this episode, and I'm ecstatic that the actual detective of the series has appeared. I still have a small issue with the writers that I want to get out there. If they don't want my to fall for Chie. They are going have to stop making her so adorable. In the tests, on the phone, and that time with Nanako. She was a major scene stealer in this episode. Near the end, she had a full bowl of nikudon in one shot. They come back to her, and they're both empty. Where does someone that small put all of that? Speaking of lots of meat. (awkward silence) Aika appeared once more. As an anime exclusive character. I'm very curious if they're going to work her into the story, or is she around for just these gags?

I will say that I was a little disappointed at the start of this episode. Not that Igor wasn't there. It's just that we didn't hear the Velvet Room intro music right away. I've always felt that it was kind of welcoming. Don't get me wrong. Some alone time with Margaret is very nice, and she certain was a lot more flirty without the boss around.

Watching all the hijinks in this episode mixed in with the detective work has started to remind me of the TV show PSYCH. If you've never heard of it. It's a comedy murder-mystery that's akin to an adult version of Scooby Doo. People actually die, and yet it can still be pretty madcap with a clever mystery. I see a lot of that in the banter and watching the Investigation Team's poor attempt at subtle eavesdropping in this episode. I guess we could call this the anime Scooby Doo. It has two boys, two girls, and a talking animal with a verbal tick. They aren't completely out of their depth. Yu noticing that scarf has found the connection of the textile store to Mayumi Yamano. We now know that first room back in Episode 1 was Ms. Yamano's.

What was your take on the episode, Nick?

Nick Robinson:

I liked it! While this week's episode felt mostly like setup, it did a good job of introducing both new characters, especially Kanji. It seemed like his confrontation with the biker gang at the beginning was this week's requisite high-intensity action scene, much like last week's basketball scene, and it did look pretty awesome.

I think I'm starting to adjust to this show, which is to say that I'm finally at the point where I'd feel comfortable describing P4A as a good adaptation of the game. This episode had a ton of nice little character moments, which is pretty much the entire thing I enjoy about Persona 4. Like you alluded to, Chie is a Chie as she's ever been, and Nanako continues to be unbearably adorable.

But yeah. This episode felt more or less like they were running down a few necessary bullet points (introduce Kanji and Naoto, confirm the situation, etc), then filling the gaps in between with fun little character moments. If this is any indication, it's finally becoming the hangout show I hoped it'd be, and since Persona 4's biggest strength is its characters, this is absolutely a good thing.

Also: the tease for next week's apparently Bad Bad Bathhouse-centric episode was great. A little embarrassing, maybe. But mostly great.

Kristoffer Remmell:

There is always sort of a settling in period for some anime series. More so when they are long-term narrative driven. I feel that anyone who was dismissing this series as a poor adaptation after one or two episodes was never giving it a fair chance to begin with. It's striking a nice balance of telling the story from the game and adding twists to keep it fresh. I think they manage that in little touches, such as the Cathrine ring tone and the swimsuit scene.

Fun is a great way to describe the experience of this episode. Yu's line after seeing Kanji on the Midnight Channel was a nice period to the episode. It's easy to laugh, but he knows that's where he has to go next. I'm honestly curious to see what has Yukiko so pissed off in the next episode. That's a sign of a good teaser.

I only noticed something recently. During the end credit theme song. All those falling Persona cards have been filling in with the Arcana as Narukami collects them. I went back and counted a total of 22 cards. I'd have to go back and check, but were there even 22 Arcana in the game? It wouldn't make sense for those to be filling in if they weren't intending on completing the set.

Nick Robinson:

From what a bit of googling around is telling me, there were seemingly only 21 Arcana cards in Persona 4 proper, which makes this all sorts of intriguing and mysterious. The simplest explanation is that the new card represents Aika, but they haven't given much indication as to whether or not we'll see any honest-to-goodness Social Linking with her yet. Hm!

At any rate, I hope the show sticks to this tone. It's been a bit schizophrenic up until this point, trying to juggle being a Cliff's Notes of the game's events, a sh┼Źnen-y action series and a high school drama all at once. So far, the Scooby-Doo bits have been the ones I like the most; this show is at its most fun when we get to see the investigation team sneak around and actually be an investigation team for once. Hopefully that's something they keep packing into future episodes, because it's what is keeping me watching right now.

So, readers! What were your impressions? Is this the best episode of P4A yet? Are Naoto and Kanji being depicted in a way you're satisfied with? Let us know in the comments!

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!

ComicMan24on Nov. 16, 2011 at 6:15 a.m.

It was a funny episode. And I have to say that the ending was one of the funnies things I have watched in a while. Especially Yu's reaction lol Also because I haven't played the game, Kanji is gay?

endaroundon Nov. 16, 2011 at 6:33 a.m.

@ComicMan24: It's complicated

Hailinelon Nov. 16, 2011 at 6:58 a.m.

@ComicMan24: He's a young man still trying to work things out.

I really enjoyed the episode. It had a lot of great comedic moments with Chie and Yosuke, Nanako continues to be completely adorable, and the way they adapted the chase scene to involve all of the characters as well as a random appearance from Aika was a nice original touch.

As for the tarot, someone else suggested the possibility that Aika may be the anime's Hermit character, depending on whether or not the writers decide to include the fox.

zaldaron Nov. 16, 2011 at 8:20 a.m.

@Hailinel: oh no no...you have got to include the fox! We can't have all our good drug jokes form the endruance run without the fox! I mean if we are going with scooby do we have to have the druggie character...enter the strange fox who sells odd leaves...

ComicMan24on Nov. 16, 2011 at 8:56 a.m.

@endaround: @Hailinel: I see. Thanks.

YotaruVegetaon Nov. 16, 2011 at 8:59 a.m.

@ComicMan24: @endaround: It's REALLY complicated and I feel, unresolved. I wish they wrapped it up better in the game.

Chie steals scenes and makes you fall in love with her because she's the goddamn queen of Persona 4! She can't help that she's all-around awesome.

Obviously, Nanako is the princess. ;)

I love watching this show, but obviously it's hard to handle the ways in which the show abridges the game. They went through the whole Ai social link in one episode, for instance, and it's also a little early, I think. Not a big deal, but my memory of the game is getting hazy and it's butting heads with this new telling of the story.

InfiniteGeasson Nov. 16, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.

I hope they choose to make Yu go with Yukiko for the love interest. She's the one that makes the most sense to me.

AstraSageon Nov. 16, 2011 at 11:14 a.m.

Just to put a little note here: there are 22 Arcana in the game too, but the Last Arcana (The World) is non-SLinkable and its only Persona it's only unlocked through the True Ending...

Anyways, the anime has been getting better as an adaptation. I can't stop being excited for Thursdays.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 16, 2011 at 12:18 p.m.

Wow, I actually was super disappointed by this episode. It felt SUPREMELY inefficient, and given the choice between having the social links executed properly (again, I was disappointed in Kou's social link last time, and I'm less than convinced the rest will be handled as well as Ai's was) and having long, drawn-out bits with the Aika woman delivering ramen on the go, I'd choose the former. Maybe it's because I've watched a ton of far funnier absurd series like Rizelmine, Azumanga Daioh, and Haruhi, but the jokes fell flat for me. I'm interested in seeing the character get a social link, but if it's going to stick to these gags, she'll be the Jar Jar Binks of this adaptation for me.

Still, Margaret was a fun intro to the episode, and Kanji looks to be an exciting addition. The next episode looks great, so I'm still psyched about the series in general, but this was not a great choice IMO. Especially following the previous episode which was ALSO completely social linking, the ending gave me hope, but I really don't feel like I should have needed that hope in the first place. One of the things the game does so elegantly is balancing the social links and dungeons so that it does always feel like you're in contact with one part of the game or the other (except for during events.) It sounds like it's just me and my roommate, though, so I'm glad people are enjoying it.

asian_prideon Nov. 16, 2011 at 12:35 p.m.

@Hailinel: I'd be bummed if they didn't include Fox in there. They really should lol.

Also I'm curious, was Aika a character in the original game or is she a character created solely for the anime?

AlKusanagion Nov. 16, 2011 at 12:53 p.m.

@asian_pride: I believe Aika is the new character that's being added to the upcoming Vita version of Persona 4.

smcnon Nov. 16, 2011 at 1:13 p.m.

The Persona universe uses the Rider-Waite tarot deck, which has 22 major arcana, numbered 0 through XXI. XXI is The World arcana, not used for any social links, but there is one Persona associated with it:

Izanagi no Okami, the protagonist's ultimate persona. It stands to reason that this persona will be used by Yu in the final battle, thus revealing the card for the end credits.
coonce staff on Nov. 16, 2011 at 2:33 p.m.

great article!

Hailinelon Nov. 16, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.
@AlKusanagi

@asian_pride: I believe Aika is the new character that's being added to the upcoming Vita version of Persona 4.

You're thinking of Marie. Aims could be in the Vita game, but hasn't been announced yet. She's specific to the anime.

@Little_Socrates I'm not seeing the problem here. The only Social Link covered in the episode awe the start of Yukiko's, which was fairly accurate to the game. The biggest liberty taken was with the chase scene and Aika's appearance.
FoxxFireArt moderator on Nov. 16, 2011 at 6:21 p.m.

@InfiniteGeass:

I'm more hoping it's Chie. That's my taste.

@coonce:

Thanks. Nick and I do this every week.

@AlKusanagi:

I would actually like this for PSN.

@Hailinel:

I kind of hope they have the fox somewhere. This show has had a lot of surprises. I'm just not sure how it's going to handle a talking animal that's not Teddy.

Hailinelon Nov. 16, 2011 at 6:51 p.m.

@FoxxFireArt: The fox never talked in the game.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 17, 2011 at 1:16 a.m.

@Hailinel: It's not that they did something "problematically" this episode. This episode, they did things almost absolutely faithfully, which is almost too much. It is a long time to ultimately have nothing very notable happen; I mean, the whole point of the Kanji investigation IS that they fail. But by making an entire episode based on the Kanji investigation following a social linking episode, I'm starting to wonder where that somewhat shonen-focused show I was watching went to. Sort of "don't open with the best single on the album," you know? Episode 4 was my favorite so far.

As for your question about accuracy, they did take liberties last time with removing large aspects of Kou's social link. Again, that's fine, but I'd rather that time be spent on moving the plot along and establishing more social links than doing the entire investigation sequence. I feel like next time we'll spend a quarter of the episode to be spent on the Investigation Team asking questions around town to "replicate the original feeling." This is a case where, IMO, I would've taken some liberties to make Kanji's investigation a lot more expedient. Basically, I'd feel more confident if we were actually going to enter the bathhouse at the start of next episode rather than spending the opening of next episode talking with Teddie.

InfiniteGeasson Nov. 17, 2011 at 7:08 a.m.

@FoxxFireArt: In my perfect Persona 4 world Chie would be with Yosuke, Kanji with Naoto, and the MC with Yukiko. Rise is out of luck since she's a performer and travels around a whole bunch.

Hailinelon Nov. 17, 2011 at 8:15 a.m.
@Little_Socrates You seem to forget that while Kou is a side-character, Kanji and Naoto are major characters and need that episode of set-up. It would be weird to not give the audience a chance to get to know Kanji before jumping straight into the dungeon.
CH3BURASHKAon Nov. 17, 2011 at 2:41 p.m.

"Ha ha, this shirt has a funny picture on it!"

Just like in the game. And, just like in the game, as sad as ever. All one can ever hope for is that Nanako escapes with minor emotional trauma.

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