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!
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?
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.
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.
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 shōnen-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!