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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 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!

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!

Darokion Nov. 17, 2011 at 5:09 p.m.

@InfiniteGeass said:

@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.

Rise is the Lovers arcana, therefore the natural match for the MC, not to say that she's the best match, but probably the canonical match.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 18, 2011 at 1:37 a.m.

@Hailinel said:

@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.

I know that, but, sure enough, we spent the first five or six minutes of today's episode on the Investigation. The dungeon itself was well-done, but that episode is tempered with that. And now they're going to do the entire camping event to further flesh out Kanji. It's not that I don't like Kanji better than Kou; I completely prefer Kanji. But the investigation stuff is DREADFULLY long, and now I'm starting to worry we won't even see Yosuke's social link get developed. I mean, all right, dropping Kou's stuff 'cause he's a "side character," fine, that's a choice I can deal with. Them wasting my time with the investigation stuff was kind of a bummer, but let's say we don't get "I want you to fight me." If they spend this long on each investigation, give each dungeon a full episode, AND do all the events, that only leaves, like, four more episodes for social linking.

Hailinelon Nov. 18, 2011 at 7:33 a.m.

@Little_Socrates: There's no way of knowing, given how things are paced, but rather than worry about whether or not all of the beats in a Social Link are going to be touched, I prefer to just let the anime do its own thing. I like that it's comfortable being reverential as well as in doing its own thing, and if the show's pace means not covering every moment in Yosuke's Social Link, or Chie's, or Yukiko's, then so be it.

Heck, I never even completed Yosuke's Social Link the first time I played the game.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 18, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.

@Hailinel: Again, it's not that I want them to hit all the beats in a Social LInk or try to be "comprehensive." But if you asked me which things in Persona 4 are so good that I'd want to see them in an anime, investigation sequences would NEVER be my response.

Babylonian staff on Nov. 20, 2011 at 11:46 p.m.

@Little_Socrates said:

@Hailinel: Again, it's not that I want them to hit all the beats in a Social LInk or try to be "comprehensive." But if you asked me which things in Persona 4 are so good that I'd want to see them in an anime, investigation sequences would NEVER be my response.

Sure, but it's also a television show with a plot that needs moving along. P4A practically couldn't exist without the investigation - it's the entire premise of the show, dawg!

Like you, what I come to Persona 4 for is the characters, and the nice little hangout moments the game provides. I'm just not sure what you expected; how would they go about making a show that is solely (or even mostly) social linking? This is already a highly reduced version of Persona 4's story. I can't imagine a scenario in which they distill the main plot any further than they already have.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 21, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.

@Babylonian: Well, I agree that it's a television show with a plot that needs to move and that investigation is a part of Persona 4. But I'd much rather they tighten up the beats if they're going to include every part of the investigation; a sequence that only took one hour of our Endurance Run was still nearly thirty-five minutes in the show. Maybe don't make us go to Kanji's mom or to Naoto at Junes? Or make the Chie/Yosuke part of the episode as long as it is in the game?

I agree this is a highly reduced version of the story, but I feel like they're cutting some of the meat rather than the fat in terms of storyline. Basically, at some point I need to just accept that this series is pretty much a complete fan-service and is solely based on entertainment rather than being a "proper" way to experience Persona 4, but I'm not there yet. I mean, ultimately, in the fifth and sixth episodes, almost ZERO progress was made in the story; this time, I know they're supposed to fail the investigation completely. But the plot of Persona 4 can be told as a very long story, or you could do it more succinctly and move the character moments to more...traditional places?

When I say "investigation sequences", by the way, I'm not talking about going in the TV. I'm talking about the pre-TV "How can we help this person?" and then, when they fail to help them every time, "What redundant fact we already knew can we use to help Teddie and Rise find this person?" It's probably the most redundant and frustrating part of the game, even beyond the Void Quest dungeon. Did we really need the "I think he has a complex" sequence in the more recent episode, for example?

Thing is, I did end up really enjoying Episode 7 for everything ELSE in Episode 7. If the emphasis is going to be on plot events every player experienced, then I'll probably wind up relegating my enjoyment of the series to the dungeons, where there are few character moments, so the anime can express far more than the game. It's not that the series is suddenly bad for it or something, but it is pretty disappointing for me. Seiji Kishi is capable of handily doing character-based anime based on his work with Angel Beats. I'm just not seeing that level of craftsmanship and pacing in Persona right now. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Hopefully it still gets better. :P

Hailinelon Nov. 21, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.

@Little_Socrates: If you've played Persona 4, you know how important that the scene with Kanji's mom is in the long run. Particularly in regards to the deliveryman that shows up. And Naoto needs her early set-up time as well. As far as the scene with Chie and Yosuke, they were off watching Kanji while Yu was with Yukiko, and both parties had their moments, as they did in the game.

And as for the way that the investigation into Kanji's personality was handled, the series merges that with aspects of his Social Link, which is honestly a smart way to go in order to both express who Kanji is while also saving time. The show won't have time to explore every last aspect of every character's Social Link; that much is a certainty, but by doing this, they were able to fill in a very important part of Kanji's character. And what do you mean by zero progress? They've made progress in that Yukiko and Kanji were rescued. The investigation is at the point it was in the game, which is to say that they still don't have a clue as to who the killer is. The central plot has moved along as far as the game has at this point.

And you have to also remember that these aspects of the characters are things we know, but the characters necessarily don't. For example, they didn't know that Kanji was into sewing until the boy showed up with the little rabbit he had made. It's not something screaming obvious that the Kanji the characters know would do. They had to find that out, and then they could give that knowledge to Teddie to do his thing. And the time spent on this whole aspect of the episode did nothing to detract from what happened when they actually went to the bathhouse.

I frankly don't understand what it is you find so disappointing, because every episode I've watched thus far has been, in my mind, an excellent adaptation and entertaining in their own right. I'm not saying that you're this way, but it seems like some people are trying to analyze the show too hard, as though they're looking for any reason to label it as a failure.

Moonshadow101on Nov. 21, 2011 at 6:09 p.m.

Call me when Mysterious Fox hits the scene.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 22, 2011 at 10:55 a.m.

@Hailinel: I said there was almost zero progress in episodes 5 and 6. Not beforehand, those specific episodes. 5 was exclusively a Social Link, and Episode 6 moved the episode counter about an hour and a half (forgot the Nanako bits happened this episode) through a 60-to-80 hour game.

I found it disappointing because I received very little "fresh" or desirable. It was an excellent adaptation of the sequence from the game. I was disappointed because it was absolutely slavish in its adaptation, refusing to cut ANYTHING in the sake of authenticity, when this is not a piece of the game I am fond of. Also, Kanji acknowledges his sewing during his Shadow confession. Hell, he even acknowledges that he's an artist now, too, which is something we haven't perceived before. They go to Kanji's mom twice in the show, once for the "necessary" scene and once again to set up a clue. I appreciate the move to the clue being about his sewing instead of a complex, but then I didn't need the complex scene. Naoto's set-up is plenty present in the stakeout.

It is still entertaining. But I hold Persona 4 as a gold standard of JRPGs because of how effectively paced and effectively told its story is, along with the depth of almost any character you choose to explore. Here, Episode 6 disappointed me because it slavishly adhered to a part of the game and I found it far more interesting in the game. The things they added did not enhance my engagement with the series as they had previously. It's a personal thing. As I said, I'm glad people are enjoying it. But the moment I finished Episode 6, my thought was "that was it?" I would rather they focus on other elements of Persona 4. I'm glad you find it excellent and entertaining.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 22, 2011 at 11 a.m.

@Hailinel: I said there was almost zero progress in episodes 5 and 6. Not beforehand, those specific episodes. 5 was exclusively a Social Link, and Episode 6 moved the episode counter about an hour and a half (forgetting the Nanako bits happened this episodes) through a 60-to-80 hour game.

I found it disappointing because I received very little "fresh" or desirable. It was an excellent adaptation of the sequence from the game. I was disappointed because it was absolutely slavish in its adaptation, refusing to cut ANYTHING in the sake of authenticity, when this is not a piece of the game I am fond of. Also, Kanji acknowledges his sewing during his Shadow confession. Hell, he even acknowledges that he's an artist now, too, which is something we haven't perceived before. They go to Kanji's mom twice in the show, once for the "necessary" scene and once again to set up a clue. I appreciate the move to the clue being about his sewing instead of a complex, but then I didn't need the complex scene. Naoto's set-up is plenty present in the stakeout.

It is still entertaining. But I hold Persona 4 as a gold standard of JRPGs because of how effectively paced and effectively told its story is, along with the depth of almost any character you choose to explore. Here, Episode 6 disappointed me because it slavishly adhered to a part of the game and I found it far more interesting in the game. The things they added did not enhance my engagement with the series as they had previously. It's a personal thing. As I said, I'm glad people are enjoying it. But the moment I finished Episode 6, my thought was "that was it?" I would rather they focus on other elements of Persona 4. I'm glad you find it excellent and entertaining.

Gerhabioon Nov. 26, 2011 at 4:32 p.m.

Man, I think Charlie is going to go for Yukiko on this one. Disappointing because Chie is clearly the best choice.

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.

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