Amateur vs. Expert: PERSONA 4 #16

Topic started by Guest_Author on Feb. 5, 2012. Last post by zaldar 2 years, 5 months ago.
Post by Guest_Author (0 posts) See mini bio Level 7
Staff

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:

Just when you thought it was safe again to watch late night TV. The Midnight Channel is back. Wait a second, you mean to tell me that the murder-mystery portion wasn't finished with ten more episodes ago in Persona 4 The Animation? The rest of the anime wasn't just gong to be a dating-sim? Huh. As Yu and the rest of the Investigation Team are still having hangovers from their previous outing and all the fun that came with the summer. Naoto is pushing forward that the real killer is still out there, and willing to go to an extreme length to prove this deduction. When you thought it was shocking enough that Kubo wasn't the true killer. We finally get the dramatic reveal that our detective boy blue is actually a girl with gender identity issues. Nick and I had consciously always referred to Naoto as a boy for the sake of anyone new to the series. Romi Park was the perfect choice for the sexually ambiguous character. She's famous for voicing both male and female characters. Most anime fans would know her as the voice of Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist and Temari from NARUTO.

As a lover of mystery series, Persona 4 made me realize something I'd never noticed before. Pretty much all the great detectives in fiction are all males. There are some female detectives, but none have ever reached the same level as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Philip Marlowe, or even Batman. Why is that? There's Nancy Drew, but that's pretty much it for famous literary detectives. There's just this gap there that I'm surprised no one has ever really tried to fill. It had to be hard enough for Naoto to be taken seriously as a detective when she so young. The male dominated police probably wouldn't have given her the time of day even is she dragged the killer in hog tied and gift wrapped.

I was really happy with the art direction in this episode. The symbolism of darkness was strong in this one. My favorite moment had to be when Naoto was talking with the Investigation Team and walked up to the line of the shadow as he talked to them. When she declared her intentions of taking a bold step, she purposefully walked into the darkness. You don't get that same level of visuals in the game. It builds the drama. Yukiko is also picking up on the darkness filling the town. This is turning out to be a strong act three.

Nick Robinson:

That's an interesting note you make about the voicework. I always felt like the actress they chose for Naoto in the English release of Persona 4 made it obvious early on that she wasn't just another dude, especially compared to the other male voices on the cast. In P4A, though, I think it's completely conceivable that someone could watch this and not realize that this boy detective was more detective than boy. It's hard to say for sure, since we obviously both knew going in, but I'd love to hear from someone who had no idea about the twist. I agree: they cast her perfectly!

I'm with you on the visuals this week - this was a remarkably well-directed episode. There were some killer 'shots' in there - for instance, the bit where the Midnight Channel turned off, revealing Yu's reaction in reflection in the screen. It pretty much all looked great, and even though there was a bit more 'assessing the situation' than I would've liked, it was a great-looking, tastefully put together episode overall.

While watching this, I found myself wishing a lot that a show like this had existed when I was younger. As much as I enjoyed procedural entertainment like Digimon as a kid, it would've been cool to have a good serial drama with fantasy elements like P4A to have invested in. This show is unapologetically a series, and it's crucial that it be watched in order. I respect that.

So how do you feel about the handling of Naoto's big reveal?

Kristoffer Remmell:

Well, the concept of women voicing young boys isn't only a Japanese thing, ala Bart Simpson. It just seems just easier for women to hit the pitch of a young boy over a man without sounding forced. Even now, Colleen Clinkenbeard is voicing Luffy for FUNimation's production of One Piece. I think she's doing a pretty fine job. The English version of Persona 4 had Naoto voiced by Susan Dalian. Her work in anime is limited, but she voiced Haku from Naruto and did perfectly well for that role. As you said, Naoto just stood out more next to the men voicing the boy roles. She still had to sound partly feminine after the reveal of being a girl. It would of been more jarring having her sound too much like a guy after that. The only problem I have now is that I need to keep proofreading when I write about her to stop typing "he" or other male pronouns.

The way the Investigation Team had to investigate Naoto to track her down in the Midnight Channel is what caught me off guard. Sure that's from the game, but the anime has simplified it down to using objects of that person for the other times. That's what they did for Kanji and Rise. I appreciated that touch. This is just the point in the story where Teddie's nose becomes pretty much useless, and Rise needs a role to play outside of battles.

So far, I think we've neglected an unsung star of this episode. That's once more Kanji. I did feel that part of his expanded Social Link story felt oddly disjointed with such a Naoto heavy episode. It all ties together in the end when they finally go to the Midnight Channel after Naoto. I think he realized that both he and Naoto struggle with their perceptions and expectations. While most of the team is trying to get Naoto not to fall into his Shadow's trap, Kanji wants her to work this out. It's because he knows that the rest of them became stronger and happier as people for overcoming their Shadow. It's incredibly reckless, but damn he looked so cool busting down that door.

Nick Robinson:

Yeah, Kanji was fantastic. It's funny - in the game, it became irritating after a while that no one on the Investigaitonon Team ever bothered to warn anyone about the "YOU'RE NOT ME" trigger, but in P4A, where they figured it out pretty quickly, they've actually subverted that by having Kanji realize how necessary it is to face your Shadow. These characters are actually learning and developing over the course of the show, and it's a nice touch. Also: the way Kanji acts around Naoto continues to be totally adorable, and I'm looking forward to seeing how P4A's producers handle his reaction to her big gender reveal.

Yeah, the scenes with his mom felt a little irrelevant to the rest of the episode (and his "They're knitted animals, not stuffed" line felt very "THEY'RE NOT DOLLS THEY'RE ACTION FIGURES" to me), but here's the connection I see: the hospital stuff established that the only way Kanji knows how to express concern is through being super loud and angry. His whole thing is that he's kinda one of those 'misunderstood bully' types, who's so aggressively alternative and confrontational because he can't really communicate any other way. It's something we see reflected by his reaction to Naoto using herself as bait for the killer: he's not truly angry with her, just worried for her safety. They've done well at characterizing him in this show - he's one of the few characters I might prefer the P4A depiction of, and that's saying something, because I loved him in the game.

Next week's seem to close out the Naoto dungeon, but I'm more excited by the chance to see what body-modified old man Yosuke looks like. On to the next one!

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!

Post by Hailinel (74 posts) See mini bio Level 11

Be careful what you wish for, Nick. If Persona 4 aired on American TV the same way that Digimon had back in its day, there's little doubt that it would have been edited to hell and back. I remember back when I was in college, the Fox network tried running an edited version of The Vision of Escaflowne; a show that in its original form contains elements for both male and female audiences with a strong female lead (Hitomi) and a strong male secondary character (Van).

Fox's edit turned the show inside out, reduced the entire first episode to flashbacks in later episodes, and the episodes were all reedited to be more geared toward Van as the lead. It's unsurprising that the show didn't last very long on Fox at all.

I have no doubt that if Persona 4 tried to air in the same environment as a Digimon series, that it would suffer a similar fate. With large portions being edited or rewritten. Possibly even changing Naoto's character to male and reducing the more sexual aspects of the Shadows (Shadow Rise and Kanji in particular) to the point where they'd barely factor into events.

It would, in short, be a goddamn mess.

As far as this episode went, I really liked it. I felt that the anime did a really good job of setting up the Shadow confrontation; on the other hand, the episode has a very obvious cliffhanger moment, so it doesn't really feel like a full episode, at least to me.

Post by Neurotic (41 posts) See mini bio Level 6

I agree with what the both of you said about art direction. In a series which has not been terribly bold with that sort of thing, it was fairly noticeable. Perhaps it was because it was a Naoto-heavy episode so they're trying to make it all noir but I hope as the darker part of the story unfolds that this becomes more commonplace.

I prefer the P4A depiction of Naoto over the game by a long way. In the game, I thought she was a fairly boring character but having her animated makes it easier to see the subtleties in her expressions and such.

Just so you know, the bit with Kanji saying that it's necessary to face your Shadow was in the game too.

Post by fijilovesyou (65 posts) See mini bio Level 10

Love the humor between Naoto and Kanji. You get what I mean. Don't like Naoto's Persona that much.

Post by mutha3 (17 posts) See mini bio Level 6

His whole thing is that he's kinda one of those 'misunderstood bully' types, who's so aggressively alternative and confrontational because he can't really communicate any other way. It's something we see reflected by his reaction to Naoto using herself as bait for the killer: he's not truly angry with her, just worried for her safety.

Actually, the exact same thing happens in the game. Kanji gets angry at Naoto, starts cussing her out and yelling at her, but you know that's just his bizzare way of showing he cares. The scene with his Mother was an early S-link scene as well, if I remember correctly.

They've done well at characterizing him in this show - he's one of the few characters I might prefer the P4A depiction of, and that's saying something, because I loved him in the game.

Eh......Respect your opinions and all, of course, but I still can't get over the shadow Kanji stuff in P4A. I like P4A Kanji, but I think P4 Kanji is a much better realized character. The stuff I like in P4A Kanji basically boils down to "he's funny and cute". P4 Kanji is so much more, imo. They have almost completely abandoned the "sexual confusion" angle of his character. Maybe they'll go back to it in a later episode, since there is still a lot of his S-link the anime hasn't explored yet, but I doubt it...

So far I'd have to say I prefer P4A Rise over her original game counterpart. Teddie and Naoto are about equal, 'cept for the part where I hate Teddie's Japanese VA with a passion. Nanako, Yosuke, Dojima, Kanji, Chie and the S-link characters feel like significant downgrades.

@Neurotic said:

I agree with what the both of you said about art direction. In a series which has not been terribly bold with that sort of thing, it was fairly noticeable

This however, I strongly agree with. The lighting, the art direction, the shifting shadow world....Most of the time, P4A's environments looks static and boring, but with this episode they really made good use of the abstracted shadow world to deliver a story.

Post by FoxxFireArt (2,638 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

I should add that when Naoto is speaking, she uses the term "boku" when talking about herself. That is a term almost exclusively used by boys. That more sells that she's suppose to be male.

Post by Neurotic (41 posts) See mini bio Level 6

@mutha3 said:

So far I'd have to say I prefer P4A Rise over her original game counterpart. Teddie and Naoto are about equal, 'cept for the part where I hate Teddie's Japanese VA with a passion. Nanako, Yosuke, Dojima, Kanji, Chie and the S-link characters feel like significant downgrades.

Swap Teddie and Rise around in that sentence and you have my feelings on that matter. I normally hate the voices of the cutsey characters in anime but for whatever reason, Teddie doesn't bother me.

I agree with you about Yosuke though. It seems like the butt monkey side of his character has been emphasised more than his role as the second-in-command in the Investigation Team. I feel like only the first few episodes and 12 have shown him as anything other than the comic relief.

Post by zaldar (1,235 posts) See mini bio Level 15

Well shoot I was hoping you both didn't know she was a girl and would be surprised. Ah well. I loved this episode as well. Keeps getting better and better, and they did in the game start saying "NO DON"T SAY IT" always to late though......

Post by Hailinel (74 posts) See mini bio Level 11

@zaldar said:

Well shoot I was hoping you both didn't know she was a girl and would be surprised. Ah well. I loved this episode as well. Keeps getting better and better, and they did in the game start saying "NO DON"T SAY IT" always to late though......

Nah, they've both known from the start, as far as I'm aware. One of them even said in a response to a previous P4 column that they intentionally used masculine pronouns to refer to Naoto so that it wouldn't be spoiled for anyone that didn't know.

Post by zaldar (1,235 posts) See mini bio Level 15

I thought one of them had never played the game and had never watched stuff online...where did they find out?

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