Amateur vs. Expert: PERSONA 4 #8

Topic started by Guest_Author on Nov. 28, 2011. Last post by LifeByDegrees 2 years, 9 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:

We're eight episodes in, and it's been a ride that I've really enjoyed. This particular episode just felt all over the place. I put the blame on the completely rushed S. Link of Naoki Konishi. Yeah, Naoki didn't have the most interesting story, and it didn't deserve a full episode. It just feels as if he appeared and it was instantly resolved. I just wish they had at least explained why Naoki had a grudge against Yu. What saved this episode for me is the fun situation comedy bits. The evil curry, the tent, and river. It's hard to tell who's more on in this episode, Yu or Kanji. I love the way they play off each other. Yu's a stoic dude, but he doesn't even express himself when kicked off a cliff. Kanji is also a great personality to watch.

The episode really feels like a filler. I often hear that used in a derogatory way, but that's not always true. You can't expect a series to always be on high speed. If it was non-stop action you'd never appreciate the good stuff. You need time to decompress in good story telling. Variety is the spice of life. They still found a way to tie this all into the plot by coming to the realization that the victims all appeared on the TV just before their disappearance. The Investigation Team now has a direction to follow.

I haven't seen an episode of anime that spent so much time discussing the preparation - or lack there of - in how to make curry rice since One Piece Ep. 133. That filler episode had some rather odd amount of fine detail in how to cook curry. It's a dish I've been curious to try and make. It amazing how huge curry rice is in Japan. It's one of the nations most popular dishes, and it's not even originally from the nation. It was first introduced some time around the late 1800s. I guess you could compare it to pizza or tacos in the U.S.

Nick Robinson:

I actually loved this episode! Like I've alluded to before, I'm a huge fan of "hangout moments" in television - too often, shows get caught up in plot and never really give you a chance to spend any time with their characters, which is especially disappointing in shows with casts as lovable as Persona 4's. This episode reflected the attitude of the in-game school trip perfectly: they (mostly) set aside the detective stuff for an episode and just chilled out, and that's always fun to see.

And yeah, Yu and Kanji were both incredible this week. When this show started, I wasn't sure what tone would be appropriate for the protagonist (or if an appropriate tone even existed), but sure enough, it feels like they've nailed it! His hyper-dry sense of humor and quiet yet direct attitude make him possibly the most interesting character in P4A, which is a reaction I never expected to have to Yu. He's awesome.

It's also great to see them sticking to the changes they've already made. The subtle callback to the fact that Aiya delivers anywhere was a cute touch, and regardless of whether or not it worked, I feel like I understand their choice to fold Naoki into the episode, Kai-style. Like you say, Naoki wasn't a huge character in the game, and proportionate to the length of this show, I feel like they dedicated just the right amount of time to him. Then again, I'm not particularly fond toward any of the Konishis as characters, so maybe I'm biased.

Still, because I'm incapable of not complaining: the Kanji "boys' tent" scene broke my fucking heart in two. Yosuke and Yu are now undeniable homophobes. The creators of the show have incontrovertibly chosen to characterize them as dudes who are obsessed with Kanji's sexuality, and it sucks. I might have yelled something angry at my laptop after the "Don't you trust me?" "Not at night" exchange went down. Like, seriously? Is this a show about 13-year-olds? Fuck off! The scene didn't entirely squander this episode's goodwill, but stuff like Yu asking Kanji if his "chastity is safe" is pretty much indefensible. I know that they're trying to play it for laughs, but hey, guess what: gays aren't rapists!

Maybe I'm a bit naive, but I'd like to think most high schoolers in 2011 don't actually act like this. Besides, we're supposed to like these characters, right?

Kristoffer Remmell:

Oh, I still enjoyed the episode. Things just didn't have the same flow as before. It felt like sub-episodes within the episode. More so with Teddy popping in every few minutes to shout "Persona", I do see why Naoki's story was important to tell, and he got as much time as he deserved. He represents the aftermath of murder and family left behind. Yeah, Yosuke reminds of that with his feelings of Saki, but Naoki was her brother. He reenforces the hero's desire to get justice, because we already knew her parents weren't very sympathetic characters.

I think what makes Yu's personality work as so entertaining is that it's not subtle. They really play up just how indifferent he is that he's kicked off that cliff and doesn't even flinch about it. It also makes his reactions just so much more funny. Kanji is also cool. He's aggressive and straight forward in everything he does. Even that final scene. He was probably so worked up thinking he was going to have to let Ohtani down easy, but she flat out told him to forget it ever happened. His ego just suffered a swift kick to the nethers.

Wow, you are really passionate about how Kanji is treated in this episode. Not that I'm one to criticize someone for being passionate about an issue. In fact, I think it's a good thing. I agree that Yosuke comes across as a homophobe. I just don't get that same vibe from Yu. If he was, I doubt he'd be so confident to show off those trunks so blatantly. The whole scene was just a set up for Kanji to run off to the girl's tent, suddenly pass out (get KOed by Chie's power kick), then have the girls come to the boys tent to a classic sit-com moment. If he hadn't. We wouldn't get that great close.

I do agree that gay men don't get very fairly treated in media. I think you have a valid complaint. Im just not picking up on that same level of maliciousness that you seem to be. I also doubt that Yosuke is suppose to be completely likable. I'm with Kanji that it was pretty messed up that he bought swim suits for the girls. How did he even know what size to get? I'd bet you'd find that more people would come to Kanji's defense over Yosuke. The boys even pay for their behavior when the girls kick them off to the side of the tent. If they hadn't said anything. They could of gotten a good nights sleep, but we would of had a boring scene.

Nick Robinson:

Yeah, the pacing this week was crazy! The relatively short scenes and those bizarre "PERSONA!!" transitions really made the episode feel like a montage of little character moments instead of a unified whole. Which is probably why the Naoki stuff felt a little at odds with the rest of the episode; it was like they wanted to shoehorn one more S. Link anywhere they could, and the result was a little awkward. It often seems like the creators of this show sat down and tried to plot out a way to fit every single slightly memorable part of Persona 4 into one anime series. As a result, we've got a show that is, for better or worse, bursting at the seams with semi-rushed references.

Dude, I don't think I can communicate how hard I laughed at Yu's reaction to being kicked off the cliff. It was brilliant, and makes a great segue into one of the weirdest things I've noticed about the show: Yu is entirely unable to emote unless being prompted. It adds this incredibly strange meta bent to the show where the protagonist pretty much only reacts to things at times when the game would've prompted you to make a dialogue choice. As a reult, Yu almost never talks, but when he does, he's often picking the least "safe" conversational decision possible. It's crazy, but it's also an incredibly unique and interesting way to characterize what could've been a total blank slate of a character. Kudos to them on that.

And yeah, a final note on Kanji's treatment this week: I don't think I'd call it "malicious," just "irresponsible." Having the characters tease Kanji for being gay is just the absolute laziest. I get that they'd write Yosuke this way, because let's be honest: Yosuke is the worst! But having Yu ask Kanji whether or not he can safely share a tent with him without risking being sexually assaulted just seems totally at odds with his character. Maybe I'm projecting, but I prefer to think of the Investigation Team as a relatively progressive group of kind young kids who accept each other's insecurities, not as as a relatively progressive group of kind young kids who accept each other's insecurities unless they're about homosexuality. If this is what P4A's producers think of as an acceptable treatment for Kanji, I shudder to wonder how they're going to handle some of the later Naoto stuff.

All that aside, I really did love this episode. The scene with Nanako was precious, the curry stuff was great, and it was moment-to-moment the funniest episode yet.I hope we see more pure character-centric episodes from this show in the future - detective work and action scenes are all well and good, but at the end of the day, I'm here for the characters. What did y'all think, readers?

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 mutha3 (17 posts) See mini bio Level 6

Haha, you guys covered everything I wanted to say about Kanji in this episode. I'll bite my tongue on that matter then, because I have nothing to add.

The last 2 minutes or so of this episode were glorious, though.

Post by Username_Undefined (89 posts) See mini bio Level 12

I didn't see the Kanji scenes as anything other than teasing an underclassman, at least from Yu. Yosuke, yeah, he was probably serious, but I think Yu was just messing with Kanji and trying to get a reaction out of him (which isn't that hard to do) in the same slightly sadistic way we tease our friends and siblings.

Post by Hailinel (76 posts) See mini bio Level 11
@Emeryl This, pretty much. It's not homophobia as much as it is ribbing the underclassman. And on another note, I think people tend to forget that this is a Japanese show, in that characters don't behave in the way that progressive American teens should, or at least we think they should. Then again, I've also heard far worse bile from American teens Yu and Yosuke's age.

But you know, cultural lenses and all that.

And you guys really dropped the ball in talking about Kanji's interactions with Hanako. People keep railing on Kanji being gay as though it's fact, but whatever happened that night, Kanji didn't exactly seem entirely against it.
Post by AlKusanagi (9 posts) See mini bio Level 6

Being that I work with teenagers, yes. Yes, 14 or 15 year old "straight" males would totally react to Kanji in that way. It's far less homophobia than immaturity and their own self image issues.

Also, as a fan of the game, I absolutely loved this episode since the camping trip was one of the major comedic highlights of the game (which also gives me hope regarding a certain competition later). I could have done without the S-link taking up space that could have been filled with more hijinks, since he was a non-entity in the game too.

PS. Where be Funky Student and the Mysterious Fox?!?

Post by Cloudenvy (9 posts) See mini bio Level 6

"Maybe I'm a bit naive, but I'd like to think most high schoolers in 2011 don't actually act like this."

Hahahahahahahaha.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Good one.

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

@AlKusanagi said:

Being that I work with teenagers, yes. Yes, 14 or 15 year old "straight" males would totally react to Kanji in that way.

I agree. Nick's view of teens is a little skewed in this case, its a totally normal reaction for 14-18 year olds to respond with disgust unless you live in a very progressive area. But that is not the IT's role in the story now is it? I think this is a fine description of what the Investigation Team is supposed to be:

a relatively progressive group of kind young kids who accept each other's insecurities

Which is why they all(supposedly) trust each other and are able to cope with these insecurities. Having Kanji's sexual confusion played for laughs the way it is in this episode just doesn't fit with that framework. True enough, in the game, Yosuke acts that way towards Kanji as well, but he eventually warms up to him and backs off. Though to be fair: its a little unfortunate that they didn't spend much time on Yosuke and Kanji's relationship in the game. They just awkwardly started getting along more and more, but there is never really a scene where Yosuke is confronted outside of that one time Chie tells him to back off.

(Oh and just to let you know: Yu, Chie, Yukiko and Yosuke are 17 years old)

@Emeryl said:

I didn't see the Kanji scenes as anything other than teasing an underclassman, at least from Yu. Yosuke, yeah, he was probably serious, but I think Yu was just messing with Kanji and trying to get a reaction out of him (which isn't that hard to do) in the same slightly sadistic way we tease our friends and siblings.

If it was a joke, the scene would have established it as such(example: Yosuke and Yu bursting out laughing when Kanji ran out of the tent and out of sight, followed by a bro fistbump).

As it is now, with all due respect, I think you're just making excuses for the producers.

Post by Hailinel (76 posts) See mini bio Level 11
@mutha3 And I think you're severely overreacting.
Post by Dunchad (72 posts) See mini bio Level 7

Come on Nick, take a chill pill. Yosuke aside (he is an asshole), Yu was just teasing - it's not like he was actually worried he might get assraped. That might hold true for Yosuke as well - though I'm willing to believe the worst of him. That kind of joking was quite typical back when I was younger and I definitely participated in it. I mean, even the most homophobe people out there realize that gay men don't go about having surprise buttsex with everybody.

One view might be that Yu's joke is in poor taste because it's a sensitive issue Kanji is wrestling with, but I prefer to look at it like Yu is just showing that it's not a big deal to him - that he can joke about it. And that maybe Kanji should stop stressing about it so much.

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

@Hailinel said:

@mutha3 And I think you're severely overreacting.

About what?

If it was a joke, the scene would have established it as such(example: Yosuke and Yu bursting out laughing when Kanji ran out of the tent and out of sight, followed by a bro fistbump).

This logic seems sound to me. Good storytelling involves establishing things about characters that are relevant. Please tell me where you got the impression from that the characters were joking, because I'm not seeing it.

Post by Cloudenvy (9 posts) See mini bio Level 6

@Hailinel: It's Mutha3, what else did you expect?

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

@Cloudenvy said:

@Hailinel: It's Mutha3, what else did you expect?

Woah, where did this passive-aggressiveness come from Cloudenvy? I thought we were bros?

STATUS UPDAT EDIT: we're bros

Post by Hailinel (76 posts) See mini bio Level 11
@mutha3

@Hailinel said:

@mutha3 And I think you're severely overreacting.

About what?

If it was a joke, the scene would have established it as such(example: Yosuke and Yu bursting out laughing when Kanji ran out of the tent and out of sight, followed by a bro fistbump).

This logic seems sound to me. Good storytelling involves establishing things about characters that are relevant. Please tell me where you got the impression from that the characters were joking, because I'm not seeing it.

Not every joke is followed by laughter or a fistbump.
Post by mutha3 (17 posts) See mini bio Level 6

@Hailinel said:

Not every joke is followed by laughter or a fistbump.

That was an example. They can be followed by smiles, or knowning nods, or winks, or whatever! Point is, I'm not seeing where you're getting from that Yu was supposed to be joking. Nothing indicates that he was.

Post by FoxxFireArt (2,642 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

It's pretty obvious that these episodes were long planned in advance and worked to fit some Social Linking every where they could. That's why we saw Kou and Ai's stories together since they were basically involved in the game.

The screenplay for the series was probably done long before pen ever touched paper. I see those scenes as nods to game fans. It all makes even more sense when you know that Persona 4 the game is being re-released on the Vita next spring, just as the anime is coming to the end. I'm betting that these new animated cut scenes for the game are going to come directly from this anime. I only wish it was being sold on PSN.

It is funny how the anime picks some of the strangest dialog choices for Yu from the game. It all makes for a lot of laughs.

Yu was also plenty expressive when he realized he was soaking in King Moron's vomit. That would be worse than falling off a cliff.

I sometimes wonder if Vinny or Jeff from Giant Bomb have checked out any of these episodes.

@AlKusanagi:

Yeah, I didn't touch it in for the article, but you should always trust teenagers to act like teenagers, regardless of generation.

You might see the Fox. It was an Arcana character. Though, I am surprised we haven't even seen Funky Student in the background.

Post by Babylonian (16 posts) See mini bio Level 10
Staff

@Emeryl: @Hailinel: @Dunchad:

We must be watching two different shows, because if Yu's got a jokey prankster streak to his personality, this would be the first we've seen of it! I'd certainly prefer to believe he was just pushing Kanji's buttons, but like motha3 is saying, there's not really a shred of evidence in either the scene or in past episodes that Yu was just goofin'.

@Hailinel said:

And you guys really dropped the ball in talking about Kanji's interactions with Hanako. People keep railing on Kanji being gay as though it's fact, but whatever happened that night, Kanji didn't exactly seem entirely against it.

Uh, Kanji had been knocked unconscious. So in that regard, yeah, he was unconcious, I guess he technically wasn't "entirely against it?" That aside, if you think the show trying to imply that Kanji and Hanako totally boned down that night, we are gonna have to agree to disagree!

Still, you're right: one need look no further than his anime-ass nosebleed reaction to the girls in bathing suits to see a pretty compelling case that Kanji isn't straight-up isn't exclusively into dudes. Then again, so does the big reveal about Naoto, but that's a bit more of a grey area. At any rate, it'd probably be safe to say that Kanji's bi, but I feel like trying to pidgeonhole his sexuality misses the entire point.

@AlKusanagi said:

Also, as a fan of the game, I absolutely loved this episode since the camping trip was one of the major comedic highlights of the game (which also gives me hope regarding a certain competition later).

OH JEEZ I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THAT HELL YES DUDE

Post by zaldar (1,264 posts) See mini bio Level 15

@Emeryl: This is correct I think. As well this is pretty much the way it was in the game and the way it is with the majority of kids in high school today. Especially in southern and rural America. I wouldn't say you are naive just that you surround yourself with a more progressive set of friends. Go to any church down here in the south and the type of behavior shown in this episode is not only tolerated but quietly encouraged.

As I mentioned on the banzai beat podcast I found this episode hilarious. I enjoyed the quick takes and the persona stuff I even found funny. The s links that felt rushed to me were the strength and moon s links not the one here. I loved Kanji bringing him to the campfire "if you want to know something about him ask him yourself".

I would call the game and the anime progressive but the characters in it..not such much. I would say we are not supposed to like these characters and pretty much have the reaction that you did to what they did.

Post by AxleFGK (1 posts) See mini bio Level 3

kinda seems like you guys took a pretty hilarious scene and turned it into "OH! the producers of this show hate homosexuals"

i found that scene to be hilarious. Yu just does whatever a person playing the game would want him to do, which is be as unsafe as possible. picking on a boy whos having trouble with his sexual identity is pretty funny.

also IMO i feel like Kanji isn't actually gay. it was only naoto that he had any interest in and that's where the whole "am i gay" sort of feeling arises in him, given whats revealed later, i always figured something in him knew naoto was actually a chick. But that's just my analysis of the character based on what i thought while playing the game watching giantbombs ER and watching this anime so far.

Post by advkow (10 posts) See mini bio Level 6

I love this series...but I think Nick is taking the whole homophobia thing a little too far. The characters will be going against their own insecuirties throughout the series, Kanji's is just more used for humor right now than the others. We saw a little of Yosuke's coming from meeting Saki's brother today, and we'll probably continue to see more from the others. Although he (Nick) has made a lot of good points, I really feel like in this episode it wasn't nearly bad as he was making it out to be and that it was mostly just supposed to be a fun little humor episode than anything else, and the complaints are a bit out of proportion to what was done on screen?

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

Something that hasn't been brought up yet, but has been bothering me for a while:

The backgrounds. God that stuff looks so lazy sometimes! Also, as a curiosity:

@FoxxFireArt: @Babylonian: @Hailinel:

Did you guys check out the Bluray version of EP1? The extended scenes make the episode flow a lot better.

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