When I started my attempts at internet blogging about two years ago, one of my first entries was on Persona 3. What drew me to that game was the nature of the enemy, and the futility of the conflict. The ultimate evil in that game was Nyx. It was a being of death manifested by and attracted to the negativity of mankind. It knew no malice and did not seak power. It was instead manipulated by mankind's unconcious negativity. Our heroes fought against it, and even with the "Power of the Universe", the strength to perform miracles, all the main character could do was use his own life force to create a seal, blocking Nyx off from man kind's thoughts.
The conflict was against a being of man's own creation and unconscious manipulation, and fighting against it directly was futile, as refuting the will of all mankind with just your own was futile. Far outside the JRPG norm, this is what made Persona 3's story appeal to me. When Persona 4 came around, I loved it, and yet couldn't help but feel a twinge of disappointment because of how the balance of power played out in the conflict. The heroes fought against the monsters, and each time came out victorious. Personal acceptance of one's demons became less life threatening as the ability to fully subdue them over and over was always there.
And then came along the Persona 4 anime. Within the last 3 episodes, we have seen three boss fights and none of them gave us an Investigation Team victorious on their powers. Narukami fought Shadow Yosuke to a standstill at best. Shadow Chie had Jiraiyah and Yosuke tied up with her bondage hair. Shadow Yukiko's flames were more than even Pyro Jack's absorb flame affinity could handle. Once is a fluke, but three is a trend. The conflict puts emphasis on the futility of combating psychological beasts with brute strength. Every time, it took a change in mind set on the part of the host to give our heroes a fighting chance.
While the criticisms of melodramatic nature of the self-acceptance is understandable, in this sense, it also makes sense. One cannot win through fighting, and hold the shadow back is already a near impossible task. The priority is acceptance, one that the heroes need to work towards through emotional appeals more than anything else. The change in this emphasis is also backed up by an expansion on the back story and motivations of the characters that I have praised in previous writings. The true source of Chie and Yukiko's friendship, the set in stone routine of Yukiko's life at the inn, what people really think about Yosuke behind his back, these moments help gives depth to this new priority.
Persona 3 showed the supreme power of the subconscious. It is good to see the Persona 4 Animation following in those foot steps.