Persona 4 Golden the Animation – 01 The Golden Days
I am a fan of the very successful PS2 game, Persona 4 and the anime based on it. I watched the anime subbed as it was airing and I just concluded watching the dub. I had fun, but I thought it was all over, and like Yu Narukami I was ready to move on. I was surprised and very excited to learn that this unique and engaging property had received a second life on the PS Vita with a port/re-make similar to, but more advanced than, Persona 3 Portable which had been made for the PSP. I have stepped away from gaming and own no hand held devices and so had resigned to wait a year or so and save up the money to buy a Vita and Persona 4 Golden. Just the other day, I was once more taken by surprise when I learned that Atlus, Sega and Aniplex had been making Persona 4 Golden the Animation.
In watching the P4A dub, I found some of the flaws I had noticed in both the game and the subtitled release of the show to be more pronounced. The teacher (who could be characterized as a cougar) Noriko Kashiwagi, and Hanako Ohtani (a heavy set girl) are used almost entirely as the brunt of jokes about how sexually undesirable they are. Ms. Kashiwagi is sensitive about her age and Hanako thinks rancid food is yummy. In a supposedly comedic moment, between Kanji (one of the core characters who was sort of confused about his sexuality) and Hanako is when she tells him she isn’t into guys like him; the joke seems to be that he doesn’t find her attractive and she wouldn’t be expected to reject him as appealing as attractive as he is.
Not only are these female characters mocked for having sexuality, but Kanji’s possible sexual orientation is used as fodder for laughs. It gets worse. Two of the male characters coerce female members of the core cast to wear bikinis and show their stuff for the purpose of drawing the male gaze, both in and out of universe.
There are many negative elements to the game and show, but there is a core of pro-social themes. The formation of genuine bonds between Yu and the characters in the story giving him the strength to face life’s challenges is really compelling. The tenderness and care he showed to people throughout Persona 4 the Animation was moving and the stand the Seekers of Truth take against nihilism is admirable and inspiring.
I am afraid that the bad will outweigh the good in Persona 4 Golden the Animation. I doubt they will fix some of the socially off-key elements they present and I am certain they won’t fix them all.
I watched the first episode of P4GA, The Golden Days and while the new take on the story seems like it will be rather interesting, especially with the sense that Yu is doing a “new game+,” there are still potentially problematic issues ahead for those who continue to watch. Yu seems to be over confident to a fault. He is edging on being abrasive and rude. I would hope that after all the growth he had gone through that he would retain his gentleness while having an air of too cool for the same year of school and saving the world over again.
The music is good. The animation looks nice. The over the top fight scene makes me fear this version will be filled with hyper-macho bravado and brashness. The pace felt break-neck but the additional content after the credits explained, if not excused the abrupt ending. The additional content fully introduced Marie, the amnesiac with an eye-catching aesthetic and a mysterious, apparently new link to the Velvet Room into the show as a prominent figure. Marie’s character design and her attitude, which I read as possibly being tsun-dure makes me worry she’ll be a vehicle for fan-service made significant only because she is an object of the male lead. This hasn’t been true of any other character in previous P4 incarnations, but I’ve listed some poor choices made by the creative team above and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them move on to making new, different, equally insensitive decisions for the show.
Since this is a remake I think it is fair to bring up just how much Marie reminds me of Mari (Illustrious) Makinami from the second Rebuild of Evangelion who really came off in that movie as an effort to check off another box on the otaku fetish list. The funny thing is that if they wanted to have a sexy female in the show to flirt with Yu or titillate a segment of the audience, I think Margaret had accomplished that quite well in previous incarnations. Margaret is a beautiful older woman with a mysterious air who behaves increasingly forward with Yu (and you as you play the game and grow your Social Link with her) as the show progresses. I always read her interaction with Yu as very flirtatious, but never thought anything would develop between them beyond banter. I hope Marie isn’t a figment created to hold Yu’s affections so that all the otaku can have at Chie, Yukiko, Rise and Naoto.
I endeavor to keep up with the show and keep tabs on the socially in-congruent messages that mar a story that is otherwise deep, soulful and moving.