A Sloppy Cliché – Persona 4 the Golden Animation 7 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation –7 It’s Cliché, So What?

I don’t know what the team’s goal was for this episode. It felt disjointed in both content and presentation. The music video of Adachi’s memories was nebulous in direction and therefore effect. What was the purpose? If seeing Adachi’s life was intended to make Yu Question his own actions and motives equally to or more than Adachi’s verbalized accusations, I have a heard time believing that. A waste of four or so minutes is not the kind of thing this show needs; I feel a monologue or dialogue over that section would have helped a lot, but I suppose the team deserves credit for making a bold choice. Too bad it was a misstep. Another mar on the episode was the seemingly off message brutality Yu displayed towards Adachi. I lost count of how many time he hit him, but it seemed uncharacteristic and didn’t really match with the tone, especially because as soon as he and Adachi seem to be making headway in understanding each other, he gets taken over by the eye in the sky. The idea that the two of them took such different paths while being so similar was well presented and it was neat that it was acted out by Yu using Adachi’s Persona. The best thing in this episode, which was unfortunately not interwoven well, may have been Marie chiding Yu for not accepting all the consequences of his actions (somehow hurting Adachi in the course of doing what he saw as kindness and helping Marie) for good and ill. She doesn’t drone on about opportunity costs or eating one’s cake and still having it, but succinctly shakes him from self-doubt and accepting Adachi’s path of isolationist inaction. I think a lot can be read into seeing that dichotomy and making a choice.

For nicely representing a cliché message that resonates with me, but mucking it up with unorthodox chronology that adds little to the narrative, I give this overly-ambitious, mediocre episode a 3 out of 5.

Apathetic And Evil- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 6 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation –6 See? I Told You Yu!

Time skipping, and protagonist shifting can be a risk, but I think the insights into who Adachi is are a vital component of making this show more than just a comedic teen eye-candy festival, which is how it began.

The murders are introduced to the plot in a grimly off-putting way that underscores Adachi’s callous indifference and sets him up as a solid counter-piece to Narukami, Marie and Teddie, who are thematically linked as main protagonists. Bored and full of contempt for everyone, Adachi chafes at the kindness of others, refuses to actually connect with people and seeks to destroy the things that irritate him. A perspective that orients everything around the self lead to Adachi’s sentiment, “Why help someone? They could betray you, so it’s better to do nothing.” This flies in the face of the main cast’s sentiments which lead them to reach out to others and help them. The vulnerability and lost position of weakness from which characters like Marie and Teddy start, cause them to be humble and empathetic. Their friends help them to accomplish good things and direct themselves to be a positive force in the world, however small. Adachi sees himself as a big fish in a little pond and that arrogance is what allows him to lash out at his inferiors. I don’t think every episode needs to be like this, but the tone was consistent with the rest of Persona 4, while authentically presenting Adachi as a sick creep. The inclusion of the scene where Adachi is distressed over Nanako getting hurt, is an interesting touch, which I see as meant to humanize him after the jarring scene of him pushing Saki into the TV. It doesn’t belie his self-centered destructive attitude or what he did, but he isn’t a flat soulless monster.

This episode gets a 4 out of 5 for telling a compelling, cohesive story, despite shifting direction, thanks to the emotional context which threads this darker, weightier content to the quiz shows and skin shots.

Not So Pumped- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 5 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation – 5 Let’s Go Get it! Get Pumped!

I have previously made complaints about the murder mystery not being a part of this show and it appears now that that is and isn’t the case. Before I continue I must say that for any work of fiction to be truly successful in my mind it must stand alone. That isn’t to say that a part of a series or trilogy has to give the audience a re-cap so they are up to speed on all the minusha and details that inform the characters, setting and circumstances, but that every piece of a story should stand on its own duirng each installment. Characters acting consistently across multiple settings and operating in a world that fuctions the same way as in other parts of their journeys (except where the narrative explicitly let’s the rules get loopy I.E. altrernate universes) creates stories that can engage new audiences while enriching the experiences of dedicated fans. Because I expect so much from the Persona 4 creative team, I have meted out my judgements accordingly. Last episode was a marked improvement and I had accepted the show as a comletely alternate retelling of events in the same characters lives, but this episode has opened my eyes to a new possibility.

The premise of this episode turns this series into an interesting companipon piece that dovetails with the prior series in a way that somewhat alters events and shows what was happening when the “cameras weren’t rolling” in Persona 4 The Animation. Technically, they are probably taking place in separate continuities, but they do add to each other, especially starting with this episode. The threat of Yosuke moving away works on two levels; new fans see the risk of these friends breaking up and those already familiar with the series have a way to see what they already know in a new light.

I like the animation a lot, though Dojima’s new look does seem a little funny to me. An issue these character designs have always had for me is that they feel to tall, unless all the structures in Inaba are tiny. Why am I talking about that? Because there isn’t much meat on the bones here. The episode was decent; I was entertained, but not compelled.

I get it, I think I see what the creative team is doing, but it doesn’t get me pumped. Actually, Marie’s moment of terror at the trio of Dojima, Nanako and Adachi was an attention grabbing bit, but it was so late in the episode that it cut the impact.

Bottom line: I’m really looking forward to the next episode, but this one deserves no more than a 3 out of 5.

The Sweet Spot- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 4 Review

P4GA- 04 The Mayonaka Ohdan Miracle Quiz

Emotional resonance, here you are. I’m so happy to see you again!

Clichéd.

Old hat.

Call the amnesiac character set up what you will; it’s working well in this show. So far.

Gone are my sentiments, and I would argue the show’s Direction, that Marie is little more than fan-service bait. I am unsure how long they can effectively draw out Marie trying to reclaim her memories, and it could be that her breakthrough about making new memories starting now is the conclusion to that part of her story.

As an aside, it would be interesting if that was the case and it would free up the creative team to explore new material.

Regarding how poor the content of this series milking the amnesia might turn out, the original story drew out a murder mystery for a very long time and kept me hooked by showing the characters’ growth and interactions with each other. Now that we seem to be over the fan-service bait, the characters have been given premission to unsheath their hooks and grab me with them. I am invested in Marie’s story wether she is she-Kuma, Margaret Jr., related to the mysterious contract boy for Persona 3, or just another aspect of the pysche given human form.

The humor sprinkled throughout was mostly subtle (read: good) and the drama of Marie getting lost in the mall was nice, if how it happened was a little off-putting. The scene in the weapon’s shop when she was overcome by the pain of trying to remeber didn’t play well, but her reactions to hearing the horrible truth about combs was really solid. The discussion of the comb and how it brings about separation and suffering is a fascinating cultural insight and was an inspired bit of storytelling. The thematic echo of Marie being separated from her friends and then feeling persecuted by the mall cop was a near seamless call back to what Mrs. Tatsumi had said. The friendship forming around Marie is compelling to watch. The Fools are a neat group of kids and it is really fun to watch them try to help someone for whom they care. What makes it even better is that they have only known her briefly and it has been as Narukami’s friend. This is a great group of kids; they are nice people and its good to see them reaching out to help someone since they’ve each self-actuallized a bit and are now equiped to do so.

Regarding those steamy 2-D bods and how this shopping trip went, I submit that the framing of this shopping trip proves the previous one was meant to sexualize the teenage girls participating. The composition of the shots with Rise and the others in this instance are eye level and put all the characters on equal footing. Rise still asks for Narukami’s input, but it is clear she cares what he specifically thinks of her; he isn’t just any guy giving her value, because that is how women receive their worth. They have a relationship and that context informs her desire for his opinion. Moreover, the scene allows her friends to check out what she is wearing, but doesn’t put her on a platter for the viewers. On the other hand, the bunny suit and speedo do serve up Rise and Kanji for the viewers. I won’t carp about this, because though it bugs me a bit, the events of the scene are so sweet and positive that they counter almost all the negativity coming from the exploitative outfits. The scene would have been no less effective had they been dressed differently

This episode marks a new standard for the show and I give it 4 out of 5. If you want to get into the show and dislike poor representation of other-than-male characters, sex humor and horny boys chasing tail, you can skip all of episode 2 and at least the first half of episode 3 and I doubt your viewing experience will be marred.

Time In The Sun- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 3 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation –3 I have Amnesia, Is It So Bad?

For those of you playing along at home, you might be in for a shock- I actually liked this episode. Partly.

About half of this episode was at the beach, showcasing those glistening, firm, young, 2D bodies, but the remainder was more than deep enough to push aside my irritation and bring back that old familiar feeling of satisfaction. Once again, the vehicle for this stirring is the increasingly more-than-fan-service Marie. It looks like Marie’s job in this story is to somehow play off of Narukami and Kuma to service the slowly developing story, which is service to this fan. One of the most engaging elements of Persona 4 was watching the characters struggle to face themselves. Why that has been included in this series in an inadequate way, I can not understand. I concede that the characters have acknowledged (what I presume are) their experiences in the TV world, and while their testimonials were interesting I think they would have been more impactful with a greater amount of context. I think showing some of the excursions into the TV, modified from the previous anime, or reusing extant footage even, would do much to increase the impact of the new insights and perspectives presented. Isn’t there a dictum about showing instead of telling?

Marie’s struggle to find out who or what she is should prove interesting, despite my hunch that I already know. I am compelled by her similarities to Kuma and Narukami’s tenderness and compassion toward her, which I feel form a key to making this series enjoyable for those interested in a solid character story for the Persona 4 Team.

Stupid sex humor aside (which cut out the delicious bits of fat-marbled meat of character-driven dram I have come to expect) I give this episode a 3 out of 5.

The Worst Plan- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 2 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation –02 The Perfect Plan

 

This episode is not awful. It also isn’t good. It is a crystallization of my complaints and worries stated in the previous review. The original anime started out as slowly paced, but with the same engaging air of mystery, as the game. The introductions to the characters was engaging and watching the arc of the Fools coming together and making a stand against the murders unfold was entertaining. The numbing speed and Hardcore Action (TM) of Narukami’s god-mode fist use of Izanagi at the end of this series’ premiere episode appears to have been a portend of the series’ pacing over all.

This second episode jumps one month in the timeline and adds Kanji to the team without context. In this alleged new game+ scenario, I don’t know what will be different in the show. Who are Yukiko and Chie really? Why does Narumaki continue to spend time with Yosuke? When did Kanji become their friend? Does he just know the two of them or everyone? There are even more questions than that, and I don’t think the gags and eye candy are enough to keep more discerning viewers around. A new viewer may be even more lost and I am at this point. I am almost certain that I would not continue to watch this show if I were a new viewer and I briefly considered stopping now, but I would really like to give the show another chance as a long-time fan of Persona 4.

The twist on the idea of setting up time to spend days with friends (with which only players of the game would actually be familiar) was comical and watching Narukami try to juggle all the events and make it back to Nanako on time was entertaining. The babe hunt was tiring, but it was funny to see these idiotic boys sitting on their bikes failing so hard. I was happy to see Marie not being pure fan-service, but interestingly enough she is spreading that role to the other girls in the show, which is irritating. Way to go team, reminding us that girls need guys to validate them! My final issue to raise regarding the portrayal of women in the show is that of Hanako Ohtani’s appearance and the extra dig the show gets in at the obese. Yosuke is terrified that this completely undesirable fellow student mistakenly believes that he is interested in her. She is almost framed visually as a kaiju and her destruction of Yosuke’s bike is both unrealistic and a display of rotten low-hanging comedy fruit that would have been better left to fall to the ground.

Why should I keep watching this show? Why should you? I don’t know what in this show is engaging and has hooks to keep my attention. The characters are shallow. The murders are not important. The slice of life focus is interesting and it almost seems like some compelling developments might happen with Marie, but the lack of balance and superficiality does nothing to serve these potentially promising elements.

Persona Non Grata- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 1 Review

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.