Home Late- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 12 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation – 12 Welcome Home

As Narukami said, “I’m home.”

Over the course of the series Marie has been through a lot and we’ve been there with her. She was our cipher to see different sides of familiar characters, her amnesia was the impetus for Golden’s main plot of making memories, and she served as McGuffin turned powerhouse once she faced herself with a little help from her friends. Marie was slyly made one of the gang when she appeared on the TV and was rescued from her Shadow in the Hollow Forest. The first part of this episode really harmonized beautifully with that prior event. I don’t feel that Marie confronting Izanami was redundant; it was foreshadowed, not forced. Throughout the game and the prior series there is the distinct pattern of people becoming near victims in the TV, being saved and then joining the team. What keeps the cycle fresh is the variety in each person’s personal issues. The setup and explanation for Marie’s arc is done in a more protracted way in this series; most of it coming in these last few episodes and neatly tied up in this finale. The unique details of her personal struggle still follow the same pattern, but offer a novel look at personhood, agency and inner strength. All the grandiose talk about “truth” and having faith in humanity’s wish at the core of Marie’s self-actualization are inspirational and aspirational. Marie is certain of who she is and is no longer afraid of her feelings by the end of her story.

Where the others were able to become heroes and champions always pushing through the fog to grasp truth, Marie experienced apotheosis. As strange an unattainable as this is, I find it inspiring in perhaps the best way, without trying or being preachy. The characters (Marie included) are cool and go through these engaging struggles and change because of them, they don’t become someone else and I don’t need to either. Embracing your failings, loving yourself for who you are doesn’t mean you refuse to change or grow. The characters in this show are brave enough to stare there ugliness in the face and forgive it- forgive themselves; that is the key to victory over the self. The final battle ends with a short sell on dynamic violence and heroic bravado, it ends with Marie hugging herself, showing that love and acceptance. The message I get and feel is so well conveyed is that, by being one’s true self, pushing aside lies and really knowing who you are and what you want, we can be happier people and help others around us to do the same, if you like that sort of thing. Whatever.

The denouement was well executed, which hasn’t always been the case in this series. The way we see with the passage of time; that things change, but remain the same, is charming, warm and reassuring. Somehow, the creative team did an excellent job of making it seem like Narukami had been gone a long time. The slight changes to all the character models earn a lot of praise for that. The nostalgia of the reunion wasn’t drudged up either, it was conjured. Everything just felt right: Rise’s heart was on her sleeve; Teddie acted unexpectedly to Yosuke surprise; Yukiko started cracking up at nothing; Chie’s enthusiasm never waned; the detective prince found herself out of the loop in an otherwise normal social situation and Kanji finally got it right- almost. Nanako even looked like she had grown some and Doujima was more open. Marie’s new persona, as the thinly veiled goddess of local weather, Mariko Kusumi, parallels the others’ changes neatly with her cheery, but not-too-cheery disposition. The voice actress gave a great performance for her final big scene.

For being the Persona 4 I remember while saying something new and different, I give this episode 4 out of 5.

Ererything Is Un- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 11 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation – 11 Let It Out! Let It GO!

OK. I will.

Please change your narrative flow P4GA team. The current set up is not making me want to continue watching the series. Poorly constructed cliffhangers are frustrating and anti-climactic. Perhaps the structure of this episode was meant to mirror the first episode, but that one had two endings, while this latest episode had one and one half. The pacing just felt interrupted, not compelling, as if this team hasn’t made (at least) the previous ten episodes. I hardly quit media (because I am very selective), especially of a story I enjoy, but the thing about secondary or tertiary media is that if it is ineffective or poorly executed, it makes it easier to quit. I know I enjoy Persona 4 and I don’t need prove it to anyone by sticking with a show I don’t like. The first half of this episode was really good,  it firmed my desire to play Persona 4 Golden, if only so I and my real life can present the issues of timing in how I experience the story. I think I’m done. I might just go watch more Sailor Moon instead, there is a dub of the 90’s anime now, maybe I’ll go in on that.

For just ending and giving me no reason to want to come back, I give this episode 3 out of 5.

Not Fun Anymore- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 10 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation – 10 Not Fun Anymore

I’m once again feeling like this is a different show, which will ultimately work against the series as a whole. The scope of the material covered serves to give a fairly cohesive experience as a first time viewer and enriches the world and story for fans who have seen the original show and played at least the original game. The new areas being explored in the timeline are especially interesting to me because the original game just skipped over them. The show therefore gets a lot of credit and goodwill from me for being able to work in that unexplored area without changing things. Seeing the characters operating towards the end of the story as I know it, as a group who has competently dealt with a murderous adult and a nihilistic goddess in a new situation where they are really unsure of what to do is so fun. Everyone is behaving in a more grown-up way than at the beginning of this series, their growth has been shown throughout and I’m really happy to see that consistency displayed here. The mysterious nature of this Hollow Forest that has just been introduced is effectively engaging too. It doesn’t feel tacked on, because while the TV World has hardly been explored in this show, Narukami and the others getting to the Hollow Forest through the TV and Margaret’s presence as a guide really cemented it as another corner of this nebulous world. The mystique of the TV World and the seriousness of the gang trying to help their sad friend feels so weighty and engaging that I am really hooked.

For reeling me back in and almost making me forget my complaints of the past by feeling so fresh and so classically Persona 4, I give this episode a 4 out of 5.

A Missing Plot- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 9 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation –9 A Missing Piece

The latest episode of P4GA proves that you can have heart alongside comedy and mystery. Ardently returning to form in a slightly tiring way, the Seekers of Truth, yet again get their minds warped by a mysterious force more powerful than them. Narukami’s sense that something is off, manifested in some suspenseful and comedic turns that were really enjoyable to watch. Seeing the characters interact and tackle something slippery and much bigger than them is crucial to my enjoyment of this franchise and we got a lot of it here. The Narukami-specific snowstorm that reminded him of the fog sent me a meta-textual nod that felt good to decipher, but the way he received Marie’s comb and Yosuke spoke her name just before the cliffhanger ending felt really contrived. It almost worked on me, but this is another instance where the show’s focus could have been shifted to make the beefy content plentiful, if tough and I end the episode unsatisfied and feeling a little like I wasted my time. I want more from this series. I was pleased to have gone through the series and experienced all the memories the group made with Marie, thereby making them more palatable and nostalgically warm in my heart. The series is effective in getting those kinds of responses out of me, but I felt like I had to wait too long to get to the good stuff, which is addressing the questions of who Marie is, and why and where she has gone. Because the viewers already know this and the pacing makes it feel like the series is almost over it is a letdown and smacks of filler.

For being a lot of sizzle with not much steak, I give this episode 3 out of 5.

Slipping The Multiverse- Persona 4 The Golden Animation 8 Review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation –8 Not So Holy Night

Whether the current and previous iterations of animated Persona 4 are supposed to be linked – if only in an emotional sense – this episode does not belong in this series. The tone and characters were so different that it took me out of the story. Once I accepted that this wasn’t going to be a natural continuation of Golden, I was able to relax and enjoy hanging with the crew from P4A, and it was beautiful. Seeing everyone’s new winter duds was great and the different takes on Narukami’s invitation to the four girls lead to some nice personal and comedic moments. I suppose the thread about “Making new memories.” anchors this firmly in P4GA, but I don’t really appreciate this kind of fake-out storytelling, where all of a sudden this big deception is revealed and the characters just roll over it like nothing. Maybe next episode will tie everything together better and this episode was to give the audience a “chance to breath.” Another concept I reject. Hardcore storytelling all the way!

This episode gets 3 out of 5 for being very enjoyable, but feeling like it was part of the previous series.

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.