The seemingly impossible murders continue, and it’s back into the TV to find answers. After a strong start that was somewhat marred down by a fast pace, Persona 4 is back and, dare I say it, the second episode was better than the first.
Just as last week, the episode starts off in the Velvet Room, however this time, Igor presents Yu with a contractors key. The key represents his entrance into a contract as a guest of the Velvet Room, so that he may return whenever he desires. We also hear about how Yu’s power represents the Wild Card. This power and the Arcana Fool, zero in tarot deck, represent unlimited potential. Igor is eager to see where Yu’s awakened power will lead him on his journey toward the truth.After the opening we’re shown another female body hanging from a telephone wire. Before we can see exactly who it is, the story flashes back a day to Yu, Yosuke, and Chie still inside the TV world after Yu’s Persona was awakened. After deciding to go back home, they return to where they first came into the world, only to run into the strange bear creature again (which I’ll be referring to as Teddie as per the English localization of the game. He’s also simply known as Kuma). With no discernible way out, Teddie summons a set of TVs and pushes the group back into their world. Simply happy to be alive, Chie and Yosuke get caught up in the moment, however Yu notices a poster he had seen on the other side. The poster is of Misuzu Hiiragi, a famous singer who’d been in the news recently for being married to the politician Taro Namatame. It was Namatame who’d been in an affair with Mayumi Yamano, the first victim found in Inaba. Not wanting to think about it too much, they decide to leave it be and head home for the night. The next day, Chie and Yukiko are walking to school in the rain when waiting at the gate is a male student from another school. This strange boy makes a pass at Yukiko, but she declines and he leaves suddenly. In the classroom while discussing how Yukiko is a hard catch, Yosuke comments on how Saki Konishi hasn’t been answering his texts. Later that day, an assembly is held where the principal announces that it was in fact Saki’s body that had been found that morning. Yosuke, noticeably distraught by the news, brings up the midnight channel. He mentions that how the previous night he had thought he’d seen Saki on the TV. Before that, rumors had been going around about someone seeing Yamano before she was found dead. Even more eery was how both women had disappeared before they turned up dead. Both Yosuke and Yu come to the conclusion that people that show up on the midnight channel die, and because of the Misuzu Hiiragi posters, that the other side must somehow be connected. Desperate to find out anything about his Senpai’s death, Yosuke concludes that they must go back to the other side. This time around Chie is left behind with a lifeline, but it’s immediately cut when the Yu and Yosuke enter the tv. On the other side, they run into Teddie again who finds the pair suspicious. According to him, someone has been throwing people into the TV before the fog lifts. As it turns out, when it’s foggy on the other side, it’s clear in the real world, and vice versa. On top of that, both victims were found on foggy days. Teddie is convinced that there is a culprit, and when he insists it’s them, Yosuke opens up the bear costume only to find that there is nothing inside. Completely unphased, Yu makes a promise with Teddie to find the true culprit. Heading further into the TV world, they discover an area that mirrors the shopping district, right down to Saki’s family liquor store. They begin to hear voices, residual memories, all badmouthing Saki for working at Junes despite it running much of the shops in town out of business. Saki’s own voice goes as far as to reveal that she had hated Yosuke all along. Refusing to believe this Saki’s words, the group is shocked when right before their eyes a second Yosuke appears. He claims that Yosuke had known all along and just played along because of a fear of being alone. Worse yet was that he saw her death as an opportunity to become a hero, that he got excited at the thought of being able to alleviate the boredom of living in a backwater town. Despite Teddie claiming that it’s a shadow born from Yosuke’s own subconscious, another side of him, Yosuke denies it. This allows the shadow to claim it’s its own being, and it grows into a monstrous being, resonating with the surrounding shadows. It attempts to kill Yosuke, but Yu jumps in with Izanagi to fight back. Yosuke begins to panic as the Shadow’s words ring truer than he would like to admit, when Yu lands a punch square in his jaw. This snaps him out long enough for Yu to tell Yosuke that his feelings for Saki were real, and that’s what mattered. Yosuke begins to realize the truth, weakening the Shadow long enough for Yu to land the finishing blow. Upon accepting the shadow as a facet of himself, Yosuke awakens to his own Persona: Jiraiya. The battle over, Yu figures that the victims must have been attacked by their own shadows after having been thrown in. After meeting up with Chie on the other side, they return home. Before parting ways, Yosuke thanks Yu and tells him that as long as he is by his side, he feels he will have the strength to find the true culprit. As the rain lifts, Yu walks home with a smile, knowing he’s just made an important bond. That night, Yu and Nanako are watching the news, when Yukiko appears on TV being interviewed. She has apparently taken over the family inn while her mother is ill. Unbeknownst to Yu, a fuzzy image appears on the Midnight Channel…
Well then, the story continues to move forward. I quite liked this episode, perhaps even more than the debut last week. With only minor changes to the plot from the game, so minor they aren’t even worth mentioning, P4A continues to stay true to the source material. While the first episode did feel a bit fast paced, things were handled much better this time around. The focus was put squarely on Saki’s murder, and Yosuke’s awakening as a result. With regards to the fight against Shadow Yosuke, it was a great decision to have Yosuke awake as opposed to him passing out in the game. Yu punching Yosuke out of his funk was perhaps the greatest moment of the episode, and it allowed for Yu to not only beat the shadow into submission, but to also provide Yosuke with emotional support. You have to feel bad for the guy when the girl he was in love with was murdered, only to find out that she despised him afterward.
Speaking of Yu, his character is coming through more in the second episode. He’s a strong, quite type, but he has his moments of humor, too. Not only that, but he also had a lot more spoken lines this episode as well. It’s a nice touch that his courage stat increased. A nice detail on the part of the animators was the mass of Origami in Yu’s room at the end. Going back to episode one, Yu was actually folding a crane just barely off screen while eating with Chie and Yosuke at Junes, and he’s clearly been busy. In the game, the crane folding job was volunteer work you could take for sick kids at the hospital, and it increased your understanding. A bit of brilliance if you think how he was able to understand Yosuke and help him through his dilemma. Hopefully this will be reflected in his stats next episode.
On a technical level, I feel that episode 2 looked better than the first, particularly when it came time for the action. As it stands, Persona 4 isn’t the best looking show this season, on a purely technical level, but it’s art direction and style are carrying it. The use of music from the game continues to be a treat. I’m looking forward to next episode, which should be focusing more on Chie and Yukiko.
Opening: “Sky’s the Limit” by Shihoko HirataWe actually heard this in the first episode as the ending theme, but this week its in the correct spot accompanied by the new opening animation. I have to say, this is my favorite Op from this season. Both the song and the animation are great. The animation, while subtle, is incredibly stylistic. The different forms of text and images we see on the silhouettes each represent their characters in different ways. It’s interesting that Yu’s is television static (he’s a blank slate if you didn’t already catch on to that), while the rest have some form of media, be it telephone texts, internet message boards, books, or what have you. The scenes of shadowy figures madly texting on their phones really stands out. The part where the Personas appear and start kicking ass is quite awesome, to say the least. Also, the scene of the gang standing in the crosswalk is now my wallpaper.
Ending: “Beauty of Destiny” by Shihoko HirataAnd here we have the debut of the ending theme. I quite like it. The animation that accompanies it isn’t particularly amazing, as most of it is just blank tarot cards falling around Yu. That said, it’s a nice touch that the first card we see, and the final one to fall, which Yu catches, is the Magician card. If you were paying attention, you’d notice that the card Yosuke got at when Jiraiya awakened was the Magician. The only other card that was filled in during the ending theme was the Fool, which is Yu’s starting arcana. This leads me to believe that as Yu forms bonds with the people representing each arcana, they’ll be filled in during the credits, a nice touch indeed.
-Reach out to the truth.