Persona 4 the ANIMATION – 05
「Would you love me?」
While waiting for Yukiko to recuperate before the team resumes the investigation, Yuu is finally able to enjoy high school life and make more
friends with issues social links. I was definitely looking forward to a break from all the Persona awakenings to see how the various social links were going to be adapted, but I wasn’t expecting two characters’ entire stories and a whole week of events to be packed into one episode. As a result, the episode felt somewhat rushed, but at least it served as a good introduction into the breadth of issues that Yuu will have to deal with from the friends who confide in him.
Back at school the day after rescuing Yukiko, it was pretty amusing to see Yousuke as the only one who complained about being tired after the group’s adventures in the Mayonaka TV dungeons while Yuu remained stoic as usual. Yousuke has the right idea though, once finals are over, there’s nothing quite like taking advantage of the massage chairs at the mall. Seeing that Yuu’s toughness doesn’t come from being in any of the athletic clubs (and probably also realizing that he’s a fairly tall guy), Chie decides to have him join the basketball club where he meets the captain of the basketball team, Ichijou Kou (Ono Daisuke), and their team manager, Ebihara Ai (Itou Kanae), who could not have been any more different.
Despite his best Ichimaru Gin impression, Ichijou is actually a genuinely great guy who really doesn’t have very many issues, aside from a rather clichéd one: he is the heir of a rich and powerful family who partakes in a frowned upon hobby. Forced to give up basketball, all he wants is to win his last game so he can confess to Chie. It’s a shame that Ichijou’s story couldn’t have been developed more because in the video game, a recent discovery about his family gives his story a unique twist and the soccer club’s Nagase Daisuke (Sugita Tomokazu) isn’t relegated to a mere background character. Despite losing by thirty points with a minute left, I thought it was hilarious that Ichijou still managed to make his final shots appear dramatic. Wonder why they didn’t make the score closer for added tension? Yousuke just standing around and Yuu’s porous defense didn’t help the team’s competitiveness either.
Ebihara, the team manager, is the complete opposite of Ichijou, which is probably why she’s attracted to him. From the moment I saw Ai forcing herself onto an unwilling Yuu in the flashforward (which turned out to be a red herring), I knew this girl was trouble. Turns out, she’s the textbook definition of CRAZY. She doesn’t manage the team at all, plays hooky and drags Yuu with her to the mall, leads him on, hides in crates, and forces him to be her boyfriend after being “rejected” by Ichijou, among other outlandish behaviors. The most ridiculous thing about Ai is the ultimatum that she gives to him: go along with her or she’ll kill herself. If anyone ever gives you that line, it’s a good idea to run and never look back…unless, you’re Narukami Yuu, one of the smoothest and nicest guys ever. Sure he might be a little whipped, but he did hang up on her – only to call her back right after.
Fortunately, Ebihara’s craziness is good for one thing – my favorite part of the show so far, this week’s “action” scene. Forced to be co-managers with Chie, tensions between the two of them erupt into an epic catfight, the likes of which I have never seen in anime before. The slapping was superbly animated and perfect for GIF making too! I have to admit, part of me would rather see these girls duke it out every episode rather than watching the Persona and Shadow battles, and I think Yousuke and Yuu would agree, seeing neither of them stepped into stop the fight. All in all, it was great seeing the game’s humor make its way into the social links. Since it’s looking like next week’s episode introduces Tatsumi Kanji instead of venturing back into Mayonaka TV, I hope that it will be a chance to renew the focus on the main plot.
Random musings and observations with unlisted: