Persona 4 the ANIMATION – 11
「Catch Me If You Can」
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When bears turn into boys, eat popsicles? This week’s episode was all about surprises and persevering through them, and even though I already knew most of the forthcoming revelations, this adaptation added enough of its own touches to keep things interesting. Having watched several previous shows that Kishi Seiji has helmed (Angel Beats and Kami-sama Dolls), I’ve come to appreciate the director’s knack for making the most out of the characters he’s given and adapting them so that they are both even more interesting, compelling, and probably most important of all, funny. Many of Persona 4’s characters already begin with these traits, but I’d say his influence on their animated versions is still undeniable. A couple of examples that stand out are Kuma, Chie, and Mitsuo – Kuma is even more awesome than in the game, Chie was never this cute, and Mitsuo was nowhere this creepy either.
Does it still count as a trap when the character in question is a bear? If so, I’m nominating Kuma for the Best Trap of 2012 (as a continuing show, it’s not eligible for 2011). For an episode that was presumably about Mitsuo and his proclamation that he is the killer, Kuma easily trumped him with his own revelation – there is a bishounen boy inside the suit! Yukiko and Chie know a bishie when they see one too and saw it fit to give him an outfit to match. I’m just glad that I get to hear more of Kuma’s endlessly quotable lines outside of Mayonaka TV, although seeing his costume (or parts of his costume) in real world settings will probably never get old either. This is one surprise that no one saw coming, but I’m sure no one minds one bit either (except maybe Yousuke and his wallet).
Incorporating Aiya’s rainy day beef bowl and including the Investigation Team in the challenge was a brilliant move by the director. In the video game, Yuu was the only one who took the challenge and it was never really made clearly visible on how big the bowl actually was, so seeing it in all of its glory was quite the sight to behold. A bowl like that must be at least twice the size of Yuu’s head! Hearing him describe the attributes needed to finish the bowl made it all the more daunting too. If Yuu’s not quite cut out for competitive eating yet, he might still have a future as a comedian though. His timing with the reference to the beef bowl during the Team’s pep talk just cannot be taught.
Remember that weird student who asked Yukiko out way back in episode two and showed up again in a cameo appearance in episode nine? Nothing, not even having already played the game, could prepare me for how disturbing of a character Mitsuo is in this adaptation. He is much worse than the textbook stereotype of the ultimate otaku. Sure, Mitsuo plays 8-bit games in pure darkness and has walls adorned with posters of Risette, but he’s also a creepy stalker as can be attested by the numerous photos of Yukiko in his possession. He later adds a picture of Kanji to his collection, which coincidentally makes up half of the victims. That’s not even close to the worst thing about him though. Mitsuo’s defining trait would have to be his mental instability. A grown high school student, he picks fights with everything and everyone, from garbage bags, to six year old girls.
That’s right, Nanako is minding her own business and enjoying her favorite place in the world, and right when she is about to grab some food, Mitsuo swoops in from out of nowhere and grabs the last two packages. Not content to just leave with his ill-gotten prize and with ruining Nanako’s precious opinion of Junes, he proceeds to try and grab her, only to be thwarted by Yuu – at least, that’s what I thought Mitsuo was trying to do, because the mind of a creeper is too hard for me to comprehend. Bravo, Kishi Seiji, you almost made me punch my screen in hatred for a character, something the game never made me do. Mitsuo doesn’t learn his lesson either, later on grabbing Yukiko at school. I found this scene to be unsettling, but actually not because of Mitsuo’s actions. You would think that by now, Yuu would immediately recognize Mitsuo and step in to protect Yukiko, but instead Yuu just stands back and Kanji is the one who has to drive Mitsuo off. Maybe his popped collar was blocking his view earlier in Junes?
After learning so much about Mitsuo, it came as no surprise that he would admit online to being the one who committed all the murders and turn himself in. The evidence was beginning to stack up, and his personality and activities are suspicious as well. There are still many unanswered questions though. If Mitsuo turned himself in, why does he appear on Mayonaka TV? Will Margaret’s subtle flirting with Yuu be explored further? Will there be another trap or another surprise waiting for us? Even though I already know most of the answers, I’m still excited to see more of what this adaptation has in store and see its own spin, its own take on the story, and I think you should be too. After all, it’s not about the destination. It’s all about the journey. And lemonade and popsicles.