Persona 4 the ANIMATION – 22
「It’s just like Heaven 」
“I’ll stay with you forever…” On the surface, this is a simple phrase that we usually take for granted. We generally don’t give it the same reverence as a phrase like “I love you,” but its effects can be just as profound. It is phrase that can bring joy, like it does for Kuma – but it is also one that can bring sadness, as it does for Yuu. And for Doujima, it is a phrase that he did not have the chance to say.
I don’t think I could describe this episode with anything more appropriate than the term emotional rollercoaster. Nearing the end of the twenty-something odd minutes, I was ready to dedicate my post to the Investigation Team’s epic final battle with Kunino-Sagiri, Namatame’s capture, and Naoto’s continued moments of unexpected cuteness, but the events of those last two minutes quickly dashed my hopes at writing something uplifting and fun like I usually do for this series. When something so depressing happens to one of your favorite characters, when said character is so innocent and undeserving of the tragedy that has befallen her, it leaves an indelible mark on your heart.
I think one of the reasons that Nanako’s passing had such an emotional effect on me is because how rare scenes like this are (at least according to my limited knowledge of anime). Sure, we’ve seen other young kids die, but often times, they’re not portrayed as an everyday average kid, or they’re not as prominent of a character like Nanako was. I’ve compared her with Rin from Usagi Drop or Hina from Papa Ki several times already, but I think the same comparison is apt here as well – just think about how you would feel if those two characters were to die. Her death came so suddenly too – one minute she’s firmly on the path to recovery, and the next moment her condition takes a turn for the worse.
As much as I’m affected by her death, I can only begin to imagine what it must feel like for her father and cousin. Doujima has never been one to deal with death easily, taking him years to finally move on from his wife’s death, and now he faces the same situation again – losing his daughter before he even has the chance to say goodbye. He had only begun to repair his relationship with Nanako before she was kidnapped, and even after she was saved, they couldn’t even spend quality time with each other since they were largely confined to bed rest. At least Doujima will have Yuu to grieve with.
We have already seen Yuu’s personality change when he found out that she was kidnapped, and I think now with her passing, he’ll use this as even more motivation to finally put this case to rest. Before Nanako became involved, he didn’t really have a personal stake in the Inaba kidnappings. Unlike the rest of the Investigation Team members, Yuu doesn’t have a shadow nor was he ever kidnapped. I think that this created this disconnect between him and the case that the other members did not have, and it is probably why up until now he’s been calm and cool in the face of adversity. Now that the case has hit close to home though, Yuu has a newfound personal motivation to fight and has become a force to be reckoned with. Even Kunino-Sagari’s Control spell wasn’t enough to keep him down for long, and with his deck of Personas growing by the day, I’m looking forward to seeing Yuu going all out on whatever or whomever stands in the way of his quest for justice.