「Somewhere not here」
Another day, another awakening. Sure, I enjoyed this episode of Hanasaku Iroha: Persona 4 Edition, but at the rate the story is progressing, I’m beginning to lose sight of the series’ central premises. I’ve heard many fans of the game have generally been delighted at how faithful the adaptation has been to the source material, but there are times when I think this has been more of a bane than a boon.
In the last three episodes, we’ve had many insights from the characters but they’ve been mostly about the various facets of their personality, making it seem at times that Persona 4 is a slice-of-life series. I understand that the current story progression follows the game almost perfectly, but I feel that this singular emphasis on the characters’ awakenings has also been detrimental to the other aspects of the story. Perhaps the most important casualty has been the heavy sense of urgency that permeates the events of everyday life in Inaba. There just doesn’t seem to be as much of a rush to rescue people from Mayonaka TV and finding the person responsible for the murders before the next time the city has several days of consecutive rain and the fog rolls in. In the game, the feeling of impending catastrophe was continually on your mind as you religiously checked the weather reports, and if you forgot what you had to do, the other characters would remind you about going into the TV to rescue a person.
The very existence of Mayonaka TV and Personas and their implications are also important and thought-provoking subjects that I feel the show has not adequately explored because of its current focus on the Persona awakenings. I was hoping that the opening scenes in the Velvet Room would do a better job of explaining things besides the power of social links, but what I really think the show needs are more transition scenes of the characters questioning what it means for them to suddenly acquire Personas and be able to jump into an alternate world. Most importantly, even though Yuu is meant to be a quiet character where the people can project their own thoughts onto him, I think it is becoming clear that the show needs to be a little less faithful in its depiction of him. In order for us to have more of a personal perspective and a vested interest in the story and characters of Persona 4, we need to hear more of Yuu’s inner thoughts so that we can be able to better identify with his character.
Hopefully, my critical analysis won’t cause too much controversy as this episode was still enjoyable with its depiction of my second favorite inn waitress ever, Amagi Yukiko. After seeing her reject Mitsuo and Yousuke so easily, I was surprised that she had so much trouble turning down a pair of suitors back in the day. Guess Chie must have been the one who taught Yukiko how to deal with boys. The scenes of Yukiko always on the inside looking out was a poignant touch in tying together the recurring metaphor of the bird in a cage her story and the manifestation of Shadow Yukiko as well. Even though the CG seemed overused at times in the action scenes (chandelier and birdcage), the impressive depth of field, fire, and heat haze effects made for well animated action scenes overall. One change from the game that hasn’t panned out as well as I had hoped is that Yukiko, like Yousuke and Chie before her, doesn’t pass out while the others fight their Shadow selves. This makes it appear that the onus of defeating the Shadow lies not with the attacking prowess of the others’ Personas, but solely on the ability of that one person being able to accept who they are. I prefer the way it is in the game, where the group first defeats Shadow Yukiko so that she can revive and awaken to Konohana Sakuya. I do however approve of Yukiko’s new glasses and her adorable endless laughing.
With the next episode looking like it will take place outside of the dungeons of Mayonaka TV and back in Inaba, I’m hoping that my concerns with the show will be allayed as the Investigation Team takes a much needed break from all the fighting to get their bearings.