「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.

* Full length images: 22 & 27



  1. 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.

    Definitely have to disagree on this point. The person accepting their other self is the key aspect, defeating the Shadow Self was a gameplay mechanic, and actually rather irrelevant other than giving the player something to do. This is far more meaningful.

    1. As I see it, the reason that people died in Mayonaka TV was because once they were confronted by their Shadow, they weren’t able to accept it, passed out, and then were killed by it.

      If what you’re saying was true, that the only meaningful key aspect to defeating the Shadow self is accepting it, no one would have likely died (they would just avoid attacks and keep talking to it) and there wouldn’t be any reason for Yuu and company to rescue people. I think that accepting the Shadow is the key to awakening to a Persona, rather than the key to not dying.

      1. You highly overrate the ability of people to accept the parts of themselves they have walled away. Keep in mind that Yousuke, Chie and Yukiko have all had someone there to support them in accepting their other self. Not to mention that once they utter the phrase “You are not me!”, they turn into the monster and will almost certainly get killed, conscious or not.

      2. But then what’s the point of having a persona if all you need is support from a friend? This could have just been another supernatural mystery sans the personas (and game adaptation).

      3. I’m not sure what your point here is. One of Persona 4 main themes is about people facing their own dark desires. The anime hasn’t strayed from this theme at all.

        Fence is right. You have to remember that this is a TV anime, not an RPG boss battle. Having the victim pass out is just a convinent way to put a character in the out the way while you defeat it. If it happened in the anime it would just be stupid. The way they did it here makes the whole “Accepting your True Self” theme much more organic, as it displays dialogue and action at the same time. It makes for better drama.

      4. Im with Fence and frag on this. P4’s central them always was to face oneself and accepting your own faults. Saki and the announcer died because no one was there to protect them as they realized their own faults and accepted them. If Yuu (Souji / Charlie) hadn’t been there for Yosuke, his shadow would have killed him and so on.

      5. People can’t accept their darkness when it’s twisted and amped up in a fun-house mirror to the Nth power, which is basically what the TV world does. And once they deny their shadows, the shadow goes berserk and becomes even more irrational, claiming to usurp being the “true” self from the actual person. The shadows NEED to get smacked down at that point so they’ll even listen to the real person again. Basically, unless you know what is going on and can accept your ugliest of ugly parts without a moment’s denial, you need a Persona User in your corner or you’re done.

      6. I understand it’s a TV show and not a game but what I’m trying to get at (and what I think verdant is too) is that the theme of accepting other facets of your personality and summoning personas should have equal weight. Maybe this is just a shortcoming of a game adaptation that cannot be resolved. While there are great fighting scenes, it feels like it’s just throwing in personas for the hell of it. If all it took was someone to support you while you had a chat with your other self, we wouldn’t need personas. Instead it should feel like the party’s personas are actually weakening the boss before having to accepting one’s self. Otherwise having your personas fight but be ineffectual makes it seem like they are unneeded at all.

        But you’re right fragb85. It is one of the themes of persona and hasn’t really strayed from it at all.

      7. I’m still not seeing your point. Are you saying that using violence on ones Shadow will help them accept it? That doesn’t make sense.

        So far the formula is:
        -Victim denies his/her Shadow
        -Shadow becomes unstoppable monster
        -The Party has difficulty beating the Shadow boss
        -Victim starts to accept his/her shadow
        -Shadow boss starts to weaken and party finished it off

        This is by far a better method to getting its theme across than the game. Keep in mind that the Shadow always go berserk, and Persona are still needed to hold it off.

    2. I can’t believe this gay series is more popular than Guilty Crown, you gotta admit this is pretty boring cuz its like one of those monster of the day series, in this case its the persona of the day! BORING!

      The Story You Don't Know
      1. OMG! really?!
        I was in denial mode for a while cos she never makes that line in the game before..
        or is it cos my memory is playing tricks with me?

        Ebihara Ai never said that line in the game before right?
        ‘Please love me.’
        Ebihara Ai didn’t try to kiss the MC in game. Or at least I think so.

  2. Thanks for the review… on to the differences (yeah, I might do that every time):
    – Seeing just about everything that happened on Yukiko’s side isn’t seen in-game (might be during a S-Link though).
    – Yukiko gets trapped in a cage here, while she just passes out in-game.
    – Much like the other 2 Shadows, Shadow Yukiko talks more.
    – Chie doesn’t get a chance to help Yukiko in-game during the boss battle.
    – Teddie asking about the “Hot Stud” is done before entering the main room here. (Sorry, had to put it).
    – The segment about the goofy glasses happens after Yukiko gets to rest and visit the TV with the others in-game, while here, they sped it up by inserting that segment right after the boss battle. It’s still pretty accurate though.
    – Yuu trying to help Yukiko doesn’t happen in-game.

    One thing that HASN’T changed though… is that Shadow Yukiko is STILL a real pain in the neck to defeat here as she is in-game.

    Aside from that, pretty good episode, thanks for the cover-up dude.

      1. How can you conclude they are going with the Yukiko route when they’ve barely spoken more than 2 lines? *sarcasm*

        The series needs to end with no pairing to prevent the raging fans.

      2. “The series needs to end with no pairing to prevent the raging fans.”

        Screw the raging fans, they’re what’s wrong with the Nanoha franchise, the studio should do whatever they think is right to improve their work without feeling held back by crazy fans.

      3. @Chaos

        Show Spoiler ▼

      4. You seem to be forgetting that the High Priestess S.Link doesn’t open until the Kanji recruitment story.

        And if anyone’s going to get with Yukiko after this episode, its goddamn Chie.

      5. Preach it Fence! I don’t support a Chie or Yukiko pairing because I support ChiexYukiko. And this episode certainly supports it.

        As for a pairing Show Spoiler ▼

      6. @RyougaZell

        I know there’s no canon pairing, all I’m saying is that IF the studio WANTS to give Narukami a girlfriend, they should go ahead and make that gutsy decision.

      7. I agree with fence on that one… the only girl that shows interest outside the social links is Rise. But as much as I like her, I wouldn’t want the series to make the pairing canon. One of the good things of P3 and P4 is that you were allowed to choose.

  3. Ara Mitama!? Of all the awesome Chariot Persona Yu could have picked, he had to pick the one that is basically just a face? I’m dissapointed.

    This is the best episode to date though. Largely because it strayed away from the game, but still keeping the basic elements of it. It made Yukiko’s internal crisis much more watchable as a TV show, rather than just a boss fight and dialogue. Also, the scene with Chie and Yukiko, really ramps up the Yuri Goggles. I approve.

    1. I, too, was disappointed, but Ara Mitama is one of the first(THEE first?) Persona that naturally has Rakukaja, so he summoned it to protect Chie. Still sucked though. Maybe they just didn’t want to draw someone cool since the Persona was only in there to protect Chie.

      1. could be they want to have different personas for yuu to cover different roles ?

        jack o’lanturn for agi spells
        angry face for defense

        maybe the personas that yuu can summon will change in according to his social bond levels.

    2. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re trying to go in some order. In the game you couldn’t break out the big guns right away without fusion(which hasn’t been introduced and maybe won’t be), so they’re probably trying to think “Okay, who would a typical first-timer have available right now without fusions… now, out of those, who would be best Chariot here?” and use that Persona. Not saying I LIKE Ara Mitama (personally don’t think I ever used him) but still, I can see the logic.

  4. I liked this episode a lot despite Yukiko being my least favorite character in P4. The shadow confrontation scene was done better than in game, not to mention those flashbacks certainly helped in making me sympathize with her character.

    Also, dang Yuu picking Ara Mitama of all the Chariot Personas. I don’t like how that one always looks so mad..

  5. I honestly think that while this series is a rather faithful adaptation of the game it still isn’t faithful enough.

    As you pointed out, subtle changes to the flow of the story make watching this show feel odd after playing the game once you notice those alterations. One personal peeve about the show so far is how they shortened the time between Saki’s death and Yukiko’s kidnapping, forcing everyone to constantly rush into the television. What happened to the everyday life at school and such? That’s like half the game gone missing right there. Don’t we get to see how Yuu gets all those stats up? Now they’re just rising almost randomly every episode as if it were a forced obligation to add it in and no longer as a bonus for the viewers.

    During that time, certain plot elements would’ve been explained as well when the characters have after-school conversations, such as how weather conditions effect when you can watch the TV and when the victims die. By skipping that, the story feels empty and now we’re just watching the show animate aspects of the game that would just make us feel happy to see. The characters barely know anything in this show, when they would at least have an idea after their discussions regarding the situations. Now they’re just jumping into the TV with the most basic goal of saving Yukiko but with no background behind that goal. It just doesn’t feel right.

    Another peeve is the removal of the weapons. The golf club and spanners never showed up, so they had to change the dialogue a bit for when Yosuke brought (fake) weapons to Junes. Even then, what’s the point? They go into the TV without any weapons anyway so now the scene is completely useless, when it was supposed to lead into Chie showing them the weapon shop. Either we get a glimpse of the shop next episode and we finally get weapons, or they skip that entirely and we lose yet another aspect of the game. I’m not sure if I am ready to accept the show turning Personas into Jojo-esque stands quite yet. Sure, the Personas now actually do a bit more, but we lose the basic melee and now the characters don’t do anything besides getting thrown around and punching the air. It looks dumb.

    I’m glad we’re finally getting some of that slice-of-life element in the next episode with the clubs, at least. Hopefully we get to actually dive into the Social Link routes, because I think some of those stories deserve to see light. Plus, it’s how Yuu can get closer to his friends; otherwise they feel like loose acquaintances who just fight together. As it stands, the show could have done so much more with these past episodes if they wanted to make such a faithful adaptation. What we have now is something pretty good but probably not as satisfying for fans of the game.

    1. While I generally agree, I always found the “lets wait and save the person!” to be a bit odd in the games. IRL Chie would’ve been going nuts the entire time regardless of what Kuma told her, plus the mob shadows are also a much easier fight than in the game (or maybe the Personas are just that much stronger). Plus getting the castle done in one (two?) days leaves all that time for Yukiko to be out of school recovering, leaving Yuu to do his thing then. If she’s back in school on the 19th, then it’ll be ridiculous. Hope they give it at least four days. They’ll probably do the whole “we can’t possibly do this in one day, but we have until it gets foggy” thing later with Kanji or when they go visit Kuma.

    2. I’d say the removal of weapons is improvement here. Because the justification it used in the game is stupid. Why would a local smith make DEADLY WEAPONS(including GUNS) for high school children. Not to mention, “hiding weapons in our uniforms” was one of the dumbest handwaves ever. They clearly don’t need weapons, since in this show they can just summon Personas at will.

      Seriously, people should look at this as an adaptation of a video game, not an animated RPG. Every aspect of the game shouldn’t be copied outright.

      1. I’m going to agree with Fragb85 on this. While weapons were fun to use in the game (especially Kanji’s), it didn’t make sense logically and so they’re not needed in the anime. I mean the personas have their own weapons and abilities. Additionally, the shadows move faster and in some cases are larger than the kids. I don’t know about you but if I had the choice I’d let my Persona do the dirty work.

        This adaptation is pretty faithful but it doesn’t have to be totally faithful. As long as they don’t take any huge liberties (like personality changes or radically different events) I don’t mind the changes needed for the medium. I was wondering how they’d adapt the turn-based battles and so far I’m pleased.

        My only concern is how fast the story is moving– it almost feels rushed at times. I hope they slow the pace of the story down just a little to get to know the characters and the world a little better. Or could just seem like everything is moving quickly since I spent 146 hours on my original play through of P4. O_O;

      2. … I didn’t even notice they weren’t using weapons until now! O.o But ya, with the Personas out all the time the weapons are unnecessary. Also agree they never really made sense even in the game, just felt shoehorned in.

  6. I wouldn’t judge the show for not showing the darker parts as of yet, consider how long it takes in the game just to get to Yukiko’s castle its generally 4-6 hours and that’s not even entering to get Chie’s persona that’s just getting to the outside of the castle and they’ve had 4 episodes to cover that and the first dungeon, but that whole part is the basic beginning of the story. I’m expecting the main storyline to pick up in the next two episodes and hopefully we’ll see episode 7 start the Kanji arc but we’ll see how the handle it.

    That said I loved how this episode portrayed Yukiko as a bird in a cage being trapped and unable to free herself, the flashbacks really really help with that and develops her character a lot more at this stage then the game does which I really enjoyed.

  7. They put in the glasses scene… AWESOME!! *ehem* I liked it, stayed faithful. I find the people being awake to see their shadows get beatdown more realistic, working through their issues and whatnot. The games way was just as good, but this lets the people really “see” their ugly sides while they’re trapped, and kinda accept themselves even more, weakening their berserk other selves for the finishing blow. Banking on the “power of friendship” to win the fight is a bit corny, but hey, its Persona, it’s allowed. Besides, bonds have always been a major source of strength in the games.

  8. For anyone who was confused at who the girl with the choker was at the preview
    Show Spoiler ▼

    1. I know the person for the Devil’s Social Link did that stuff you mentioned in the earlier parts of her Social Link path. But all THAT happened in the hospital.
      And in the preview, the scene background is that of a fence. Thus, i think it is the school rooftop.
      And the Devil had black hair tied up in a bun-of-sorts, not wavy hair.

  9. Is this anime still getting canceled? I heard the director removed his name from the credits and the chief animator got in a fight with the animators because they didnt get payed enough. That was 2 weeks ago though, didn’t read any news concerning Persona later on.

  10. I haven’t played any Persona games, and I really liked this episode. I’ve also found it off that the mechanics of the TV and personas are something the show has spent little time on. I didn’t know about things like the “feeling of impending catastrophe”–that probably would have been a great addition. I do hope upcoming episodes take a step back and let important questions be posed. Thanks for your insightful analysis, verdant.

  11. For now, the “slice-of-life” thing, well, that’s typic from Persona series. But the thing that the mistery isn’t moving on at the beginning have to do with the slice-of-life itself, and the fact that at the beginning of the series, all the characters start to assemble.

    Good thing is that Kuma asking about going with the rest of the gang was kind of plot-wise. People who knows of Persona surely know what i mean 😉

  12. I just want to say that, dont worry, i know these past episodes has been repetitive, but its all to introduce us the cast and their skeletons in their closet. Soon they’ll pick up with the investigation of the murders again and meet more party members, heh.

    As far as actual Persona power goes. That part actually hasnt been explained until you fight the real final boss in the game. So dont expect any explanation of why people have this power in the anime anytime soon, but to be honest, its not that important. This is just one of the ‘go with the flow’ type of super powers that you just kinda need to accept its there.

  13. Interesting, Yukiko´s past is problably the most painful of all the characters: being force to live your life as someone else decides is the closest thing to hell I can imagine. Next week is going to cover Ai´s Moon Arcana, while she´s a fairly interesting social link I don´t they want to make her a girlfriend and it´s true there no canon pairing for Yuu, but Rise has a lot of scenes where she openly shows afection for the protagonist. In Persona 3 there no canon girlfriend but in Persona 3 FES is revealded that the protagonist actualy chose Yukari as her girlfriend, since she is a Lovers Arcana that could mean Rise has a shot because she´s Lovers Arcana as well; if the studio decide to break come of the canon story that is, we´ll have to wait and see.

  14. As someone who hasn’t played the game, it’s nice to know that someone who has (i.e. verdant) feels the same way about how the anime is lacking in developments/dialogues to bridge the story between the Persona awakenings.

    Thus far, it’s been a very cookie-cutter type of progression where the characters go into the TV world to overcome their Shadow selves. From a video game standpoint, it’s a very natural progression, but from an anime standpoint, it feels like they’ve lost sight of the main storyline, i.e. the murders in Inaba.

    It’s almost as if the producers decided to allocate the first x number of episodes to help flesh out the characters and show how they acquire their Personas, not realizing that faithfulness to the game doesn’t necessarily translate well to an anime when they skip a lot of in between scenes that would make viewers care about the characters and what they’re going through. Some inner dialogue questioning the existence of Personas — or at the very least, the TV world — would also help address why the characters are so accepting of everything that’s going on.

    1. Yeah…. about the questioning of all the Personas and TV World, this is exactly the same way as it is in the game. In that both the player and the characters know jack. Most of the early parts of the game, the characters more concerned about jumping into the TV and saving people rather than understanding the supernatural elements. IIRC most if the exposition happens late game. The real meat of the game is the Social Links: interactions with other characters, and their problems. Most of these interactions take themes from Jungian psychology, so I still wonder how this show handles that.

      I guess the problem here would be the disconnect of playing game(You can play it as long as you want) as opposed to watching a show(waiting for a week per episode).

  15. Yuu, after summoning a level 32 Pyro Jack you don’t go summoning a level 18 Ara Mitama >_>. I know Ara Mitama is one of the most known early Chariot personas and normally you go to Yukiko’s castle around that level so it’s fine. The problem is Pyro Jack, it means Yuu is totally overleveled lol. I wonder why they didn’t pick a Jack Frost, they have a figure in making and everything, would have been a good advertising and it’s around level 16 so it makes more sense.

    Anyway, enough of my rant. It seems that it’s Social Links time next with Ai, Kou (hope it’s him!) and probably Sayoko (not sure from the preview) and that is a good thing because I feel that the story is going way too fast. I hope they translate these routes in a good form, specially Ai, I really like her character after all (and I went to her friends route on the game).

  16. Weirdest thing is that Pyro Jack can absorb Shadow Yukiko’s fire attacks, still her tactics are still in the game. And the whole episode focuses on Yukiko’s past visualizing more than the game.

  17. I agree with some of your points, but at the same time it is impossible to add everything from the game into the series. That sense of urgency with saving people in the TV was important, but honestly it cannot be done in a 24 episode series, especially when the series already has to add in the whole plot and all of the social links.

    And while you say that the series is losing sight of its central premise, I’d actually say the opposite and say that it’s staying true to what Persona 4 is. Persona 4, although wrapped in a mysterious and supernatural plot, is a slice-of-life game, its central message is of companions and life in general, while the plot serves as a great medium for telling the story, it does not make the series, in the end, I think the writers chose to stay with the real part of the game.

    Just my 2 cents


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