「It’s Not Empty At All」

Never before have I been so completely tricked by an episode like this one. Never before have I had my emotions swing 180 degrees from disappointment to amazement, all in the space of one episode. How? AIC ASTA and Kishi Seiji knew very well that many of Persona 4’s viewers would be people who have already played the game and knew what expect from the story’s progression. They took that knowledge and used it to toy with my emotions in an admittedly brilliant fashion. I am not ashamed to admit that I was led astray. I should’ve seen the signs that only a person who has played the game would have caught onto, yet for some reason, I missed them all until it was too late.

Sometimes I tend to take note of the most unimportant lines, lest they turn out to be important foreshadowing later on. That’s probably why I focused so much Igor’s prophetic words about the coming climax of the story and failing to heed his warning of upcoming surprises. I thought, “Wait, how could there be a climax already, isn’t this a two-cour series?” Combined with the rumors of discontent amongst the animators, I began to fear that those issues were too much to overcome and the series was being cut short to only one cour. Mistake number one.

My doubts were quickly forgotten with the arrival of the Investigation Team to Mitsuo Kubo’s Mayanoka TV dungeon, Void Quest. As one of my favorite dungeons from the game simply because of the sheer cool factor of actually walking around an old school dungeon crawler, I think Yousuke sums it up best: “All guys like games.” Kuma is a fan too, taking the opportunity to show off to the girls by defeating all the Platinum Dice who are weak his bufu (ice) attacks. Everything felt like business as usual.

Any worries that still lingered disappeared when the show finally addressed why Yuu was so ready to lead the Investigation and why he is so apprehensive about the case’s nearing conclusion. It was only natural that Yuu would fear the end of his friendships and adventures that would come when the culprit was caught. He moved to a new town with no friends and nothing to do, only to be saved by being trust into this murder investigation. With his psyche was beginning to be explored and the confrontation with Mitsuo coming up, I knew exactly how the story would progress, thanks to having already played the games — or so I thought. That was mistake number two.

Boy, was I ever wrong. Thanks to one of the most potentially controversial tropes in all of media – the infamous time skip (Warning: TV Tropes link), all my fears about the show suddenly came true. It’s not that a time skip itself was all that strange – after all, this adaptation has already made liberal use of them, but they had always come at the appropriate moments and usually the skips have only been a week or two at the most. This time it was as if the animators finally ran out of patience or money to even show a single second of the fight and capture of Mitsuo. The scene just abruptly skipped to Kuma at Junes and the Team planning their celebration party. Questions about the show itself began to pop up in my mind. I actually did wonder if my copy of the episode was corrupt, whether I was being trolled by some fansub group, or if the show was being set up to end in 13 episodes rather than being given another cour.

In hindsight, there were so many missed signs that should have told me everything was not as it seemed. All the characters began to behave differently than how I had remembered them in the game. Yukiko wasn’t always busy working at her inn and the omelet rice competition turned into Yuu’s Russian-roulette omelets featuring wasabi as the fatal bullet. Yousuke’s changes were even more drastic; he cared about his job at Junes and even more surprisingly, he cared about studying and his future plans like college. The girls all had anime-original outfits as well. Yuu’s lack of attributes should have tipped me off, but the thought of an anime-original ending kept looming in my mind like the possibility that he was just that depressed from Rise moving away without a word, seeing Chie and Yukiko “cheat” on him with Kou and Daisuke, and overhearing Kanji complaining. My mistakes were beginning to pile up.

Mind blown and all expectations for the show gone, I started to wonder how this adaptation had fallen downhill so quickly. I began to dread writing this post and being able to adequately capture the sentiment of the fans who probably felt so let down by this adaptation. My only consolation was that the show had finally begun to address Yuu’s “shadow self” in a serious manner, even if they went about it in the most extreme way possible, cramming it all into one of the final episodes rather than spreading it out like in the game.

The time skips continued without abandon, and November came in a hurry – the traditional time when the last two Persona games neared their conclusion. Yuu was truly alone now. All of his friends, his social bonds, and even his Persona had deserted him. Watching Yuu reduced to the point where he was desperate for another kidnapping to take place and for the victim to appear on Mayonaka TV was almost too hard for me to bear. When a Shadow began to speak, I wholeheartedly expected that it would be Yuu’s Shadow, appearing at last for a BAD END. My final mistake.

All of the disappointment instantly turned into amazement with the revelation that Shadow Mitsuo was talking to Yuu, something only a person who had already played the game would recognize. Only a game player would have been tricked in this way, since this mind illusion power of his never existed in the game. We knew what was supposed to happen and we were expected to pick up on the signs, but we are unconsciously trained to take the deviations from the source material at face value — all because it is an adaptation.

In the end, everything was back on track, and the episode had somewhat redeemed itself. The battle against Mitsuo the Hero and Shadow Mitsuo was animated in all its glory, complete with a bromance scene and Yuu busting out all the Personas at his disposal. The omelet rice contest was restored and all the girls, especially Nanako, were adorable as always. This adaptation, like all of Yuu’s friends, was back where it belongs and where I hope it remains – faithful when it matters the most.

TL;DR: Time skip really threw me for a loop because I thought it was an anime-original story.

* Sorry for the wall of text, here are some full-length images as an apology: 1, 2, 15, 17, 31, 33, 34



  1. That was certainly an interesting take on Shadow Mitsuo. I don’t recall having him any mind manipulation powers. It was actually getting obvious about the dream world, with all the time skipping and really Out of Character Moments( Rise not hanging with Yuu? Hell no). It felt a bit rushed especially in the transition, but it certainly added a whole lot of creepy factor to the Shadow. As a bonus it gave Yuu some character development, which he did kind of lack. Glad he isn’t deadpan all the time. A little lacking on the execution, but I’m glad the writers tried something new.

    Yuu’s Persona spam was awesome though, wish I could do those combos in the game. And they kept the Omurice scene. “One Strike” as Kanji said, that line always gave me laughs.

    1. Could be

      Evil Touch (Fear) -> Ghastly Wail -> Saved by Team Member with Social Link 7

      This was the first episode where I thought that the adaption really outshined the original game. As good as the 8-bit parodies in the original were, it really explored Yu’s character. You wouldn’t think that he was so vulnerable without his social links from the original game.

    2. Shadow Mitsuo does have an attack called “Devil’s Smile” which induces Fear status in the game so I’d imagine the anime staff expanded on that with an illusion. It sort of makes sense considering Yu was nearly killed when in that state, and that Shadow does inflict a one-hit K.O. Move on Fear-induced members called “Ghastly Wail.”

  2. Mind blown indeed! Damn you AIC ASTA for tricking us!

    I’ve lost count of the times I replayed Yuu summoning all those Persona. It’s just way too awesome!

    Yay its the fox! So that cancels the Aika = Hermit S.Link theory. Oh well I still love her character though, even if she’s just a ramen delivery girl.

  3. This is certainly in the top 3 best episodes of P4A yet. For a person who’s played the game, I’m extremely pleased at how they handled this. Also, the summoning of Personas was just like the game for me, switching out due to the shadow’s Resistances and what not made me really happy, even though he spammed the fuck out of it all in one turn, ha.

    I don’t know about the rest of you guys but Shadow Teddie’s symbolism and Shadow Mitsuo(even if Yu completely murdered him) have to be the best so far. I did love Rise’s shadow, but that’s me being biased on loving giant colorful strippers.

    I hope I’m not the only one a bit annoyed how all the YosukexYu shippers went apeshit and already started immense “bromance”. I don’t mind the pairing at all, but some fans cross the line. It’s really funny how people can’t just be good friends these days in a anime, without any romance. For me, it kinda takes away the concept of Persona, which is about friends more-so than girlfriend/boyfriend… The story strongly focuses on “friends” even though there can be romance, is a better way to put it, I guess..

      1. Well of course. But while on Tumblr, it was just too much. It was even more than the little RisexYu shipping from 2-3episodes ago or the YukikoxYu from EP.8… I just really think the fangirls really overdue this bromance, especially when they do the whole (hard)Yaoi pictures thing. It just burns the whole genuine concept of P4 for me. I know people might not agree but it just doesn’t sit well with me when they craze over it. And not because I “dislike” gays, I have family/friends who are. Just sayin”, I wish they’d be less over-the-top with it.

      2. Oh yes I know. I kinda support the two sometimes but I much rather have no shippings be cannon.

        True. But, other forums/sites has kinda the same vibe. Either way, it’s not much of a big deal. Just a minor annoyance I have sometimes with that.

  4. Wow, I love this episode, for a moment there I thought someone had made a mistake with the story but it turned better than I could ever imagined. The battle with Mitsuo was more that I could ever hope for and it seems we´ll have 2 weeks of Social Links next time.

    1. I thought the same when Rise automatically said, “hold down Himiko” – even Narukami was like “wtf?”. Idk if that minor detail was ever explained in the game.. My wild guess would be when they become unconscious after receiving the Arcana – they get the information when the persona becomes one with the user..

      Does anyone know for sure, though?

  5. Thanks for the review Verdant ! And apologies accepted, that episode threw off big time.

    Not much to say about the differences between the anime and the game, but…
    Show Spoiler ▼

    The beginning and the end are accurate though (especially the cooking contest)… but man, I was about to write a wall of text myself because of that screw-up.

    BTW, how on Earth did Yu got captured ??? It’s like they just enter the room with Mitsuo, the shadow transforms and BANG ! You get a time warp. I would have understand if the shadow would have rushed toward the gang (or even use an attack for that matter) and then you get a white-out/fade-to-white. Here, you get a weird transition. No offense, but that’s just awful; if you’re gonna settle this with the illusion trick, make it so we see how the illusion was created.

    (Sorry, but I didn’t find it funny how they screwed up the story like that… next time, put a coherent cause to it.)

    Anyway… thanks again for the post Verdant, I thought at first that the episode was delayed due to the Holidays… but glad I was wrong.

    1. I don’t know if you’ve ever drank to the point where you black out, but it’s essentially the same thing, when you wake up, you don’t really remember exactly when you “blacked out.”

      1. Well, technically, I could tell YOU want you would blacked out if I would watch you drink like a maniac. The problem here is that we don’t get ANYTHING, safe for a shrinking hole to see what happened after, but turns out to be fake. The transition is just poorly done. If you want to do it properly, make it so we “could” think that something wrong or right just occured, like I said, like having the shadow charging the gang and then get a fade to white.

      2. don’t understand what you said, but lets say you go out drinking with friends, and you kind of lose track of how much you’re drinking. Eventually, you’ll black out, but moment you black out is unbeknownst to you.

        Here’s a better example, perhaps: You’re driving your car, but then all of a sudden you get hit and you go unconscious, it’s not uncommon for people to wake up very hazy when it comes to memory prior to the crash.

      3. You don’t seem to understand james. The ones that are drinking till they’re drunk are Yu and his pals. We the viewers aren’t getting drunk. We the viewers are sober and we’ve been watching Yu and his pals this whole time and we still have no idea how they got drunk in the first place.

  6. I’m glad they kept the omlette scene at the end, although the only deviation was that Yosuke and Proagonist tried it first and described the lava like taste. I had the same reaction when he was deserted halfway through the episode, but glad it was actually a different take on Shadow Mitsuo’s ability. The preview was surprising.
    Show Spoiler ▼

  7. Hehe, I was also confused by this episode. I loved the Persona spam Yu did. Especially since that was his answer to Mitsuo’s comments about Yu being alone just like he was. It was like “no bitach, unlike you I got friends and let me show them to you BAM!”.

  8. The way they pulled it off was brilliant. They just abruptly cut to the next scene, so it really caught me off guard. If they had just enveloped Yuu in a beam of light, I would’ve caught on much earlier.

    And here I thought the only protagonist more bland than Shu was Yuu (lol rhyming), but it turns out I was wrong.

  9. Well, they certainly got me REAL good (>.<)! I'm like "WTF!?" after they completely skipped the Mitsuo battle, but I'm like "Okay, maybe the director didn't want to show that battle because Kubo wouldn't be a Persona user.", so I'm rolling with it. Then they are jumping a month at a time, so I'm thinking they're cutting to the chase and [future spoilers ahead]
    Show Spoiler ▼

    but instead they just keep on jumping months. I didn’t know WHAT the hell was going on D0=. I felt the sense of desperation that Yuu had looking at the TV at midnight, I actually felt sorry for him. The whole baby Shadow thing blew my mind, cause I was thinking it was Yuu’s Shadow(even though I played the game). I gotta say, that was just well-played. Kudos to the director for that one =03.

    Of course, after my mind was blown, all kinds of awesomeness occured after. The reminder of the episode was pretty good, esp the multiple Personae calling and the party =03.

  10. As soon as the skipped the ‘boss’ battle I knew something was wrong, that was just plain uncharacteristic of this show. As the post-battle antics from Yuu’s friends continued to pile up, and as the divergence factor grew, I knew that they were just messing with me. I’m was positive when they mentioned Yuu made all the dishes at the little party they had afterward, since I remembered that scene from the game. Someone was messing with us, or with Yuu.

    Still, that was executed quite well, although I’m kinda sad Yuu didn’t have more faith in his friends. I suppose when someone is playing mind games with you like that, it is hard to maintain your composure though.

  11. When the scene went from fight with shadow Mitsuo to post-WIN party, I was like WTF and thought my episode was corrupt too, but I quickly caught on that it was not real from the way everyone was acting and knew this was pretty much Yuu’s shadow and his fear.

    So I wasn’t tricked as much haha. Though I have to admit this was very slick and well done. Well played!

    Of course the whole scene of Yuu summoning every freaking Persona he had was epic. As Yousuke said, “How many Persona does this guy have!?”

  12. I got suspicious when they started to skip so many days, but if playing Metal Gear Solid taught me anything I was convinced it was fake when Yuu’s status all showed up blank, and that Shadow Mitsuo must have done something to him when the shadow started to change. Overall, kudos to showing this side of Yuu’s character. On another note, https://randomc.net/image/Persona%204%20the%20ANIMATION/Persona%204%20the%20ANIMATION%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2008.jpg the only time I see Yukiko out of her refined character in the game was her hysterical laughing habits. I like how the anime shows how scary or silly she can be.. The scenes where she got insulted in Kanji’s dungeon and when she suggested to cover Hanako’s face with a pillow come to mind.

  13. I like this series but liked Persona 3 better. This one just feels like the bad guy of the week. I’m hoping it steps up its game for the 2nd cour. Its still a decent story to watch and I get it that they wanted to introduce the characters and all but lets get to more of this story here…

    1. I also like Persona 3 better because, in P3, people had to struggle and pay a price (using drug or whatever) to own and use a persona. In P4, all the cool characters were just given without context. Moreover, the story of P4 just has too many holes, especially on the identity of Kuma and on the capture of the true killer. Suspense built through ten episodes ended up with some lousy patch work.

      1. They were NOT given Persona’s without context. Only people who overcame their shadow self and accepts their hidden darkness as part of them were granted persona’s.

        Its fine if you like P3 better. I certainly liked P3’s cast better, but P4 definitely had the superior story and writing.

    2. You have played P3 right? Because the formula is exactly the same. Fight boss, some high school stuff happens, then fight boss. Rinse and repeat. Yes, I would say that P3 had a better story but it also had horrible pacing, there were whole months where nothing happened, especially in the final month. P4 at least kept the story flowing smoothly.

      And what plotholes did P4 have? Most of them were answered by the end if you actually payed attention.

  14. Glade i wasn’t the only one who got ‘trolled’ by this episode. Seriously almost ragged quit, when Yuu stopped hanging out with everyone and started becoming a recluse. However despite being relieved that it was all an allusion. I still think there burning through the material way too fast. Granted it’s understandable that a adaptation of a game that suppose to span an entire year. Would have some things cut out. It still feels that this series has been put into over drive lately.

    I dunno, maybe it’s just me.

  15. I haven’t played the game, so that might be why I wasn’t fooled. At first I was apprehensive when they skipped Mitsuo’s battle scene, but then the time skips started going by really fast, and Yuu became a loner again…I started getting very suspicious, since most animes love to play the “it’s all a dream/illusion” card, I figured it’ll just take a while before the truth was revealed. XD

    But Mitsuo’s shadow battle reminded me of KH Recoded. XD

    Question, does the game ever explain how Yuu knew how many Personas he had & all their names? I understand he’s a special “wild”, but it just seemed like he was calling out names and it turned out to be a Persona! 😀

  16. I think that time skip business was a good risk – most people who are watching the series already played the game before, so putting something like that would be a complete surprise. I too was trolled off, thinking that my copy of the episode was also broken. I was then more disappointed when the Omelette Rice contest got cancelled, because it was one of my favorite parts of the game. Then Marukyu Tofu got closed, and suddenly I realized that something was definitely wrong.

    The most glorious part of the episode was that it showed the most amount of character development on Brotag. For the past few episodes he seemed to be this blank and really awkward guy, but then he started to become attached to the entire investigation and to his friends. I was practically cheering the moment he said “I’m not empty!”. I was definitely flailing about the moment the Investigation Team made their counterattack.

    That awesome remix of the Battle Theme didn’t help either.

    Bonus points goes to Yousuke – not only was he the last one who stuck with Brotag on world BAD END, he was even the one who saved Brotag from Mitsuo’s Shadow. Partners, indeed.

  17. I was rather trolled. I too didn’t recall the fake reality powers either. Still, Narukami going all freaking out with every one of his personas? That is the epitome of swagging anger right there.

  18. I dunno where Yu Narukami got Leanan Sidhe the persona who inflict rage ailment(the one who whispered at kubo’s shadow) He hasnt established the empress arcana social link yet… that puzzles me leanan sidhe is not a Lovers Arcana persona If im not mistaken

  19. Hate to disappoint you but you don’t have to have played the game to recognize that Yuu was being tricked. I never played the game but I found it was immediately suspicious and became more and more obvious as the episode dragged on that he was stuck in some kind of dream sequence. On the other hand, I never stopped to consider the meta-game (fansubber trolling and such) so maybe that’s why I found it more obvious.


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