「A Stormy Summer Vacation 2/2」
Price of Lovely’n umbrella: $104 USD. Price of Neo Featherman: $884 USD. Price of combining five social links into one episode?
Cramming five stories into one episode is a tall order, but surprisingly, Persona 4 was able to pull it off in an entertaining fashion – even if much of the real drama and backstory was lost in translation. After watching last week’s preview, I really didn’t believe that the show would actually finish all five social links in one fell swoop, much less actually tie them all together.
At first, hearing the episode with narration was a bit jarring, but it eventually grew on me, even if I would have preferred Chie as the narrator (no offense Yousuke). It’s an interesting change of pace for the show, almost like it was continuing with the detective/mystery tv show theme from the previous episode. I really must commend Persona 4 for changing the narrative structure for each episode because it can be really easy for a series to fall into the “dungeon/social-link of the week” formula that the game employed. This has been especially evident in the past few episodes as the showrunners have used the different narrative freedoms of television to retell the source material in a novel way, often combining it with anime-original material and humor to great effect.
Almost all of the social links in the game were presented slowly – there were days where the story didn’t even progress at all because Yuu hadn’t said the right words and could only hang out. What’s worse was that all this time spent trying to develop these social links during the summer meant that there wasn’t any time left to be spent with the Investigation Team, so I’m very glad that this series changes things up to address this disconnect. People probably complained that some of the past episodes were rushed because they forgot that the languid pace of the game was mostly just a product of the game mechanics. The stories themselves don’t actually take that long to tell.
Even still, putting together five social links in one episode was still too much so each one had to be drastically cut back and altered from what it was like in the game. Three of the stories managed to retain the gist of the issues that Yuu helped out with, but the first two stories were not as lucky. It was a clever idea to make the fox, which represents the Hermit Arcana, as the one who started Yuu out on his August adventure by using the wishes made at the fox’s temple. Unfortunately we were never shown the reason why the fox wanted those wishes granted in the first place. Similarly, the boy that the fox led Yuu to, Nakajima Shuu (Ichiki Mitsuhiro), didn’t have the same issues as he did in the game, nor were his issues explored in much detail either. The boy who represents the Tower Arcana merely came off as a conceited child who looked down on everyone and who needed Yuu to show him the value of friendship. I felt that compared to the game, Shuu’s character was much harder to relate to as a result. (Besides, if he was really smart, he would’ve realized that stealing one shell doesn’t mean he’s stolen all the fireworks!)
The three remaining characters did not lose the central issue that Yuu helped them work through, but with most of the backstory lost, their stories lost a lot of their impact. The story of Kuroda Hisano (Tani Ikuko) took the biggest hit, as we never truly find out about why she lost her love for her late husband. As the character that represents the Death Arcana, her story was especially influential for Yuu, given the recent crimes in Inaba. Without the creepy hospital from the game, the flirtations of Uehara Sayoko (Kuwatani Natsuko) weren’t as devilish as her associated Devil Arcana would suggest, but the rest of her story is something that we can relate with all too well – losing or forgetting the passion for our careers. Minami Eri’s (Itou Miki) story of a step-mother trying to win the love of her son was the least affected by the constraints of the episode, but her story also had the most violent ending.
I liked the way that all the disparate stories came together in the end, and especially how the episode tied into the events we saw in the first part of this story arc. Another aspect of this episode that helps redeem the lost impact of all the social links is the series’ saving grace – its humor, which often times is even funnier than what I remembered from the game. Some of the best material so far was found in this episode, like Yuu’s side of the story when he borrowed Kuma’s costume to his day care job. There were a lot of cameo appearances as well, which are always fun to try and spot like the books Yuu was reading, Tanaka’s shopping show, the huge fish, and an appearance that foreshadows events to come. Speaking of things to come, I know I said that the camping trip back in episode 08 was long-awaited for, but given that the title of the next episode is “The Long-Awaited School Trip”, it’s almost as if the show is hyping up this trip to Iwatodai (the setting of Persona 3) for me!
* I was expecting the fox to make more a yip sound
* Was that lady carrying a brick in her purse? –unlisted
* That lady who assaulted Eri has a kid who looks like Morooka’s son — his death must have affected them a lot
* Full-length images: 01, 02
ED4: 「The Way of Memories -キズナノチカラ-」 (The Way of Memories -Kizuna no Chikara-) by 平田志穂子 (Hirata Shihoko)
Watch the 4th ED: Streaming ▼