「The Long-Awaited School Trip」
Sadly, the Investigation Team’s school trip to Gekkoukan High School and Tatsumi Port Island may be the closest we’ll ever get to seeing an animated version of Persona 3 (no, Persona –trinity soul- doesn’t count). That said, this episode was one of the strongest of the series so far and much of it was due to its fanservice – and not your typical kind either. I’m impressed with the showrunners’ creativity in including a variety of fanservice so that every viewer would find something that appeals to them.
Before I get to all the great material in this episode, there is a tiny smidgen of disappointment I’d like to address which can also be seen as a minor criticism of the series as a whole. In the opening of each episode, Margaret explains the significance of the new social bond that Yuu made in the previous episode, but other than naming the specific Arcana that the bond is associated with, she never goes into any further detail. For viewers who have not yet played any Persona games, this is a lost opportunity both to explore the meanings and symbolism behind each Major Arcana, and to delve into some of the Jungian psychology from which Persona 4 draws a lot of its inspiration. Instead, all that is shown to viewers can seem like a purely arbitrary relationship between a social bond and the Arcana that it is associated with – thus depriving each character’s issues some of its impact and symbolism.
All seriousness aside, this was definitely one of the funniest episodes yet – and that’s saying a lot given how humorous the past several episodes have been. The beginning of the Investigation Team’s trip really didn’t foreshadow how fun it would end up, and I am especially glad that this adaptation is faithful only where it counts the most. Can you imagine if the entirety of Mr. Edogawa’s Japanese mythology lecture by the Gekkoukan High School’s nurse wasn’t left on the cutting room floor? Instead, the showrunners focused on what they knew fans would most want to see: fanservice of all kinds, especially when it involved material from Persona 3.
Nostalgia was in full effect as I tried finding as many references to Persona 3 that I could, starting with the OP music of 「Burn My Dread」by Kawamura Yumi. Each time another one my favorite tunes from P3 played in the background of this episode elicited a smile on my face. Seeing Gekkoukan High School, Hagakure Ramen, and Fushimi Chihiro (Maeda Ai) was quite a treat as well, even if it was a little bittersweet knowing that in all likelihood this would be the only time I will be able to see them in an anime. The fact that this episode delivered on all counts in regards to Persona 3 fanservice left me very impressed with the series’ showrunners because only die-hard fans of the game would have put in all these details.
There really was fanservice for every type of fan too, not just for fans of Persona 3. To start off, we have several male fantasies combined into a single scene: our three main heroines sprawled out in a giggling mess on top of a rotating waterbed. The only thing missing would be some revealing evening wear, but that would be a bit too predictable for this series. For female fans, this scene is reversed, except there’s actually skin being revealed by Kuma’s open bathrobe. For fans who are as confused as Kanji is, we have plenty of screen time for both Naoto and Yuu, with the latter of the two having his breakout episode for his portrayal of “The Most Interesting Man in the World”™. Nothing Yuu ever says sounds pervy to the girls, and even if he didn’t unbutton his shirt, I bet Chie, Yukiko, and Rise still wouldn’t be able to keep their hands off of him. Chie x Yuu ‘shippers were probably not as happy that her relationship with him that seemed to develop so nicely, eventually took a backseat to Yukiko and Rise’s drunken antics. Just look at him though, and try to resist his charm and confidence. Impossible, I tell you.
I now firmly believe that every good comedy series needs two key scenes: one where most of the main characters get drunk, and one scene where they play the King’s Game. I’m not saying that I condone underage drinking, which is why I really liked the ambiguity (and to be honest, the cop out) that everyone was only “drunk off the atmosphere”. Combine the effects of alcohol with the King’s Game and you have a surefire way to jumpstart a romance, or in Yuu’s case, a harem. I think what really sold me on the necessity of these scenes was hearing the drunken voices of Koshimizu Ami and Kugimiya Rie, who have convinced me that I need to hear all of my favorite seiyuu when they’re “drunk”.
As hilarious as these past few episodes have been, going back to more serious stories isn’t necessarily a bad thing if we’re going to be learning more about Naoto as the preview suggests. And if you do feel like the next couple episodes have lost a bit of their humor, take a page from Yuu’s book and pour yourself a nice drink like Ano Natsu’s Dynamite Drink and just enjoy the ride. I know I will.
* Persona 3’s setting was Gekkoukan High School and the surrounding areas, and it’s a game that I highly recommend as I think the story and setting is even better than Persona 4’s
* All fantasies in this post are pure conjecture, and do not represent the views of the writer or Random Curiosity
* That said, I’d like to hear Ishihara Kaori say “Maru!” while drunk
* Full-length images: 02, 05, 08, 31
ED4.5: 「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 ED4.5: Streaming ▼