「We’ll all meet at the AMAGIYA Hotel」
Until Hanasaku Iroha’s second season comes to fruition, I guess I have to make do with watching
Ohana Yukiko come full circle and finally accept how much her family inn means to her – which combined with Yuu and the boys’ hijinks and hilarity, make this episode of Persona 4 golden (excuse my terrible pun).
After both Chie and Rise’s ships inched ever closer to the safe embrace of Yuu’s harbor, my hopes were high that Yukiko would catch up and then surpass them in this episode, especially after she asked him and Nanako to stay the night at her place. However, visions of my favorite heroine finally taking her rightful place by
her gigolo’s Yuu’s side were dashed by Kuma’s hard of hearing, Rise’s meddling, and a desperate Investigation Team looking for something to fill the emptiness left in the wake of the school festival. As evidenced by their half-hearted arm raise, neither Yukiko or Yuu were too excited by the notion of having this many “third wheels” getting in the way of what could have been a wonderful night together.
Karmic payback for ruining Yukiko’s plan may have come at everyone’s expense, but for us, it gave plenty of laughs (and fanservice). It was especially hilarious – and rewarding in a way – to see the homophobic Yousuke finally learn the value of good bear hug, courtesy of Ohtani and Kashiwagi’s wailing, but the best of all were the antics of the group as a whole. You can’t have a good onsen episode without the characters showing some skin, and this time, the characters weren’t just polygons or static drawings either. Ah, the wonders of animation. While the classic “guys walking in on girls at the onsen” has been well tread before, I didn’t mind one bit because I think this is the most we’ve ever seen of Naoto‘s feminine side – which leads me to my next point.
I think one mark of a good adaptation is when the characters are just as well-developed and memorable as the original, and while this might not apply to all the characters so far because of episode time restraints, the writers have done a brilliant job in at least making Naoto even more adorable than what I remembered from the original game itself. Now if only the writers could have added in more of the story behind Yukiko choosing a future career at the Amagiya Inn instead of glossing over it like they did with Rise’s motivations behind returning to her career as an idol.
What the writers have excelled at is their take on the game’s comedic situations, which have been top-notch as of late. Knowing what to leave in and what to take out is always a daunting and potentially controversial task (just like taking screencaps!), but overall I think they’ve done a great job with keeping the funniest material and then adding their own unique twists on them. I especially like how the normally happy-go-lucky and calm duo of Yuu and Kuma were so devastated when Nanako asked them if they were perverts – for guys like us, there really is nothing worse than losing the respect of your adorable (and impressionable) young relatives. Even though Yuu kept the warning letter hidden from the group so that they could enjoy their fun night at the inn, it looks like he can’t keep it from them forever as we head back into the investigation in the next episode. Hopefully, the writers can learn from what they’ve done well with the comedy, and apply it to other aspects of this adaptation as well. Or they could give us more Naoto – I’d be okay with that too.