「Let’s go get it! Get Pumped!」
“Live a Live.”
In this week’s episode of K-ON Macross whatever Persona 4 the Golden, the plot is once again on temporary hiatus as the Investigation Team engages in the quintessential experience of rose-coloured youth. No, nobody gets arrested. Rather they start a band. Doesn’t every teenager dream of being a rockstar at some point? Especially when exams loom? Well, Yu is already naturally a rockstar but the rest of team need to get groupies the hard way: actually learn an instrument. Or at least pretend they know how to play one for 23 minutes.
Like everything else that happens in P4GA this little subplot intimately involves Marie. Apparently Marie is already fluent in guitar but only when it comes to one tune. Presumably because it’s stuck in her head after hours of fusing. Persona fans know the feeling, I’m sure. In any case Marie’s character has done a 180 since her epiphany moment last episode and now she’s eager to experience all sorts of things. In fact, she’s in such a rush to do so that she’s actually coming to self-harm. Frankly it’s a bit of a mood dissonance to see her put in so much determination into something which, in the grand scheme of things, matters very little. It’s like she’s a terminal patient with only a year left to enjoy life.
Moving on. Despite the somewhat serious amounts of potential drama, what with the threat of Yosuke being deported and all that, the episode itself does not really take itself too seriously. There’s even a Scooby Doo moment, for crying out loud (however disappointingly lacking in Yakety Sax it may be). That, and liberal amounts of vibraslap action. Yes, the vibraslap, which ranks somewhere above the triangle and below the cowbell in terms of instruments you’re supposed to laugh at. I suppose this was a good direction choice because there seems to be neither the will nor the animation budget to make the concert a big climatic moment of the series. This kind of plot is by now an old cliché, and looked prettier in 2006 than it does now. The concert is nice but certainly not the point; the point, I suppose, was to impart an Aesop about perseverance, believing in friends, festina lente, all that good jazz.
Speaking of taking things slowly and the plot, it hasn’t actually been abandoned completely this episode. In fact it’s pushing along quite steadily, even if we usually don’t get to see it. Adachi in particular is coming into prominence, what with hints at an Adachi Social Link that had been developed in the background and rather targeted foreshadowing. And, of course, the preview is all him.
Reading the cards.
I never thought I’d say this, but we may be reaching a point of Marie saturation. Nay, Marie overdose.
I can appreciate the strong focus on Marie–as noted in previous episodes–because Marie is the New Big Thing in Golden. Sure, write her into scenes. That’s a good strategy that makes use of the anime’s status as an adaptation. But when doing so one must also be careful that this new character does not end up upstaging everybody else. This week’s episode is a good example: all that fuss about Rise putting on a show was actually about Marie putting on a show, with everyone else as support. There is a real risk of Marie turning into some sort of Mary Sue character because everything is revolving around her. Of course, this is not actually true–we know that the rest of Persona 4 is playing itself out off-screen–but that’s what the audience sees every week because we’re either only delving into Marie-related activities or writing her into non-Marie ones. Sure, it may not be the intended effect, but it’s the actual effect. No matter what the Bard may say, you can have too much of a good thing.
Thankfully, the previews for next week show no sign of Marie at all, which is a small miracle in and of itself. She’ll still no doubt show up–again, that’s fine–but hopefully they’ll make more time for all the other important things that could be going on. The key is not have Marie be the only important thing. Everything in moderation. We’re quite a ways through the original P4 material (we may very well be into November by the next episode) but we still have a full seven episodes left. Adachi may very well have an episode devoted entirely to him next week. It’s not a bad bet.