「A missing piece」
Welcome back to your regular edition of the Persona 4 the Golden ANIMATION blog, in which we have to try to be interesting again with only prose. That may be difficult for this episode; it depends entirely on how you feel about Marie as a character. Let me explain.
While last week was pretty much all filler (amusing, but still filler) for the purposes of giving a sense of passage of time, this week is only half filler. We have our fun in the snow, obligatory bath house scenes, and the Naoto x Kanji ship sailing at full mast. The other half (to be accurate, actually the fair bulk of the episode) is dedicated to the cast trying to remember some girl who had been mysteriously deleted from existence. Yes, it’s a deja vu episode, and actually in more ways than one. All that drama in the snow sent me on the way-back machine all the way to 2006. Remember Kanon, in particular episode 22? By the way, don’t click on that if you don’t and want to avoid spoilers. Anyway, it’s not like Kanon has a patent on blizzard-based flashbacks but the similarities were uncanny.
That said, unlike Kanon, in P4GA there is no mystery about what our protagonist hasn’t managed to remember. We all know that it’s Marie. We’re just waiting for Yu to figure that out as well. Therefore the effectiveness of the related scenes depend entirely on the viewer having some kind of attachment to Marie. If you do, then this was an emotionally climax for you. If you didn’t, then it was a plot routine that needed to be summarily dispatched.
On my part, I can’t say this episode did it for me.
I think my problem is that in the end Marie, to me, felt too forcefully shoehorned in. It’s the result of skipping all the non-Marie events in favour of all Marie, all the time. Marie never develops naturally alongside the narrative, but rather becomes the narrative. At the same time, though, Marie herself does not add anything all that unique. Her amnesia subplot is simply that–a subplot–and does not have enough depth to carry more weight. Marie is important through plot contrivances rather than as part of a regime of thematic consistency.
In short: if you draw too much attention to a graft, you’ll expose the stitches.
So I didn’t really even mind the leaps of logic that the Investigation Team needed to get to ‘there is somebody missing’. I didn’t mind the unexplained inconsistencies needed to resolve the conflict. I didn’t even mind Yosuke looking through the viewfinder and video screen of his camera at the same time. I’m just kind of glad we’ve gotten the episode over and done with. If we needed some magical conveniences to do it faster, then so be it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this was an objectively bad episode. And I’m not saying that I hate Marie or anything. At most, I am ambivalent. I simply have not been able to work up any strong feelings about her. Perhaps I’m just a despicably contrary person; in the face of nine anime episodes shouting at me to care about Marie my first instinct is: ‘why should I?’
Reading the cards
All that said, I’m still hoping for some kind of mind-blowing revelation that will completely change the way I see Marie, though I do not actually expect it. It’s fairly obvious what sort of beast Marie is by now (or at least, I think I have a good guess about it–surprise me). Even so, a last bit of flair before closure will be nice.
There is every indication that the skiing trip is the last bit of fun we’ll get to have before the end. Everything from here on now should, presumably, be more or less Serious Business. Does that mean Persona action? Maybe. At the very least it should mean a build up to another confrontation that tops the one with Adachi.