「Let it OUT! Let it GO!」
You remember that, last week, the Investigation Team was in deep trouble. This week: they’re not! Hurray!
Frankly, I wasn’t actually sure what happened this episode. Before, I was of the opinion that P4GA was actually doing rather well with pacing, that while they skipped a lot of material or had filler here and there in general it seemed like the staff knew what they were doing. For this episode? Not so sure. The mood whiplash was so violent that I think it left a mark. Bear with me a bit while we go through the episode and try to iron out what exactly went on in it.
Somebody who has played Golden will need to clear it up for me, because I’m not actually sure what the conflict of our overarching plot is anymore. Last week, we had Yu struggling against curse-god Marie and, surprisingly, losing. This week, it turns out…he didn’t? We have some bus metaphor (I think it’s a metaphor) and after that Yu is actually completely fine thanks in part to the magic of Margaret-ex-machina. What did the Persona-erasing trick of Marie’s do last week? Seemed pretty handy, but we’ll never know its secrets because we never see it again. Another thing I wasn’t sure of: the angel-feather symbolism. Aren’t we embroiled in Shinto mythology here? What does it mean? I have no idea.
It was in this state of general confusion that I suddenly realised that our conflict was gone. Not resolved, just gone. Like it had given us the slip while nobody was looking. Last week Marie was full on, ‘I want to die!’ and this week she’s quickly ‘no I didn’t!’ because she lost the stubbornness contest against Yu. Self-sacrifice is a noble idea and all, but there’s no dignity in it if she relents so easily and devolves immediately into just a damsel in distress. What was the point of the entire hike? Or all the exposition about the fog inside you? Apparently nothing, and the Investigation Team knows it. They all get their shiny Persona upgrades (even Yu busts out Izanami-no-Okami) not because they resolve their central internal conflict but because…Marie. Yeah, something like that. In fact, the only real conflict we had left, really, was Yu vs bamboo. Poor bamboo! It wasn’t even in his way!
Everything after Yu puts down the shrubbery like a boss, though, was quite a mood-shift. I actually liked the musical number we had as the dungeon disintegrated (because beating the boss always triggers the self-destruct). Shame. It was a nice dungeon, too. While we’re talking about shames, I hope nobody owned that cabin. All these meddling kids have been messing around in it and they broke the antique TV. Bah. And their snowball fights on your lawn, just to bully Yosuke. Heads up, Investigation Team: it’s not friendship if the relationship is based on abuse. I guess it was a good opportunity for Marie to show off the god powers she has outside the TV too, like snow-based telekinesis, Railgun impressions, and not feeling cold in that outfit. Also the last minute fan-service. See how much we had to do here? And that’s not even including the Valentines Day event, where I suppose Marie wins by default. Actually, wait—she loses to Nanako who stole a march on her. But everybody loses to Nanako. It’s not a real fight. Just like the first half of this episode.
Reading the cards
Normally in the penultimate episode I’d made a big deal about making predictions for the finale, calibrating our expectations, and generally doing something holistic in preparations. For P4GA, I think I’ll give that a pass. On one hand, we already know what’s going to go down. That big showdown with the real Big Bad, right? We saw that in the first season, or we played the game. I would have been fully prepared for it last week. After Episode 11, I’m not so sure. Episode 11s are supposed to ramp up to the climax. Start to pull all the subplots together into the main plot for that big cathartic resolution. We didn’t get that here. In fact, I’m sort of deflated now. I’m not sure what to expect anymore, sure, but I don’t find myself caring as much as I hoped I would. Would it be better if I didn’t know beforehand about Izanami? Or would the confusion make is worse? Feel free to give me our opinions in the comments.
What we do know is that Marie story is now largely resolved. The OP is back to blue instead of grey now and is sung by the HanaKana herself (squeal?). So Izanami, Big and Bad though she is, is more of a bonus round. Well, Marie’s still going to be intimately involved there. How will that change things? My guess: insignificantly in the grand scheme. Your guess may very reasonably be different. What we should agree on is that it better be pretty damn epic. P4GA needs to pull out the big guns next week to recoup the ground lost this week. Let’s hope that’s what happens.
Full-length images: 17.
ED2.11: 「Dazzling Smile」 by 花澤香菜 (Hanazawa Kana)