「Welcome Home」

And so we come to the end, not exactly with a bang but at least not with a whimper either. I’m sure everyone expected an ending more or less along these lines. Players of Golden probably already pretty much knew how it was going to go down. Even though P4GA tried to paint the ‘truth’ as something profound and shocking it was never ever anything surprising. The final confrontation unfolded fairly similarly to the game or the original anime  (albeit Marie-flavoured) and that was not really a big twist either. If anything, it felt slightly forced. ‘If you kill me you’ll also kill your friend!‘ is an old chestnut, but it was only tenuously linked to the greater overarching theme about accepting the truth and all that. For that matter, the whole ‘people are weak’ –> ‘people prefer to be lied to’ –> ‘turn on the fog machines!’ logic isn’t really fully developed either, but that’s a fault carried from the game. Chalked it up to ‘gods are weird’. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose, because ultimately Marie ex machina happens and breezes the conflict aside. ‘Now, I am the master!’ she says, and that was that. Maybe it’s a metaphor for individuation. I’ll buy anything.

Despite all my nitpicking, I must reiterate that this was not exactly a bad ending. At the very least it had the correct shape of an ending, giving one last hurrah before wrapping things up and leaving a sense of closure. I’m glad that they let the effects budget have a final day in the sun, at least; I can forgive a lot of things as long as it’s shiny enough. After our descent into anti-climax last week I had my fears but luckily they were mostly unfounded. In fact, for a while I was almost brought aboard the Marie ship. I believed in the power of love! That is, I was fully expecting Yu and Marie to go full SEKIHA LOVE LOVE TENKYOKEN during their big scene, but alas, they didn’t hear the cries (or didn’t want to make things weird for Kanji). If anything disappointed me about this episode, it was that. I thought we were fully embracing the ham and cheese. They had the obligatory title drop! They had Marie profess her love live on TV just to rile up Rise! If you have the ball you have to run with it, Persona 4.

(Actually, the thought of Marie as a fickle god with no respect for the long term ecological ramifications of her actions is…can we really call this a happy end?)

 

Final Reading

Adaptation—the art of converting one medium into another—has always been a subject of great interest to me. Original series are great and deserve their respect, but turning a manga, a novel or a video game into anime is no simple craft either. It’s a lot like translating languages, and not everyone appreciates the subtleties—sometimes, not even directors. Watching how each adaptation decides to do their thing is a fascinating study, especially when games are involved. They are a medium like no other, and one that we are just beginning to play with (pun…yeah, completely intended).

What stood out the most for me about P4GA is their decision to only adapt very specific sections of the original source. For everything else, they relied on viewer meta-knowledge, whether it’s from playing a game, watching an anime or reading a manga. This is not actually a bad idea; it saves seasoned viewers from having to retread old content and gets right to the real meat. The end result was something not quite a sequel and not quite a standalone production. It was an interesting experiment, but is had its failings. For one, it highlighted the difference between knowing and experiencing. When I watched P4GA I knew of the events happening off-screen that were skipped. I knew how the limited events shown played into the greater scheme. But it didn’t feel like I was experiencing a fully cohesive narrative. Instead, it felt rather choppy—more like OVAs than a full series—and I think it hindered my connection to the new content.

Speaking of which, the one full arc in P4GA is Marie’s story, and I suppose we should go into that a bit. The impression I got from those who’ve played the Vita game is that Marie didn’t really play a major role there, so I should commend the P4GA staff for being able to write so much of the anime around her. Because underneath all the drama and high mythology surrounding Marie, her story—which I consider to have been wrapped up in Episode 11—is rather simple yet plays well into Persona 4’s overarching themes. It’s really just about a teenager, and that teenager acting like a teenager. All that stuff with her going, ‘Leave me alone, nobody understands me, just let me cut myself’—that’s usually just a phase people have. That’s why Persona 4 switches so often between fantasy and mundane. With time, even the most trying or amazing parts of life become mundane. It’ll all just be happy memories.

There would be those who enjoyed the focus on Marie, and those who don’t; I’ve said enough about the subject already. I will note, though, how interesting P4GA’s strategy was. It essentially goes all in, all the time; it devotes fully to new material even at the risk of alienating potential views, and devotes fully to the new character Marie, at the risk of overexposure. Perhaps it’s just very sure about its targets audience, that is, those who only wish for Golden material and those who will enjoy a lot of Marie. If this was done deliberately, then that was a very bold choice; I will give credit for that. But how successful was it in execution? Do you fall within this narrow target? Did you expect to fall within that target? I’ll leave the discussion to the comments.

 

Full-length images: 11.

 

ED4 Sequence

ED4: 「Never More」 by 平田志穂子 (Hirata Shihoko)

 

Thank you all for bearing with me through Person 4 the Golden ANIMATION and my first full season of anime here on Random Curiosity. I hope you’ve enjoyed the coverage; I certainly had fun (sometimes a bit too much). If any of you have any feedback about my writing (or, really, anything at all) now’s a great time to get heard. I read all your comments, and constructive feedback is always useful for me. Otherwise I’ll be back next season (basically beginning as we speak) with more of that weekly rambling. I look forward to seeing you all (and any new faces! Invite your friends! Invite your family! Invite total strangers!) again.

22 Comments

  1. As a fan of the Persona Series, I was kinda disappointed at P4G’s adaptation into the anime scene.

    Once again, I understand that with the 12 episode limit, they had to cut so much material out of the equation. Never the less, a fair bit of those material were some of the best jokes in the game. Im quite saddened that they didnt appear on screen.

    Oh well, as a consolation, I get to see the Chie +1 year on screen. I’m a Chie fan, SUE ME!

    Ginobi47
  2. The whole Izanami taking over Marie was entirely new. While Marie was an aspect of Izanami the game made it clear that Marie has become a separate person. Izanami herself points this out. She doesn’t add much more on the final battle other than being part of the Social Links who encourage Brotagonist after his “death”.

    The extra epilogue though is entirely intact from the game including the older looks of the cast. I always liked that part, as it shows how everyone has matured. I especially dig Kanji’s non-bleached hair and Naoto now confidently wearing a dress. And I find Marie as the Weather Girl pretty funny.

    Nothing really much to add. Its just Persona 4: All About Marie so it really depends on the viewer’s opinion on Marie. She was always divisive since her debut in P4G. Personally, I never minded Marie, she was a decent addition to P4, but just one part of the additional content that gave P4G great replay value. I just wish she didn’t overshadow everyone else.

    fragb85
  3. The fog isn’t hard to figure out. Since humans prefer a lie the fog engulfs the truth, allowing all human to embrace the lies they so strongly desire. I remember a number of people going crazy in the fog when it entered Inaba and stays until Adachi’s defeat.

    The thing with Izanami and Marie is that she is a part of man’s consciousness that grants our wishes and protects us, but man’s self destructive desires conflicted with her role as a protector, so they became separate. It has been shown in previous games that human desires and wishes can be incredibly self-destructive and even world ending.

    TheVoid
  4. I liked the way they adapted the epilogue since it followed the game closely though with some omissions Show Spoiler ▼

    , and personally I prefer Marie/Mariko in the game a bit more since there she smiled more.

    On your impression Passerby, Show Spoiler ▼

    Zhinvu
  5. I guess I’m one of the ones who didn’t enjoy the focus on Marie in this new adaptation. She just wasn’t interesting enough for me…even her tsundere antics felt forced and boring. Also, her story arc completely sidelined the rest of the characters who are much more interesting in my opinion.

    Yukie
  6. overall it was a pretty good for Persona 4 fans ( which i am) even if the pacing was off ( as a P4G player i feel as if they sped things up a lil) . im glad they gave us new scenes and content. IM a Rise type of guy (!!) but this made me like marie more.

    brizzy
  7. As a fan of Persona 4 The Golden it’s THE REASON i bought a vita.
    So when i saw this I completely loved the fact they expected me to have played the game.
    it really felt like they were putting this out for the fans not for just everybody in the world to make a generic buck. If you haven’t been keeping with this story then they prominialy gave a giant FUCK YOU to the new viewer Which i comepletely enjoyed.

    A++ guys A++

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