Despite the issues that AIC is going through with its animators at the moment, the second episode of Persona 4 manages to keep itself interesting without too much noticeable changes. Now that the impression’s out of the way, let’s talk about character development, or more appropriately, character building.
We are used to the grandiose ways that the entertainment industry employs for the purposes of making the characters in our show more like humans and less like plot devices. What I mean is, most characters, not just in anime, are subjected to out-of-the-ordinary situations to make them more likable, easier to relate to or just plain make them have an established personality. Let’s take the example from the first episode of Guilty Crown. Not a single bit of character building happened during the school life parts aside from confirming that he’s socially awkward. Most of the stuff that established Shuu’s (the main guy’s) character happened during the scene where he refused to let fo of the rice cooker robot and deciding to pull out a massive sword out of Inori’s (the lead feamale’s) chest.
In Persona 4, I have noticed some brilliant things and almost had me asking: “Why didn’t they think of this sooner?” For one, we have Yuu. Yeah, he’s the silent type. He almost never spoke in the first episode. Some may argue that he lacks any form of personality, and for the record, yes he does. This is where subtlety comes in. Believe it or not, the staff of P4 has done some character development for Yuu outside of the TV world in the forms you might not have even noticed.
For now, I am completely disregarding any knowledge I have about the original game and will focus on the anime itself.
First, Yuu now speaks more often. You can say that it’s just because what he was saying is important to the plot, but no. I think the fact that he spoke is showing something, and is leading to him becoming more outspoken. Secondly, he is now more considerate towards others. In the first episode, all our protagonist ever did was dig Yousuke out of the garbage, insert his hands into TVs and fight the Shadows. Seriously, that’s it. But in episode 2, he manages to be more proactive. Remember how he offered to help Nanako do the dishes? Or when he punches some sense into Yousuke? Is that a characteristic of the understanding of someone who is cold-hearted (as hinted in the mid-episode eyecatch)? I’m betting that in the next episode, his Understanding parameter will be up by a notch.
This doesn’t mean that only Yuu gets this kind of development. To be honest, the characters in the anime all feel flat at this point. We still don’t care for them. In fact, I am wondering why the game is claimed to be character driven when all we have are these bland people… is something I would say if I didn’t know any better. Take a look at your real life friends. When you first saw any of them, did you know everything about them? Probably not. I think you can guess what I’m trying to say here.
So yeah, here’s to hoping that P4 continues to deliver despite some flaws. Overall, episode 2 was a good episode.
Trivia for those who haven’t played the game: Notice in the last part of the episode, in Yuu’s room when the Midnight Channel was on. Look at his table. There was a pile of paper cranes. In game, you can choose to make paper cranes for children. This increases your Understanding parameter as the MC contemplates on the feelings of the children who might receive his work, and comes to understand them more. That’s a really nice reference right there.