Wave, Listen to Me! – 08 – The Culture is Maturing

In a heartwarming cold open, Minare rants about how, like mankind throughout history with nature, she’s “lived her life selfishly without thinking about the suffering of others”, with Mizuho being her latest victim (along with a Coelocanth Nakahara and a Dodo Takarada).

But Mizuho speaks up, refusing to be the victim. She’s been told all her life what a nice, helpful, proper girl she is, but it’s not all she is, and it can blind those who think that’s all she is to her actual weaknesses. To Mizuho, Minare isn’t a burden, but a very necessary inspiration.

The two women complement each other almost perfectly, leading me to wish Minare was less jokey about her romantic designs toward her. While Mizuho’s disinterest in one man shouldn’t be seen as a disinterest in all men, so far I don’t see a life partner better for Minare than Mizuho, and vice versa!

And now, back to the studio. We’re back on the night the show opened with: the bear attack segment. Earlier that night, with no ideas of her own Minare is saddled with a “phone conversation with a family member” segment, something which she’s not particularly motivated to do.

The resulting call, however, is hilarious, with her jokester of a dad coming up with increasingly ridiculous origins of her unusual name “Minare”—first because it jumped out at him on the cover of a dirty mag, and second because he combined the first syllable of the names of the three women he was fooling around with before she was born.

When Takarada unexpectedly shows up at Voyager with Makie’s psycho controlling brother, things look primed to turn very unfunny indeed. But when the brother starts ordering Makie around, she manages to stand up to him, and Nakahara even backs her up…though a bit too forcefully, leading to him getting lifted up by his throat and nearly strangled!

We later learn that the brother has a condition in which he enters a kind of ultraviolent fugue state when he senses his sister is in danger. This certainly makes him more of a sympathetic figure but Nakahara is clearly right that he really should seek professional help for it. It’s a miracle he’s never killed anyone during these “fits”!

The bro’s mind is set at ease (or at least his anxiety de-escalated) after a chat on the phone with Nakahara’s sister Maiko about how much help Makie’s been with the baby. Makie returns home to the Nakaharas and I earnestly hope she’s out of danger and the brother gets help soon, but who knows.

Makie may be more naive than the average person due to her extended isolation, but she still knows what she wants, and it doesn’t involve becoming a housewife or jumping between safe houses. It’s even hinted at that her plans for her life may be more ambitious than her hosts. The fact she’s never been assertive enough with her brother doesn’t preclude the fact that she could be if she tried, and when it counts.

Later that night, Minare performs the Bear Attack show, reading at least in part from a hastily but well-written script from Kureko that made it easier for her to do what she does best in the broadcast booth. After the broadcast she makes sure to thank Kureko, who surprises her by saying it’s a “parting gift”; he’s moving on to other things.

Matou hints that those other things involve something called the “Ranzo Arakawa Prize” before we slip into a sepia-toned flashback of a much younger Matou (note the eyebrows) meeting his comedy idol, Sissel Komei. Only Sissels speaks, in what I’m assuming is the Ainu language.

Matou sits all but entranced as she talks about how the Ainu were great tellers of dirty jokes (owing to all the time they had sheltering from the cold)  and the Monty Python style of comedy that’s more about embarrassing yourself than putting others down. She then tells him the name she’d use if she had a child: Mina re, which means “to make laugh”.

Could it be that Matou’s new talent has the same name as his idol’s potential child? If that’s the case, I can understand how he’d feel like finding her in that bar was akin to an act of providence and destiny. Not that I believe Minare and Sissel are biologically related; only in spirit.

We’re also reminded that Minare ended her bear show by promising to murder Mitsuo…who texts her later that night asking if she wants to meet up. All I know about Mitsuo is that Minare claims he stole her money, and that he found another woman after Minare relatively quickly. Suffice it to say I’m eager to learn more about him!

On the whole, this episode not quite as compelling as other recent outings, due in large part to bouncing awkwardly between the A-(Minare) and B-(Makie) plots, not to mention the fast-forwarding of the bear attack, which while practically necessary undermined the episode’s natural pace. Still, it was great to see Makie stand up to her crazy bro, and finally “meeting” Sissel was uniquely captivating. So an “8” it is!

Wave, Listen to Me! – 05 – The Irregular at MRS High

Minare arrives at the station with a birthday cake for Mizuho only to find that Matou has already presented her with a cake. Mizuho smooths things over by telling Minare she’s never been happier to celebrate it twice on the same day, and the preparations for Minare’s first broadcast as a pro begin.

Matou has devised a “broadcast gaffe” that will break into and out of the normal late night music a la War of the Worlds. He makes sure Minare understands that the ceiling for success is as high as the stakes are low. There isn’t a sponsor, which means they have a little more leeway to go wild.

Minare takes the barebones, improv-filled script and runs with it. It involves the moment she just killed Mitsuo by stabbing, making good on the threat from her last broadcast. By amazing coincidence, a different woman has bound and gagged Mitsuo and is about to stab him when Minare’s program suddenly interrupts the music.

Had the mundane music continued, she may well have murdered Mitsuo for real. But are these events actually happening? I would say yes, since it isn’t Minare in the role of the murderer, and the woman hasn’t carried out the murder yet. They’re out of sync in a way that’s very advantageous for Mitsuo, who lives to break another heart.

The buildup and countdown to the broadcast gave me goosebumps, in the same manner as the tension and anticipation that immediately preceded a performance in Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, or Hibike! Euphonium. Those are all five-star anime, and I don’t mention them or compare the emotions felt during Minare’s monologue lightly.

As with her previous shows, Sugiyama Riho absolutely knocks it out of the park, taking scarce narrative crumbs and creating a chocolate mocha mille-fille. Minare flubs yet a single word yet comes off as unhinged, vulnerable, empty, grateful, and above all raw and human. She may not know it, but her passion and talent saved Mitsuo’s life.

More importantly, while Minare walked in an emotional mess due to witnessing Nakahara inviting another woman home, she walks out of the station at the crack of dawn feeling like a billion yen. Matou is genuinely impressed, and Mizuho is proud of her.

That night, due to the talk of Martians and UFOs (an homage to War) she dreams of having to save Mitsuo via a nutriet-absorbing facehugger that turns out to be one of Mizuho’s turtles sitting on her face…and shitting in her mouth!

That morning, Minare and Mizuho discover a lively online discussion, which is exactly what Matou both hoped and worked towards, discretely  posting the audio online as if he were an independent listener. As he suspected, Minare’s the kind of voice that creates buzz, and he’s eager to have her create more.

As for Minare, it’s back to working at the curry restaurant a mere five hours after she left the recording booth. And yet a group of men have already come to the restaurant as one of them recognized her voice. Minare loves the attention, and in the break room she declares to Nakahara that from now on she’ll be pursuing her radio career full-on.

She knows that what she felt in that booth and afterwards isn’t something she can get from that white waiter’s tunic—or from a man for that matter!

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 12

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In this heart-crushing powerhouse of an episode that marks the halfway point of the show, it felt like Parasyte had finally put all its visceral and emotional pieces together.

Like Migi, it’s been an often cold and calculating show that more often than not punishes anyone who takes actions based on emotion alone, and takes things to their logical conclusion. But with both Shinichi’s occasional romantic interactions with Satomi and the tragic events of this week, the show proves its blood is still red…’for now’.

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Kana is still having dreams in which Shinichi is rescuing her from a monster than sweeping her off her feet. Considering he’s with Satomi, you’d think she wouldn’t want them, or the feelings that go with them, but a.) she can’t help how she feels and b.) all of this stuff going on supports her belief that she is the only one for Shinichi.

Meanwhile, Migi is all worked up (and playfully complex in his forms) about the prospect of his own kind running for and even winning elections, as farfetched as it seems. He even takes a cynical but not inaccurate dig at politics, stating that anyone with a grasp of psychology can succeed in that arena.

One great thing is that as stuck together as they are, Migi still can’t read Shinichi’s mind. That’s good, because Shinichi is far more concerned with Kana than the mayoral election. To Migi, that kind of ‘concern’ could get them both killed.

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Not willing to give up, Kana ‘bumps into’ Shinichi again, whereupon he takes her aside and reiterates the danger of approaching signals she thinks are him. Mitsuo spots the two and assumes Shinichi is trying to steal Kana from him. Shinichi telling him “it isn’t like that” is hardly convincing argument after Mitsuo hears things like “you make me feel like no one else can.” Somebody’s jelly.

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Migi doesn’t like this persistent interaction with the unpredictable (or perhaps all-too-predictable) Kana, and warns Shinichi that her welfare is not more important than his, and if Shinichi goes and does something that threatens his safety, Migi won’t hesitate to act on his own. It sounds like a threat, because it is. Because Migi has no sympathy.

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Well do, so it hurts to see Kana get so obsessed with Kana through no fault of her own; she’s only following the ‘power’ she’s suddenly gained. She has a very close call when she runs out into the night and comes across a parasyte, but isn’t attacked. I’m going to chalk that incredibly lucky result to the parasyte having already eaten its fill that night.

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Shinichi meets Kana somewhere private for a ‘serious conversation’, and her infatuation makes her get her hopes up that he’s going to confess to her. When he instead tells her about everything – the parasytes, his right hand, all of it – she’s not shocked; she’s disappointed! More to the point, she doesn’t quite believe his story, either, especially since he can’t morph his hand, as Migi is asleep.

She then tells Shinichi that she can now discern his signal from the signals of the other monsters, furthering her self-imposed narrative that they are meant to be together. In exchange for this secret, she makes Shinichi promise to show her his squiggly right hand sometime, even making a cute little Migi-like hand gesture.

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Migi and Shinichi are both surprised to find the mayoral candidate won, meaning the parasytes now have a safe haven and food source, but there’s nothing to be done about that at the moment, so Shinichi and Satomi arrange a movie date.

Again, Kana is not far from them, and even tries to will Shinichi to look back at her. She can’t believe Satomi, who doesn’t have the power she does, could possibly be right for him. But only Migi looks back at her (which she doesn’t notice).

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Mitsuo shows up again, apparently stalking the stalker, and Kana’s frustration boils over. However, as much as a loathe Mitsuo, I like how Kana walks back her harsh words, since she and Mitsuo have clearly been friends long enough that he’s not someone she’d dispose of so easily, even if she can’t return his feelings.

And she definitely can’t…she’s in full Shinichi Fixation Mode, writing their names on the pillar of her hideout. Then Shinichi learns from Migi that Kana herself was putting out a signal, making her and even more vulnerable and conspicous target for parasytes, should she run into the wrong one.

Shinichi decides to cancel his date and meet with Kana again, a move Kana again interprets in a way that supports her fate theory. Confident she’ll be able to find Shinichi with her power alone, she wraps his plucked hair around her finger and sets out…without her phone.

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As much as she wants to sense Shinichi and only Shinichi, and even though she told Shinichi she had that power, it turns out she doesn’t, and even though I knew this situation was a long time coming, my heart still sank down below the foundation of the house as she ran into the hideout to find another parasyte feeding.

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And that…was just it for Kana. In this case, the show took her obsession and her increasing vulnerability to its logical conclusion. She may be able to sense parasytes, but she can’t fight them, or even run away. Her knight Shinichi does arrive, just as she hoped, but not soon enough to save her. [Bangs fist on desk] DAMN IT!

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Shinichi’s retribution is swift and chilling in its grim efficiency. He tells Migi to “handle the defense”, rushes the parasyte, dodges his attack, and rips his heart out, impressing the hard-to-impress Migi.

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But while I’m sure the gesture felt good for a moment to his still-human psyche, it is far too late to save Kana. He holds her as she bleeds out, and she tells him this is just how it went in her dreams, before quietly passing away. Then Shinichi looks up to find she died right in front of the pillar she wrote on, making it a gravepost.

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With her sensing power, Kana was special, no doubt. But did that power go further into a kind of precognition? Did she dream of things that then came to pass, with just the detail of her surviving being different? It’s neat to think about, even if its hard to connect those more ‘magical’ concepts with the more scientific reality of the parasytes. But maybe that was the point. In any case, losing Kana was very upsetting. I didn’t realize how much I liked her until she was taken from us. She deserved a much longer life.

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Detectives with knowledge of the parasytes questioned him thoroughly but let him go, (he’s mostly above suspicion because they plucked his hair), though they’re faced with the mystery of who killed the parasyte who killed Kana. Mitsuo, who has seen (and been on the wrong end of) Shinichi’s strength, gets in face and starts pummeling him anyway for failing to protect Kana, who from his perspective had strayed into Shinichi’s arms so willingly.

Mitsuo is even more upset that Shinichi takes the beating so calmly, and didn’t even shed a tear for Kana, as if he weren’t human. All Shinichi can to to respond is drop Mitsuo with one blow, say “that’s right!” to the non-human claim, and curse Mitsuo for ‘going down so easily.’

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He’s not just talking about Mitsuo, though. He’s talking about Kana, who went down so easily, and his mom, who went down so easily, and those cops at the school who went down so easily, and those yakuza who went down so easily. Humans are so goddamn frail and weak, they can’t protect themselves or anyone else from the parasytes.

Only Shinichi, who is no longer fully human, seems capable of protecting them. And yet, he couldn’t protect Kana. For once, I agree with Migi that Kana was probably a hopeless case anyway, but that doesn’t change the fact that none of his awesome powers were worth a damn when it mattered most.

There’s simply too much on Shinichi’s plate; too many people to protect and no good way to do it. And it’s tearing him up inside.

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P.S. Kudos to Sawashiro Miyuki for some fantastic work voicing Kana.

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 09

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu 9 has a rather full plate by the series’ standards. Or maybe I’m just responding to all the little plot elements, which seem less focused than usual?

It’s not like other Parasytes haven’t stolen the spotlight from Shinichi before — both Not-Mom and Ryoko got plenty of camera time, narration, and agenda building — but, for some reason, Shimada Hideo comes off as more significant character. Like we’re going to see a lot of him for a while, because he interacts with many characters, and not just Shinichi?

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Or maybe it felt fragmented and unfocused because Shinichi himself doesn’t really have an agenda? He knows what he is, he knows who his enemies are and what they are capable of, he has a strong understanding with Migi now, and he isn’t even particularly driven to fix his relationship with Maruno or grow another one with Kana.

Basically, he spends the episode running from place to place, exerting his influence and growing physical presence… while every other character we’ve met gets on with more specific, plot advancing activities.

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For example, Shinichi’s dad gets interviewed by FBI types, who explain that the government knows what’s going on, but has no way of identifying the intruders yet. He even agrees not to go public because doing so would accomplish nothing but panic.

Really, by the end of the episode, Shinichi’s dad has come to terms with his wife’s death, alien invaders, and given up drinking (maybe?) to seriously address his son. This is all character growth for him, mind you, as Shinichi is basically locked in Vulcan Mode after his heart-bonding, which isn’t new or news to us at this point.

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If Parasyte 9 is about Shinichi at all it, it’s about how he’s basically good at everything except not acting like a crazy person around Murano. No seriously! He can identify complex social orders with a casual glance, shut down fights without causing damage to his opponents, and generally keep his cool…

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…Except if he’s within earshot of his would-be-girlfriend.

I have to say that, if this show were cut differently, it would make a hilarious comedy about a bat-shit-insane guy who’s finally hit puberty late in high school and the poor girl who used to love him for his innocence!

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Back to the serious stuff at hand, Mitsuo and Hideo keep coming into conflict. Luckily for Mitsuo, Hideo wants to avoid a bloodbath and then, when that’s no longer avoidable, Shinichi intercedes before anything can happen.

Badass super-jumps and punch-stopping aside, Parasyte really sells these scenes through everyone’s reaction to Shinichi. Hideo is totally blown away by Shinichi’s prowess (way beyond what he should even be able to do as a full parasyte) and Yano-san, Mitsuo’s boss, is emotionally shaken more by Shinichi’s gaze and presence than the effectiveness of his blocks.

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On the lesser side of the bad-ass spectrum, we get sanity-deficient Glasses Girl stalking Hideo. She goes from lusting after him to questioning his reality to identifying him as an alien to confirming that with her brother (who draws alien pictures for the government) to…

deciding not to tell anyone about this and confronting Hideo alone in the art room the following morning. What. The. Heck. Is. Wrong. With. Your. Brain??

Of all the plot threads, this was the most ham-fisted.

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However, judging by Parasyte’s pacing, I’m pretty sure Shinichi will save the day quickly next episode, probably without revealing that he too is partially an alien and, with glasses girl’s help, win Murano’s heart and trust back.

Hideo is nice and terrifying though. So…kudos? I guess.

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For some reason, Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu episodes 8 & 9 went live at the same time and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize this for several minutes. No, really! 9 starts in a bus station with Kana looking through the crowd…just how episode 7 ends!

Ignoring that weirdness, what did I think of the episode? Well… too ambitious and unfocused I think. For goodness sakes! Kana could have used the screen time that was given over to Ryoko’s evil parasyte secret society meeting or Glasses Girl talking to her brother about faces or any of the instances where Shinichi scares the piss out of Murano.

Still good looking, creepy, and original though. So I’m only taking it down a point from last week.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 08

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Franklin, sorry if I may have insinuated you were a cold unfeeling insect; I may have gone too far. Not to mention, you ain’t got nothing on Shinichi! Or rather, the New, Improved(?) Shinichi who has taken form in the last couple episodes, the result of the further cementing of him and Migi. The title of this episode is “Freezing Point”, and Shinichi seems to be arriving at his with all due haste.

Granted, there’s still plenty of the “old” Shinichi in there; the one who would take a dying puppy to a quieter place to expire; the warm, kind, humane person Satomi fell for. When she sees Shinichi caring for the puppy, she’s relieved to see that side of him after her initial contact with him was chillier and less “him”. Heck, Satomi pretty much admits she felt “safer” when Shinichi’s kindness was mixed with his former nervousness.

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Then Shinichi instantly burns that just rebuilt bridge by unceremoniously dumping the dead puppy in the trash. That action is harmful enough, but the chilly way he explains his actions to Satomi makes things much worse.

He asks Migi what he said wrong (never a good sign!), and Migi replies that he didn’t say anything wrong per se, it’s just that he sounded like Migi; saying the kinds of horrible things that used to appall Shinichi when Migi said them. His mind’s changed along with his body so much, now he doesn’t even realize when he says the same kind of horrible shit!

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What this boils down to (or rather freezes down to) is that merging more fully with Migi may have given Shinichi amazing gifts, but those gifts are wreaking absolute havoc on his love life, to the point that there may no longer be any hope for him and Satomi. Still, I guess there’s something to be said for that being your biggest problem at the moment, rather than, say, being worried about getting killed by a parasyte.

In fact, this is a relatively action and violence-free episode, and ironically the most dangerous-seeming person for most of the episode is Shinichi himself, as we wonder just how much more he’ll adopt Migi’s behavior. Then a Shimada Hideo shows up and changes all that. Claiming to wish him no harm, Hideo was sent by a preggers Ryouko to ‘observe’ Shinichi, saying their seeking ways to coexist with humans without killing.

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Hideo, like Ryouko and unlike A, is a parasyte to be reasoned with, or is at least sophisticated enough to play along with that notion. But I like the idea that he’s come to the school out in the open as a new transfer student, and proceeds to one-up Shinichi in a number of P.E. activities, as if he’s trying to approximate an ego. He even succeeds in attracting the ladies.

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Shinichi considers what Hideo has said, but just because he’s starting to act more like one of them doesn’t mean he’s ready to trust one. Again, the old Shinichi surfaces as he remembers what a parasyte did to his mother; only now his rage needn’t be internal and stewing; now he has the strength to do something about it.

He wears that moment of rage all too openly on his face, startling an already unsteady Satomi in a moment that had me laughing out loud. Along with the easy alley fight with Mitsuo, the puppy-tossing, and the Hideo pissing gym contest, Shinichi startling Satomi with his RAGE FACE are all examples of this episode’s cheeky but welcome sense of black humor. It lightens the mood at times, but not so much that the serious horror themes are undermined.

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Getting back to the theme of Shinichi now having the absolute worst luck with regards to Satomi, Kana is now essentially stalking him, making use of her latent ability to sense him coming, which she’s taken to believe means they’re soul mates, creating a tidy love triangle Shinichi wants nothing to do with. Even so, his gallant rescue of Kana from Hideo is another example of him doing something he never could have done before without even thinking about it: be a hero.

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Kana can’t just sense Shinichi, but Hideo as well, which means she can detect all parasytes. And thank goodness Shinichi gets to Kana and warns her to stay away from others, or Kana would have met a sticky end. Along with Satomi, Shinichi’s late mother and now his self-medicating father, everyone who has a close bond with him knows something’s very very different. In his dad’s case, he simply can’t comprehend how Shinichi can be so calm and cool about the tragedy that just befell them.

He wonders if Shinichi is “made of steel”, another not-subtle dig at his new status as a hero-in-waiting. And like any superhero worth his salt, Shinichi’s abilities and duty also serve to isolate him from everyone, especially those he loves and who love him. It’s a lonely road, but if he really wants to avenge his mother, he must walk it without fear.

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On second thought, a healthy dose of fear might be called for, after witnessing Hideo change his face to that of a model’s to ‘bait’ a random young woman into following him into a dark alley where he proceeds to eat her. Shinichi did tell him he’d kill him if he harmed anyone…he knew.

Still, Hideo was less than honest with Shinichi, as Shinichi rightly suspected. Unless something else is going on here, and Shinichi’s aggressive attitude towards Hideo goaded him into falling off the human-killing wagon. Whatever the case, Shinichi must continue to keep his friends close…and Hideo closer.

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Persona 4: The Animation – 11

Another victim is killed, but never appeared on television, vexing the gang. Kuma comes through the TV into the real world with a new human form beneath his mascot suit. The detective, Naoto, reports the killer is in police custody, but doesn’t know who he is. Mitsuo, a loner who is stalking Yukiko, is suspicious, but then he shows up on the Midnight Channel.

Not a lot happened this week. There’s another victim, more half-hearted investigation by the gang, a belated introduction of Naoto the detective, and a couple appearances of a really creepy guy with blank eyes. And Kuma has a ridiculous human form now, which is…interesting. Oh yeah, the gang is treated to huge bowls of noodles and meat on the house, only to be charged afterward. In other words, this was an episodeloaf.

It was made from real episode parts, chopped and formed, but lacking a designated binder; an egg. But the loaf wasn’t completely devoid of nutrition. We at least now finally know who that detective kid is, even if he’s still pretty tight-lipped. What we don’t know is if the introvert Mitsuo is a genuine threat, or just another victim of whomever is throwing people into the TV and killing them. I’m sure we’ll find out though. And Naoto still needs a persona.


Rating: 3