The Coppelion meet Kawabata Mitsuo and his wife Yukiko, ex-convicts living in the radioactive zone after escaping from prison in the meltdown chaos; Mitsuo is searching for Miku, his daughter from his late first wife. The girls determine that Mitsuo and Yukiko argued about sending an SOS, and Yukiko took Miku hostage. Ibara enters a condemned hotel and finds Yukiko and Miku on an upper floor, but the hotel collapses and Yukiko falls to her death. Mitsuo dies from radiation before the girls can reunite him with Miku, but she still thanks them anyway for their efforts.
After the first week established that birds, wolves, and the like still thrive in the region rendered uninhabitable to humans, this week revealed that some humans have tried to do the same, and not all of them want to leave, despite the radiation. The first such people we meet are in a complicated, unenviable position; rescue would mean breaking up the family because Yukiko and Mitsuo are criminals who still owe debts to society. They were able to somehow scrape together a living, but then the supply trucks ceased. Yet however pure Mitsuo’s love for Miku, or good his intentions, subjecting her to a bleak, shortened life in that radioactive hellhole simply wasn’t fair to her.
Mitsuo ultimately came to realize that, but Yukiko simply couldn’t bear to lose another child, and was even messed up enough to threaten to shoot Miku if Ibara tried to take her; such were the twisting, traumatizing effects of their desperate way of life. Faced with human tragedy more complex than they’d ever perceived, the Coppelion girls reflect on their existence as test tube-grown “dolls” or “puppets” whose edict is to go where ordinary humans can’t and save people. They learn that not everyone they encounter can – or wants to – be saved. But they also learn that they’re not just automatons; this encounter affected them, stay with them, and inform their actions on future missions.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Yu, Yosuke, Chie and Yukiko spend Golden Week and after hanging out, investigating the murders. They learn that the next next victim is a n’er-do-well classmate of theirs named Tatsumi Kanji, whom they tail. However, they prove most un-stealthy, and are forced to run from the furious delinquent on more than one occasion.
Ah Persona 4…the show that takes its time and hangs out at outdoor food courts. For the second straight week, we don’t see a lick of underworld or supernatural goings-on, save the brief Midnight Channel sequences. But rather than focusing on a new character (who doesn’t reappear here), this episode is mostly just about the gang bonding and having adventures with one another in the real world. This episode reminds us that these four are still getting to know one another for the most part. Yu and Yosuke don’t even have Yukiko’s number until now.
Their attempts to tail Kanji make for a good deal of slapstick comedy, including a Chie and Yosuke blowing their own cover by having such a loud conversation, to Chie having beef bowls delivered to her in the middle of being chased by Kanji, which was quite amusing. It was nice to see the show let its hair down a little before diving right back into the underworld and personas, though Yu remains a ridiculously wooden character whose performance is laid back almost to a fault. Also, what’s with the school’s lax dress code?
Chie and the guys’ search for Yukiko leads them to her other self. She is torn between two psyches: the girl like the bird she rescued and lovingly cared for, heir to an inn that is also her cage, waiting for a prince to come and rescue her, and the side that wants to break out of that cage and fly away, like her bird eventually had the courage to do. When Yukiko rejects her other self, she only makes matters worse, but as keep the shadows at bay, Chie confesses the jealousy she felt for her that kept her from seeing her problems. That everyone has a dark side, but one can only acknowledge it and move forward, which Yukiko does, gaining a persona in the process.
And so, the last member of the quartet graduates to persona-hood. The group may have gained strength after each received a persona, but the foes within got stronger too. After all, these are themselves they’re battling. It does no good to cover your ears and yell “la-La-LA-i’m-not-listening”; that’s a surefire way of letting the other self take over, and no one wants that, because frankly, they’re all bitches. But all they’re ever capable of telling is half-truths, as they’re only half of a whole themselves. Harmonious union is required if one wants themselves a persona. And not die.
This episode really taught us a lot about Yukiko (the second inn-heir this season) and her inner struggle. We like what we learned, too. We feel like we’d previously seen her through her “prince” Chie’s rose-tinted, somewhat envious lenses, because she’s more socially anxious than we’d thought, being more inclined to save an adorable baby bird than prattle on about irrelevant crap like most of her peers. Living seemingly only for the inn and family started to weigh upon her, and that birdy was always there as a kind of mirror to her predicament (btw, we’re also glad the birdy didn’t die, but just flew away ^_^).
Yukiko goes missing after appearing on the Midnight Channel very much out of character. Chie races into the otherworld after her, followed close behind by Yu and Yosuke. Once there, Chie is confronted by her doppleganger, who is full of jealosy and resentment for Yukiko, and is content to use her as a doormat. After a battle, the foe morphs into Chie’s first persona, but Yukiko remains at large.
So, we kinda knew this episode would be about Chie gaining her Persona, and we kinda knew that her relationship with Yukiko was not all smiles and sunshine beneath the surface. Chie is a bit of a tomboy, and Yukiko is far more popular with the lads, it would seem. There’s a dark side to us all, and even strong, kind Chie has hers. Unfortunately, her entire battle with that dark side and the monster it turned into was a bit of a dawdle. It was strangling Yosuke far longer than was needed to kill him, for instance, and once Yu summoned the right Persona, dispatching her was, well, really easy.
But then, Persona is a game-based anime, and things start out easy, so it’s understandable. The execution of Chie’s confrontation with herself was fine, although the dopplegangers come off as petty, arrogant assholes more than dire threats to one’s self. And as always, the chemistry between Chie, Yu and Yosuke remains strong; they’re gelling well as both friends and comrades in battle, and are fun to watch. And there’s still a Yukiko to be saved, though lord knows where she is. Her performance on the Midnight Channel was downright bizarre, and we couldn’t make heads nor tails about it. Ah well, next week. Till then, don’t brandish swords in public places!
Narukami Yu arrives in a new town to attend school while his parents are working abroad and live with his uncle, a local detective. He meets his new classmates, Chie, Yosuke and Yukiko, who go on about the “midnight channel”, in which staring at a TV on a rainy midnight will reveal one’s soul mate. Yu tries it and is nearly sucked in. He does it again with Chie and Yosuke watching, and all three enter an alternate plane where they’re met by a frekish bear thing and foes called shadows. Yu then beseeches the voice that had been in his head all along and releases a persona to fight off the baddies.
Our only previous exposure to the Persona franchise was the Trinity Soul video game for PS2, which we’ve never played, but have watched a friend play. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to know anything ahead of time to enjoy this series, which we did, quite a bit. It lulled a bit from the cryptic teaser to the introductions of the cast, but as the episode progressed it got far more interesting, dense and entertaining. It had a lot of video game-like qualities, is kinda scored like one, and features transitions of the date and weather whenever the day changes. The alternate plane has a nice slick whimsy, with just a touch of peril so it isn’t just silly.
This series is being directed by Seiji Kishi, who was also at the helm of Angel Beats! and Kamisama Dolls, while Yui Horie (Yuki-onna) lends her lively, expressive voice to Chie. A word on uniforms: they’re pretty off-the-wall. Black with contrast stitching resembling tailor’s marks and houndstooth collars and skirts. The character design is simple but has a nice edge to it, to go with the certain je nais sais qoui appeal of the overall aesthetic of the show. The opening and ending sequences also rock, there’s great budding chemistry amongst the lead cast and a sense of impending adventure afoot. Let’s see where this goes, shall we?