Persona 4 Episode 4: Three's a Trend, And Our Heroes are Helpless

Posted by Turambar (6673 posts) -

When I started my attempts at internet blogging about two years ago, one of my first entries was on Persona 3.  What drew me to that game was the nature of the enemy, and the futility of the conflict.  The ultimate evil in that game was Nyx.  It was a being of death manifested by and attracted to the negativity of mankind.  It knew no malice and did not seak power.  It was instead manipulated by mankind's unconcious negativity.  Our heroes fought against it, and even with the "Power  of the Universe", the strength to perform miracles, all the main character could do was use his own life force to create a seal, blocking Nyx off from man kind's thoughts.

 The conflict was against a being of man's own creation and unconscious manipulation, and fighting against it directly was futile, as refuting the will of all mankind with just your own was futile.  Far outside the JRPG norm, this is what made Persona 3's story appeal to me.  When Persona 4 came around, I loved it, and yet couldn't help but feel a twinge of disappointment because of how the balance of power played out in the conflict.  The heroes fought against the monsters, and each time came out victorious.  Personal acceptance of one's demons became less life threatening as the ability to fully subdue them over and over was always there.
And then came along the Persona 4 anime.  Within the last 3 episodes, we have seen three boss fights and none of them gave us an Investigation Team victorious on their powers.  Narukami fought Shadow Yosuke to a standstill at best.  Shadow Chie had Jiraiyah and Yosuke tied up with her bondage hair.  Shadow Yukiko's flames were more than even Pyro Jack's absorb flame affinity could handle.  Once is a fluke, but three is a trend.  The conflict puts emphasis on the futility of combating psychological beasts with brute strength.  Every time, it took a change in mind set on the part of the host to give our heroes a fighting chance.
While the criticisms of melodramatic nature of the self-acceptance is understandable, in this sense, it also makes sense.  One cannot win through fighting, and hold the shadow back is already a near impossible task.  The priority is acceptance, one that the heroes need to work towards through emotional appeals more than anything else.  The change in this emphasis is also backed up by an expansion on the back story and motivations of the characters that I have praised in previous writings.  The true source of Chie and Yukiko's friendship, the set in stone routine of Yukiko's life at the inn, what people really think about Yosuke behind his back, these moments help gives depth to this new priority.
 
Persona 3 showed the supreme power of the subconscious.  It is good to see the Persona 4 Animation following in those foot steps.
#1 Posted by Turambar (6673 posts) -

When I started my attempts at internet blogging about two years ago, one of my first entries was on Persona 3.  What drew me to that game was the nature of the enemy, and the futility of the conflict.  The ultimate evil in that game was Nyx.  It was a being of death manifested by and attracted to the negativity of mankind.  It knew no malice and did not seak power.  It was instead manipulated by mankind's unconcious negativity.  Our heroes fought against it, and even with the "Power  of the Universe", the strength to perform miracles, all the main character could do was use his own life force to create a seal, blocking Nyx off from man kind's thoughts.

 The conflict was against a being of man's own creation and unconscious manipulation, and fighting against it directly was futile, as refuting the will of all mankind with just your own was futile.  Far outside the JRPG norm, this is what made Persona 3's story appeal to me.  When Persona 4 came around, I loved it, and yet couldn't help but feel a twinge of disappointment because of how the balance of power played out in the conflict.  The heroes fought against the monsters, and each time came out victorious.  Personal acceptance of one's demons became less life threatening as the ability to fully subdue them over and over was always there.
And then came along the Persona 4 anime.  Within the last 3 episodes, we have seen three boss fights and none of them gave us an Investigation Team victorious on their powers.  Narukami fought Shadow Yosuke to a standstill at best.  Shadow Chie had Jiraiyah and Yosuke tied up with her bondage hair.  Shadow Yukiko's flames were more than even Pyro Jack's absorb flame affinity could handle.  Once is a fluke, but three is a trend.  The conflict puts emphasis on the futility of combating psychological beasts with brute strength.  Every time, it took a change in mind set on the part of the host to give our heroes a fighting chance.
While the criticisms of melodramatic nature of the self-acceptance is understandable, in this sense, it also makes sense.  One cannot win through fighting, and hold the shadow back is already a near impossible task.  The priority is acceptance, one that the heroes need to work towards through emotional appeals more than anything else.  The change in this emphasis is also backed up by an expansion on the back story and motivations of the characters that I have praised in previous writings.  The true source of Chie and Yukiko's friendship, the set in stone routine of Yukiko's life at the inn, what people really think about Yosuke behind his back, these moments help gives depth to this new priority.
 
Persona 3 showed the supreme power of the subconscious.  It is good to see the Persona 4 Animation following in those foot steps.
#2 Posted by Hailinel (23846 posts) -

I actually found Izanami to be the more compelling villain. Though part of that stems from my interest in Japanese mythology, I prefer Izanami's role as a vengeful entity with an agenda over Nyx's ultimate existence as a simple manifestation of death. The connection to Ryoji and what he meant simply doesn't feel as strong as it should be in those final minutes of the game. There's very little to the full entity of the Nyx Avatar as a villain or even as a character in general in the context of Persona 3, while Izanami remains filled with the desire to bring judgement down on humanity and give a final comeuppance to Izanagi; a representation of which exists within both Yu and Adachi.

And as for the characters overcoming the monstrous Shadows, while the Investigation Team does physically fight each Shadow representation of themselves, it is still up to the person that gave birth to that Shadow to accept it. Had they not, the Shadows would have only grown stronger again. The one exception to this is, of course, Mitsuo, who is so empty inside that his Shadow couldn't survive his repeated rejections after its defeat. The S.E.E.S. members, meanwhile, are never given the opportunity to confront themselves. They each come to a moment of revelation, at which point their Personas evolve and grow even stronger. There's never any danger of coming into conflict with, say, Shadow Mitsuru. Everything they fight, they fight to destroy, and the only exception to this rule is Nyx.

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