As the fantasy-adventure Persona 4
(2011) continues, the story undergoes some curious shifts and changes. The plot involving an alternate reality beyond the television screen falls by the wayside, as Yu Narukami and his friends in the flyspeck town of Inaba devolve into a gang of ordinary teenagers. They busy themselves with the inevitable school festival and some slapstick comedy at a traditional Japanese onsen
(hot springs inn). The writing is often very clever, especially the way the two linked "Stormy Summer Vacation" episodes play against each other. But Yu's uncle, Detective Dojima, can't bring the serial murders in Inaba to a satisfactory conclusion. Neither can "Detective Prince" Naoto, who joins Yu and others at Yasogami High and in the TV world. The murders and the threat represented by the alternate world return in a series of effects-heavy confrontations involving the teenagers' "personas," powerful alter egos who battle the resident demons. The story seems to end with episode 25, only to be followed by a second climactic battle pitting Yu against a bizarre creature who may embody human consciousness. The over-the-top finale that borrows elements from Evangelion
and Cardcaptor Sakura
feels tacked-on and unnecessary. Yu and his chums--exuberantly klutzy Yosuke, bossy Chie, shy Yukiko, pretty Rise, tough guy Kanji, and newcomer Naoto--form an appealing cast; discovering the killer's true identity is enough of an achievement for them. The flamboyant extra battle may tie into the PlayStation 2 games on which the show is based, but Persona 4
would feel more coherent without it. (Rated TV 14 V: violence, violence against women, risqué humor, grotesque imagery, nudity, tobacco and alcohol use) --Charles Solomon
(13. A Stormy Summer Vacation Part 1, 14. A Stormy Summer Vacation Part 2, 15. The Long-Awaited School Trip, 16. Although the Case Was Closed, 17. I Want to Know the Truth, 18. Anniversary to Become a Family, 19. It's School Festival Day! Time to Have Fun! 20. We'll All Meet at the AMAGIYA Hotel, 21. Don't Save Anyone Anymore, 22. It's Just Like Heaven, 23. In Order to Find the Truth, 24. The World Is Full of Shit, 25. We Can Change the World, 26. No One Is Alone)
The mystery of the murders seems to have been solved, but the riddle of the Velvet Room and the lethal Midnight Channel is an enigma that Yu and the other students who form the Investigation Team still have to crack. And that's to say nothing of the question of how their powers of Persona work in the first place, and how the fictional Teddie can exist in the real world. As conundrums wrap in conundrums, and the school year burns inexorably towards a blistering summer, the team must prepare for the most deadly challenge yet while still pretending to lead normal high school lives. But that won't be easy under the evil eye of their new homeroom teacher. And when Detective Shirogane reenters the game with new information about irregularities in the police investigation and clues that may lead to an entirely different conclusion; both team and detective find themselves playing the role of prey once more! The body count is on the rise, the Shadows attack and new Persona are about to ascend as the Midnight Channel launches the ultimate cancellation program in the grand finale of PERSONA4!