Persona 4 07: Insecurities Exchange

Yuu and Yosuke’s telephone conversation was priceless.  The end of last episode and the beginning of this one (barring the Velvet Room sequence, which is always stupidly boring) is one of the best examples I’ve seen of the wonderful comedy this show brings when it wants to.  Between Ben-To and Persona 4, I can’t remember the last time an anime season made me laugh so much.

The pacing of the jokes is what’s so cool.  I almost died laughing when the crew actually got inside the hot baths where Kanji was located.  They spot Kanji and immediately Yosuke begins to summon the Persona.  Yuu is right behind him.  I swear as soon as I saw them doing their sequence I thought: “WTF, this is awful pacing!  This really sucks!  How can they begin to fight without leading in with some kind of dialogue first??”  But then Chie stops them in their tracks and I realize that the guys are just so freaked out by Kanji’s gayness that they want to get it over with.  I went from thinking it was awful pacing to realizing it was absolutely perfect.

What adds to the deliciousness of the spectacle is how chummy Yuu and Yosuke are.  What a cute little couple!  Ah, how sweetly ironic that they’re so fearful:

And then of course Chie fires off…And I start laughing again!!  I could go on but it’d take too long. I enjoyed it, believe me 🙂  Even Yukiko had me smiling.

This tale is all about dealing with your insecurities.  Yes, it’s an obvious thing to say considering the antagonistic Shadows and how they behave, but the theme is all over the place and not only there.  A fantastic example here is when the big burly Shadow helper looks Chie over and then puts his arm on her shoulder and nods…sympathetically.  Why?  He’s messing with her.  He clearly realizes that Chie is insecure about her femininity (people consider her a tomboy and she hates it).  The other burly man had just rejected Yukiko as being a girl and not worthy of his interest (because he’s gay).  But this burly man doesn’t even reject Chie, he just feels sorry for the thing.  And this is what ticks Chie off.

I think Persona 4 deserves a lot of praise for the way it handles sexuality on the whole.  It’d be stupid to write a story about insecurities and leave sex out of the picture, right?

[EDIT: Other people totally disagree with my positive assessment of this show’s and this episode’s treatment of sex.  See here.]

P.S.  I remember very clearly fighting Kanji’s Shadow in the game, and let me tell you, it was a real pain in the ass…

~ by Haloed Bane on November 18, 2011.

17 Responses to “Persona 4 07: Insecurities Exchange”

  1. SPOILERS in here, just a headsup.

    I think part of the reason the Velvet Room sequences are so boring is because Igor’s Japanese seiyuu (Isamu Tanonaka) died in 2010, so I guess they don’t have much to work with regarding his voice samples from the game? (Compared to Margaret’s seiyuu where they can still do whatever they want.) Sad either way.

    Oh, and a friend pointed out this episode had a mistake at the beginning: “Margaret states that Yu has obtained the Empress arcana, when it’s in fact the Priestess.” (The Empress arcana is Margaret’s.) I wonder if they’ll fix that?

    Anyway, I agree this episode was amazing, and I’m really happy they’re more or less following the game. I like how the game intentionally leaves Kanji’s sexuality up in the air for the player to decide.

    (Personally, I think Kanji is Bi, considering his feelings for Naoto (Who’s really female, as we later find out. It ties in with her own insecurities, so people will probably take issue with Naoto and her portrayal of gender roles similar to Kanji’s sexual orientation.) and as well as Kanji’s Social Link (“That “other me” is the real me.”) events. And there’s enough bisexual erasure and biphobia out there (I’m a Bi female and it grates on my nerves how the media can be, people think too much in dichotomies.), BUT at least this game’s intentionally vague either way for the player to decide. It also fits in with the characters being high schoolers and still figuring out what they want from life and themselves.)

    Now people might think this episode had a negative portrayal, but hell, Yuu helped reassure Kanji that Kanji IS a man (“I love cute shit!!”) which gives Kanji the strength to accept his Shadow in the end. And Kanji gradually accepts his sexual orientation AND his hobbies during his social link, thanks to Yuu’s help. (I LOVE the brilliance of this game/show where if you don’t accept your self/Shadow, you die. And it’s nice that Persona 3’s The Answer briefly mentioned accepting Shadows/the other self when it came to Aigis and Metis. How Persona are really Shadows, too.)

    By the way, Kanji’s seiyuu is none other than Tomokazu Seki. He’s in pretty much everything: From Touji (Everybody’s favorite Osakan “bully” :3) in Evangelion to Shuichi (the gay main character) in Gravitation to Sosuke (stoic main character) in Full Metal Panic. He’s a favorite seiyuu of mine so I was pretty happy when I realized he was Kanji.

    Well, that’s enough out of me for now. Hopefully my reply was somewhat interesting. 😛

    • As for the Velvet Room, I guess it bores me because when I played the game it was just a (cumbersome) mechanism that one used to build Personas etc. I’d rather not have it in the anime, though I know it’s important later on.

      Kanji’s sexuality is left ambiguous, but I think your point at the end is the most important: they’re all people trying to figure out their lives and all of their sexualities are ambiguous. The key is for Kanji to be Kanji, i.e., to follow Nietzsche’s dictum “Become who you are”.

      Eva’s Touji! I didn’t know that!! A bit disappointed that he’s from Tokyo and not Osaka, once I looked him up!

  2. I’m half with Randomc here and a little not. I’m with him that it’s a little trite and embarrassing to watch the juvenile reactions of the boys, but at the same time, it would probably be more inauthentic if they were just fine with it. Honestly, boys will be boys in this kind of situation.

    I think it’s hilarious how the pacing actually tricked you, moreso than the joke itself lol. But I do agree that the scene where the burly dude put his hand on Chie’s shoulder was the best moment of the episode.

    All in all, I thought the phone conversation you mentioned was hilarious, and that Narukami saved the entire episode by balancing his juvenile reactions against his straight-faced acceptance of things.

    • They could have all sat down and debated heteronormativity and what not, but it would have been inauthentic, precisely.

      The pacing didn’t catch you off guard?? I must be more innocent than I thought…

      Narukami is golden. I liked the rest of the episode as well but yes, his personality as a whole is the best aspect of the show.

  3. I had very low hopes for this show at first, but it’s been steadily improving. The jokes were pretty funny in this episode.

    I really like what they’ve done with the main character. In the game he didn’t talk much and was pretty soulless, but they’ve actually given him a good sense of humor here.

    • See, draggle, in the game you were playing Yuu, so you were supposed to be cracking jokes as you played. My Yuu was hilarious and full of wit~

  4. I am a bit sad that many people across forums are saying that this episode was funny. Most people seem to be ignoring the fact the this episode could be very offensive to gay people, and the boys’ behavior is frequently excused as “normal teenage” behavior when they were really overreacting. The manga version did not have them whine a lot about going home, the manga version captured the original game’s seriousness by showing a young Kanji being bullied for sewing/the girl he liked cried as other girls called him a sissy for fixing her bag/he beat up another boy in middle school with a chair-which then had blood stains-and then Kanji ran away from school and became a delinquent. The shadow in the manga was also very angry and serious at the end, he desperately cried out for acceptance, while the anime one is stupidly happy the entire time and his cry for acceptance came off as frivolous (a joke) rather than upset or desperate. my standards are high/I do not want to blindly love something without giving thoughtful criticism; this interpretation was the worst one about Kanji, having looked at the game, this anime, and the manga version. At least the manga gave him a flashback, and I was hoping to see that in the anime. I felt empty after seeing this episode.

    • I played that game a long time ago so I honestly don’t remember all the details. It wouldn’t surprise me if the manga took a more serious, more nuanced approach than the anime since this commonly happens. But one fundamental thing that the game and the anime shared is the overall imagery of Kanji’s Shadow. The hot bath and the semi-naked Kanji is a stereotypical view of gays and there’s a homophobia here that cannot be denied. The way I saw it, the point is that this fear was (at least partly) overcome by Yuu in both the game and the anime (though along the way the anime did do many more jokes than the game did).

      On the matter of the jokes themselves, I could see how you and many others could find it offensive. I’m one of those that giggles when people do controversial jokes of the career-ruining sort, but I do understand that more and more people don’t find this kind of humor funny at all.

  5. I agree with you about this chapter.
    I have played the game and read the manga and I think it’s interesting that they give another point of view about it. And you could say that the most important things were left there. Cause yeah, they made lots of jokes but in the end they accept him. Maybe they’ll keep doing jokes about that but I think that’s part of accepting it. Besides, it is never said that he’s gay. What’s more he says that it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman, he just wants to be accepted. It’s not really a sexual thing.
    About Narukami’s behaviour I think that a lot of people is forgetting that he really never had his own personality. When I played it he was dead serious and always said the right thing, but it was my decision, it doesn’t mean he has to be like that.
    People should just relax and enjoy of another way of seeing this great game.

    • I guess in the end it’s a bit early to know for sure how sensitive the anime will be to all of the issues that the game raises. I’m optimistic though.

      Narukami is funny indeed…he’s the highlight of the show (but I must say a big part of it is how he interacts with Yosuke).

  6. […] (Maybe that was the point?) In any case there was some funny shit in this episode, most of which AK pointed out, but I’ll add to that the amazing hard-gay English phrases. “FEELING SO […]

  7. The next episode will be even more unfortunate, as in the preview: the main character is acting as homophobic as Yosuke towards Kanji (I thought you accepted me/Not at night). This situation will be played for laughs, and I fear that Kanji will be a chew toy. That is to say, he’ll be kicked out of his tent, kicked in the groin by Chie, and then he’ll be pushed into the river for nosebleeding at the girls. He will be abused! If the creators thought viewers are supposed to relate to a homophobe, then that will be pretty sad.

    • I don’t think I saw the preview…but you say he’s kicked in the groin for nosebleeding at girls (that’s not a very gay thing for him to do). It might be that they’re setting him up as the dude in high school that everyone’s scared of for being perverted. If so, I wouldn’t call it homophobia..

  8. “P.S. I remember very clearly fighting Kanji’s Shadow in the game, and let me tell you, it was a real pain in the ass…”

    I was pretty surprised that Rakshasha was the Persona that came out for this fight; around this point in the game it was one of the Personae I was using regularly, due to having a number of physical bruiser skills that allow you to save on SP and the early availability of Strength.

    • I can’t remember for the life of me what I used to beat that shadow, but I’m sure it took me multiple times..Then again, I’m as inept a gamer as they come.

  9. This is the most fun episode yet and I didn’t expect to laugh this much from watching an “action” anime. This show definitely knows how to balance the pacing and the jokes.

    Since you play the game, what is the name of the Persona that Yuu called forth when he infused that two cards?

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