Persona 4: The Animation - "We've lost something important again" Episode 8 Recap
While on the yearly school camping trip, Yu encounters Saki’s brother, Naoki, who is depressed and feeling isolated because of his sister’s death. The group discusses the murder investigation and Yu eggs Kanji on, resulting in a very embarrassing situation.
Yu and the group go on their yearly school camping trip, where they’ll get to cook their own meals. Yosuke, who had been very excited to to have the opportunity to taste Yukiko’s cooking, finds her and Chie’s meal to be horrible. After Yosuke eats too much of the “death curry”, Yu sets off to get him some medicine. He meets a boy named “Naoki”, who turns out to be Saki’s brother. Naoki tells Yu and Yosuke that he completely hates them both before they walk off with the medicine. Yosuke explains to Yu that Naoki is most likely not in a great state of mind with his sister having passed on.
Kanji then appears and takes them both to Chie and Yukiko who are enjoying a ordered meal after their curry disaster. Yosuke asks Kanji about Naoki since they are in the same grade, and discovers they were childhood friends. He tells them that he has no idea how Naoki feels now since they aren’t even in the same class anymore. After seeing Yosuke becoming agitated with his lack of answers, Kanji brings Naoki over to the group and tells them to simply ask him what’s wrong. Naoki, while unnerved by the situation, admits that no treats him normally. Since his sister’s death they pity and exclude him from activities. Yu offers Naoki a bowl of food that turns out to be his very favorite meal. Naoki apologizes and starts to respect him.
Because of their new bond of friendship, Yu and Naoki end up forming a social link bond of the “Hanged Man” Arcana.
Naoki thanks the group for talking to him and runs off in a happier mood. After seeing Naoki’s disposition, Yu and Yosuke become even more confident that they must find the killer in order to make sure nobody else gets hurt. They continue their investigation while cleaning up trash and they all end up figuring out that the killer is aiming for people who end up famous in Inaba on the television. Ms. Yamano was shown first as she was famous and staying in Inaba, Saki was shown on TV due to her being the first one to find Ms.Yamano’s body, Yukiko was shown to showcase her family’s inn, and Kanji was shown for the local biker gang issues. Later that night, Yu and Yosuke are forced to share a tent with Kanji who doesn’t want to be in his tent because the kids in his grade are afraid of him. Yosuke then flat out asks Kanji if he goes “that way”. Yu follows up to make sure their “chastity is safe”. Kanji becomes enraged that they think he night be a homosexual, like his shadow, and decides to prove that he’s a real man by sneaking into the girl’s tent, which Yu encourages.
Over at Chie and Yukiko’s tent, the two can’t fall asleep as they share the space with Hanako Ohtani, an overweight student with a terrible case of snoring. Kanji ends up barging into their tent and they accidentally knock him out in self-defense. Chie and Yukiko decide to stay in Yu and Yosuke’s tent due to how cramped and uncomfortable their tent is. This forces the boys onto the other side of the tent so the girls can make sure they both don’t get any ideas. The next day, Yosuke decides to pressure the girls into wearing swimsuits since they owe him for the extremely bad curry he ate the day before. The girls give in, but also decide to push Yosuke, Yu, and Kanji into the local river as an act of revenge. Meanwhile, a drunken “King Moron” a.k.a. Mr. Morooka vomits while upstream from the group, which leaves a nasty surprise for the guys were just thrown in. The episode ends with a very embarrassed Kanji being told by Hanako that they will forget “what happened last night”, showing that he was sadly forced to sleep in the same tent with her due to Chie and Yukiko knocking him out the night before.
While the animated series succeeds in hitting its comedy beats, it still struggles to weave plot elements from the game into the show’s story line smoothly. This episode covers the entire class camping trip from the Persona 4 video game, which is meant to be a break from all the action. The funniest moments include Yukiko and Chie’s “death curry”, Yu pressuring Kanji to go into the girl’s tent, Kanji having to sleep in the same tent with Hanako and King Moron drunkenness leading to his puking in the river that Yu and the guys are swimming in. This is what all this episode should have been, pure fun to make our main characters show more personality while having a good time, but the writers decided to pull a very risky move in the process of writing this episode.
That risky move is putting in the “The Hanged Man” social link character event in the beginning of the episode. As I explained in previous recaps, Social Link events have the main character befriending another character with their own deep backgrounds and stories who also happen to belong to a certain “Arcana Card”. After befriending this character, Yu will then gain the power of that Arcana Card and gains a new Persona out of it. This episode covers the Hanged Man Arcana Social Link and does it in an unbelievable manner.
The animation has Yu meet Naoki, the brother of the second victim of the mysterious murderer. This adaptation minimizes his role. And we’re supposed to believe that once he’s talked with Yu and the gang about his feelings and shared some food, that’s somehow enough interaction for he and Yu to share a deep enough bond to form a full-fledged social link.
The problem with this is that Naoki has one of the deepest character arcs of the Persona 4 video game. Not only is he related to Saki, he also carries regret and sadness beyond the simplistic idea of others treating him differently. Of course I won’t the spoil the events from the game, but I was very disappointed that such a great character had so little attention paid to him in the anime. I think it would have been better to use a less important character and event in Naoki’s place. Overall, this is a very funny episode that wastes a well-written character.