Persona 4: The Animation - "Would you love me?" Episode 5 Recap
“While waiting for Yukiko too recover, Chie makes Yu help out with the basketball club. Yu meets the team’s manager, Ai, who forces him into an unexpected relationship.”
While waiting for Yukiko to recover, Chie forces Yu to help out the basketball club. Yu meets Kou Ichijo, one of the team’s players and Daisuke , who belongs to the soccer club. Yu runs into the basketball team’s manager, Ai, during school hours. She convinces him to cut classes for the day to help her shop “for the team”. She reveals to Yu that she has a major crush on Kou and asks him to figure out what kind of girl Kou likes. Yu ends up asking him, only to find out that he has a major crush on Chie. After learning this, Ai tries to commit suicide by jumping off the school roof. Yu convinces her to stop and learns from her how she use to be fat and was constantly teased, was pressured to slim down and become what male students consider “beautiful”. Ai pressures Yu into being her boyfriend until she finds someone else by threatening to jump off the roof.
The next day, Yu hangs out with Ai and he begins to grow scared of her. After noticing Chie is getting angry at the fact that Yu is being dragged around by Ai, Yosuke tries setting her up to become a new manager for the basketball team so she can impress Yu. Meanwhile after finally getting a breather from Ai, Yu learns from Kou that he will be quitting the basketball team after the next game and he asks Yu to help him win. During the day of the game however, Ai and Chie end up in a rumble due to Ai’s jealousy of Chie, and Chie being sick of Ai torturing Yu. This leads to a crazy slap fight. Kou’s team loses the game because of the fight and Kou decides that he won’t quit the team because of the way the game ended. Ai decides to let Yu go as she wants to be there for Kou and the basketball team no matter what. Because of his strong bonds with Kou and Ai, Yu ends up gaining the power of the Strength Arcana and Moon Arcana which gives him two new Persona. Yukiko recovers and returns to school the next day and the group decides to resume their investigations of the murders.
One gameplay aspect in Persona 4 was befriending certain students and forming “social links” with them. In the game this was used so the player could unlock new Persona and level them up while learning more about the characters that inhabit the city by forming strong bonds with them. In the animated series, the social link character events are fused together with the main plot and this works well. The episode covers the “Moon Arcana” social link between Yu and Ai, and the “Strength Arcana” social link event between Yu and Kou. The episode itself is hilarious and full of great comedic value that you could imagine being in the game as well. One of the funniest moments had to be when Yu is scared too death over Ai and has no idea what to do when she forces him to start dating her. Usually Yu is very silent and calm in situations, but thanks to being enslaved by her, he freaks out in the most humorous way possible. It fleshes his character out and makes him a more human and relatable.
This episode did have one flaw. I felt like it focused too much on Ai’s story and less on Kou who actually has a much deeper and emotional story in the video game. In the game there is a huge conflict between him and his family that veers into the depressing. But here in the anime his main struggle is whether or not to quit, with his reasons less explained and less interesting. Additionally, as the idea of a social link is having a strong bond with somebody, I felt like Yu and Kou didn’t really have enough interaction to form a strong bond.