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Persona 4: The Animation - "It's Not Empty At All" Episode 12 Recap

After seeing the mysterious student taunting the citizens of Inaba on the Midnight Channel, Yu and the group begin to suspect that he is the culprit behind the recent string of murders. They quickly track down the suspect’s scent, which leads them directly to a twisted video game world.” 

The Investigation Team enters the TV world to find Mitsuo Kubo. They track his scent through a twisted video game environment. While Teddie begins to take down the shadows in the area with his new Persona power, the group discusses the likelihood of Mitsuo’s involvement in the recent string of killings in Inaba. After the discussion, the group hears a loud shrieking voice coming from the direction of a large door that lies ahead of them. The gang finds Mitsuo Kubo arguing with his shadow over the murders and the ideas of if he’s empty or not.  After Mitsuo rejects his shadow, it begins to transform and the entire scene changes. Yu finds himself back at Junes with the rest of his friends talking about investigation finally being done. The group unsuccessfully plans a party because Yukiko is too busy to attend. As time begins to progress and months begin to pass, the group starts to drift apart. Trying to cheer himself up that the murders might not be over, Yu watches the Midnight Channel and suddenly begins to hear a voice that claims his bond with his friends are nothing but empty. Yu suddenly begins to give up hope until he hears Yosuke’s voice who pulls him out of a strong illusion created by Mitsuo’s shadow. Happily reunited with his friends, Yu with his inner strength summons multiple new Persona: Makami of the Hanged Man Arcana, King Frost of the Emperor Arcana, High Pixie of the Priestess Arcana, and Leanan Sidhe of the Lovers Arcana. After subduing the fierce shadow, Yu and the group confront Mitsuo who openly laughs and confesses that he was behind all the murders. Mitsuo’s shadow is destroyed and doesn’t become a Persona because Mitsuo didn’t accept it.

Getting the idea from the illusion he was in, Yu suggests that they all have a party for finally catching the killer. The party is a fun success with the group becoming even closer in the process. During the party, Nanako and Teddie make a promise that he will come over to play with her and Yosuke starts talking to Yu about the shopping district’s summer festival.

Oddly enough, I couldn’t help but to love this episode for the areas it develops and yet I still have a bad taste in my mouth over how the transitions were written.  The positive notes about “It’s not Empty At all” is that it not only introduces another unique environment into the series, but it finishes the outline characterization of what makes Yu himself. The shadow environment that is introduced this time is a complete parody of old classic RPG video games, such as the Dragon Quest series. I absolutely love how the Persona series never stops being finding new things to explore even though it already has done so much with its characters and stories. Sadly in the animation we only get to see one or two rooms of this world before it ends. As for Yu, we get to see him stuck in a illusion created by Mitsuo’s Shadow. The illusion revolved around the group quickly drifting apart once their mission to stop the murders in Inaba was over.  We come to understand Yu’s feelings of losing his friends once again (because he arrived in Inaba three months back) and that he wants to continue to tackle the murder investigations, as it keeps him and his friends together. And that’s part of what Persona 4 is all about, the power of bonds and how much we should cherish about each friendship we form.”It’s not Empty At All” does have a strong flaw that can’t be ignored. The entire transition from when Mitsuo’s shadow appears to Yu suddenly being stuck in a illusion was terribly written. While the point of it at first was to confuse the viewers for the sudden scene change, it looked more awkward than clever. I personally think it would have been much better if they just allowed the fight for Mitsuo’s shadow to start, have Yu fight him, and then have them make eye contact. With the eye contact, it can at least allow us to understand how Yu got stuck into this illusion in the first place. Their choice makes you even more confused as to why it only affected Yu, considering all the other characters still hold inner regrets about themselves. I might just be looking too deeply into this, but there are plenty of better ways to make a transition than just going right into a scene without giving us a second to think about what’s going on.

Luckily, episode 12 is not empty because it holds strong character development and plenty of fun all around. While the supposed killer may have been caught, Persona 4:The Animation still has a lot more story coming up.

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