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Persona 4: The Animation – “It’s Just Like Heaven” Episode 22 Recap

by on March 9, 2012

The Investigation team confronts Namatame and fights his manifested shadow form in order to save Nanako.  However, time is drastically running out and Inaba is now mysteriously being wrapped in a very thick fog.

The Investigation Team arrives inside the TV world and find themselves in Nanako’s vision of Heaven. The group hears Nanako’s voice and spots Namatame dragging her away; he shouts about how he’s going to save her just like he saved all the others. The investigation team wonders if he is referring to them facing their shadows and becoming stronger. Before the group can confront him, Namatame continues to proclaim that he is the savior and summons dozens of shadows that possess him and turn him into a holy “God”, “Kunino-Saigiri”. When Kunino-Saigiri attacks the group, Yu summons Saturnus of the Star Arcana and blocks his fierce attack. However, this strategy backfires and Yu becomes possessed by Kunino’s antenna control ability. The rest of the group tries to fight back against Yu, but they are outmatched by his power of the wild card. The possessed Yu proceeds to summon Beelzebub, whose massive power forces the rest of the team into a corner. However Nanako tells Yu to stop fighting his friends and manages to get through to him; Yu starts to regain control of himself and the investigation team gets valuable time to attack Beelzebub and Kunino-Sagiri. Yu musters his inner strength and breaks the antenna controlling him with his bare hand, after which he saves Nanako when Kunino-Sagiri drops her as he’s being attacked. Enraged, Kunino-Saigiri takes control of everyone besides Yu and Nanako. As his hand burns due to his handling of the antenna, Yu thinks back to Dojima’s words about saving Nanako.

Using the rest of his remaining power, Yu fuses four Persona together into Kohryu of the Hierophant Arcana. Kohryu frees of all Yu’s friends and they finish Kunino-Sagiri with their remaining Persona power.  However, the shadows that manifested into Kunino threaten everyone until Nanako gives Yu the strength to summon Sraosha of the Justice Arcana. Sraosha then purifies all of the shadows in the area and gives the group the chance to return to their world and capture Namatame.

The Investigation team takes Nanako to the hospital, where she is placed in intensive care. Naoto explains to the group that she feels awful because she wasted a lot of their time questioning Namatame’s motives, rather than trying to save Nanako. Yu tells her that he feels very grateful to her and that he is happy that she was with him to help Nanako. A couple of weeks later, Inaba is filled with an unusual thick fog. The group heads to school and Yosuke tells them that the police are now interrogating Namatame, who has finally awakened since the battle in Heaven. Yu tells them that Nanako is feeling better, so they can all see her now. After hearing the good news, Rise brings up how she hasn’t been able to find Naoto anywhere lately. Later on, Yu is able to find her at school and she confesses to him a big reason she wanted to be a detective was so that she could be needed. Naoto tells Yu that she is very grateful that he was happy that she was there for him.  Embarrassed by her own words, Naoto then suggests that they should definitely visit Nanako when they can. The group goes to see Nanako after school, but she is still very weak from what happened with Namatame. Adachi tells the group that they found information in Namatame’s diary and that there was info about Saki Konishi. After Yosuke gets angered by that news, Adachi quickly gets up and leaves to check up on Dojima.  The group decides to head home, where they pass by citizens shouting about how the fog in town is really poison.

The investigation team considers how the fog in the real world looks very similar to how it is in the TV world. Kanji puts his fog glasses on and is shocked to find that he can see through the fog, prompting Chie to suggest that the fog from the TV world could actually be leaking into the real world. A week later, the group still can’t figure out why this is happening. They all decide to take a break and Teddie begins to discuss the possibility of leaving after Nanako gets better. Yu tells Teddie to stay forever though, which makes teddie extremely happy.  After Chie brings up how cold it has gotten lately, Yu remembers that he promised to buy a new kotatsu for Nanako. The group makes plans to have a big Christmas party for Nanako’s recovery, but then Yu gets a shocking phone call from Adachi: Nanako’s condition has become much worse.

Yu rushes to Nanako’s side at the hospital and tells her that Dojima will be there soon. Yu reminds her that they still have to fulfill all the promises that they made with each other, such as how they will make a snowman before he leaves and how he’s been shopping for a brand new kotatsu just for her. Nanako slowly tells Yu that she is very scared and softly calls out for her father. As Yu looks down at Nanako’s face, she closes her eyes and passes away…

The story continues to slowly build toward the climax and to the surprise of many viewers, Nanako has in fact died. I won’t lie about the fact that the Persona 4 video game hits you harder at this scene, due to the fact that you spend way more time with her throughout the game. Every time you come home she always welcomes you back, lets you change the channel to check the weather, and she gives you presents if you get really good grades on exams. Somehow the writers of Persona 4 just knew how to pull at emotional heartstrings and really make you feel terrible that Nanako has to suffer such a fate. I openly admit that I was very attached to Nanako’s character; it made me feel terrible to see such a happy little girl die the way she did.

Besides the shocking final scene, there are many other aspects to discuss. I was disappointed that we did not get to see more of the Heaven environment; the area in general is so beautiful and it’s actually clouded with more mist in the original content. I would of loved to see the investigation team explore the world more and see all the different buildings there. The biggest disappoint though was that the original background music for Heaven was barely used; it was such a great tune that built tension and evoked emotion, effectively communicatingthe deep danger Nanko was in. It’s one of my favorite songs in the Persona series.

The good news is that the fighting in this episode was very well done; I loved how the action showed how annoying Kunino-Saigiri’s possession ability really is. I do feel like they made him look a bit too weak, as in the game he had some frightening attacks that didn’t make the cut. For example, he will perform a huge explosion almost every turn after taking control of one of your party members. 

Last but definitely not least, the character development was completely spot on. Yu’s emotion and determination to save Nanako was the best aspect in “It’s Just Like Heaven”.  I love noticing how much he has grown since the first episode. In the beginning he was very quiet and only made some comedic remarks whenever he felt like it; he was simply there and not very interesting. But as the story went on, he began to realize the amazing friends surrounding him and how much Nanako really means to him. While I did say the video game performed Nanako’s death scene better, I think this adaption was able to make it feel more depressing because of Yu’s personality. In the game we are the ones taking the big hit about Nanako being dead, but the adaptation gives us an outsider’s perspective on how the main character would feel about this situation.
It really killed me to see how heartbroken Yu was when he watched Nanako die.

It was also great to see Naoto have her social link scenes finished as well. To be completely honest, I wasn’t very satisfied from the character development for her. In the video game you go on a very silly detective quest with Naoto , slowly understanding her childhood with each small event. Here in the animation, she just learns a great lesson in friendship from Yu and slightly hints at having feelings for him. I knew the writers probably weren’t going to have enough time to settle her development like it was in the game though, so the changes were completely understandable.

Next week the investigation team will have to think very cautiously, as Namatame is in fact still alive and has just woken up in the hospital. While the rest of the team are shown to be flat out angry in the preview,  Yu still only just wants to know the truth behind everything so he can end this nightmare in Inaba once and for all.

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