“……” – Strange animal
It’s been a bit of time since I’ve written one of these. Here’s to getting back in the swing of things!
Yu had another day off today, which doesn’t quite align with that May Initiative to totally bust up his homework. Whatever. Sometimes a responsibility is better left shirked.
On 5/5, Yu got a little sentimental, and visited that very first threshold: the Yasoinaba Train Station. I don’t know what he was expecting to find. Strangers? Comfort? Another one of Marie’s lost totems? There was no one there. Not a thing. Just a deserted station. Like everything in Inaba, it was warm and still and just a little bit eerie.
Yu lingered a bit longer than he should have, grabbing a TaP soda from the vending machine. He really should’ve gone home right after that. But Persona 4 has other ideas. Yu has other ideas.
What was up with that shrine, anyway?
Y’know? The one he prayed at last month? The one that taunted him with innate JRPG antitheism? There is a reckoning due.
Things get weird almost immediately. Something seems to be watching Yu.
Who is it? A god? A devil? Yosuke, hiding in the bushes?
Mysterious fox. Pleasure to meet you.
There’s a really great Mr. Show sketch, one of my favorites, called “The Story of Everest.” The whole bit is that the main character keeps trying to tell a story about how he climbed Mt. Everest, but he inevitably gets so animated that he falls backward and knocks over a shelf of thimbles. Comedy rules dictate that this would happen maybe three times before moving onto the next sketch. The brilliance of this particular sketch is that you watch the same dopey pratfall eight or nine times in succession. As a joke, structurally, it’s a little abstract. It relies on pushing the audience well past their tolerance, and then pushing them further, and then a little bit further, until the mere concept of their frustration makes it funny again. It is laborious and exactly the kind of weird anti-humor I dig.
There are parts in this game that a person might read as simply too wordy or drawn out. I often read them as jokes. Maybe I’m giving it too much credit, but as I tried to establish in the first couple essays, I think Persona 4 has a particularly dry sense of humor. How has that manifested lately? Yu’s meeting with Fox.
I utterly adore the way Persona 4 leans on its internal narration in this scene. Since Fox can’t talk, and Yu is… otherwise inclined, somebody’s got to do the legwork.
It leads to some of my favorite, purely comedic writing in the game yet. Examples:
And the old man! The painstaking way Persona 4 seems to taunt you, leading you around slowly. You get the grandson’s wish, and then you get the magic leaf, and then the old man walks up. And the people writing Persona 4 spend as fucking long as they can connecting those dots for you. It is wonderful.
I could talk about the rest of the day, where Dojima comes back to the house with an apology gift for Nanako. It’s a funny t-shirt! That gesture doesn’t mean much, though. Not until Dojima gets his shit together.
I’d rather leave you all with this image, a perfect encapsulation of 5/5, and a clear indication of Persona 4‘s rebellious spirit. It might be funny once or twice, but what about ten times? Twenty?