Anime Reviews: Persona 4 The Animation Episode 7 – Suspicious Tropical Paradise

Introduction
What I thought was going to be an incredibly awkward episode turned out to be one of the funniest of the series. And yet, still awkward.

Plot Summary
After rewatching Kanji’s midnight channel debut, Yosuke calls Yu to confirm if they both just saw the same thing. After confirming that they did in fact see the same thing, Yu asks Yosuke if he wants a copy of it.

Back in the TV world, Teddy can’t seem to pinpoint Kanji. He tells them that if he had something with Kanji’s scent on it he might be able to get a lock on him. The group visits Kanji’s family shop, and hear from his mother about how he got involved in beating up biker gangs. Apparently a while back a biker gang was causing trouble in the neighborhood, and Kanji’s mom couldn’t sleep because of the noise. Kanji got into one little fight, and the town got scared, and told him…you’re moving to…uh…yeah…

Parody: I suck at it.

They find a kid who is looking for Kanji, and tells them about a cellphone strap Kanji made for him. They borrow the strap to give Teddy the scent. When they go to Junes they meet the guy who was talking to Kanji the other day. He mentions that Kanji had been acting weird.

Really?

With Kanji’s scent, Teddy is able to locate him. He leads them to a men only bathhouse. Yosuke and Yu refuse to go in, declaring that it is too risky for them to go inside. Chie forces them to go in anyway. While searching the bathhouse Yosuke suggests that they should split up, the girls can search the rest of the place, while him and Yu go home.

When they run into shadow Kanji, Yu and Yosuke waste no time summoning their persona. It doesn’t take long for the initially resistant Chie to summon her own persona. After hearing that her shadow self was just as outrageous, Yukiko gets pissed and starts attacking all the incoming shadows. Her fire hits Yosuke, as does Chie’s ice when she attacks as well.

Kanji wakes up in the bathhouse, and hears people talking ill about him. He starts to get pissed, and yells at them to show themselves, when he comes face to face with his shadow self. While this is happening the group stands outside the door to the final boss, putting off opening it. When they finally do, they find Kanji in a questionable position with his shadow self.

The room gets flooded with what looks like water at first, but turns out to be lubricant. Chie and Yukiko fall down in it, and while trying to stand up get covered in the stuff. Yu and Yosuke lament not having a video camera, before slipping in the stuff themselves.

Kanji gets pissed at his shadow self, denying its claims that he likes men, releasing its monster form. The group try attacked the muscular shadow men that come with Kanji’s shadow form, but to no effect. One of the creatures gets behind them and grabs Yu and Yosuke’s butts, putting them out of commission. Yukiko and Chie get pissed at the two and start attacking indiscriminately.

Yu blocks a lightning attack aimed at Kanji, and awakens the true power of his wild card ability. He fuses two of his persona together (it isn’t shown which), and creates a hydra like monster that I assume is the Yamato no Orochi. After Yu comments on how he thinks the phone strap is cute, Kanji gets up and punches his shadow self, defeating it.

He tells his reverted shadow that it has nothing to do with liking men or not liking women, but that he’s just afraid of being rejected for his girly hobbies. He accepts his inner feelings as a part of himself, revealing his true badass persona.

Badass.

Later Kanji meets with the group on the roof, and offers his help in finding out who the culprit behind all the murders is. Later that evening Dojima asks Yu if he’s been getting into any trouble. The episode skips back a few days to a person standing out in the rainy dark in the middle of the street.

My Opinion
I really wasn’t looking forward to this episode as much as the others. This is anime, I was convinced they couldn’t possibly treat what was coming up with dignity. And I was right. They did not. But at least they entertained me while doing so.

How dare you be gay!

Bar none, this has to be one of the funniest episodes of the series to date. Yes, a lot could be said about how insensitive it is to homosexuals, but that’s not really my schtick, so I’m really more concerned by the fact that I had to pause the video when they first run into Shadow Kanji because I had a laughing fit. Again, my sense of humor is fairly simple, but I like to think that such an extreme reaction of mine should count for something.

Besides being a hilarious episode, and I don’t use that word very often, there was a good deal of story going on. Unlike Yukiko’s episode this one found a good balance of action scenes and build up to the action. We don’t learn all that much about Kanji’s past, and what we do learn is done without using flashbacks, which makes for a stronger episode. And while the jokes may be lowbrow, Kanji’s inner turmoil is easily the most interesting out of the main cast so far. The concept of his possible attraction to men is dealt with well enough, but the episode takes most of that the game. And adds gay jokes.

Yes, this episode is extremely homophobic, but for those that aren’t bothered by that it’s also incredibly funny. If lowbrow humor and gay jokes are your cup of tea, then you’ll find plenty to enjoy about this episode.

If you liked my review, Watch the Episode Here!

13 comments

  1. I dont mean to bother anyone, but I thought this is an interesting food for thought-there's a war going on about this ep and the next one (you'll probably see later), and one guy named solid snake seems very impassioned:

    So, the way I thought Episode Seven should have gone was the way my game's playthrough essentially went: Yosuke says stupid homophobic shit, the Main Character and the girls scold Yosuke for being so self-centered when Kanji's life is at risk, the Protag acts like the supportive, all-around awesome person he is (and the awesome person that the game and the anime portray him as and that the other characters believe him to be; that is important), Kanji accepts his shadow, everyone wins!

    So it was exceptionally disappointing when the Protag decided to join the Homophobia Train. And not just with one or two "You feel mild trepidation entering this dungeon with the wacky sauna theme…" messages that the game gave. Merely feeling fear upon entering a dungeon with shadows trying to kill you, even if that fear is exacerbated somewhat by some irrational and brazenly idiotic "What if the shadows are gay and try to rape me?" thought is one thing, but it's what the Protag actually says when he opens his mouth that differentiates the game's Protagonist from the anime's douche.

  2. "Game Protag hesitates but he never once indicates that he's willing to abandon the mission outright (and effectively allow Kanji to quite possibly die due to his non-intervention) because he's afraid of gay people. And while I don't have the script of Episode Seven in front of me, some of the lines from Protag's mouth were just disgustingly homophobic. It wasn't 'snarky,' it was homophobic. There is a difference.

    But that pales in comparison to Protag's single worst line (said in Episode Eight, we'll get there,) and it also pales in comparison to…

    * The Protag and Yosuke expressing willingness, at a moment's notice, to attack and attempt to kill Kanji's shadow just because Kanji's Shadow makes them feel uncomfortable because Kanji's Shadow is totally gay and hitting on them.

    Let's get a few things straight:
    At this stage of the storyline, Protag and Yosuke have seen and fought other shadow versions of characters before. They know that shadow versions of characters are absolutely harmless in their original state and remain harmless until the person in question denies them, at which point the shadows transform into a violent version that does in fact start to destroy things. "

  3. "Yosuke and Protag know that the shadow must be 'defeated' by Kanji accepting Shadow Kanji as himself. Given that the shadows have never been permanently 'defeated' by the cast by any other means, attacking the pre-transformation form of Kanji's shadow is counter-productive at best and could well end up in an outcome of Kanji's death at worst.

    Remember, the strategy employed by the P4 characters at this point of the game was to attempt to convince the affected character to accept their shadow before the denial happened, therefore avoiding a fight outright. I'm reasonably certain that at no point in the game did the P4 cast attack the pre-transformation version of a Shadow, particularly when this version of the shadow did nothing to merit their anger except be gay.

    And let's not forget that the only fault or foible of pre-transformation Shadow Kanji was that he was too gay for Yosuke and Protag to apparently handle. Shadow Kanji did not constitute a physical threat to the Persona 4 cast at this juncture. He did not physically attack them. He did not threaten to hurt or kill them.

    …He just was gay.
    And being gay, in and of itself, was totally enough to send Yosuke and Protag into a primordial rage. "

  4. "But Then Chie and Yukiko join in and attack a pre-transformation version of Shadow Kanji who represents no physical threat to them just because he's gay.

    I guess Chie sort of attempted an excuse of "It's not because he's gay, it's because I'm impulsive and really annoyed at his monologue and I want to freeze things!" But it was particularly surprising (and disappointing) to see Yukiko Amagi, who is basically presented as a sweet, likable girl who's thoughtful and considerate and not excessively prone to initiate violence suddenly decide that she too has had enough of Shadow Kanji.

    …because Shadow Kanji is 'acting gay.' "

  5. "Shadow Chie was acting pretty sinister; why didn't Yosuke and Protag beat the crap out of her when she talked her trash, before Chie's denial and Shadow Chie's transformation into Dominatrix Banana-Chick? Actually, that's just the thing; Shadow Chie's pre-transformation dialogue was arguably far more threatening and antagonistic than Shadow Kanji's, because really, all Shadow Kanji does is flirt shamelessly and talk about how much he enjoys what constitutes his definition of a 'good time.'
    The answer that the Anime posits to us is quite simple: Shadow Kanji was gay, and open about being gay, and willing to flirt openly and present his sexuality in a forthcoming manner around others, and that alone merited wanton violence against him. From everyone, male or female, 'jerks' and 'compassionate heroes' alike. The Protag is the chosen one, a symbol of tolerance, progression, heroism, the greatest hope the town of Inaba has, beloved by every woman, respected by man, and he totally wants you to know you better not flirt with him if you have a penis or he will fuck your shit. Chie and Yukiko weren't even a position to feel personally threatened by Shadow Kanji's idle flirtations and they still were so riled by Kanji's **gayness** that physical violence was the preferred solution! Their only justification was one of brazen homophobia, unless you want to argue that they were 'afraid' they'd otherwise be subjected to something so torturous as 'watching this guy talk about how much he enjoys hot saunas with other guys.'"

  6. "Did I mention that all of this is occurring in the context of a moment when Kanji's life is personally threatened? The kids don't have the slightest clue of the intricate nature of the TV world they're exploring; all they know is that they have a strict timetable to save Kanji in or he dies, and he needs to accept his Shadow or he's at risk.
    …Oooh, I know! Let's antagonize Kanji's Shadow before it transforms and give Kanji more reasons to want to deny his affiliation with said Shadow because we literally care more about not having to listen to gay people flirt with us or our guy friends, than we value Kanji's life! "

  7. "Episode Eight takes place after the Protag and his buddies have presumably 'accepted' Kanji.
    …Only they've only accepted Kanji at day. At night, it's another matter entirely!

    Protag's line here is absolutely ludicrous to defend precisely because Yosuke acts far worse around women and the Protag does not call Yosuke out on it. Hell, in the very same episode, Yosuke brazenly advocates that Chie and Yukiko sleep in an integrated manner with he and Protag — he is advocating a sexually predatory outcome in a tent in the exact same manner that he and Protag accused Kanji of doing! And yet the Protag and the women will tolerate this, because it's typical heterosexual male chauvinistic bullshittery."

  8. "The characters respond so harshly to actions taken by 'homosexual' characters while tolerating and in fact encouraging the very same behavior from their heterosexual counterparts!
    Yosuke forcing Yukiko and Chie to wear swimsuits despite their discomfort at the notion is funny and typical guy hijinks, and Yosuke can be excused of that! Even Chie and Yukiko don't aggressively call Yosuke out for being creepy. When Yosuke says "Hey Yukiko and Chie, why not sleep alongside us tonight?" The girls do not respond by badgering Yosuke for threatening to take their 'chastity.

    So the message here is plain: Girls just have to tolerate this from heterosexual guys! Heterosexual guys can and will act like perverts who want to steal your sexual purity against your will and force you to dress up in scanty swimsuits, but you should just swallow your criticism and choose to remain his friend and accept the behavior as 'typical.' "

  9. "But when Kanji barely acts half as predatory as Yosuke and is just sitting silently in the middle of the guy's tent, both Yosuke and Protag feel that their chastity is in serious danger! Not even because Kanji is gay and because Kanji, like Yosuke to the girls, has expressed a serious sexual interest in the Protag or Yosuke. The 'real' (non-Shadow) Kanji hasn't flirted with Protag or Yosuke at all! They don't even really definitively know whether Kanji is actually gay! And there's far less evidence that Kanji is remotely interested in pursuing a relationship, and he's certainly not forcing the Protag or Yosuke to waltz around in swimsuits for his personal enjoyment.

    …The anime says this: The mere possibility that your guy friend might be gay, even if he is utterly disinterested in you, is more threatening than a heterosexual guy's overt and depraved sexual interest in women. There's only reason why this could be: Because mere gayness in and of itself is a 'threat!' "

  10. "the animators are saying this: despite the fact that gay people can't do this to you, it's totally cool for you or your heterosexual friends to go even further then this when pursuing women. They just have to accept your inherent lustful state." Good golly! I would've posted this guy's rant in one post, but his is so very long that it didn't fit in one go!

  11. Good lord that's a lot of posts. Definitely food for thought, and so much went into that rant that I feel bad that my opinion is pretty short:

    I've found that Japan isn't exactly the most enlightened when it comes to sexual relations and gender equality. From what I understand there is still very much a "Me man, you woman, you cook dinner for me. Stay in kitchen until sexing time" attitude among many of them.

    Of course you can't generalize, but it's a very prevalent attitude I've found, and not even just in Japan, I've noticed similar attitudes among the Korean people I've worked with in the past.

    And heaven forbid if your sexuality is deviant from the norm.

    Persona has already shown that it's not taking itself very seriously, so I don't expect the most insightful commentary on the topic. And really, I don't go to anime for that in the first place. It's either gay idolization, or gay jokes, but never anything thoughtful said about the topic.

    Also, Anonymous, what's your personal opinion on this episode?

  12. Kanji's whole arc bothered me in the GAME as well. Since his homosexuality confusion was based on the fact he thought he liked a boy (who was actually a girl who looked like a boy). They skirt around it a bit in the game, but here it looks like it's just homophobia city. Anyway, the moral seemed to be "it's ok now, because she's actually a girl! Ha ha, we think homosexuality is just there for laughs!" and Kanji magically is straight again and all is right. Wait…hold on…he really liked her and he genuinely thought she was a man. Doesn't that mean he actually IS GAY? And why do they have to "fix" it at the end of the series? It's totally fine for Kanji to be gay, in fact that would have been a totally amazing turn of events (especially in a medium [gaming] that is homophobic and made in a country [japan] that is homophobic) and a huge breakthrough.
    Instead they bowed out rather than address the issues. Added bonus being that this is about adolescents, meaning this is when people usually figure that stuff out midst heightened hormonal…stuff. So it REALLY could have been deep and insightful.
    But it wasn't. It was just one big gay joke. Which I guess can be funny, but it really seems like a big loss (and homophobic. What if the joke had been that the girl was black, and he was worried about having a cross-race relationship? Would the joke have been funny then if they just dismissed it like they did his homosexuality? Double standard, yo).

  13. That's more for the game than the anime, as I haven't seen the anime. The whole "lubricant" thing is just putrid. At lest the game stuck to its guns regarding his real obstacle to overcome was accepting that he liked girly things; that just seems like massive overkill in the wrong direction.

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