Persona 4 Golden is now moving along into uncharted territory, with the Adachi arc concluded. It seems there is still a lot left to do, and the series has kept its fun, humorous tone even as events of a darker sort are about to emerge, once again involving the tragic heroine, Marie.
Episode 8 brings out a very hilarious Christmas special, answering the obvious question of how the anime will resolve the problem of making Yu choose a date to spend the special lovers’ night with. The smooth protagonist ropes the smitten ladies in one-by-one to spend time with him, only to have them run errands instead. Misunderstandings lead to a comedy of errors, with Naoto’s imagination running wild. For a light-hearted episode, it seemed like an ideal break before the more serious drama lurking ahead, even if the jokes were a bit telegraphed. The following episodes bring in more extra content with a ski trip, where the gang wishes to create a final memory together before Yu leaves Inaba. He becomes troubled by the fact that there seems to be someone missing in the group, and after some investigation they all realize this as well, but nobody can remember who that person was. Yu’s determination to find the truth leads him back to Marie, who had sealed away all memories of her. With the aid of Elizabeth, they all head into Mayonaka TV to search for their missing friend in a world of her own creation, the Hollow Forest. She reveals herself as one of the malevolent deities responsible for Inaba’s fog, yet Yu insists on bringing her back, by force if necessary, at high risk of being trapped in the otherworld forever. Things end on a very heavy note of despair when it seems that none of their personas have the strength to defeat the darkness that has engulfed Marie. There are still a few episodes left however, so a triumphant resolution may certainly come to pass.
Although the series as a whole had very worthwhile drama and compelling themes up to this point, I feel that this end-game story is a little less powerful than I expected it to be. I kind of felt that the emotional weight of these events from Marie’s perspective could have been elaborated on a little better, but instead I get this vibe of Yu doing the same old “friendship is magic” song and dance to get through to her like he has to every other major antagonist the group has faced. Perhaps if there were more content to be had, they could deliver home a much more powerful punch to the ending, but I don’t see that happening as of now. Persona 4 Golden seems to be losing steam as far as I can tell, but there is still time for redemption.