Discover a Lovelier Yu! Hello, Farewell My Fantastic Plastic Koibito
So it seems Rise isn’t quite yet ready to show up yet. No Persona battles or visits to the Shadow realm this week (the murderer seems to be on vacation or something): the protagonists seem preoccupied in building social links (explained in brief by Margaret during the prologues), so instead we are treated to… typical high school life drama and angst. At least there’s a juicy catfight featuring Hanyuu vs Elsie.
With Yukiko safe, Yu, Chie, and Yosuke are glad to enjoy the calm routine of normal school activities. Upon learning Yu isn’t attached to any clubs, Chie asks him to accompany her to the basketball club, where he is enthusiastically received by the club leader Ichijou Kou (Ono Daisuke). He summarily inducts him to help make up for the lack of members. Yu also meets Ebihara Ai (Itou Kanae), the team’s apathetic manager who observes practice with casual indifference and barely even bothers to show half the time, dismissing herself when she pleases.
On another day, Yu runs into Ai, who invites him to skip class under the pretense of helping buy things for the team. She spends the day dragging Yu from one fashion boutique to another and takes a liking to the stoic Yu, remarking he is different from other boys. Later during practice, Ai overhears the team talking about her behind her back. Concerned, Yu rushes after her. She confesses she has a crush on Kou, enlisting Yu’s help to find out who he is interested in and is deeply disappointed to find he secretly likes Chie. Yu subsequently prevents her from flinging herself from the school rooftop. His kindness moves her and she confesses he has alot of ideal traits. Ai decides to make Yu her boyfriend until she can find someone who will love her.
The relationship puts a noticeable strain on Yu, who patiently endures Ai’s selfish demands to skip class to go on dates and her constant need for attention. His sudden uncharacteristic, irresponsible behavior worries Chie, who disapproves of the relationship. She especially dislikes that it has distracted Yu from helping with their investigation into the bizarre murders and disappearances. Displaying brilliant skills of misinterpretation, Yosuke brings her to the basketball team’s practice session and volunteers her as a tryout for club manager. Although Chie repeatedly tries to convince Yosuke he is clearly misunderstanding something, Kou accepts her membership and in the end Chie agrees to do what she can to help.
After practice, Kou confides in Yu he intends to quit basketball after one last game, making it imperative he win so he can confess to Chie. At the game, Ai takes offense at Chie’s presence and continues to harass her until she challenges Ai’s selfish treatment of Yu. The confrontation soon turns physical as Ai’s jealousy boils over, causing an all-out slap fest between the two. Yu stops the fighting when he reveals the match may very well be Kou’s last game. Ai watches Kou nervously from the sidelines as the team takes a hard loss.
At dinner, Kou thanks Yu personally for helping him come to the realization he loves the game and will keep playing (and reveals his renewed motivation to win so he can eventually confess to Chie); Ai releases Yu from being her boyfriend and also thanks him for inspiring her to apply herself seriously as manager and assures him she will be alright on her own.
After the credits Yukiko meets up with the others. As a group they mutually decide to take on investigating the disappearances to the Shadow realm, relying on their newfound powers and each other.
Social link get! As the credits say, “bonds of people is the true power.”
Since the start of this series, I couldn’t help but think Yu is the most accommodating protagonist in a game or anime I’ve ever seen. It seems his personality was intentionally left as transparent as possible to ensure adaptability to virtually any situation (A common trait amongst “silent protagonists” of certain RPG’s of earlier eras). The guy will do pretty much anything so long as it advances the plot:
Ichijou: Hey, new guy, join our basketball team!
Uncle: We’re having a family outing during Golden Week. You’re on bento duty.
Yu: I’ll do my best.
Ai: Hey, you’re pretty nice, aren’t you new guy? We should be a couple. Let’s go out!
Yu: …. (stunned silence interpreted as tacit agreement)
There are still a few characters from the OP sequence yet to be introduced. New party member next week?