Previously on Persona 4:
Yu & Nanako both had pretty eventful summers, meeting a lot of new people along the way as they made their summer a memorable one. Spoilers Ahead.
Summer vacation is over and Yu (Johnny Yong Bosch) & his friends find their school days resuming once again, but with a new classmate. The “Detective Prince” Naoto Shirogane (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) has enrolled in Yasogami High, staying in Inaba due to his uneasiness about how the murder case closed. Before the team can ponder the details, they head on a school trip to the beautiful Gekkoukan High School. The day consisted of a scholastic exchange, while night time…well that’s a different story entirely.
Fans of Persona 3 will notice a good amount of fanservice in this episode as the story moves outside of Inaba to Tatsumi Port Island, one of the major settings of Persona 3. It’s nice to explore environments outside of Inaba for a bit, we don’t see much of the city but what we do see is larger than life; magnified by the p.o.v. we get from our small town characters. We even get a cameo from one of the characters from P3, Chihiro Fushimi (Wendee Lee). Nothing really important really happens from theses scenes, but it is a nice little nod to P4’s predeccessor.
The real meat of the story comes from what the kids do when they are not at the school. Thanks to their teacher, Ms. Kashiwagi (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) the kids end up in a newly opened “Love hotel”, and Teddie (Sam Riegel) joins them. Chie (Erin Fitzgerald) gets some more development when she defends a young boy from a group of bullies and talks to Yu afterwards. She explains that she wants to be stronger, not just for Yukiko, but also for herself and her other friends. She and Yu have a sort of romantic moment (which reflects the games relationship feature).
Another pivotal moment (and what makes this my favorite episode in the series) is the club scenes. Rise (Laura Bailey) tells the group about a club in the city that she knows about and they all go to check it out, running into Naoto there. They persuade him to join them in a VIP room as they proceed to have drinks. Soon enough, Yu, Rise, Teddie, & Yukiko (Amanda Winn-Lee) get drunk and Rise starts a “kings game”. Here we get some light shed on Naoto and we get some very humorous moments. Naoto himself is from a long line of detectives, currtenly living with his Grandfather in Inaba after his parents died. Yukiko slips up and tells him how they saved all the victims, but luckily Naoto chalks up her revelation to a drunken rant before revealing that the club hasn’t served alcohol for over a year.
Despite being my favorite episode, “The Long Awaited School Trip” isn’t really an episode that is too important to the main plot. A nice little diversion with some nice character bits, fan service, and plenty of humor. The mystery continues next week as Naoto begins to dig further into the supposedly closed case.