For all of their successful rescues throughout the series, it seems that when push really came to shove our gang of would-be heroes were left powerless to do anything about Nanako's fate, which makes for a decidedly maudlin opening to this twenty-third episode of Persona 4.
Understandably given the circumstances, the thoughts of many soon turn to vengeance in the wake of the events of the previous episode, beginning with Dojima's attempts to force his way into Namatame's hospital room despite his own injuries. Although this attempt fails, it still leaves the rest of the group open to confront the suspected killer, and his room soon takes on a dark tone as many of said group's members increasingly bay for revenge against Nanako's killer, either directly or by throwing him into the world beyond the television.
Ultimately however, Narukami himself has a change of heart and spares Namatame, despite harbouring doubts as to whether he should have done so - beyond this, he soon realises that the only real way to find justice is to continue their investigation into the murders, and there's no better place to start this than with Namatame himself. Thus, we're thrust into this suspect's back story, where we quickly learn that Namatame was little more than an ill-judged hero himself, who saw the initial midnight channel broadcasts and murders and decided to kidnap future individuals who appeared upon before keeping them somewhere "safe" in the strange world beyond the TV. Essentially then, both Namatame and Narukami and company were both deceiving one another when it came to their logic and reasoning, creating a circle which surely saved lives but also made finding the real killer all the more difficult. Of course, none of this will bring Nanako back, but then again maybe it doesn't need to...
After another great episode which leveraged its emotional impact fantastically for the first half of its episode before delivering a more measured, logical second half, the whole thing was rather ruined by the story pushing the reset button upon Nanako's death to deliver perhaps one of the biggest cop-outs I've seen in anime - it's a cheap trick to shift us towards an unqualified happy ending, and it makes those strong emotions which I mentioned at the start of this week's episode feel cheapened as a result. I'm not going to say that this has ruined the Persona 4 experience for me or anything of that kind, because it couldn't be further from the truth, but it is a bit disappointing to see a series that's been so relentlessly superb for much of its story to employ such cheap plot twists. Still, I'll be tuning in with bated breath next week, albeit with the resignation that it might see more characters inexplicably resurrected.