Thoughts: Persona 4’s Friendships Defined Its Story – Part 2

Here’s part 2 of my Persona 4 friendships post! If you haven’t read part 1 yet, I recommend you check it out here. Let’s get right to it.

[Again, this post contains some SPOILERS for Persona 4 as I go through each of the characters of the story.]


Teddie

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  • Weapon: Claws
  • Date of birth: Bearly known
  • Height: 4’3″ (bear), 5’3″ – 5’7″ (human)
  • Weight: 121 lbs (human)
  • Persona: Kintoki-Douji, Kamui

Unlike Yosuke, Teddie actually is the comic relief character of Persona 4. We met this strange creature when we first entered the TV world. At first, he was literally a hollow shell of a bear, but he quickly developed a relationship with the Investigation Team and eventually a human body somehow. His character progression is also by far the most drastic, as he changes from a cowardly support character with no sense of self to a full-fledged battle bear who understands his purpose in the world by the end of the story.

In the first half of the story, Teddie acted as a tactical support for the rest of us during battles, all the while cracking unbearable jokes with bear puns galore. Since he is unaware of human customs, he doesn’t understand things like “manwhore” or “scoring a hot stud”, and as a result Teddie didn’t have many social boundaries and often openly flirted with Yukiko and Chie. He had a strong relationship with me and called me “sensei” after seeing my abilities with Personas. He also cared a lot about my cousin, Nanako (he calls her “Nana-chan”), and was devastated when she initially died.

Teddie’s most prominent inner struggle was his sense of identity, since for the majority of our time together, he had no idea what he was or where he came from. This caused him to fear that he actually had no “true self” and it was this fear that created his shadow after he helped us defeat Rise’s shadow in an heroic act of bravery. After we defeated his shadow, I got to know Teddie through his social link arc.

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The Star Arcana

As the rest of the story progressed, Teddie and I talked about how he made progress in finding out more about himself. First, he trained to be stronger physically and was able to join us in battle. Then, he “grew” a human body somehow and spent time with us outside of the TV world as a suave blonde boy staying with Yosuke. However, despite our support, Teddie constantly struggled with whether he deserved to stay in our world, especially as we made more progress on the case, since he felt that his usefulness was coming to an end.

Teddie then began to figure out what he really was. A trip to the doctor showed that he clearly was not a normal human since the X-ray showed nothing inside him. Then, after Nanako died (before being revived in the good/true ending), Teddie found himself lost in his memories as he realized that he was actually a special shadow who grew human emotions and wanted to be accepted by others. He grieved this fact and was afraid that we wouldn’t accept him since shadows had been our enemies this entire time. Fortunately, following Nanako’s recovery, Teddie came to accept his true self and realized his potential for change in the future was limitless; this helped him embrace his decision to stay in the real world while vowing to protect the TV world.


Kanji Tatsumi

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  • Weapon: Blunt objects (chairs, boards, plates, etc.)
  • Date of birth: 1/19/1996 (Age 15-16)
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 143 lbs
  • Persona: Take-Mikazuchi, Rokuten Maou

When Kanji Tatsumi was presented to the original four members of the Investigation Team, we were confused about exactly who he was. On the outside, he seemed like a tough gang member, but his shadow in the TV world showed a flamboyant representation of homosexuality that made Brosuke super uncomfortable. It turned out he wasn’t actually a part of a gang but just beat one up because their noise was disturbing his mother’s sleep. We never were really sure about his sexuality, although his relationship with Naoto seemed to give us some hints that Kanji is probably not gay. (Note: Kanji’s sexuality is a hotly debated topic, but I have never seen a better analysis of it than Matt Bodega’s article on Giant Bomb over 8 years ago. I highly recommend reading it for its unique take on gender and sexuality in Persona 4.)

Kanji definitely has some interesting quirks that set him apart from most “manly” men in society. On one hand, he enjoys sewing, arts, and crafts, and his creative side helps his family’s textile shop flourish, despite his outward appearance. This outward appearance is crass and violent, but always in a way that is protective and showing the best of intentions for those close to him. This inner conflict likely arose due to his feminine interests versus the judgments of his classmates who think said interests are unnatural, both of which are in the context of his late father’s words telling him that he has to be “strong” to be a man.

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The Emperor Arcana

In my social link with Kanji, we first talked about his struggles with everyone always assuming that he’s a criminal or troublemaker due to his outward appearance, including the Inaba police officers who are constantly suspicious of him. He came off as very defensive at first because he was so used to everyone judging him without actually getting to know him. Kanji also opened up to me about how he deeply cares for his mother, but is terrible at showing his love for her due to his belligerent personality.

Later, we met a young boy who lost a bunny doll that he had borrowed from a girl at school. The boy was teased for his interest in the doll and another boy told him to throw it away if he was a “man.” Kanji really resonated with the boy since it’s this type of gender stereotyping that had hurt him throughout his life. He vowed to be supportive of the boy and ended up making the boy another bunny from scratch. The boy, in his thankfulness, continued to ask Kanji to make more dolls for his friends, and this eventually led Kanji to accept his “feminine” side as his true self. In the end, Kanji realized that being a “strong man” meant that he shouldn’t be scared of others’ views and came up with two rules to live his life by: 1. Be himself and 2. Get people to understand him. He thanked me for helping him realize this with a cute strap that he knitted for me.


Rise Kujikawa

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  • Nickname: Risette (“Risechi” in the Japanese version)
  • Date of birth: 6/1/1995 (Age 15-16)
  • Height: 5’1″
  • Weight: 90 lbs
  • Persona: Himiko, Kanzeon

It’s pretty amazing that someone as famous as Rise Kujikawa a.k.a. Risette ended up in our Investigation Team in the small town of Inaba. Before she moved back home to Inaba, Risette was a rising idol known by all of Japan as an up-and-coming star in many forms of media. When rumors circulated that she would be taking a break from her professional career and moving to Inaba, the town was abuzz with gossip and anticipation at Rise’s return. There were constantly crowds in front of her grandmother’s restaurant, and Rise was at the center of everyone’s attention at Yasogami High School once she enrolled there.

The first time we met Rise was when we went to Marukyu Tofu shop to warn her since she had just appeared on TV and was likely to be kidnapped. At that point, she was a young woman overwhelmed with stress and seemed to have a lot of inner thoughts/feelings she hadn’t shared with many people. We learned more about Rise as we rescued her from the TV world, that she was someone who struggled with not knowing whether people actually knew/liked the real Rise vs. the idol Risette. She feared that she had no true self due to her career forcing her to put up so many fake faces in front of the public.

After we rescued Rise, her personality did a 180 and she became a cheerful, outspoken, and obviously flirtatious (toward me) girl who added a lot of excitement to the Investigation Team. Rise also showed a strong competitive side, as we saw when she participated in a cook-off with Yukiko and Chie, leading Chie to call her a “dangerous girl.”

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The Lovers Arcana

Rise and I started our social link because she needed someone to show her around town, since she was new to Inaba. In retrospect, it would have made more sense for her to ask anyone else–since I was also new to the town, but she probably chose me due to a not-so-discreet romantic interest. For a while, she enjoyed living this “normal life” as we went on our dates, even though she was constantly being pestered by fanboys who were shocked to see Risette in public.

One day, Rise’s old manager followed us just to try to convince Rise to come back to the business. While at first sincere, the manager quickly dismissed her and chose instead to manage one of Rise’s competitors, an emerging young star named Kanami. This as well as a fan letter from a young girl led Rise to wonder if she should go back to showbiz, despite her initial reservations. At this point, we began going out and Rise opened up to me about how she realized that all those “fake” sides of her were all a part of her true self, and it’s that realization that helped her make her decision to return to her work. She gave me a signed photo to remind myself of her, and she made sure to cherish what time we had before I left Inaba.


Naoto Shirogane

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  • Weapon: Handgun
  • Date of birth: 4/27/1995 (Age 15-16)
  • Height: 5’0″
  • Sex: Female
  • Persona: Sukuna-Hikona, Yamato-Takeru

We first met Naoto when we saw “him” hanging out with Kanji before the latter was kidnapped. Later, we found out that Naoto was actually a detective sent by Dojima’s superiors to assist with the serial murder case in Inaba. Since she looked so young and boyish, the media dubbed him the “Detective Prince”, while the Inaba police department were annoyed that they had to work with a barely five-foot tall kid.

After Mitsuo Kubo was arrested and the case was seemingly solved, Naoto remained suspicious and tested out his theory that all who appeared on TV would be kidnapped, essentially using herself as bait to catch the real killer. The bait worked, and while we unfortunately did not catch the killer at that point, the Investigation Team did have to rescue Naoto from the TV world, and it was at this point that we learned that Naoto was actually a girl. Throughout Naoto’s shadow world, we learned about her struggles with being disrespected as both a small child and as a girl (especially in her male dominated occupation), despite her genius-level intellect when it came to analysis and deduction. Her shadow preyed on these insecurities and threatened to give Naoto a permanent sex change, which we fortunately saved her from.

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The Fortune Arcana

Given Naoto’s high level of intellect, I couldn’t even begin talking to her in our social link until I had maximized my own knowledge potential. Our initial conversations revolved around a mysterious Phantom Thief’s puzzles and riddles that led Naoto to discovering many “detective tools” from her childhood. These items reminded her that a lot of her interests were misaligned with society’s views of her gender (similar to Kanji), and how she thought that if she were just born male, her life would have been much easier.

One of these items was a knife, and since I didn’t know it was a toy, there was a tense situation during which I protected her from the assailant, which led us to draw closer together. At this point, I confessed my feelings for Naoto, which initially scared her off. Later, we found the last item from Naoto’s childhood, the “Detective’s Pocketbook”, and Naoto figured out that it was her grandfather who had schemed this entire mystery to remind her of her childhood. She confessed her love for me as well during this time, and also realized that she does not always need to change who she is to suit the world. At the end of our time together, Naoto gave me a detective badge since I helped her find a reason to be herself, rather than an adult or a man or a detective.


I hope you enjoyed reading all seven of these character profiles! After I finished the game and watched both animations and the movie, I realized that the Persona 4 world is a unique setting where the writers were unafraid to present complex and thought-provoking characters, despite its seemingly lighthearted posture. These deep friendships I made throughout the game are precisely what makes it one of the best games I’ve ever played.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts: Persona 4’s Friendships Defined Its Story – Part 2

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