This post is part of a Pastime Zone series called “I Cry Every Time”, or ICET (Ice-Tea) for short. The goal of this series is to highlight scenes in various media that have caused me to cry, weep, bawl, or shed a lone tear in response to an emotional state brought upon by the scene (not by any physical pain or irritation to my eyes). While ICET scenes are typically sad, they can also highlight moments of joy, nostalgia, love, and many more complex emotions.
An important note is that most ICET scenes depict significant plot moments that will likely include heavy spoilers. You have been warned!
As you may have noticed, even the title of this ICET is intentionally kept ambiguous, since I couldn’t figure out a way to describe this event without spoiling a pretty significant moment in Atlus’ Persona 3. But if you’ve read this far, I’m assuming either you don’t care or you know what I’m referring to, so here goes nothing.
Developed as side characters initially, Akihiko Sanada and Shinjiro Aragaki started off as childhood friends in an orphanage. When they were young, Akihiko’s younger sister Miki died in a fire that destroyed the orphanage, and Akihiko vowed to be stronger so he could protect the ones he loved. The two grew up and were both initial members of S.E.E.S., fighting shadows alongside Mitsuru Kirijo as fellow Persona users.
However, during one of the early missions in 2009, Shinjiro lost control of his Persona and it killed an innocent bystander, a woman who was the mother of Ken Amada, a young boy who would join SEES throughout the events of Persona 3. With that troubled past, Shinjiro quits S.E.E.S., skips school, and instead resorts to taking drugs to suppress his Persona so he would never harm anyone ever again.
However, Ken vowed to seek revenge for his mother this entire time and on October 4th, 2009, he meets with Shinjiro (who willingly submits) at the site where his mother died, and plans to kill him. Although he is unable to go through with the revenge, Strega leader Takaya ambushes them and fires his pistol at Ken. Shinjiro jumps in front of the boy to take the shot and is mortally wounded.
By the time the rest of S.E.E.S. arrives on the scene, Takaya had fled and Shinjiro was beyond the point of recovery. The team mourns deeply over the death of a fellow Persona user during their missions, and Akihiko especially is hit hard by the death of his close friend. The next day, Gekkoukan High School holds a memorial service for Shinjiro and Akihiko stays alone afterward to show us the following scene.
Like I said before, there are plenty of sad moments in Persona 3, but this one takes the cake for me. Voice actor Liam O’Brien does a superb job of acting out all of the intricate emotions in the following scene, and does a great job of selling both the conversational and mournful parts of the soliloquy. Add Persona 3‘s sad theme, “Living with Determination”, that kicks in only when Akihiko realizes that Shinjiro isn’t responding and you have a near perfect ICET. Watch it below or read my transcript (and grab a tissue box before hand).
Yo. I had the usual for lunch… Ramen tastes a lot better when you’re cutting class…. Make sure you invite me next time.
Say something, will ya…? Why are you always like that? You’re so stubborn. Put yourself in my shoes for a change…
…You think it’s the other way around, huh? I guess you’re right… I was too obsessed with power… Ever since I lost Miki, that’s all I’ve cared about… I thought that if I was strong enough, I could protect anyone… But, I was wrong… And now, you’re gone too… I’m such an idiot.
*slams table several times*
In battle, there’s always a chance of dying… I knew that! But… I was so focused on fighting that I didn’t notice anything else! It didn’t matter how tough I was! Look what happened!
*crumples to ground*
…Yeah, I know… Crying won’t change anything, will it…?
*turns around resolutely*
Alright, Shinji… You watch from there with Miki. I still have things to do, right? I know that much. I can’t carry this guilt forever… I’m getting tired of it.
If that wasn’t enough, for the remainder of the game, even Akihiko’s battle commentary changes. For example, before Shinjiro’s death, upon winning a battle, Akihiko would say “Ok, everything’s going according to plan”, which represents his attitude toward controlling his own destiny and growing stronger to protect those around him. However, after this scene, Akihiko alternates between “I’ll do my best until the very end” and “Did you see that, Shinji?”, the latter of which nearly brought tears to my eyes after a random trash mob encounter after the funeral scene.
Needless to say, this was an impactful ICET.
4/5: There was audible sniffling.