I personally promised Brad Shoemaker that I'd post an in-depth analysis of the Labrys story in Persona 4 Arena. I'll have to apologize for taking so long to work up the courage to do it, but here is the start. This introductory post will be a spoiler-free summary of what I intend to cover, but in order to elaborate in detail, I'll need to post details of the Labrys storyline with spoilers.
I hadn't played any Persona games prior to Persona 4 Arena, nor had I watched the Persona 4 Endurance Run. I had actually purchased Catherine (both Japanese PS3 version and English PS3 version), and then saw that there was a Persona 4 fighting game. I have to admit that what drew me in was watching the Quick Look, and seeing Aigis unwinding with a gatling cannon attack in the fighting mode. I saw that, and said, "A cute robot girl with a gatling gun? That's awesome!" I saw a little of the story mode, and didn't see much to make a decision based on that, but I figured that at least the fighting mode would be fun to play with, and if Atlus had written Catherine's story, there must be something similarly interesting in P4A. I hadn't preordered it, but I picked it up on release night, August 7th.
On starting P4A, I had listened to the 8-7-2010 Bombcast, and listened to Jeff's caveats on the length of the visual novel sections in the story mode, as well as this line: "If you're looking for inner monologues from the characters on this fighting game's roster as they go through this new adventure... it's awesome." With that in mind, starting August 8th, I began playing through story mode sections for Yu, Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Kanji, Teddie, Aigis, and so on. As I was playing through the storylines, I thought to myself, "What characters does my personality most resemble?" At that point, it seemed to be a mix of primarily Yosuke's self-doubt (as well as the "Captain Ressentiment" complex), Chie's impulsiveness, and Yukiko's shyness. My first reaction to Labrys was literally, "Ugh, New York accent?!", since her first lines as Miss President were always something bossy. But then, as the storyline for the Investigation Team members goes on, there are signs of a troubled past being held back...
On August 12th, I had unlocked Labrys' storyline, and I remember Jeff saying that Labrys' story was over an hour before the first fight. Therefore, I had set aside all of the night of August 13th to play through Labrys' story, basically cordoning off a 3 hour uninterrupted time block, so I could play it start to end. As with the other story modes, in Labrys' story mode, you can read her inner thoughts, as well as her dialogue, and compare them to each other. Her story takes some time to set up, but once it was set up (chapter 5), I was floored. It was as though Labrys had a similar thought process to mine, but she was also struggling with emotions, and not being able to describe them or comprehend them, and then she had to go through a traumatic experience. As I watched through the story mode, I thought to myself numerous times, "I have the same feelings as you right now!", and yes, I did cry at a few points during the story. At the end of Labrys' storyline, I sat back and had a huge smile on my face. I had the best sleep I'd had in years. I played through Labrys' storyline a few more times that week, to absorb everything, and re-explore the emotional flow, and I kept feeling really good about it.
The main thing for me was that I had been through a months-long spell of depression, as well as suffering from what was later diagnosed as "acute stress disorder" from a specific point in time. But I've also lived with Asperger's Syndrome, which is always hard for me to remember the specific characteristics, but the basic aspects are impairment in social interaction, empathy, and laser-focused interests. I was amazed that I could see a number of these characteristics in Labrys. There are also some parts in Labrys' story that seem to correspond to Alexithymia, the inability to identify and describe one's emotions.
I also really loved Aigis as a character, as she's struglling with her fully synthetic personality to be able to interact with humans, though she's had more experience at it. Aigis' muted emotions seem to be an excellent foil to Labrys' over-driven emotions.
What I'm hoping to do is to explore some of the specific story elements of Labrys' storyline and some of the other parts of the "mainline" story (as it's divided among the other characters, which varies Labrys' dialogue quite a bit). I am not a psychological health professional, but I am someone who has been diagnosed with the psychological conditions listed above. I'm not going to lie: seeing the P4A Labrys storyline did a lot to help me get out of the deep state of depression I was in. It also helped me understand my mind a bit better, by giving myself a bit of an "analog" to look at, and think about in context of my own life experiences.
I want to cover some of the story specifics, but I'll have to spoiler out the story details; let me know if it's okay to chain on replies, or if I should link to blog posts or something. This is a bit of a long first post, but like I said, I promised Brad that I'd start a topic on the psychology of the Labrys story.