P4/G handles Kanji's and Naoto's issues terribly. (spoilers)

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#1 Edited by xyzygy (9980 posts) -

I loved the game as a whole, but two things about the characterizations really bugged me as being a little backwards thinking.

So the entire story purpose of the dungeons and their setting is to basically to expose the hidden thoughts and personality traits of the characters, yeah? Yukiko felt trapped and dependent (waiting for her Prince Charming) and so she was protrayed as a bird in a cage at the top of a castle. Chie's shadow is too controlling over her friends (Yukiko, I need to protect her, etc), Teddie's was about facing what he actually is, etc. In the end all of the characters face themselves and accept it and kind of intertwine their hidden thoughts with their real selves and become better people for it. The key point here is at the end of the boss battles, when each characters faces their other self and says "I am you, you are me".

But in the case of Naoto and Kanji, I felt a little weirded out with how awkwardly the developers handled their issues. With Naoto, from what I understand, for her entire life she felt as if she was male and until the end of her S Link she wanted that. Isn't that kind of the entire point of people with sexual identification issues who eventually undergo surgery to become the gender they feel most comfortable as? I just kind of felt like the "surgery process" was vilified in the game and the overall message through Naoto was a contra-transformation sort of thing. One thing that kind of struck me through playing the game, was how I thought, "If I was someone who's had sexual identification issues for my whole life and played this game, I think I'd be offended by this dungeon." It's strange because through my life I've actually met a few people who have already gone through or were going through that process and I can't even begin to imagine how difficult that must be on so many levels. I just felt like the game handled that aspect terribly.

And for Kanji. His dungeon was completely homoerotic, his shadow is flirting with other men, calling them pet names and all this crap. It takes place in a bathhouse for crying out loud. He even goes through the whole "I am you, you are me" at the end and apparently accepts this is a side of him he never wanted to face. So up until this point, we get it drilled into our head that Kanji is gay or at least bisexual without the game actually coming out and saying it. But what makes me really confused is that for the rest of the entire game Kanji does nothing but deny everything and avoid the issue. In fact I think he's the only person who does this. If we follow the logic of the game's Shadow/Real Self thing, shouldn't he not even have his Persona and still be tormented by his Shadow? If he's still denying all that stuff in his head, why did he get a pass? He's no better than he was at the beginning and the only thing he really ever admitted was that he likes to do crafts.

Is there something I'm missing here?

#2 Posted by pekoe212 (447 posts) -

It seemed to me the game basically implied something and then denied it. Naoto doesn't 'actually' feel/believe she is truly male, she simply desperately wanted to be male because of the cultural attitude toward females not being capable enough to be detectives. Kanji isn't 'actually' gay/bi/whatever, he just didn't like girls because they always made fun of him for doing crafts and 'girly' things, which uhhh....god it's confusing. I was terribly disappointed by how both those character arcs played out, and felt the developers basically chickened out, and really just used the gender/sexual orientation confusion for jokes, which started to feel insulting after a while to people who actually are gay/trans/etc.

#3 Posted by TobbRobb (4639 posts) -

Naoto doesn't want to be a man. She wants to be accepted and respected in the society she grew up in. And that's a lot easier for a man in her line of work. So she acted and dressed like one.

And on the same note. Kanji isn't gay. He accepted the parts of him that he considered weak and unmanly. The sexual issue is not the core of what is going.

And besides. The shadow dungeons are showing the characters inner thought in name only. They are ripe with misrepresentation and exaggeration.

#4 Posted by ervonymous (1297 posts) -

Naoto wasn't agonizing over sexual identification, she came from a long line of detectives and was afraid of being looked down upon in the field for being a woman. When entering the secret base dungeon I think Kanji or Yosuke said that they always dreamed of having one as kids, painting it as a stereotypical childish and boyish thing. The MC doesn't suddenly set her sexuality straight, he helps her accept her for who she is. Taken the wrong way and trying to identify with her as trans must feel terrible but that's not what they were going for.

Kanji was just overcompensating for his "girly" hobbies by beating up biker gangs and developed a complex about girls. His crush on boy-Naoto was probably the main influence for the gachimuchi dungeon. I was disappointed you couldn't date him but that's just me, there was a gay relationship option in Innocent Sin already.

I know gay bathhouses are a thing but didn't make the connection until now, weird.

#5 Posted by Wolfgame (734 posts) -

I tend to disagree, I think it was all about the characters coming to grips with who they are, the fact that they didn't turn into stereotypical examples of the emotions their confused shadow selves had seems short sighted to me. Even Yukiko was willing to give up on everything when it came to feeling like she was being forced to inherit the inn, but of course we saw that change when she realized that she really wanted the freedom to decide if that was the future she wanted. This is just one example, a part of writing characters in any method of story telling is allowing them to evolve and have multiple angles, I see more appeal in Naoto and Kanji because they are very complicated characters. I think a check box politically correct tally at the end of the game to ensure we have clearly identified characters into narrow stereotypes would have hindered the experience. All the characters seem to have personalities above the simple act of wanting to make sure we can callously identify Kanji as the gay one to fill out some arbitrary quota.

#6 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3087 posts) -

I see this all the time, and some day I might write up a big blog post that no one will read about this whole thing.

Naoto- did not- want to be a man. She wants to be a detective, and she wants the respect she feels that her knowledge and competence should have earned. The problem is that she's young, and she's a girl, in a profession mostly dominated by men; even her fictional role models were pretty much all male, and so to her the 'ideal' detective, the kind of cool badass she wanted to be, would be a dude. She doesn't want to change her gender, but she's more comfortable dressing like a man, and on top of that it makes her job a hell of a lot easier when people mistake her for a guy. She already catches flak for being young, but she can't deflect those criticisms, which is partially why they're such a sore spot for her. Even Dojima goes out of his way to insult her for how young she is when he's pissed off and drunk, and if her critics knew she was a girl that'd just be one more strike against her, as far as she's concerned.

Naoto's story was about how she was trying to deal with the sexism inherent in the law enforcement community in Japan; if she was widely known to be female, it'd be that much easier for someone to not take her seriously. Even without her gender being revealed the police blew her off when they thought they had an easy solution to the case. Naoto is someone who's always in a precarious situation, and she's doing all she can to perform her job as best she can; the unfortunate and fucked up thing is that part of that is hiding her real gender. It's not about her becoming a man, it's about the rest of society not being mature or level-headed enough to respect her opinion, which in turn sets her off- leading to the emotional tantrums that get her labeled a brat and tossed out. Imagine the kinds of shit people would say about her if they knew that Naoto was a 'she' and it's pretty understandable why she feels doesn't want the public to know her gender.

And as far as Kanji goes, I think it's patently absurd that anyone assumes he's gonna have his whole sexuality thing figured out just because he accepted his shadow; I think part of that is because a lot of people misunderstand the Shadows in general, though. The main thing about the Midnight Channel is that it's misrepresenting the people it shows, often in a big way, because it's not showing them; just the Shadow. Just one part of that person, separated from the rest of them, out of context, and exaggerated and angry. All those talks about how someone's shadow was just 'a part' of them are kind of a big clue here; Chie would never say the shit her Shadow did, Kanji would never act the way his shadow did... but those little fragments of their personality would, completely removed from the rest of that person and given a voice. It's Chie's controlling attitude, Kanji's desperation for acceptance and his confusion and doubt about sexuality, his fear of women and relative comfort around men...

You can't expect the shadows to be a 100 percent honest interpretation of a person's issues, because they're not the whole picture. The characters can accept the shadows because they are a part of them, but just that; Naoto's job and life would be a lot easier if she were a man. That doesn't mean she should be a man, that means that society is fucked up, and that's a large part of her Social Link; showing her that even if culture at large is for some reason hostile to the idea of a radical female detective, she's got friends who care no matter what, and people who realize that her gender and age have nothing to do with her skill as a detective. As far as Kanji? Dude's confused, that much is certain, but if you honestly think that the game just sweeps his stuff under the rug, or that he does, then you're sorely mistaken.

Remember, after all, that Kanji's still got a huge crush on Naoto for the entire game. That includes all of the times he thought she was still a dude, and afterwards, because that's just the kind of guy Kanji is; he doesn't care if it's a guy, or a girl... he's just scared shitless of being rejected. He cares about the person, not whatever the hell their gender might be, and that's how it was for him towards Naoto the entire game.

#7 Edited by DeadpanCakes (883 posts) -

While I wasn't fond of any of Naoto's arc (I felt pretty similarly), I did feel like Kanji's was quite a bit better. I felt like there was enough that happened in the game that suggested that, while it wasn't his arc's main concern, his questioning was a part of his character, and, to an extent, he had accepted it. The unfortunate part being that all of this suggestion was pretty much always diffused and passed off as a joke almost immediately...

Anyway, my understanding of the game's logic is that each of the characters begin to show signs of acceptance to get their Persona, but, throughout their S. Link, go about confronting their insecurities in a negative way. Yukiko believes she has to run a away to prove she isn't overly dependent, Chie believes she has to be twice as outwardly strong to help others, Yosuke believes he has to keep convincing himself he's special to feel special, Kanji believes he has to not give a crap about what other people think of him. Each of them keeps their Personas despite their continuing problematic and harmful lines of thinking. By the end of the game, none of them really fully acknowledges and confronts their deeper issues, and for Kanji, that just happened to be his sense of sexual and gender identity. I mean, yeah, it wasn't handled perfectly, and I could see somebody getting kinda offended by it (I mean, I kinda was), but at the very least with Kanji, I didn't feel like it broke the rules it set up for itself.

Naoto, though... I dunno man, I really don't like Naoto's S. Link. The fact that you could tell Naoto to speak in a more high-pitched voice if you chose to date always rubbed me the wrong way... Like, this person is going through something so extremely personal. It just seemed so wrong to me.

A lot of this, though, is at the most fascinating to me, and not something I can talk conclusively about, with any authority. I'm sure there's cultural stuff that goes over my head, and some gender stuff that I would also have trouble fully understanding.

#8 Edited by BBAlpert (1468 posts) -

I think @pekoe212 is on the right track, in that Kanji and Naoto's dungeons/shadows are not as much representative of who they are, but who they think they have to be. Naoto feels like she can't be both a girl and a detective, so she needs to put up this masculine facade. Kanji may or may not like guys (or even girls), but he feels like he has to be either a straight tough guy or a flamboyant homosexual craftsman. Neither of them feel like they can just be themselves, a girl detective and a tough guy who sews.

I do think that in a sense, the scenarios aren't actually all that different from the rest of the characters. It's just that instead of being unable to accept the fact that you can simultaneously be tough and like to sew, they struggle accepting that someone can strive for bigger and better things without being a dismissive asshole (Yosuke), that helping others doesn't make you a dominating control-freak (Chie), and that carrying on a tradition doesn't mean you're a helpless, mindless drone (Yukiko).

Everyone thinks that they have to be all the way on one side or the other, and facing their shadows is the process of realizing that being somewhere in the middle is not, in fact, a contradiction.

That's how I see it, anyways. All things considered though, it has been an awfully long time since I last played (well, watched the ER), so my memory is a bit fuzzy on some details.

*edit: It seems that in the time it took me to type all that stuff out, 5 or 6 others beat me to the punch with very similar answers. Oh well.

#9 Posted by StarvingGamer (8227 posts) -

Yeah I'm pretty much on the same page as everyone else in this thread. It's like a female author who takes on a male pen-name because she's worried she won't be taken as seriously as a woman. It's like Mulan.

As far as Kanji goes, it's about facing his complex over his feminine qualities. The homosexual nature of his dungeon is that complex pushed to the far extreme. He's not actually gay, just as Rise doesn't actually want to be a stripper.

#10 Edited by xyzygy (9980 posts) -

@tobbrobb: The Naoto stuff makes sense. I just finished her S Link and while she does actually say that she wanted to be a man, she's saying it's because of being a woman and a detective. But what's inconsistent about it is that sex changes are also a choice - you feel that you should have been born a man (which Naoto says) and that you want to become a man (which Naoto also says) and so you make the decision later in life. After all, when someone wants to undergo this surgery in real life, it's their own choice to go through with it. I just get this vibe that the game is kind of speaking against this in a small way.

But I still don't really see the Kanji thing. In the bathhouse he accepts that all that stuff is actually a part of him. But then he only expresses that in the real world as doing crafts? That doesn't make any sense. You say that he accepts the part of him that is weak and unmanly, but how does that correspond to the bathhouse? How is being gay Kanji's idea of weak and unmanly? We are not shown that to be the case in the run of his arc. There aren't any links between weakness/unmanliness and homosexuality implied.

@wolfgame: This is true, cookie cutter characters are no fun. But I'm just talking about inconsistencies with Kanji's arc. I personally think it's hard not to think of him as liking men after playing through his dungeon. These thoughts have to come from somewhere. If he's denying it to himself, then they're things he has to face and accept, which is how you gain a Persona. But Kanji manages to gain a Persona and not really confront anything because he's still ashamed of this for the rest of the game, in MANY instances he tells people to shut up about the subject and always changes it. But you are right, they are complicated characters.

BASICALLY, what I mean is: I think the developers intended for Kanji's sexuality to be ambiguous and left up to the player. But they made it hard to do this because the character doesn't ever really change and accept anything like the others with their Personas. Like I said, the only thing we get from him is that he likes to do crafts (his S Link arc).

#11 Posted by Brendan (7804 posts) -

Persona 4 Silver is much more tactful about the whole thing.

#12 Posted by cloudymusic (1109 posts) -

@make_me_mad: Although this is certainly a point of view that many other people seem to share, I've never seen it as well-articulated as this. +1

#13 Edited by xyzygy (9980 posts) -

Just did a little searching and found this article. Atlus backs up what I was saying about Kanji's sexuality being open to the player, but that part about Japanese culture and this stuff was new to me. I guess since I'm not from there, I don't understand it, but it's still really neat. Despite that the characters are well done, regardless of some things I found confusing (like this).

@make_me_mad Very well written!

#14 Edited by VaddixBell (266 posts) -

Yeah, I've seen this coming up sometimes and yes, you're missing something.

Naoto doesn't want to be a man. She wants to be a detective and follow her family's legacy. However, there's a lot of sexism that's part of the working in law enforcement and as a detective. She's acutely aware of this and poses as a man as her opinion and work will be taken more seriously as a man. So she struggles with the fact that despite how great a detective she could be, her opinions won't be taken as seriously as if she was a man and that she's never going to change.

From my perspective, I'm not sure Kanji is gay(don't post that Troy Baker video with him saying he's gay). I think Kanji was struggling with the fact that his father's last word were to be a man and that what he likes to do (such as tailoring, knitting etc) aren't considered manly by contemporary media and that as a 15/16 year old, you're very much aware of those attitudes. In conjunction with that, he's having difficulty making friends and getting along with people and one day meets a man who he has some form of attraction to which causes much more confusion. I think Kanji was stuggling with his sexuality and still potentially is. I think Kanji was confused and after meeting Naoto, that confusion was much greater for him and even after beating his dungeon, he's still unsure. I think it would have been much worse had Kanji just said his sexuality one way or the other considering sexuality isn't an A or B option.

Edit: Just noticed @make_me_mad after posting this, very well written.

#15 Edited by oraknabo (1459 posts) -

Read up on the Jungian shadow for more context on how the "dark versions" work. From Wikipedia:

In Jungian psychology, the shadow or "shadow aspect" may refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one's shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem).[1] Contrary to a Freudian definition of shadow, therefore, the Jungian shadow can include everything outside the light of consciousness, and may be positive or negative. "Everyone carries a shadow," Jung wrote, "and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is."

It's not that Kanji is gay, it's that he's afraid to show anyone anything other than his toughest, most generically masculine self. He suppresses everything else so completely that it becomes what he fears everyone would see if he wasn't the person he's trying to project all the time.

It's like someone totally obsessed with being seen as really smart becoming completely obsessed with never acknowleging anything fun or stupid and hating on anyone else that enjoys those things. They develop a really concentrated idea of what people like that are like and fear ever being seen as one of those people.

It would have been pointless to make the dark Kanji a reasonable, realistic image of a gay man and having that as his dark side makes total sense because he thinks anything that isn't tough is flaming gay. It's made of his own stereotypes of everything he lumps together with what he fears.

#16 Posted by SomeguyJohnson (50 posts) -

Don't forget that the midnight channel is actually showing what OTHER people believe about the person too, and that shadows represent what other people are thinking about the individual as much as what that individual thinks about themself. It was the whole reason people appeared on the midnight channel before they were thrown in and what Izanami talked about in the true ending.

#17 Posted by JasonR86 (9695 posts) -

What I didn't like was that they brought up those topics and did nothing with them.

#18 Posted by Bocam (3742 posts) -

I wonder what the reaction would have been like if they kept Rise's original character arc of her being ashamed of the fact that she needed to have sex to get Idol work and then have an abortion.

#19 Posted by slyspider (1225 posts) -
@bocam said:

I wonder what the reaction would have been like if they kept Rise's original character arc of her being ashamed of the fact that she needed to have sex to get Idol work and then have an abortion.

wait was this a prototype version? That would have been dark as shit

#20 Posted by Gaff (1745 posts) -

@bocam said:

I wonder what the reaction would have been like if they kept Rise's original character arc of her being ashamed of the fact that she needed to have sex to get Idol work and then have an abortion.

wait was this a prototype version? That would have been dark as shit

Oh God, not sure if serious or not.

#21 Posted by Nightriff (5074 posts) -

Kanji isn't gay, he got a bloody nose from Yukiko and Chie in swimsuits. The man is straight dammit!

#22 Posted by Veektarius (4813 posts) -

I don't agree with the better part of what you said, but I do agree they should have shown more change after confronting their issues.

#23 Posted by Bocam (3742 posts) -

@slyspider: @gaff: It's not a joke. The prototype also had someone else as the killer. Though it wouldn't be the first time Atlus has dealt with this subject matter, in Persona 2 one of your female love interests had sex with old men for money and did drugs.

#24 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -

@bocam said:

@slyspider: @gaff: It's not a joke. The prototype also had someone else as the killer.

I've never heard of this before. Source?

#25 Posted by Bocam (3742 posts) -

@fluxwavez: it was in a Japanese interview that came out back around the time the game released in Japan. I'm not even sure if it was a print interview or a online one. I'll try to find it.

#26 Edited by chrissedoff (2096 posts) -

Yeah, Persona 4 is really anti-LGBT if you think about it just a little bit. The subtext is that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are the result of people being a little confused over unrelated problems in their lives. They are, in other words, not real. Pretty problematic, to say the least. If this game had been made by BioWare or Obsidian, it would have been raked over the coals.

#27 Posted by shinjin977 (758 posts) -

@xyzygy: I went though the same thing kanji did when I was younger. I love to cook and in my naivety I decided to take a cooking class in high school, of which I later found out, I was the only male in that class. I went through hell dealing with the bullshit threw my way from my female class mates. As a result, I did not date or had interest in women until I was into my 20s. Shit like that will get to you. It was only thanks to my present gf that I shook that trauma. I can completely see where Kanji/Atlus writing team is coming from. Maybe it is an Asian culture thing but the fear of being different from the cultural norm is a very real thing for us.

#28 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -

Yeah, Persona 4 is really anti-LGBT if you think about it just a little bit. The subtext is that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are the result of people being a little confused over unrelated problems in their lives. They are, in other words, not real. Pretty problematic, to say the least. If this game had been made by BioWare or Obsidian, it would have been raked over the coals.

Kanji is not homosexual and Naoto does not actively want to be a man. It always seems like people who have a problem accepting this, like GameSpot's Carolyn Petit, wanted the characters to be something that they weren't.

#29 Posted by AngriGhandi (778 posts) -

Man, this thread is just reminding me how cool Persona 4 is. I mean, how many other games could you even be having a conversation like this about?

For the record, I interpreted things the way most of the people who've responded so far did. More as "characters struggling with societal expectations" than "characters weighing in on a Big Issue," necessarily.

Online
#30 Posted by chrissedoff (2096 posts) -

@chrissedoff said:

Yeah, Persona 4 is really anti-LGBT if you think about it just a little bit. The subtext is that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are the result of people being a little confused over unrelated problems in their lives. They are, in other words, not real. Pretty problematic, to say the least. If this game had been made by BioWare or Obsidian, it would have been raked over the coals.

Kanji is not homosexual and Naoto does not actively want to be a man. It always seems like people who have a problem accepting this, like GameSpot's Carolyn Petit, wanted the characters to be something that they weren't.

What did I say up there? Kanji has anxiety about the possibility that he might be gay but PHEW! He actually just feels weird about the possibility that people will find out he enjoys sewing. Naoto was born a girl but iw living as a boy oh nooo~ PHEW! She's actually a girl who wants to be seen as male because she doesn't think she'll be taken seriously as a female. Those are the same kind of rationalizations that parents of LGBT kids tell themselves as they enroll their children in conversion therapy. Yeah, neither Kanji nor Naoko is actually LGBT in the game. That's what makes it so fucked up. The message there is that they only think they're LGBT but of course they're not because gay and transgender people aren't real.

#31 Edited by xyzygy (9980 posts) -

@jasonr86 said:

What I didn't like was that they brought up those topics and did nothing with them.

Yeah, it's kind of like games were almost ready to take a step into uncharted territory, but then chickened out.

I realize that other games have gay and trans characters in them but I've never heard of an RPG where the main arcs of certain characters are dealing with the emotions that stem from the themes that P4 brought up with Kanji and Naoto. Overall I just felt like Kanji and Naoto are really half assed characters. Sure they are somewhat complex but there was so much I feel that could have been done that the developers probably didn't want to dip their toes into. Decided to play it "safe".

@shinjin977: I can totally understand that, but what still bothers me about his storyline is that the whole bathhouse thing was completely unnecessary if they just wanted to convey that he was embarassed of his soft side and different hobbies. I strongly feel like it's in there because it is actually what Kanji feels but denies. Why would he have such well thought out homosexual fantasies if all he was scared of was if people knew he had a softer side?

#32 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -

@chrissedoff: And, again, you wanted the characters to be something they weren't, because anything else would be "anti-LGBT." There have been characters adhering to that label in previous Persona games. Catherine had characters like that as well. It's not like the developers are averse to characters like that.

#33 Posted by Bocam (3742 posts) -

@chrissedoff said:

Yeah, Persona 4 is really anti-LGBT if you think about it just a little bit. The subtext is that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are the result of people being a little confused over unrelated problems in their lives. They are, in other words, not real. Pretty problematic, to say the least. If this game had been made by BioWare or Obsidian, it would have been raked over the coals.

Kanji is not homosexual and Naoto does not actively want to be a man. It always seems like people who have a problem accepting this, like GameSpot's Carolyn Petit, wanted the characters to be something that they weren't.

It's also worth noting that the way Japanese culture views LGBT could be misconstrued as being against it when it reality it's just that they are expected to act a certain way and get confused when they don't fit the mold.

#34 Posted by chrissedoff (2096 posts) -

@fluxwavez: See, you act like Persona 4 is a fuckin documentary or something. The characters are whatever the writers want them to be.

@bocam said:

@fluxwavez said:

@chrissedoff said:

Yeah, Persona 4 is really anti-LGBT if you think about it just a little bit. The subtext is that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are the result of people being a little confused over unrelated problems in their lives. They are, in other words, not real. Pretty problematic, to say the least. If this game had been made by BioWare or Obsidian, it would have been raked over the coals.

Kanji is not homosexual and Naoto does not actively want to be a man. It always seems like people who have a problem accepting this, like GameSpot's Carolyn Petit, wanted the characters to be something that they weren't.

It's also worth noting that the way Japanese culture views LGBT could be misconstrued as being against it when it reality it's just that they are expected to act a certain way and get confused when they don't fit the mold.

Sure, but that's only a more passive-aggressive version of homophobia than what you and I are used to seeing. It's not like that's a legit cultural difference that we have to respect.

#35 Posted by phantomzxro (1576 posts) -

@xyzygy:

I do think you miss the point in my eyes. Sure the background of Kanji and Naoto true feelings can be somewhat debated. But my personal opinion starting with Naoto is she never really wanted to be a man. The more true reason is she idolized being a great detective. She has grown up in a family of great detectives all being males. She often reads great detective books, which star male characters. Everything she think is ideal in being a great detective is male centered.

So she ends up copying that image she believe is the ideal detective. This is why she wants to be a man because in her head its what all great detectives are. In the dungeon you have to realize the shadows self are not saying what is right, just what the characters want to hear or a warp opinion of their feelings. Naoto just wants to be a great detective in which she does not have to be a man to be. Naoto has to learn that and realize it ok to be a women and a great detective. She also learns to accept her women side.

Kanji is more up in the air but ultimately i think kanji just has to learn to accept his softer side. He has always been misunderstood as a trouble maker and tough guy. Also kanji has a deep desire to be a strong man, in which kanji does not truly understand what makes a strong man. This creates kanji to hate himself for liking anything cute or unmanly. So without even bringing up the issue of if kanji is truly gay or not he has to learn to be ok with liking "unmanly" things and understand that those things don't matter when it comes to being strong. Now if he is gay or not i like to believe that kanji is unsure and has to come to terms with it on his own.

#36 Edited by xyzygy (9980 posts) -

@chrissedoff said:

Yeah, Persona 4 is really anti-LGBT if you think about it just a little bit. The subtext is that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are the result of people being a little confused over unrelated problems in their lives. They are, in other words, not real. Pretty problematic, to say the least. If this game had been made by BioWare or Obsidian, it would have been raked over the coals.

I was also getting these vibes too. Bringing up these super heavy themes of gender and sexual identification, REAL issues that youth are facing today, and to use it as the backdrop for the enemy in a dungeon, only to forget it and pass it off as the equivalent to the characters going through a phase? It's completely ignorant.

#37 Posted by Bocam (3742 posts) -

@fluxwavez: Wasn't the point of the waitress in Catherine that Vincent and his friends were grossed out by the fact she was having sex with Toby because she used to be a man?

#38 Posted by AlexanderSheen (5003 posts) -

I was about to say something but then I read the comments and... oh god. I'm not gonna touch this one!

#39 Edited by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -

@bocam said:

@fluxwavez: Wasn't the point of the waitress in Catherine that Vincent and his friends were grossed out by the fact she was having sex with Toby because she used to be a man?

I didn't see it that way at all. I saw it as Vincent and Orlando feeling hella awkward because they knew how Tobi was, and how he would react had they told him of Erica's origins. They would never make fun of her like that.

#40 Posted by Popogeejo (615 posts) -

You may want to spend 7 minutes to watch what Extra Credits has to say;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUqivXMlpcQ

#41 Posted by Bocam (3742 posts) -

@xyzygy said:

@chrissedoff said:

Yeah, Persona 4 is really anti-LGBT if you think about it just a little bit. The subtext is that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are the result of people being a little confused over unrelated problems in their lives. They are, in other words, not real. Pretty problematic, to say the least. If this game had been made by BioWare or Obsidian, it would have been raked over the coals.

I was also getting these vibes too. Bringing up these super heavy themes of gender and sexual identification, REAL issues that youth are facing today, and to use it as the backdrop for the enemy in a dungeon, only to forget it and pass it off as the equivalent to the characters going through a phase? It's completely ignorant.

It's almost as if looking for serious commentary in a game where you go into the evil TV land to fight monsters like Disco Eye-ball, Dominatrix Banana-head, and Stripper Satellite-face is a dumb thing to do.

#42 Edited by xyzygy (9980 posts) -

@bocam said:

@xyzygy said:

@chrissedoff said:

Yeah, Persona 4 is really anti-LGBT if you think about it just a little bit. The subtext is that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are the result of people being a little confused over unrelated problems in their lives. They are, in other words, not real. Pretty problematic, to say the least. If this game had been made by BioWare or Obsidian, it would have been raked over the coals.

I was also getting these vibes too. Bringing up these super heavy themes of gender and sexual identification, REAL issues that youth are facing today, and to use it as the backdrop for the enemy in a dungeon, only to forget it and pass it off as the equivalent to the characters going through a phase? It's completely ignorant.

It's almost as if looking for serious commentary in a game where you go into the evil TV land to fight monsters like Disco Eye-ball, Dominatrix Banana-head, and Stripper Satellite-face is a dumb thing to do.

There needs to be some humanity, you can't just disconnect stuff like this when characters are trying to stir emotions in you like they do in P4.

#43 Posted by Gaff (1745 posts) -

I'm just going to dump this here, from a Gamasutra article in 2009:

So Is He? Or Isn't He?

"We would like everyone to play through the game and come up with their own answers to that question; there is no official answer," says Yu Namba, Atlus USA's Persona 4 Project Lead. "What matters is that Kanji's other self cries out, 'Accept me for who I am!' I think it's a powerful message which many, if not all of us can relate to.”

Nich Maragos, Atlus USA's Persona 4 Editor, agrees with Namba that it is up to each individual player to draw their own conclusions, but his personal opinions sway toward a gay Kanji. "At the end of Kanji's Social Link, should you choose to advance it that far, he does say specifically in reference to his Shadow self, 'That 'other me' is me.'”

Atlus Japan, the original developer of Persona 4, was not available for comment.

"Most American gamers will assume he is gay, especially if they are not aware of Japan's cultural differences and the subtleties of their interactions," says Colette Bennett, Japanese RPG enthusiast and editor at consumer weblog Destructoid.

Brenda Brathwaite, game designer, professor, and author of Sex in Video Games has an altogether different perspective: "It would have been amazing if they would have made a concrete statement that he is gay. That we could play as a gay main character in a video game would be a big deal."

Says Brathwaite, "I can find twenty things that I didn't like about how Kanji was portrayed, such as the game's juvenile nature in dealing with his sexuality, but there is a part of me that is thrilled there is a gay character in a game and that a game would portray how they are dealing with their inner struggles and interactions with friends."

Credit: http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=22015

Note the last quote in the Gamasutra article.

I realise that it's a terrible cop-out answer - "it's not perfect, but I guess we'll have to accept it" -, but yeah.

#44 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3087 posts) -

And then the thread devolves into what they all eventually do: People mad that the characters didn't end up on the 'correct' side of whatever the hell line they've got drawn in their heads. Kanji's sexuality is rather up in the air; just because they don't flat out have him declare himself 'gay' or 'straight' or 'bi' or whatever, people have to flip out over it. Heaven forbid a teenage character be confused, right? I actually quite like where he ends up; uncomfortable, unsure, but self confident enough that he's willing to show he likes Naoto no matter what the hell her gender turned out to be. If everybody was comfortable enough to just like people instead of specific genders, I feel like we'd all be a lot better off...

And then there's the Naoto thing, which has been talked to death. But what pisses me off is when people say the game chickened out on something like that... are you serious? Are you honestly saying that it's totally meaningless that they had a character who dealt with issues about sexism and gender roles because she didn't end up wanting to actually become a man? Because that's absurd. It's two different goddamn issues, as far as sexism and transgender relations, and assuming that Naoto's problems are somehow a commentary on the other... you're just looking for something to be mad about, at that point. And hey, more power to you, but keep it to yourself instead of poisoning the water of actually decent conversation.

#45 Posted by Bocam (3742 posts) -

@xyzygy: I'm not sure how a game having serious commentary on issues and feeling emotions for the characters in the game are related.

#46 Edited by Marokai (2958 posts) -

As the years have gone on I've grown to appreciate more and more how Persona 4 doesn't actually "go there" the way certain types seem to salivate for. Kanji is a teenage boy who is confused by his sexuality and he's so ignorant of it all, of what that means and how people perceive him, that it completely terrifies him. Because he likes sewing and tomboys, he must be secretly gay, because that's how our stupid society thinks. That's it. He was confused and scared. Guess what? Lots of teenage boys question their sexuality and then don't turn out to be rainbow-flag-waving gays. (Disclaimer: I am gay.)

The game decides not to make some sort of ostentatious point about gay coming of age, and certain people, particularly in the last couple years as social issues have bled into video games more and more, seem to hold a grudge against the game for not throwing out that red meat. It's made me realize how little that particular story gets told, and how valuable it is to have something that sits in the gray area between ignorant and preachy.

It's not from cowardice or bigotry; the themes of the past SMT games prove that Atlus is willing to go there if they really want to delve into controversial topics. They just decided not to. Naoto does not actually want to be a man. Kanji is not actually gay. The entire game is about self reflection, about being afraid, not of what you are or aren't, but of how people perceive you, and how stupid and simplistic those perceptions can be.

The reaction from some who desperately wanted Naoto and Kanji to be something they actually weren't plays right into the message of the game. People always want you to be something that you aren't or don't want to be. People can only see black and white. And hey, isn't that super stupid that we can't just be?

#47 Edited by VaddixBell (266 posts) -

@chrissedoff said:

Yeah, Persona 4 is really anti-LGBT if you think about it just a little bit. The subtext is that homosexuality and gender dysphoria are the result of people being a little confused over unrelated problems in their lives. They are, in other words, not real. Pretty problematic, to say the least. If this game had been made by BioWare or Obsidian, it would have been raked over the coals.

I don't get that at all. I just see it as two very specific situations affected these two people. It never suggests that the result of homosexuality and gender dsyphoria are confusion of unrelated problems. It states that here is a very specific problem that this person is dealing with and here is how it resolved for them.

Carolyn Petit wrote a nonsense article about Persona being anti-LGBT because character arcs didn't resolve the way she wanted and while she did struggle with the issue and resolved in the manner that was right for her, it doesn't mean because it resolves in a different way than it was for her that the game is anti-LGBT.

On another note (not for you specifically, just in general), people complaining that if they bring up the issue, they should deal with it or don't bring it up if you aren't going to deal with it. My response to that is even if it amounts to nothing, even if Kanji isn't gay - that experience was still very important to him and we should see it.

#48 Posted by Gaff (1745 posts) -

@make_me_mad: The criticism is not that Atlus "chickened out", but that the outcome of the struggles is glossed over in the rest of the game or played for laughs. Yosuke's comment on the night of the camping trip is downright stupid (understandable in a way, but still stupid), Naoto turns into her polar opposite in the optional Christmas event. While Atlus is brave to attempt to discuss such topics in a game (a JRPG even), for some the way it handles the aftermath leaves a lot to be desired for. Like @chrissedoff mentioned, the way Atlus handled it could be seen as reinforcing the norm.

#49 Edited by Marokai (2958 posts) -

@gaff said:

@make_me_mad: The criticism is not that Atlus "chickened out", but that the outcome of the struggles is glossed over in the rest of the game or played for laughs. Yosuke's comment on the night of the camping trip is downright stupid (understandable in a way, but still stupid), Naoto turns into her polar opposite in the optional Christmas event. While Atlus is brave to attempt to discuss such topics in a game (a JRPG even), for some the way it handles the aftermath leaves a lot to be desired for. Like @chrissedoff mentioned, the way Atlus handled it could be seen as reinforcing the norm.

And Yosuke's ignorant behavior isn't glorified throughout the game. There are stupid jokes (because THEY'RE TEENAGERS) but by and large everyone accepts Kanji regardless of whether or not he's into dudes. The ultimate message is that it doesn't really matter either way, friends should always try to be there for each other and you should just go be happy no matter what you are. The identity politics is secondary. Naoto wears a schoolgirl outfit if you're in a relationship with her on Christmas because that's the sort of thing romantic partners do for each other behind closed doors sometimes. It wasn't trying to send some kind of message unless you're reading way too much into it.

The criticism seems to come primarily from people who really wished Atlus would've taken the opportunity to rub the players faces into hot-button issues to make themselves feel better. Ultimately, Atlus chose not to do that and took the more inclusive "what does it matter who we are or what people think we are? It doesn't change how you should treat someone else" approach, and now activist types just seem bitter for it. It's a progressive, positive game that just decided not to get in people's faces.

#50 Edited by Zeik (2416 posts) -

While I can understand a desire for more games to go deeper into this type of subject matter, this whole notion that if a game like P4 simply touches on the issue without hammering everyone over the head with it by going into some deep social analysis is just so ridiculous. It's like people are trying to hard to find a game that will go full boar into the subject matter and right all the wrongs of gaming that not doing that is somehow even worse than ignoring it completely.

Persona 4 does not need to have some kind of social justice agenda. They did what they wanted to do with their characters and that's perfectly fine. Naoto did not need to decide she actually wanted to be a man just because there are people who struggle with that issue. Kanji did not need to fully accept that he was gay simply because people have trouble accepting that they are gay. They have no obligation to take their story in that direction.

Ultimately Persona is about a bunch of confused high schoolers. Even some of the jokes that might come off as insensitive are exactly what you would expect from a bunch of high schoolers who are unsure about their place in the world.

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