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?