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

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#51 Edited by VaddixBell (270 posts) -

@marokai said:

@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.

Exactly. I think a lot of people are forgetting what it was like to be a teenager... how even now teenagers would use "gay" as a prejorative for something as simple as wearing a scarf. When it comes to Yosuke, he acts how lots of teenagers act when it comes to homosexuality but if asked honestly do they think LGB should have the same rights as everyone else, they'd likely say yes.

#52 Edited by shinjin977 (761 posts) -

@marokai said:

@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.

quoting for more people to see. Great argument.

#53 Edited by xyzygy (10008 posts) -
@bocam said:

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

What? You were the one who brought up the dumb banana headed whatevers in here. It's a video game, we all realize that it's fiction, but how a story and how the characters are portrayed also matters in relation to the mood the game sets.

@marokai: I would argue that Yosuke's ignorant behaviour and comments are actually glorified as he and Teddie are probably the two main comic relief characters in the game, but whatever. Good post. I don't consider myself an activist type, I was just really weirded out by how Kanji and Naoto ended up in the game. I'm glad that I'm not alone on that, I just think it's really shitty how they developed their characters, that's all. I'm not crying for change or anything, I'm just saying, "For shame".

#54 Posted by AlexanderSheen (5019 posts) -

As I interpreted it when I played through the game, the shadow dungeons and the shadows themselves are the results of the people around the characters and their perception of the characters. For example: Yukiko's castle is the result of the "Amagi challenge" and guys wanting to go out with her, Rise's strip club is the result of her stalkers and fans wanting to see her in a lewd way. The exception is Charlie, being the new guy no one knows. The shadows are part of one's personality but it was never said how big of a part of the person's consciousness. And I think the source of the shadows were the public and they were born because the characters believed they are like what people think of them.

Using the same logic in Naoto's and Kanji's case, Naoto's secret base is a result of people on the force treating her as a kid, not taking her seriously and on top of that, she's a girl. Kanji's bathhouse is a result of girls giving him shit about liking sewing and liking cute things, saying those are things girls do and treating him as a gay dude. And just like Yukiko and Rise, they too believed deep down that it must be the truth.

So Kanji is not gay, he's just afraid of others not accepting him because of his interests and Naoto just wants to be recognized by those in her line of work.

#55 Edited by chrissedoff (2109 posts) -

@zeik: @marokai: @shinjin977Putting actual LGBT characters in the game would have been getting in my face and hammering me over the head. Gotcha. I'm very happy for you that you got to enjoy this game without being all grossed out by actual gay and transgender characters.

#56 Posted by Zeik (2487 posts) -

@vaddixbell: Yosuke seems to get hated on a lot for being kind of a jerk to Kanji, but I think a lot of people forget that it's perfectly common for high schoolers to be uncomfortable around the idea of a "gay" person. Yosuke is ultimately a good guy who doesn't seem to have anything against gay people, but he's still in that stage of life where he has no idea how to act around someone like that and makes awkward jokes about it. Frankly that's probably one of the most realistically "high school" things in that game.

#57 Edited by Zeik (2487 posts) -

@chrissedoff: Don't miscontrue and put words into my mouth to suit your agenda. I can't stand when people do that. I never said anything about being "grossed out" by gays or transgenders and I would greatly appreciate you not suggesting I think such a thing.

When I say "hammering over the head" I mean turning it into a major focal point of the story, to the point that you know exactly the point they were trying to make by adding a "gay" character to the game. I feel like for a lot of people it's not simply about having a gay character in the game, it also has to represent a deep social purpose. If gay characters are ever to have an equal representation in games they can't all have a big arrow pointing over their head telling everyone how important their inclusion is. Simply touching on the subject matter is in fact still a step forward.

Even if the gay and transgenger community deserves a game where they are the focal point (and it does), that does not mean a game like Persona 4 not doing that is somehow doing a disservice to them.

#58 Posted by Marokai (2985 posts) -

@chrissedoff: I'm gay, so I seriously doubt it has anything to do with me being "grossed out" by gay characters.

#59 Edited by chrissedoff (2109 posts) -

@zeik: It's actually not a step forward because it reinforces a popular misconception about homosexuality -- namely that gay people are confused and have psychological issues that they need to work through to make the gay go away. How about you explain to me why it would have weakened the point about tolerance the game was supposedly making if Kanji really was gay?

#60 Edited by Zeik (2487 posts) -

@chrissedoff: It only reinforces that perception if you're trying to percieve it that way. You're looking for the story to mean something it does not and coming away with the wrong conclusion.

How about you explain to me how making Kanji gay (or more specifically, explictly coming out and confirming that he is gay) would improve the story?Tell me how the story they are telling would change in a meaningful way if they decided to make him come to terms with being gay instead of coming to terms with himself? It needs to be more than just because being gay is a bigger social issue.

#61 Edited by LiquidPrince (15964 posts) -

I think you missed the point about both Naoto and Kanji. Naoto didn't want to be a man: she wanted to be accepted and taken as seriously as a man would in a profession that is largely male oriented. She felt that if she acted like a male, she would be taken more seriously, and a large part of her growth was realizing that she didn't need to be a male to get respect. She was also frustrated because even acting as a male, she was still treated as a kid, which helped her realize that it wasn't being a man or a woman, but that adults usually just act condescending towards young people.

As for Kanji, he is not gay or even bisexual. Aside from his dungeon, there is nothing that points towards him being gay and in fact there are multiple instances that show his keen interest towards woman, getting nosebleeds, mentioning how cute certain female characters are and generally feeling shy around them. What Kanji is however is confused. After confronting his shadow, he even states something along the lines of "it wasn't a matter of dudes or chicks, it was just people in general. I was just afraid of getting rejected." The reason he needs to keep reiterating that he isn't gay, is because Yosuke keeps teasing him. Kanji's shadow was an extreme manifestation of his confusion, just as everyone else's shadows were extreme manifestations. It's just that with Kanji and Naoto, there issues were a tad more complicated.

#62 Edited by chrissedoff (2109 posts) -

@zeik: DUH! Is this a serious question? If he'd been gay and everyone accepted him, it would have had a real message of encouraging people to embrace who they are and trust their friends to accept them instead of a fake, disingenuous one with a homophobic subtext. That's the easiest question I've been asked all week and someone asked me if I wanted waffles this morning. Now answer my damn question.

#63 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1616 posts) -

@marokai said:

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?

I was deliberately avoiding this thread, but I saw that you posted in here and I figured you'd nail it, which of course you do. Being a teenager is full of weirdness, ambiguity, and stuff that's left unsaid because nobody knows how to say it, or is too terrified by peer pressure to step out. Persona 4 pretty effectively captures the feel of teenage social dynamics more than most games.

In particular, and as you say, I never understood Kanji to be gay or Naoto to be transsexual. Kanji doesn't understand himself (both before and after he accepts his shadow), doesn't fit in, isn't taken seriously by girls, is insecure about sewing, and is confused by his attraction to Naoto when Naoto is presenting herself as a boy. Naoto presents herself as a boy because detectives and police are sexist. She's insecure about her femininity not because she wants to be a boy, but because she's humiliated by how people would treat her as a girl. A life spent living with that unresolved tension leaves her confused and insecure.

Persona 4's not a literary masterpiece and there are aspects of the characters and story that I don't particularly like, but by and large I think the writers and localizers achieved what they set out to do. A lot of people (not really speaking about the OP or anyone here in particular) seem to resent Persona 4 for not telling the clear, feel-good, politically correct story they wanted, but I don't think that was ever the intention.

@marokai said:

@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. [...]

Exactly! Yosuke's attitudes toward Kanji's sexuality, especially early on in the game, seemed to me to reflect badly upon Yosuke more than anything else. They made him look petty and insecure, and I understood that to be intentional. I certainly remember hearing and making a lot of dumb, insecure gay jokes as a teenager -- stuff that I wouldn't be proud of today.

That said, I do wonder if it played quite the same way in Japan, both in writing and in how the average player interpreted it. I'd imagine it was similar, but I also know that Japan portrays and interprets homosexuality in pretty different ways than the west.

#64 Posted by Zeik (2487 posts) -

@chrissedoff: So basically you're arguing you have to struggle with being gay for accepting yourself to have any meaning? People who struggle with accepting themselves in a way like Kanji did should feel ashamed for feeling that way when there gay people out there struggling with their identity? (I can put words in peoples mouth too.)

People struggle with personal identity in all kinds of different ways. To the person who is undergoing that struggle it is no less meaningful than anyone else who has to struggle with identity issues, no matter the larger social context. He does not need to recognize that he is gay for the idea of him accepting himself to have value to the story. Not making him gay simply because part of him struggled with the idea of being gay does not mean the game has homophobic subtext.

#65 Edited by chrissedoff (2109 posts) -

@zeik: OK, so you're just going to handwave everything I've pointed out about homophobic subtext, fine. Now, get on with informing me why the game is actually more effective at making whatever point you think it's making for having gay-but-not-really Kanji and transgender-but-not-really Naoto than it would have been if they were actually LGBT.

#66 Posted by oraknabo (1471 posts) -

@gaff said:

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."

But he's not a gay character. No one will ever know if he was into guys because there are no scenes where he is with one or interested in one. The only thing close is his interest in a girl dressed as one.

I don't think the game had a juvenile nature at all in dealing with it. He was scared if he liked "effeminate" things that's how the world would see him. It's his stereotype, not the game designer's.

#67 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3103 posts) -

I will pitch in one more time and say it's weird that there are people who are so against Kanji's storyline and where it ended up. I mean, he was way into Naoto both before and after he accepted his shadow- and both before and after he knew her gender. When she was just that young boy detective, he was still flipping his lid and loosing his cool every time they got close, and when Naoto got kidnapped he was flat out panicking. Kanji was definitely interested in what, as far as he was concerned, was a dude. That he remained interested when she turned out to be a chick, to me, is what makes him such a cool character; he's not strictly gay. He's not straight, either. He's confused, but he knows what kinds of people he likes, and that matters more than gender. I think that's absolutely fantastic. Just because he didn't have a scene where he comes out and declares himself to be in a category doesn't mean that he's somehow worth less as a character.

#68 Edited by Zeik (2487 posts) -

@chrissedoff: "Everything you said"? All you said was that the game is reinforcing the perception that being gay is a psychological issue that needs to be cured, and I'm adamantly disagreeing with that perception. You are seeing what you want to see. Kanji is just a confused teenager. Society has led him to believe that liking sewing makes you gay, so part of him questions whether he really is gay. The fact that he ultimately realizes that he can like sewing and not be gay is not homophobia in any sense.

I never said it was more or less effective. I'm arguing that for the purposes of the story it is effectively the same. Making them gay or transgender does not change anything about the larger story or change how the theme of the game plays out. The only difference is that they're hot button issues right now. You think it's more meaningful because you want those people to have more representation in games, not because it would legitimately change anything in the story. You want Kanji to be gay because you seem to believe accepting that you're gay is a bigger social issue and therefore has more meaning. But frankly that's an ignorant point of view. As hard as it may be for gay people to accept being gay, it does not mean that everyone else's troubles have no value. There are plenty of people in high school that struggle with the idea that outward society is going to judge and miscontrue what they like into something they are not. You do not need to make a character gay for the idea of accepting yourself to have social resonance. In an overall sense many of those insecurities are not as life changing as coming out as gay, but they are still very significant for the person in that point in time. Especially when that point in time is high-school.

We've reached this strange point in society where there is such a huge social justice movement for getting underepresented groups more representation that anyone with any other insecurities are basically laughed at for feeling that way. The idea that a high-schooler would be insecure about sewing and thought of as gay is apparently homophobic. Unless you're actually secretly gay then your insecurities are worthless. I think that's ridiculous.

#69 Posted by Sergio (2131 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.

I think he's literally correct. It's anti-LGBT if you think about it a little bit. When you actually think about it more, it clearly isn't anti-LGBT. :)

#71 Posted by Hailinel (24966 posts) -

@wolfgame said:

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.

I agree with this. By and large, the characters are all far more complex than simple checkbox "fill in the archetype" tallies. Some people tend to focus on the characters' Shadows too much, even though the Shadows only represent a slice of that character, twisted and blown out of proportion. They're not mean tot be taken literally, even though that's what the Shadows seemingly want, if only to drive their "wholes" into denial and frustration.

Kanji isn't necessarily gay. He's a teenager, a first-year high school student, who's struggling with being comfortable with who he is. That in itself is very similar to most high school students. He has tastes that aren't really seen as masculine, and so he overcompensates by putting on a masculine tough guy demeanor as a way to shield himself. He's attracted to Naoto, but he doesn't understand if it's because Naoto is a girl, or because he thought Naoto was a guy, or if it's because Naoto is a girl that dresses like a guy. That he doesn't have a clear answer to that question by the game's end is relateable; teenagers in his position rarely figure things out in the span of a year and tend to be awkward and stumble while trying to find those answers. What he does come to realize is that he doesn't need to hide his hobbies and interests just because they're perceived as feminine.

Online
#72 Edited by pyrodactyl (2087 posts) -

Hey guys. Where/when is it stated that Kanji isn't gay? I got the strong impression he was and I'm pretty sure it's never clear in the game. I also heard somewhere that Troy Baker was told Kanji was gay when he portrayed the character.

As for Naoto, I really didn't get the transgendered vibe from her. Her dungeon wasn't even about that. Like others have said, she dresses like a boy to be taken seriously and I'm not sure where you got the impression she was transgendered.

Edit: To the people who didn't get it (from what I'm reading, it's like 80% of this thread):

#73 Edited by shinjin977 (761 posts) -

@chrissedoff: You might want to calm the hell down and I take offense at you trying to vilify me for having differing opinions. You know nothing about me and you should not be making shitty assumption about other people. I have shared it on these forums before that one of my sister is gay and my gf is bi, so fuck you a little bit for saying I am disgusted by homo/bi sexual people.

#74 Posted by Hailinel (24966 posts) -

@shinjin977: @zeik: There's really not much point in trying to debate with chrissedoff. The guy is a serial troll that shits on a lot of things in this way and has acted like this for as long as I can recall him being on the forums. If he says something that truly offends you, I would suggest flagging his post and moving on.

Online
#75 Edited by joshwent (2218 posts) -

@marokai said:

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?

Brilliant. It's hard for me to comprehend how people who insist their analysis is true can't see that they're doing exactly what the game is criticising. The offense comes from folks who know Kanji is gay, so they then blame Atlus for shying away from that indisputable fact. Not accepting that maybe Kanji, as a human being like all of us, is infinitely more complicated than their desired singular label.

I completely understand and agree with the hope for big games featuring characters from underrepresented groups, but a lot of that mentality also seems to come from a strangely narrow-minded place. As if a character who fits into certain categories represents all of the other people who just happen to have the same attributes. That if Kanji firmly stated his homo/bi-sexuality, that's somehow a win for every gay person. It turns a fully three dimensional human into a walking label. Lara Croft can't just be a good character, she has to be a Strong Female Character. And as such, if your Lara acts in some way that isn't superhumanly heroic, smart, brave, etc., your game is sexist.

I believe the more the media at large insist on their specific ideal image of a type of person being represented, and therefore critique and disparage any alternative portrayals, the more they actually push those potential characters away from games.

@chrissedoff: When I was younger, despite being attracted only to girls, I began to think I was gay because of my interests, my physicality (or lack thereof), and a few other things. Now that I'm an adult, I'm still open to a relationship with a man if I was ever drawn to it, but I've never felt an urge towards anyone of that sex, and I've had many satisfying relationships with women. So despite my lack of any traditionally macho qualities, I label myself straight.

If I made a game about that real-life confusion, would it be "problematic" as well?

#76 Posted by xyzygy (10008 posts) -
@oraknabo said:

@gaff said:

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."

But he's not a gay character. No one will ever know if he was into guys because there are no scenes where he is with one or interested in one. The only thing close is his interest in a girl dressed as one.

I don't think the game had a juvenile nature at all in dealing with it. He was scared if he liked "effeminate" things that's how the world would see him. It's his stereotype, not the game designer's.

Officially, it's never been said what he actually is. Atlus said they left it open to the character, so we can decide based on our opinions. Source. So you're wrong and right at the same time, I guess.

#77 Posted by oraknabo (1471 posts) -

@xyzygy said:
@oraknabo said:

@gaff said:

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."

But he's not a gay character. No one will ever know if he was into guys because there are no scenes where he is with one or interested in one. The only thing close is his interest in a girl dressed as one.

I don't think the game had a juvenile nature at all in dealing with it. He was scared if he liked "effeminate" things that's how the world would see him. It's his stereotype, not the game designer's.

Officially, it's never been said what he actually is. Atlus said they left it open to the character, so we can decide based on our opinions. Source. So you're wrong and right at the same time, I guess.

Right, so he's not "a gay character". It's open to interpretation and the evidence in the game points more away from gay than toward it. Schrodinger's cat isn't dead as long as you don't look.

#78 Posted by yinstarrunner (1204 posts) -

Sometimes characters can just be good characters without also having to be allegories for society's foibles.

What's the difference between a gay person and a straight person? Fundamentally, nothing. Both are flawed creatures with hopes, dreams, insecurities, successes, and failures. That's why Kanji is such a great character; Atlus wrote him as a person first. Yes, he is confused, but aren't we all? Isn't that an essential part of growing up? The act of accepting that we'll always be confused about some things, no matter what?

Kanji, like all good characters, isn't forced to serve as a mouthpiece for social justice, but instead as an instrument for introspection. It seems like some people are using him to project their own insecurities. To me, it says more about the people complaining than it does Atlus' portrayal of an interesting character.

The game makes a point of not giving a definitive answer because who cares? Kanji is great either way. He hits monsters with folding chairs for crying out loud, then helps sew up Teddie's bear costume after the battle is over. He's an awesome PERSON regardless of this one superficial dichotomy of his personality. THAT'S the moral.

#79 Posted by Zomgfruitbunnies (819 posts) -

I think Kanji's story is just to remind us that everyone's secretly a little bit gay, even tough dudes who beat up biker gangs.

Now, everyone hug.

#80 Posted by StarvingGamer (8283 posts) -

Lol man fuck this thread. "Diversity is only diversity when it falls into clearly defined categories" wha? Where's the outrage over Atlus chickening out and not turning Rise into a stripper after she accepted her shadow?

Hey guys. Where/when is it stated that Kanji isn't gay? I got the strong impression he was and I'm pretty sure it's never clear in the game. I also heard somewhere that Troy Baker was told Kanji was gay when he portrayed the character.

He is still into Naoto when he finds out she's a she. He gets a nosebleed after seeing Chie and Yukiko in their bathing suits which is a gag commonly used in anime to indicate intense sexual attraction/arousal.

#81 Posted by Hunter5024 (5702 posts) -

Rise doesn't secretly want to be a stripper, and Yukiko isn't really a princess either. I don't know why people always take Kanji and Naoto's shadows so literally.

#82 Edited by Lyisa (367 posts) -

Naoto is definitely treated better than Kanji is in the story, but thats mostly because I wish they did more with Kanji (and cut out those really lame gay jokes).

The entire game left a really poor taste in my mouth about Yosuke more than how they wrote Kanji and Naoto.

I also thought Yosuke's motivations were really lame.

#83 Posted by Heycalvero (96 posts) -

Somewhere on youtube I've watched an interview with Troy Baker in which he says he was directed to play Kanji as a teen dude going through problems understanding his sexuality, but who is ultimately gay. Understanding oneselves sexuality is usually a process, and a hard one at that. It's not as if there is a button and you just have to accept that yours is turned to straight, gay or bi. The fact that Kanji doesn't fully understand himself by the end of the game is super believable, he's gonna have to live some more to come to terms with it all.

Who knows what he'll find out about his sexuality later in life, that doesn't matter because his story isn't about that. His story, like all of the other party members' and most coming-of-age stories, is one of accepting that it's ok being whoever he is and showing that to the world. His Shadow being a hella effeminate dude in a bathhouse doesn't represent that he is afraid of being gay per se, but that he is afraid of the homophobia he might suffer due the image he projects to the world (his persona).

Yes, Yosuke and the other guys often come off as kinda homophobic, but that's part of the cultural upbringing people have (might be even more intense in Japan). It's hard being a teenager and already having the maturity to deal with this kind of stuff with acceptance (how many of us had?). The fact that they already accept Kanji as their friend and someone that they care about is the hugest thing.

Naoto's discussion is much simpler to see I think. She has the dream of becoming a detective, someone that is much more accepted when they're male, and is (like all other girls in the world) growing up in a sexist society. She's not gay, nor trans, she's just a girl that's afraid of not being taken seriously due to her identity. Like Kanji, she's afraid of the reactions the world might have to the persona she projects.

While P4 might not be absolutely perfect with the way it deals with these matters, it's a highly popular anime-like JRPG. The fact that it deals with sexuality and social acceptance so directly and with a pretty decent amount of maturity is incredible and super relevant. It makes me happy that such a huge audience comes in contact and fall in love with characters like Kanji and Naoto.

(I am a straight dude, if I've expressed any identity issue in a wrong way, I apologise)

#84 Posted by YoThatLimp (1911 posts) -

@tobbrobb said:

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.

I think you are right with Naoto, but Kanji's level is set in a bath house which implies a fairly poor homosexual stereotype. If his shadow level was somewhere else, maybe a tea house or something more feminine it would make more sense. I love the game, but was a little disappointing.

#85 Edited by oraknabo (1471 posts) -

@yothatlimp said:

@tobbrobb said:

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.

I think you are right with Naoto, but Kanji's level is set in a bath house which implies a fairly poor homosexual stereotype. If his shadow level was somewhere else, maybe a tea house or something more feminine it would make more sense. I love the game, but was a little disappointing.

I know it's popular to be automatically offended by stereotypes these days no matter how they are used (the whole cancel Colbert thing is a perfect example) but I still don't understand why people can't see that the bathouse stuff is made out of Kanji's own fear of how people will see him if he lets himself be into things like sewing. It's not the developers showing you what they think of gay people.

#86 Edited by Gravier251 (217 posts) -

The entire arc with Kanji is all about being true to himself. His interests are atypical for his age and gender in society. Something which led to him being alienated from everyone leading to a phase of overcompensating to try to seem "normal and masculine" resulting in his somewhat stereotypical macho behaviour and appearance trying to appear "normal" but just further alienating him instead.

Coupled with the confusion over Naoto and his belief that his interests are "feminine" led to some confused assumptions about his orientation. His story isn't about his sexuality, it (somewhat like Naoto) is about just being yourself and moving beyond the assumptions and categories society tends to throw upon them. In Kanji's case the fact that he likes cute things and making dolls, textiles, etc. means that he is feminine and interested in men. And that Naoto *needs* to become a man to fit in with her chosen profession.

It dosn't matter which way Kanji is oriented. His story is about trying to accept himself and his hobbies and finding people who care and accept him for who he is. Also learning to drown out the forced labels about his "feminine" ways that society would/will heap upon him. Trying to categorise the guy goes against the very purpose of his arc.

It is the same with Naoto's arc. She is a girl in a male dominated environment with no female role models. She fears dismissal and alienation on unfair grounds due to her gender. She just wants to do her dream job, without her gender being a handicap. The answer to a lady feeling alienated in a male dominant workplace is most certainly *not* to simply say "they should get a sex change". That really isn't adressing the problem at hand; namely somebody feeling like they will be looked down upon for who they are. She comes to accept her age and gender and that she has people looking out for her. She likely has a hard road ahead but she can make her own way as herself and try to make changes for the better. Perhaps work to bring more gender equality to that work environment, hard as it might be.

The characters are as they are, we should accept the message they bring about accepting yourself for who you are and not putting on a show to match the expectation of others. Also that sexual orientation, gender, etc. Should *not* matter. To say the characters fell short because they aren't a token homosexual or trans gender character because we don't have enough of them in games is grossly missing the point. It shouldn't matter who they are. Everyone is equal and unique and should be respected, no matter how different to the norm of society they may be.

They are interesting characters with a positive message behind them. Just because they don't conform to a stereotype that seems to be a hot topic about equality right now dosn't mean they are bad characters. They are making a statement about accepting people for who they are regardless of gender or interests. They don't need to be token characters for the sake of having them. Things being truly equal the matter of their gender or orientation should be meaningless. It dosn't matter. What should matter is what their arcs stand for; accepting people for who they are, societal stereotyping be damned.

#87 Edited by FlyingOx (7 posts) -

I think this topic is interesting and important, so I'll give a serious reply.

First, we have to understand that Persona 4 approaches things from a different angle. It comes from an East Asian culture and has a lot of Jungian influence. Jung himself was influenced alot by Asian culture, and often mentioned finding balance in the inner psyche (conscious/subconscious) and between inner and outer (individual/environment/society). There's different assumptions made than Western identity politics.

Instead of just making sure we have a token minority, Persona 4 asks something more fundamental - Why should we even need to hide who we are? Why is acceptance so difficult? Why should different truths be so hard to face? The game's themes focuses on "Reaching out to the truth", and "the more you put in, the more you get out". To reach that balance that Jung talks about, people want to accept themselves for who they are, and they want to know they're not alone. But true acceptance requires understanding (truth), and understanding requires real time and effort. It's all the more difficult when jackasses around prefer to spread lies or half-truths.

Kanji as a child was immediately misunderstood and rejected because he's a guy with girly interests. Naoto's colleagues didn't even want to know her. Both were just children when they were rejected by people who had the same interests. Their gender identities and backstories are a unique perspective on how people face the truth - it helps to broaden the human experience, not just say we have a minority on board. The crap they face won't disappear so long as we treat them as categories and not unique, multidimensional people.

It sucks, but in the end, they will have to be the force of change they wish to see. Of course, they can't do it alone, and Persona 4 makes that clear by having the player character act as a very, very good listener and enabler. The Hero listens, understands and enables them to face themselves. Each Social Link character becomes stronger for it, and positive effects ripple outward.

Even NPCs like Hanako, Kashiwagi and even Morooka show surprising sides to them if you look around enough. Everyone has more than one side to them. Check out the Shiroku store at night.

It sounds kind of cheesy, but all this "Friendship power" works in Persona 4 because it doesn't for an instant give the illusion that any of this is easy. As Naoto says, "Failing to understand, and failing to listen, are two entirely different things."

Anyways, to reply to the TC's topic - no, Kanji and Naoto's stories weren't handled terribly. Kanji's still trying to figure out his sexual orientation. But he's accepted that he can be a "man" with "feminine" interests, and is now trying to get society to accept the same. And that entails not assuming he's gay just because he likes dolls and playing house. Naoto has accepted that having childlike enthusiasm and being female isn't exclusive with being a detective (which she assumed was only rugged, adult males). And now she's trying to get society to accept that, too. They've made peace with their subconscious selves, and now they're working to find peace with society. This is only problematic if we assume a narrow vision of diversity.

#88 Edited by DiamondDog (62 posts) -

@xyzygy: Sorry duder, but you're totally missing the point. Naoto never wanted to be a man, she just pretended to be one because she felt that was the only way she'd be taken seriously as a detective.

Kanji is also pretty clear about the fact that he doesnt completely understand his own sexuality, mostly because he's too afraid of being rejected to fully develop it.

#89 Posted by AndrewB (7633 posts) -

@tobbrobb said:

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.

To think - this thread could have been ended with this comment.

#90 Posted by xyzygy (10008 posts) -

@diamonddog: While I do think Kanji's sexuality is left up to the player to decide, I admit I was completely wrong about Naoto.

#91 Posted by triviaman09 (802 posts) -

You can say "Kanji isn't gay and Naoto doesn't want to be a man," be technically right, and avoid the larger issue that the game brings up or alludes to issues of homosexuality and gender dysphoria and then callously dismisses them (just kidding, turns out these people were 'normal' the whole time!). There's telling the story you want to tell and then there's being completely tone deaf (or just not caring). I love Persona 4 but at best it is tone deaf on these issues.

#92 Posted by MostInfamous (5 posts) -

You can say "Kanji isn't gay and Naoto doesn't want to be a man," be technically right, and avoid the larger issue that the game brings up or alludes to issues of homosexuality and gender dysphoria and then callously dismisses them (just kidding, turns out these people were 'normal' the whole time!). There's telling the story you want to tell and then there's being completely tone deaf (or just not caring). I love Persona 4 but at best it is tone deaf on these issues.

I see, no point in arguing then.

#93 Posted by AlexanderSheen (5019 posts) -

@andrewb said:

@tobbrobb said:

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.

To think - this thread could have been ended with this comment.

So why are we doing this again? Why?! Fuck!

#94 Edited by believer258 (11948 posts) -

You can say "Kanji isn't gay and Naoto doesn't want to be a man," be technically right, and avoid the larger issue that the game brings up or alludes to issues of homosexuality and gender dysphoria and then callously dismisses them (just kidding, turns out these people were 'normal' the whole time!). There's telling the story you want to tell and then there's being completely tone deaf (or just not caring). I love Persona 4 but at best it is tone deaf on these issues.

I gotta ask, have you read some of the responses in this thread? Especially @marokai's?

I did once wonder about the same idea - why does this game bring up these issues of identity and then turns around to make the characters fall into normal expectations? Because it's not trying to play into those themes for some cheap recognition.

Atlus is just a developer that doesn't do controversy for the sake of controversy. Look at their SMT series. On the surface, every one of them allows you to give God (i.e. the Law route) the finger and align yourself with Satan, and they give you good reasons to dislike God, too (hey, absolute morals might not always be so righteous!). But it's never done because "fuck the Pope", it's always done in service of a good and thoughtful story.

#95 Posted by sonicrift (301 posts) -

I'm really fascinated by the idea that maybe Naoto didn't gender-identify as a man, but her whole story had to do with combating sexism. I'm going to have to replay the game soon and look for that.

But I really didn't feel comfortable when, on the camping trip, Yosuke says something along line the lines of "Kanji might be gay so you shouldn't sleep near him because something might happen," and what that implies.

And then there was the Persona 3 beach scene where the transexual woman is out to "trick" the boys.

#96 Posted by Azurath (307 posts) -

@xyzygy: I'm going to pull a Nintendo here and say the game never meant to be a social commentary, so it wasn't written as one.

They never intended to go deeper into the social issues they brought up, they were really just ways to make the characters interesting and move the plot forward. I can't speak to Naoto's dungeon because I don't remember it, but I honestly think Kanji's was more of a "You don't need to hide who you are." rather than "It's okay to be gay.". He was into girly things and him falling for Naoto served as a catalyst for these things to make him feel uncomfortable with himself. He was never really gay or bi, just into things that would get him crucified as such and it made him question himself.

Not saying they handled it perfectly, but I don't think they did it "terribly".

#97 Edited by Dan_CiTi (3340 posts) -

While they could have been handled it better, I don't believed they coped out, more so that these characters (Kanji and Naoto) have complex identities, but didn't want to ram that down people's throats. This meant Kanji was unsure of his sexuality because of the things he enjoyed were/are arbitrarily thought of as womanly, homosexual, or "unmanly" by society at large, he questioned his sexual orientation as well, and his general identity. Through consultation and chaos of what happened with his shadow, he realized that these activities aren't inherently womanly, "gay", etc., but they are just what they are and enjoying them is not mutually exclusive with any sort of sexuality, sex, or gender identity. You can be any kind of a (good) person and still think knitting is rad.

Naoto is dealing with the flip side of this...she does not want to be a man, but to be treated with the respect of one in a male-dominated field and society. She rejects her girlishness because she sees it as a hindrance, especially as a young detective trying to prove herself she does not want to be dismissed even further by the adult, mostly male world of law enforcement and detective work. She again has the idea that these things are mutually exclusive. She more than anything wants to be a world class detective that is treated with the utmost respect and admiration for her work, and she thinks she must be seen as a man, or at least as a masculine figure. Again, she learns this is unnecessary and grows to show her respectable, complex personality.

Also, most of these kids are like...16, expecting it to be written with grace, intelligence, experience, and have them be well-versed in the ways of the world of sex, gender identity, etc. is not only ridiculous, but would make for a bad story. A child/adolescent, especially one not billed as extraordinary in intellect, speaking and acting like an adult is just jarring, and bad writing. Even if technically the words coming out of their mouth are on point, kids talking in such a way is just silly. P4 is no exception to this rule.

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