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?