They simply aren't realistic. I know, I know. Why should I expect realism in a game where the defining feature is shooting yourself in the head to cast Bufu on stuff? This isn't an issue of being willing to suspend my disbelief. This is a fantasy story, I'm willing to give it a lot of slack Everyone with "The Potential" is an interesting person with a big personality who goes to Gekkoukan? Okay, they said in the game that it's fate, and maybe that place gives off Tartarus-rays since, y'know, it's Tartarus. Some hulking behemoth hits an 11-year-old boy with an axe and the kid responds by saying "That wasn't good" and healing himself back up to full health? Sure, the game would be boring if you collapsed to the ground crying every single time you got hit. But the game would benefit from... I don't know. I guess everyone being completely different.
Let's look at our party:
The main character. He is reeling from the recent deaths of both his parents, yet he still integrates himself perfectly into his new school and makes lots of friends and acts as a leader and single-handedly keeps the world from ending.
Junpei. A goofball whose motivation for the longest time is just to play hero, yet the realities of "oh crap I could die" don't dissuade him. And are we supposed to know anything about his background? Or did he just materialize into existence during the opening cutscene?
Yukari. A girl with a dead dad and a slut mom who is the model of what parents want their kids to be. She is cute and smart and sweet and a good student and the most popular girl in school and an athlete despite receiving literally no parental direction since the age of six. At all. I get my genes from two smart, attractive, personable, athletic people who have lots of money, have a great marriage, and devote their lives to make sure we have all the skills we need to succeed and my accomplishments in life are vastly inferior to Yukari's.
Mitsuru. Her mom is dead and her dad is the head of a crime family, yet she still manages to be the valedictorian. And when her dad dies right in front of her while she is forced to hang there and watch, she picks up the pieces well enough to settle all their accounts by herself about eight hours later, which is not knowledge I'd expect a 17-year-old girl to have. And even if she were being prepped by her dad to take over, which isn't that unlikely since mob bosses get killed all the time, she's still a 17-year-old girl who watched her dad get shot to death.
Akihiko. He grew up in an orphanage and is still clearly distressed about the death of his sister, yet he worked his way up to being captain of the boxing team with no explanation of how he learned to channel his grief and frustration into something constructive.
Shinjiro. A criminal who the rest of the party loves so very much for some reason. I guess they're all interacting with him and building a friendship off-screen, because I have no idea what's going on. He almost never says anything at all for the entire game. Before you get him, it's "I don't want to go back there." When you get him, it's "... hey. I don't care." And then he goes balls-out with a speech from nowhere and kills himself to save Ken, which since it happened during the Dark Hour should've been easily remedied by Samarecarm, or even Diarahan since when you fight Jin and Takaya you get shot all the time.
To be fair, Ken, Aigis and Koromaru are a decent character, a robot, and a dog. No objections there. But the rest of the party is composed of prototypical high-risk kids. Avoiding homelessness and incarceration is an accomplishment for people with their background, yet they're all paragons of athleticism, scholarship, and social engineering, not to mention somehow conjuring up the maturity and inner strength to accept the responsibility of risking everything to save the world. It feels like the writers were banking on us forgetting how young 16- and 18-year-olds are. I'm 18 right now, and I couldn't do any of that. I spent all that time commanding a party of children. Children who should be receiving counseling so they can stop being broken shells of people, not making me look bad.
And the translation is horrible. I expect Mitsuru to speak differently from Shinjiro. But I guess they decided to translate the -masu form of Japanese verbs as "thou" and that everything harsh in Shinjiro's script should be a swear word. And it's really stilted and awkward to call Yukari, who is bubbliness and girliness personified, by her last name. Japanese honorifics, while great in Japanese for shedding light on how the party interacts, sound like weeaboo crap in English. Yes, they're Japanese high schoolers. But in my game, they're speaking English, which has rules that make you sound like a crazy person when you violate them.
Basically none of them can act, either. Have you ever heard a teenager who sounds like... well, any of them except Yukari? Way to kill my immersion from the start, guys. And even though half of them have to cry, none of them have the acting chops to pull it off. Hey, casting directors: if you are hiring people who have to cry, that means they're going to have to have the ability not to cheapen a scene where something emotional is going on. If they can't do it, or don't have the common sense to avoid the issue (like the actress who played Yukari), then don't hire them. At the risk of bringing up the same point over and over again, the scene where Mitsuru's dad was shot to death right in front of her went from sad to ridiculous the second Mitsuru opened up her flipper-baby tear ducts.
To make matters worse, the social link characters are pretty much universally great. I'd rather share a party with Mutatsu, Kenji, Yuko, Tanaka, Bebe, or Mamoru than pretty much any of those people. Or even the Social Link version of Mitsuru, because she's likeable and shows some vulnerability and humanity and we get to see her come down off her high horse. They're all real people with realistic problems. Akinari has to come to terms with death. Nozomi is a nervous overeater. Maiko's parents are getting divorced. Mitsuko and Bunkichi try to keep the school from destroying a memento of their dead son, but give the OK because it's what their son would've wanted. The authors can clearly write acceptable characters, so why didn't they use their talents on the main cast? You know, the ones who don't talk ten times and then shut up forever?