Persona 4: December 6th – December 23rd (Fiddling While Inaba Burns)

Last time, the investigators deduced the real real culprit by, I kid you not, literal process of elimination. Perhaps today we’ll learn there’s a real real real culprit?

That night I have a Velvet Room dream, but Teddie’s ghost is here. He explains… mostly what we already knew or surmised, that he’s a Shadow who “awakened to human emotions.” He made himself forget he was a Shadow because he wanted to be human and wanted people to like him, which is also why he made himself look like a cute mascot (and a bishonen, presumably).

TEDDIE: What the other Teddie said before… In the end, it was all true. No matter how much I search for myself, I have no self…

But Shadows are made from people. Teddie has to have a person he originated from. If they’re not all made from specific people, that really needed to be explained prior to this. Also… who cares? He’s clearly a person with his own internal universe and desires (to bang underage girls, mainly), but that doesn’t count, because…?

TEDDIE: I’ll… probably turn back to a regular Shadow soon…

Why? What even is a “regular Shadow”? He proceeds to have a breakdown over how useless he is because he couldn’t save Nanako, and…

Why is this a choice? This reads like a single line of dialogue — “Nanako is alive. You saved her, Teddie.” (I’m not entirely sure he did save her given she didn’t revive in one ending yet Teddie disappeared in all of them, but whatever.)

TEDDIE: I’m glad that I met you, Sensei.

Wish I could say the same. This maxes out his social link, and… teaches him Evade Elec. Dang it, so he is coming back? I was really hoping he might actually die. They killed off a party member in the last game, it’s not impossible. He does not get an ultimate Persona, however. Then he vanishes and the regular residents suddenly reappear and restart the car, whatever that metaphor is.

The next day we mercifully skip over schooltime to everyone meeting at Junes. Everyone says they searched for Teddie but have no idea where he is, and John is for some reason silent on this. Naoto decides they have to pursue Adachi regardless, and everyone jumps in. Oh, so you can jump in when you’ve lost your only exit, but jumping in from another TV is impossibly dangerous? We then suddenly cut to Teddie in Nanako’s room (in human form), and Nanako says she heard his voice and that’s what convinced her to hang on. The doctor shows up and is some reason fine with a dude materializing out of nowhere in a patient’s room. Teddie decides he’s going to try to do something even though he’s a Shadow, and that gets him his Persona evolution. Okay.

In the TV world, the team notes that the fog is unusually thick, and Rise says she feels a “malicious aura”. Rise can tell Adachi is here, but not where he is. For some reason Rise wishes Teddie was here. Kanji notes that his detection skills are useless, but everyone says they want him because he’s so great at moral support.

CHIE: That bear’s a loudmouth, but he’s nice to have around. He’s always so full of energy…

How we know a man wrote this. “We love being sexually harassed, it gives us such a spring in our step!”

Then Rise gives up, so… they leave? They just leave. HOW. HOW. Teddie has the only exit! This was a major plot point they took pains to establish! The story is just outright contradicting itself now! After the team somehow leaves the TV world and meets back up in Junes, they find Teddie hanging out there. So what was the point of letting them leave if Teddie was coming back five seconds later?! I was expecting Teddie to heroically show up and rescue them! That would at least have been something!

Teddie explains he’s a Shadow and then whines about not being special. Yosuke says they already figured that was the case. Okay, so I guess the writers are self-aware enough to realize players would have already figured this out. Naoto handwaves the lingering question of how Teddie has a Shadow when he’s a Shadow himself by saying Teddie managed to develop his own ego. Okay. The team gives a long speech about how he’s one of them and he’s practically human yada yada I don’t care I hate him. Then they decide to continue the investigation… tomorrow, because that ten-minute excursion took them an entire afternoon, and this gets me another rank up in Seekers of Truth. Then the next day the plot skips straight to them jumping into the TV world again anyway, so why did this have to be two separate days?

Teddie is somehow able to identify Adachi’s location: It’s the slasher shrine we found the first time we visited the TV world. Calling it now: he’s able to do this because he’s Adachi’s Shadow. This immediately produces another Seekers of Truth rank up. We head to the slasher shrine and…

Oh, he’s actually here? I was expecting to have to go through a dungeon first. Unless that’s his Shadow. He rants about being possessive towards Yamano. I ask him if he killed her, and he goes into a flashback.

Oh hey, finally we get a portrait for her. Adachi immediately starts creeping on her.

ADACHI: What they say on the news isn’t true, is it? All that talk about you having an affair and whatnot… It’s all a lie, right?
YAMANO: Why do I have to explain myself to you?
ADACHI: I see… So you don’t deny it. You caught my eye, but it turns out you’re another worthless bitch…

Well this sure is coming out of nowhere. We’ve seen no indication of this kind of behavior from him, except that vague bit about wanting a cute girl to come over in his social link, and that wasn’t noteworthy because everyone in this goddamn town is a pedophile. He’s consistently been characterized as extremely disconnected from people and the world, which is the opposite of an obsessive stalker. This could have been foreshadowed if we had seen him following and talking about pop culture news, but we don’t (yet another reason that TV should have been a feature of the game at all). And if the idea was he was forming parasocial relationships with TV celebrities, why wasn’t he this much of a creep towards Rise?

ADACHI: I think you need to see what it’s like to fear for your life… It’ll get your head on straight.

This is just a string of canned serial killer lines. What does this have to do with anything? Does he think she values her life too much? How does that relate to having an affair? Anyway, they struggle, and he accidentally pushes her into the TV; apparently this was the first time he learned people could go all the way inside, though he knew he could touch the TV beforehand. Apparently this happened in the inn’s lobby and no one heard Yamano scream, even though during the team’s stay we learned you can hear people through the walls. We then see his account of Saki’s murder: He was also creeping on her under the excuse of questioning her about the case.

ADACHI: You know, I saw you this afternoon. You were getting pretty cozy with that Namatame…

It is so stupid we never heard about her meeting with Namatame until now given the entire town seemed to know.

ADACHI: Huh… So I’m not good enough for you? Well, I know how to deal with girls like you… […] God, these high school girls today. This world’s gone straight to shit.

This is so ridiculously over the top and out of nowhere. Also, he did this in the police building’s interrogation room; don’t they have security cameras in those? Back to the present, Yosuke pretends to be upset, then Adachi rambles about how Yamano and Saki were clearly gold diggers and that’s why they deserved to die. He then explains that, with the rest of the force busy with the double homicide, he happened to be the one to take Namatame’s call after Saki’s death. We go to another flashback revealing he gave Namatame the idea to kidnap people:

ADACHI: Oh, I have an idea… If you really want to save her that much… Why not do it yourself? Like… You could shelter her somewhere. Some place where no one could find her.

a) Aren’t these calls recorded? b) Why didn’t Namatame find this crazy suspicious? c) This is cheating. Namatame said he came up with the idea to throw people in himself; he only said that the police didn’t take him seriously. If the police actually gave him the idea, he should have said that. The writers are clearly writing by the seat of their pants.

ADACHI: Save her yourself… You can do it. I’m busy, so I’m hanging up now. Bye.

This also doesn’t fit Adachi’s prior voice and characterization. There is no subtlety, no plausible deniability. He doesn’t even try to butter Namatame up or pretend to care, he just immediately launches into this villain speech and then unceremoniously tells him to screw off. What was he supposed to do if Namatame called back to try getting someone who wasn’t a weirdo? Or if another cop happened to wander in and overhear him telling someone to commit a kidnapping?

The team finally asks why the hell he did any of this. His answer?

ADACHI: Reasons…? None, really. I could do it, that’s all. And it was fun… I guess that’s my reason?

The entire game in a nutshell. There’s nothing behind the curtain.

ADACHI: I do admit, though. I never thought you guys would manage to track me down. I like that. Games like this gotta have surprises or they get boring fast.

I just know the writers were getting off on their own cleverness with this line. Ooh, it’s so metatextual! Well, maybe you should have taken your own advice and included some actual surprises in your game, Atlus, because this game sure did get boring fast.

Adachi then reveals he threw Mitsuo in too; Mitsuo never had TV powers. That one makes sense, actually, since he didn’t have a Persona.

CHIE: How come Mitsuo didn’t say anything about you…?

Let’s watch the game try to patch its own plot hole.

ADACHI: I led him through to a room at the station with a TV, switched off the lights, and did it quick while he was still startled.

That did absolutely nothing to patch it. That’s still plenty of information Mitsuo should have shared with us. How is this such crap? Adachi explains that contrary to all appearances, he was in fact desperate for the police not to pin it on Mitsuo, because if the case was closed Namatame would stop. Uh, what? Namatame was acting based on the Midnight Channel. As long as that kept going, he wouldn’t care what the official story was.

YOSUKE: I’ll never forgive you!
ADACHI: You can keep your forgiveness. Our world will probably become just like this place soon enough anyways.

I didn’t cut anything, the dialogue really is that much of a non-sequitor. Something something the two worlds are merging, no one questions how he knows this or why they should believe anything he says. Also Rise can tell apparently this is a Shadow and his real body is somewhere else.

ADACHI: And the monsters don’t attack me at all.

That’s not at all significant because Teddie kept insisting they don’t attack people normally.

ADACHI: Maybe they can tell we share the same goal…?
YUKIKO: The Shadows’… goal?
ADACHI: By the end of the year, Inaba will disappear completely into the fog. Soon, this place will be reality.

Once again this comes out of nowhere, and why does Adachi want this? Or care, even?

Kanji, because he is the best character, tells Adachi to cut the crap and punches him. Obviously he just vanishes because that wasn’t the real Adachi. Why couldn’t that have been the reveal? What was the point of having the characters tell us this five seconds earlier? Then Yosuke wonders if he was telling the truth about the world ending.

NAOTO: The rest of his confessions were consistent. We’d best proceed under the assumption that it’s no lie.

Why is the ace detective so stupid? We have no way of knowing anything he said was true, and even if we did, he has no reason not to lie about the future. He explicitly told you his motive is “for the lulz”! Why wouldn’t he spout random lies just to screw with you?

TEDDIE: The people in town are acting weird. It’s like when the Shadows that emerged from people went berserk.

No? They’re engaging in completely standard human crisis behavior. If anything, they’re remarkably restrained by the standards of what mass hysteria can do.

TEDDIE: Then… the other side might become full of Shadows, like over here…
RISE: You mean, everyone’s gonna turn into Shadows…!?

What? Why would you assume that? We have never seen that happening.

Then a convenient dungeon portal shows up. Kanji, because he is the best character, wants to get this over with, but of course the rest of the team whines that we need to call it a day. Our refusal to seek the truth ranks up Seekers of Truth again.

Presumably because I pursued Adachi’s social link, Rise says she senses a connection between us and that he might be “calling” me. Okay. That night I’m given the choice to test the theory by visiting Adachi alone. Okay, bad end ahoy! Adachi immediately points a gun to my head, but inexplicably lets me talk, I guess because he wants to do more villain gloating. John attempts to turn him to the light side, but Adachi just spits in his face.

ADACHI: If crimes could be solved by appealing to morality, we wouldn’t need the police!

What? This is a complete non-sequitor. Adachi never cared about crime or the police. He hated his job and never took it seriously.

ADACHI: The person you believed in was a version of me who only existed in your head.

Huh, I wonder if this means we’ll be able to make an imaginary friend Adachi who’s not evil?

ADACHI: You decided on your own to believe in me, and that decision betrayed you. Why complain about it to me?

Okay, that’s unfair. He presented a false persona and actively tried to make us see him as a friend. I say “Is that what you’ll tell Dojima? because I guess that’s the most interesting option; I don’t actually care about him, but Dojima had a real relationship with him. But he just says I’m stupid and shoots me… except not, it was just a warning shot.

ADACHI: I won’t miss next time.

I don’t know why stories do this so much, this is the lamest villain line ever. “I’m such a scary badass I could kill you at any time! Except I clearly won’t, because I just chose not to kill you for no reason! But I’ll totally do it for real next time!” Sure you will, buddy. This changes his Arcana from the Jester to… Hunger? Sounds fake but I don’t know enough about Tarot to dispute it.

ADACHI: You can go back to your friends and bring them here… …Or you can die now.

Why does he care about the others so much? I guess they are all his victims, maybe we’ll learn more about why he selected them later.

ADACHI: Let me see where your detective work takes you.

What detective work? We already solved the mystery, all that’s left is to fight him! After I head back, Yosuke shows up to reveal he knew I was going to go off to see the psycho murderer alone and he just let me do that for some reason.

The next day, students are gossipping about the fog. And ooh, I can see the particulates now. It’s looking like some proper miasma.

SCARED STUDENT: Does this mean the world’s coming to an end!? I actually heard someone say that?

Who said that, when, and where? Is Adachi communicating to other people through the Midnight Channel, or is this a complete coincidence?

BRAIDED GIRL: Besides, if something terrible happens, the Defense Force or somebody is sure to come save us.

Yeah, the army will shoot the fog to death!

I want to get this over with already, but I’m given to understand I need to complete Marie’s social link before doing this, so I guess we’ll leave Adachi hanging for a few days.

I’ll summarize the whole link instead of going scene-by-scene. Marie has amnesia and doesn’t remember anything before she appeared in the Velvet Room; the only clue she has is her sole possession, an old bamboo comb. We try asking around town to see if anyone knows anything about it, but all we get is that it’s ancient, and Marie gets a headache whenever she tries to remember more.

MARIE: Everything about me is borrowed… Everything… is just on loan from that room. If I return what I borrowed, I won’t have anything left… The name Marie, this body, this voice… They’ll all fade away.

What on Earth? Was this established earlier and I missed it? Because this feels like it’s coming out of nowhere.

In rank 9 we revisit the hill overlooking town and she remembers visiting it with me in rank 1. I declare this proves she has memories as if that was the problem…? What? The issue was never that she couldn’t make new memories, it’s that she wanted to know her past. She was obviously capable of making memories the whole time, she remembers us every meeting. Then in rank 10 she decides to give up on remembering her old memories because she can make new memories so who cares, and to commemmorate this she gives me her only possession. Okay.

On the 15th students are gossipping again.

BESPECTACLED STUDENT: I saw it… On the Midnight Channel… Countless black creatures crawl out of the fog and infest the town… The town gets overrun by them and… the people who inhaled the fog turned into them too!

WHY AREN’T I SEEING THIS? I checked, you can watch the Midnight Channel but it says nothing shows up!

MR. KONDO: This city is known to get covered in fog every 50 years. Don’t worry about it!

WHY IS THIS THE FIRST WE’RE HEARING OF THIS. And why is everyone freaking out about how unusual it is to have fog if it runs like clockwork?

More gossip on the 17th:

YOUNGER STUDENT: The fog is so thick I don’t have to worry about how people react to what I say. If I can’t see them, then I can just assume their reaction was whatever I wanted! So I can say anything I want!
SPORTY STUDENT: Yeah, you’re right. If you don’t see other people, you kinda stop caring about them, right?

This is so pointed it has to be thematic, but it is also so bizarre and out of nowhere. How does not seeing people have anything to do with TV?

I also have the chance to finish Yosuke’s social link, so I do that too. The fog provides some hilarious visual dissonance with our cute date.

YOSUKE: There’s something I wanted to tell you. Somewhere deep down… I didn’t trust you. No, it’s more like… I was jealous of you.

That wasn’t terribly deep. You straight-up said you wanted to be a special superhero.

YOSUKE: I think out of everyone, I wanted to be acknowledged by you the most…

I have to say, as homoerotic as this is, I feel less like the person he uniquely loves than the only one he doesn’t hate. John doesn’t exactly have a lot of competition — Yosuke doesn’t see the girls as people because he’s a raging misogynist, Kanji doesn’t perform masculinity correctly so his only value is as a punching bag, and Teddie is an insufferable prick.

Then because he’s testosterone-poisoned, Yosuke demands I punch the gay out of him. The mod told me the romance flag is to ask him to hit me first, so I do that. We end up punching it out anyway (for some reason I can’t just say this is stupid).

Yosuke’s face is peaceful…

Probably from the all concussions.

YOSUKE: Is Saki-senpai watching us…? Is she smiling at us? Senpai… I’m going to live.

Uh, were you suicidal this whole time, Yosuke?

And… he just gives me a bro handshake. Dang it, did the romance mod not work? Ah, whatever, I’ll YouTube it later.

I also finish off Yukiko. She makes me try her lunch again and it’s delicious, but she reveals the head chef made half of it. So this is her grand personal epiphany, to give up on her goals and let everyone else hold her hand? Yes, apparently, because she explicitly says she’s decided it’s bad for her to try to be self-sufficient.

YUKIKO: I have the inn, I have my family, I have the waitresses and chefs… I am who I am now because I was raised by such a kind group…

Then why did you hate the inn so much?

YUKIKO: That’s why… I’m going to stay here. By my own will.

9_9

…I just noticed her Persona is handcuffed, and so is this one. So I guess we did not in fact resolve her feeling trapped. And oh Amaterasu is so thematic, isn’t it, because Amaterasu also imprisoned herself.

YUKIKO: I think of you as an irreplaceable friend.

Virtually all the social links say some variant on this, and it’s always so awkward with the knowledge we’re going to leave. I guess it’s better to know that in advance instead of SURPRISE YOU DIE IN THEIR ARMS, but it’s so bizarre that none of the characters seem at all sad that their “irreplaceable friend” is gonna disappear from their life in a few months.

…Okay, she does at least go on to say “No matter how far apart we are, even if we never meet again, that feeling will never change,” but uh, if you find me “irreplaceable” that still means you’re going to be feeling terrible loss, Yukiko.

And let’s round it out with Yumi.

YUMI: I hated him… I despised him… But he was my one and only Dad…

He doesn’t have to be. Your mom could always remarry and hopefully find someone who isn’t a deadbeat.

YUMI: What can I do for the people who gave me this life? For the people who have supported me?

Your dad didn’t support you. He was a parasite who served only to ruin your life. Yumi proves this by declaring she’s given up acting, because she’s decided she was only using it to run from her life, and she deliberately didn’t tell me this in advance because she knew I’d try to talk her out of it. Okay. Then she declares she loves me.

YUMI: I’ll turn around, so if you’re going to reject me, just leave the room and I won’t have to see you go…

And I actually can. Haha, okay, that’s hilarious.

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