Persona 4: July 24th – August 1st (Shadow Mitsuo)

On the evening of the 23rd the news does another report on the murders. How polite of them to wait until after finals.

The news makes no mention of a suspect, which is suspicious. Nanako is worried, and I’m given the chance to say “I’ll protect you.” Don’t worry, Nanako, I can protect you way better than your daddy because I have magic powers! And after that… she gets up and sits next to me! Aw, that’s so sweet.

On the 25th the scores are posted, and this time I got the highest score.

YOSUKE: Whoooa! You’re a genius, John! That’s awesome! I’m just as happy as if I’d got the highest grade myself!

What a very heterosexual thing of you to say, Yosuke. Afterwards, he makes summer vacation plans with the gang. Uh, the murder case, Yosuke?

YOSUKE: We should go somewhere over summer vacation, like the beach. It’d be a pain to go by train, but a motorcycle…!

This is a baffling thing for anyone to say, let alone a Japanese kid. Yes, why ride there on your awesome public transportation when you could be driving the whole time? Is this a situation where Japanese kids don’t know how good they have it, so they take their public transport for granted? Rise reveals she just turned 16 (…) so she can get a license too.

RISE: Ohh, but sitting behind Senpai sounds great too. I wanna squeeze in close!

And I want a restraining order.

YOSUKE: Yeah, yeah… let me just remind you that it’s against the law to have two people ride on a motorcycle.

How interesting you only remembered this now, Yosuke. Are you jealous?

RISE: The beach, huh…? I’ve gone before for pinup shoots, but it’s been a while since I went for fun!

…And we’ve just been reminded this would have been when she was 15 or even younger. Eugh. This also makes her Shadow dungeon even weirder — it would be one thing if she was one of the squeaky clean ones, but if she was already being sexualized, why does she have so many hangups about wanting to be sexualized even more?

YOSUKE: Does this mean… I’ll get to see Risette herself in a swimsuit with my own two eyes!?

See, Rise, there are plenty of boys who want to have sex with you. Go creep on them instead of me. …Though I understand if she doesn’t want to, given he’s continuing to call her by her stage name after watching her have an epic breakdown over that very topic. Are we supposed to think Yosuke is awful, or did the writers themselves forget the content of the Shadow dungeons? Rise completely ignores this to ask John who he wants to see in a swimsuit. What is this, is she trying to see if John’s gay too? I wonder if I can say Kanji.

I CAN! Ahahaha. Kanji is completely oblivious and has no idea why I’d care about his very normal swimsuit. Kanji continues to be the only one here who isn’t an oversexed weirdo, amazingly.

After school I can finally rank up with Chie. A police officer interrupts our date to explain that there have been incidents of bullying in the area. Chie is outraged and declares she’s going to resolve it… later, of course, because we can’t advance these subplots too fast. She learns Revolution, which… eh, I don’t like that it boosts the enemy’s crit rate too, and she already has Apt Pupil, so I’ll pass.

In the evening I can hang out with Adachi. The old woman invites him over for dinner again, but he gets out of it by lying that he has a dinner date with me instead. Before the woman’s even out of frame he starts ranting about how awful her cooking is. I invite him over for real, the better to stash his body after I kill him — thanks for providing me with an excuse to do that even if you’re not the culprit, pedo! Adachi reveals a bit of his backstory, saying that he never learned how to cook in high school because he was so focused on studying.

ADACHI: It was a pretty good school where your grades really mattered.

Why are you here then, loser? I can ask “Is having a job hard?” or “You don’t enjoy yourself now?” His job clearly isn’t hard because he’s constantly slacking off, so I pick the latter.

ADACHI: I dunno. Grown-ups have a lot on their plates.

And he immediately lies to me.

ADACHI: But I guess lately, things have been fun.

Murder investigations are “fun”, huh?

ADACHI: It’s nice to know there’s something I’m good at. Haha, this is embarrassing.

What are you good at, exactly? His only contributions to this investigation have been jumping the gun by arresting the wrong guy, then letting the real suspect slip through his fingers. Or are you not referring to the investigation at all, Adachi?

On the 26th, Ms. Cougar has something to say to us.

MS. KASHIWAGI: All right, I understand that you’re all excited about the vacation, but we’re having the end-of-term assembly in the gym now. I won’t say anything mean like SOMEONE I know, but please do what you’re told.

“Know”, present tense? What do you know, lady?! …Then after all that the assembly happens offscreen. I spend the afternoon hanging out with the fox, since I finished the latest quest. It rains through the night, so it’s time to watch the Midnight Channel again.

It’s the weird kid from the rival school! And it’s a clear image, implying he’s already in the TV world. He looks like he’s in… a video game?

BOY ON SCREEN: You all think you can see me? You all think you know everything about me? Then try and catch me.

Huh. I’m guessing he’s the suspect, then. (Probably not the real culprit though, it’s too early for that.) I wonder if he deliberately went into the TV world to hide from the police.

Yosuke calls and says he’s never seen this guy on TV before. Teddie grabs the phone from him and explains:

TEDDIE: I finally got to see the Midnight Channel with my own eyes. Now I know exactly what’s happening. That guy’s suppressed emotions are resonating with the other side, which are picked up by the TVs over here.

Isn’t that… what we already assumed? Also, how is just seeing the Midnight Channel suddenly letting him intuit this, when our detailed descriptions weren’t enough?

TEDDIE: It’s clear now that it’s not being filmed by anyone. Mystery solved!

I thought you didn’t know what film was, Teddie? The gang resolves to investigate this… tomorrow. Tomorrow, Kanji says something interesting:

KANJI: That mumbling of his and those fish-like eyes pissed me off even more.

Fish-like? Huh, could Farla’s off-the-wall theory be true and this guy is the fish?

Yosuke comes to the same conclusion as me, that this is the police’s suspect and he’s entered the TV world to hide. Chie and Yukiko also believe he’s the culprit, which I’m less certain about. I think what’s more likely is that he did kill Morooka, but not the others. They’re still confused by why Morooka breaks the pattern of the victims all appearing on TV, and Yukiko speculates it’s because the killer had such a strong grudge against Morooka he didn’t want to wait… but in that case, why did he wait so long? Morooka was a fixture of the school long before the murders started. Yukiko decides he must be trapped since Teddie holds the only exit, which I think is a big assumption.

Chie wonders if he plans to commit suicide, because he looked depressed on the TV. He didn’t look that depressed to me, but okay. No one considers the possibility this is the kid’s Shadow, like with every other MC “program”.

Once again we need information in order for Teddie to track him down. I try asking the Shiroku hostess, but she has nothing to say. My teammates say I need to talk to Dojima, but he isn’t home, so I spend a few days fishing instead. When he finally does show up, he refuses to tell me anything because he doesn’t want me involved. Instead of revealing my magic powers to him, I sit around and let the investigation flounder. The next day I find Adachi and, identifying him as a soft target, extort some information out of him: the kid had a part-time job in the commercial district. This isn’t enough, so I need to find out which part-time job it was. I do (it’s the food stand), but that still isn’t enough. Instead of just asking the store clerk her employee’s name, I have to wait two more days to get it from one of his classmates: Mitsuo Kubo.

I call the gang. Rise remembers that this guy was hanging around her tofu shop. Why did you not mention this earlier, Rise? Chie also confirms that it’s the same guy who hit on Yukiko back at the start of the term.

YOSUKE: Man, Chie, how’d you remember something like that?

Encyclopedic knowledge of every guy who’s ever hit on Yukiko is just a gal pal thing, Yosuke, you wouldn’t understand.

CHIE: Well, that was the first time he talked to her, but I remember he was always following her around.

Oh, come on. I really hate it when mystery stories have characters reveal they knew crucial information the whole time and just never brought it up for no reason. Yukiko has no memory of this, I guess because for her it was just another Tuesday. Rise elaborates on her own interaction with Kubo: apparently he ranted about hating biker gangs, which gives us a connection to Kanji. When would he have said that, though? Rise only came to Inaba after we rescued Kanji.

CHIE: You know, I heard he’s been saying stuff about that announcer’s affair, too. Lots of muttering about how women who cheat on their husbands should be executed.

What? When? You didn’t even recognize the guy! And again, if you knew this the whole time why did you never bring it up when we were speculating about the killer’s identity and motives?

It would have made a lot more sense if we learned this stuff from the people we were interviewing to track him down instead of such riveting storytelling as “he had a part-time job somewhere maybe”. Maybe the idea is that’s where Chie heard this stuff, but it’s still really bizarre for us to not discover this information ourselves in a mystery story.

His area is indeed a video game.

YOSUKE: Gotta admit… all guys love games.

That is the weirdest reaction to-

TEDDIE: And all girls love Teddie!

Never mind, Teddie managed to top it. It’s also blatantly untrue; Kanji is the only one who loves Teddie, everyone else agrees that he’s weird. And Kanji only loves him for his body.

I immediately back out so I can grind for quest items. Amusingly, my teammates do call me out on this, but they still let me do it.

…One of Rise’s commentaries is “That’s great, Senpai! You really get me going!” so I guess I can look forward to getting sexually harassed every time I beat an enemy for the rest of the game. Never thought I’d be nostalgic for Teddie as navigator.

Oh, apparently Teddie and Yosuke have a combo move, “Junes Bomber”. It doesn’t seem to have any special effect, just extra damage.

The dungeon is called “Void Quest”, and the start of each floor reports a readout like a text adventure game. First, the game says that he “encounters” a female announcer, and when given the choice of “Fight” or “Run”, he picks “Fight”. Next, he encounters a “corpse discoverer” and makes the same decision; but the floor after that, he has a mental breakdown. Every time, his “Emptiness” stat increases, and it increases massively when he “fights” Saki, alongside a “Sadness” stat. So… he is the killer? I don’t see why anyone else would care about Saki as a “corpse discoverer”, but then we still don’t know why the killer thought a witness was worth silencing. On the eighth floor the game depicts his murder of Morooka: this time “Kill” is explicitly listed as one of the options, but oddly, Mitsuo hovers over “Run” before selecting “Kill”. Unlike the previous murders, this only gives him “Attention”, “Fame”, and “Coolness”.

When we reach the “Endgame”, we find Mitsuo insistently ranting at his Shadow.

MITSUO: Nobody even thought of me after the first two people. That’s why I went for the third one! I killed them!

I find it interesting that, like the snippets in the dungeon, he seems to be ignoring the failed murder attempts.

Mitsuo’s Shadow just insists that he feels nothing. Mitsuo denies it, and Yukiko gets worried this will aggro the Shadow. This time, however, the victim actually reacts and turns to face them! Mitsuo does not recognize anyone, even though half the team consists of victims.

CHIE: Are you the killer?
MITSUO: Of course I am! I’m the one behind everything! I don’t give a damn what this imposter’s saying!

So he’s definitely not the culprit. His Shadow is enraged, and becomes…

…Evil Baby. Okay.

It spends its first turn using “Character Setup”, which summons this thing. Its spiel is slightly different: Instead of “I am a Shadow, the true self,” it just says “I am a Shadow… I’ll end your emptiness.”

Its attack animation mimics the UI of the SNES games, that’s cute! Ooh, and I notice the battle theme is a chiptune rendition of the Shadow battle theme.

I have to destroy the “Hero” before I can attack the Shadow directly, whereupon it starts using AoE spells telegraphed by the Wall spell it chooses. I initially fail to realize this and get killed because it hit John’s weakness, whereupon it chained into Megidola and nuked me. This is why I don’t always like the Press Turn system.

After I beat the Shadow, Mitsuo reaffirms that he’s the killer, and specifically names the victims as Yamano, Saki, and Morooka, yet he still doesn’t recognize Yukiko, Kanji, or Rise. His Shadow vanishes and the team takes him back to the real world. Because John is an idiot he has to ask again whether he’s the killer, and Mitsuo once again says yes. Rise asks why he did it, and he laughs crazily before saying he did it for attention. Yukiko finally asks the pertinent question: Why did he kidnap the other victims? He ignores the question and just starts hitting on her again before saying his choice of victims wasn’t personal, “Everyone pisses me off.” Yosuke pretends to be upset that the girl he doesn’t care about died for nothing. Kanji, because he actually cares about solving the case, calls the police and turns him in.

CHIE: He did it all to draw attention… I can’t get my head around that. It’s just wrong.

It feels wrong to me on a literal level, too. He never came forward to claim responsibility for the killings; he’s been sticking to the background an awful lot for someone who wanted attention.

The conversation turns to everyone’s Midnight Channel episodes, and Chie confirms that we never told her Yosuke’s. How interesting. Yosuke also claims that the original three are the only ones to have seen everyone’s secrets, even though it was literally televised.

KANJI: But now that the case is solved, we won’t be calling [John] “Leader” anymore, will we…?
CHIE: Oh yeah… It’s kinda sad.

Chie wants to be part of a cult so bad.

Rise suggests they have a party to celebrate closing the case. Everyone immediately starts creeping on Yukiko, and Yosuke has the gall to reprimand Kanji over it. However, the Amagi Inn is fully booked, so Yosuke suggests they host it at John’s place, for some reason. The conversation devolves into relitigating the girls’ many cooking sins, but Rise reveals she’s a good cook, so the team can finally rely on someone to do housewifery. Teddie suggests they hold a cooking competition, and for some reason nobody vetoes this as a terrible idea. Rise’s omlette turns out to be just as terrible as the others’, as it’s overwhelmingly spicy. John makes a good omlette, though, and gets social points with Nanako for it. I wonder if that’s influenced by your knowledge stat or something? Afterwards, the team decides to go to the summer festival instead… in two weeks, so I have a lot of downtime.

2 Comments

  1. Act says:

    Baffled by a mystery story in which the detective is so much stupider than the audience.

    1. St. Elmo's Fire says:

      I would say this in particular is more a case of metagaming interfering with the mystery. We the audience know Mitsuo can’t possibly be the culprit because the game’s only halfway over, but the characters don’t have that knowledge. It is still very stupid that they don’t interrogate the very obvious holes in his story, but for all I know the writers think their audience is stupid enough not to notice that either.

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