Persona 4: October 5th – October 20th (Fall Midterms)

On the 5th we learn about how different countries tend to center themselves in world maps, and the teacher asks where Japan is found in non-Japanese maps.

YOSUKE: I don’t even know what he’s talking about… Do you know the answer, John?

Have you never looked at a map, Yosuke?

Naoto comes back to school on the 6th.

Well, she sure took her sweet time. That was, what, three weeks? She’s decided to continue presenting male, which makes sense in that doing otherwise would require some awkward conversations with school management, but does muddle the gender identity issue further.

Some rumormongers wander by to say they know Naoto’s a girl. Okay, so when Kanji runs around naked in a bathhouse shouting about how gay he is, no one cares, but Naoto shows up in bad scientist cosplay to say some technobabble and everyone immediately knows she’s a girl? The only way they should know this definitively is if they saw the Shadow showdown, but that can’t be possible because then they’d know the investigation team’s identities too.

Some girls glom onto the rumor posse and say they don’t care because crossdressing is really cool anyway. Naoto has a very blase reaction to this.

NAOTO: [sweatdrop] My, my… Rumors spread so quickly.

Yeah, that sure is weird. Are we ever going to get followup on that, or does Ace Detective see nothing abnormal here? I can say “We’re on your side,” even though I’m still not clear what her side is, and she blushes before insisting it doesn’t bother her at all. That seems a bit weird when she went to such effort to maintain the persona, but okay. She then reminds us the plot exists and asks that we discuss the kidnapping-and-murder case… but that can wait until after school, of course. Which we skip straight to anyway, because the time system in this game continues to be whack.

NAOTO: First, I heard the doorbell ring. But when I opened the front door, I saw no one there… Just as alarm bells sounded in my mind, someone grabbed me roughly from behind and covered my mouth with something. Immediately afterward, I was put into something like a sack and most likely carried on the culprit’s shoulder.

Wow, that’s a lot. Why didn’t the others remember this? Oh, Rise immediately asks that.

NAOTO: The culprit seems to have used a chemical to incapacitate me, but luckily I wasn’t completely unconscious. I had been expecting a trick along those lines, so I was somewhat prepared.

“Prepared” how? Did she take some kind of protective drug beforehand? No, we just move onto the next topic with no further explanation. That is the lamest explanation ever, game. You cannot just willpower your way through chloroform.

TEDDIE: No wonder you’re an ace detective.

Qualifications for an ace detective: Magic resistance to chloroform, apparently.

NAOTO: Judging by their actions and body type, I’d say the culprit is definitely a man.

You’re using gender essentialism as ironclad evidence, Naoto? You? Really? How could she even tell the culprit’s body type from within a sack? But no one questions it, so I guess it’s true. Sigh. Not that that narrows anything down because the game’s a sausagefest. It does rule out Ms. Cougar, who I guess was the only halfway plausible suspect other than Adachi?

NAOTO: I heard no conversations or voices, so I believe he was acting alone.

This is also what we already assumed, and already all but confirmed by the foggy interludes only ever showing one person. It might have been clever if that was actually a different person every time — how could we tell, when they’re never more than a blurry silhouette? — but apparently not. (And this also points to Adachi, given his final social link emphasized that he lives alone.)

NAOTO: I felt a single impact, which I assume is when I was thrown inside the TV… But the time from kidnapping to that point seemed too short… It was a matter of minutes.

You were drugged, why are you assuming you can trust your sense of time? For that matter, why wouldn’t it be quick? It works on any TV. If she didn’t have any TVs in her house, this would be significant, but she hasn’t said that.

CHIE: Oh! Could there have been a TV on the side of the road!?

They are really determined to pursue any other possibility, huh.

Naoto explicitly vocalizes that Mitsuo was a copycat killer, finally. She also goes a step further and asks a new question: How did Mitsuo know about the TV world? I don’t think it’s safe to assume he did, actually. Everyone’s assuming he deliberately entered the TV world to evade the police, but we have no evidence that was definitely the case. Actually, come to think of it, you need a Persona to enter the TV, right? Mitsuo was arguing with his Shadow, which means he doesn’t have a Persona. The only incongruity is that he didn’t appear on the Midnight Channel prior to entering the TV world, but that’s fully consistent with the team’s assumption that the pre-kidnapping appearances show the culprit’s intent — it stands to reason they wouldn’t happen if the culprit kidnaps the target immediately, such as for instance if they realize there’s a copycat killer and panic. …I was going to ask next how the culprit could have known Mitsuo was the copycat killer in the first place, but Adachi was on the case, so that answers that.

Naoto doesn’t consider any of this, only posits that Mitsuo “didn’t understand the other world as well as the true culprit.”

NAOTO: Even though I can now enter it myself, it wouldn’t occur to me to use it for murder…

You continue to be a disappointment, Ace Detective. It doesn’t occur to you it could be used for murder after you nearly died in it? Really? Ace Detective proceeds to tell us what we already know, that the victims must have died in the TV world. Teddie already confirmed that no one came in or out when the victims died, this is old news. Naoto wants to interrogate Mitsuo to learn more, but she’s been taken off the case.

NAOTO: And I highly doubt the police will believe any of this…

Drag your uncle to Junes and shove your hand in the TV. Why is everyone in this game such an idiot?

Naoto confirms that the police are rushing to close the case and refusing to second-guess anything, which is another point for Adachi being the culprit.

YOSUKE: Naoto… If you were that calm when it happened to you, couldn’t you have, you know… I’m not saying you shoulda caught him, but isn’t it kinda sad for an ace detective to go down that easily…?

Yosuke takes every available opportunity to be a dick. Gotta love how the phrasing here is deliberately negging, too. Instead of pointing out that she was drugged and unconscious, Naoto wails about how actually it was because she was so scared and cowardly! I guess now that we’ve revealed she’s a woman the narrative is free to crap on her.

YUKIKO: Don’t forget, Naoto-kun is younger than us, and she’s a girl.

Jesus Christ. I wonder why Naoto has complexes about this!

YOSUKE: Oh, yeah, that’s true. I keep forgetting when I see her talking like this.

“I’m sorry I respected you enough to insult you, clearly I should have just assumed you obviously failed because you were female.”

YOSUKE: You know what, Naoto? […] You got balls, for a girl.

NAOTO: Please allow me to join your effort.

I can hesitate if I’m a dick. Well, she is a complete idiot by ace detective standards, but the rest of the team is even stupider, so she’ll still bring up the average. The investigation team link ranks up to 8.

Teddie gives Naoto her glasses.

NAOTO: They told me about you, Teddie. I can sympathize with your drive to find yourself. If I may help in any way, let me know.

Oh, you’re going to regret that.

TEDDIE: Wow… What a nice girl!

Exhibit A.

Holy cow, she’s strong. Strong physicals, two elements, both instant kills, and almighty? Please don’t tell me this means she’s gonna get killed off in five minutes like Shinjiro. This also implies they’re condensing light and dark onto a single character instead of splitting them up like in P3, which is honestly a much better way of doing it. And her weapon is… a gun, wow. Where’d she get that? (It is, of course, inferior to a frisbee.)

The next day, Naoto declares she’s scheduled Teddie to be studied by a doctor. I’m sorry for insulting you, Naoto, you are so much smarter than these numbskulls.

NAOTO: A thorough physical examination might be a good first step in figuring out what Teddie is.

Yes, vivisect him. He didn’t have a human body originally, let’s test to see how he does when it’s missing organs. Does it even have organs?

Naoto also points out the rest of the team should get checkups too. Everyone is confused by this despite repeatedly stating every time that the fog messes you up. You live in Japan, why are you squandering your good healthcare!

CHIE: Wow, you’re on the ball about all this… Are you sure you’re not an adult?
YOSUKE: Her height’s a big giveaway, though.

Wow, Yosuke really makes a beeline for everyone’s traumas right away, doesn’t he?

My afternoon gets taken up by this. Everyone has a clean bill of health, but Teddie produced some interesting results:

NAOTO: They found out that they can’t tell anything about him. I even had them take an X-ray, but nothing came up on it. No matter how many times they tried, it would always be too blurry to read.

So Teddie is radioactive now, cool! I support shoving him in a locked lead box and throwing away the key. You know, just to be safe.

NAOTO: Since the machine could be malfunctioning, they told me to try another hospital if we’re still worried about him.

“Huh, your friend appears to be impermeable to X-rays. Have you tried going to another hospital?” Also, shouldn’t it be trivial to test the X-ray machine on a control to see if it’s malfunctioning? Naoto says that all other tests came back normal, but only describes basic surface-level examinations. Don’t tell me they didn’t even take his blood?

The team proceeds to talk about Personas and Shadows in the middle of the hospital corridor. At least no one else is visible in frame this time. They give some exposition that basically amounts to “Personas and Shadows are psychological terms” and that’s it.

NAOTO: A Shadow is suppressed power, and when controlled by one’s ego, it becomes a Persona…

That sounds wrong, but I don’t know enough about Jungian psychology to dispute it.

KANJI: It becomes a Persona…? What does that mean? Th-They’re basically the same thing?

Uh, congratulations on catching up to something the game told us in the prologue? Why is this only happening now? And he immediately remembers, oh yeah, all the Shadows turned into Personas. What was the point of this?

Then Teddie reveals he got everyone’s test results (how?) and will now be announcing them to everyone because he’s a creep. Yosuke is initially embarrassed, but decides it’s fine as long as he gets to creep on the girls.

RISE: Sure, go right ahead. My profile’s been public knowledge for ages. Oh, but my bust size is 2cm smaller than they print. My agency insisted.

Everything that comes out of your mouth is a portal to nightmares, Rise. She proceeds to look at Naoto’s measurements, and apparently finds them shockingly unusual, but in what direction she won’t say. Naoto mercifully retrieves the papers before this farce can continue.

On the 8th Naoto ambushes me at the school gates to say she can’t focus on schoolwork when there’s a murderer on the loose. Wow, what a weirdo! She loudly says we’re the only ones who know the real killer is still at large in front of the school gates where it was just established everyone can overhear us. I say I can’t study either, and…

NAOTO: That isn’t good. If your grades drop, Dojima-san may suspect that something is going on.

Oh no, we might have reason to bring another police officer into this? Why don’t you want that, Naoto? You just complained about how we can’t investigate because you lost your police connections.

In the afternoon Yosuke calls everyone for a meeting. Naoto, the poor, innocent fool, asks if he’s made a breakthrough on the case. Of course, he just needs everyone’s help to cover shifts at Junes. Apparently an event at the police station featuring another idol has been canceled. Hmm, are the police deliberately trying to keep her off the air? Although they claim the case is closed and kicked Naoto for refusing to let it rest…

YOSUKE: The police took forever to decide on cancelling the event. My dad’s really in a fix now… He worked so hard to put this whole thing together, and I just can’t stand to see him like this… I can’t just let it go.

Wow, look at him care. This does seem consistent with what we’ve seen in his social links: He seems to value people in terms of how much they contribute to Junes.

NAOTO: I heard that the police couldn’t prepare for the event because I had gone missing. I’m sorry… This is my fault.

They kicked you from the case! How were you involved in this? Also, you went missing A MONTH AGO. How inefficient is this bureaucracy?

YOSUKE: I think it’s possible [my dad] might get fired if this thing falls through… If that happens, I might have to transfer schools again.

Ah, so he is personally motivated to make this work. Still, he does seem genuinely fond of his dad, given he’s not blaming him for this.

Rise agrees to cover for the absent idol on the condition that everyone else does the music. Coincidentally, Naoto can play piano. Everyone else offers to bring instruments too even though they don’t know how to play them. Well, this will be a disaster. Instead of pointing out they could just hire some actual musicians (like, say, the school music club whose room they’re using) at any point, we’re subjected to an entire day of this because it’s not like they have anything better to do. They magically learn how to play decent music after a single day of practice. Also, Teddie hits on Naoto — sorry, Nao-chan — because of course he does.

Everyone performs in a full anime cutscene. What was the point of this? Why is this here? Why did it deserve the budget of an animated cutscene?

…Oh, wait a minute. Was the concert televised? That would redeem all of this, please, please let this be plot-relevant. …Nope, the next day we return to school as normal.

After school, we see Teddie talking to Nanako. Sadly I can’t murder him, this is just an intro to study group. And… we actually spend a significant time discussing banal academic problems, because it’s not like there’s a murder case. Yosuke asks Naoto to tutor him, and the ace detective lies that second-year problems are just too hard for her.

YOSUKE: Aww… What’s up with that? Useless after all…
NAOTO: D-Don’t call me useless!
YOSUKE: Hehehe… I think I’ve figured out what buttons to push to get Naoto-kun riled up.

I was not expecting to get textual confirmation that yes, Yosuke deliberately seeks out peoples’ psychological weaknesses to torment them.

YOSUKE: You’re pretty cute when you’re angry.

Teddie then decides to start talking about supernatural stuff in front of Nanako. He insists that he’s somehow a “special being” among Shadows. Naoto concurs with this because her intelligence only goes so far.

NAOTO: The fact that you existed in such a world from the beginning adds credibility to your theory.

We still don’t know he existed “from the beginning”. We don’t even know when or what “the beginning” was. Teddie himself admits to having massive gaps in his memory. Why is everyone taking him at his word on this? Naoto tries to ask an actually useful question: What is Teddie’s earliest memory? Teddie gives a uselessly vague answer, saying he doesn’t remember anything in particular until he met us.

Nanako reminds everyone she exists and no one is nearly freaked out enough by the fact they just blabbed their secrets to a witness.

NANAKO: I think Teddie must be a king. I read in a story that a king was all alone inside a forest because of a bad guy’s curse.

Huh. Well, that must be true if the story’s bringing it up. So, what, the culprit created the TV world to imprison his Shadow? Or I suppose the more reasonable version would be that the culprit abandoned his Shadow without confronting it, given we still don’t know what happens if you do that.

In the evening I can finally rank up with Nanako after several stopovers. Geez, this kid is needy. She lost the parent-teacher conference form and asks me to help her look for it. I find it with Dojima’s papers and discover he’s listed “Anytime… I’ll try,” for the meeting time. Wow, he is horrible. He also included a photo of Nanako’s mom, causing Nanako to realize that Daddy only abandoned her because he was also sad about Mommy dying, and that makes it all okay.

Screenshotting for emphasis because WTF. “I’m sorry that I, a kindergartener, placed my own needs above my dad’s.”

On the 12th Chie ambushes me at the school gates to say hey, isn’t it weird how the Shadows look like characters from TV? Wait, what? The Gundam ones, sure, but most of them just look like bizzaro monsters. She combines this with Teddie’s insistence the TV world is shaped by peoples’ thoughts and wonders if there’s some connection between that and how the media influences people. An interesting theory the game really should have pursued at the start and not in the last third if this was supposed to a central theme.

Since you have no leads, you must wait until the criminal takes action…

You are the worst detectives.

On the 13th…

MS. KASHIWAGI: I won’t say who, but isn’t that just wrong? I mean…

Me: “Wow, when Ms. Cougar is calling out your creepiness…”

Farla: “Don’t be too generous, I bet next she’s going to say ‘how dare he do that instead of my measurements’.”

MS. KASHIWAGI: Who cares about a high school girl’s measurements? It would’ve been much more interesting if they were mine, huh?

…I have no words.

After many rainy days, I can finally rank up with Kanji. He delivers on the many, many doll orders the boy requested. Nanako overhears and compliments him on the dolls too, and says she’d like him to teach her how to make them. Afterwards, Kanji confides in me that after seeing his Shadow he hated knowing that was a part of him and thought he should change, but he’s reflecting that he hasn’t changed much at all. Hopefully this is going in the direction that he should accept the softer side of himself.

After acing midterms I rank up with Yumi. This time I barge in on her dad’s hospital room to see her talking with him.

YUMI’S FATHER: I’m sorry… I was so selfish… I caused you nothing but trouble… But seeing you at last… Seeing you care for me… I’m such a lucky man…

Empty apologies. He doesn’t say anything about wanting to be here for her or any other selfless reason, all he talks about is how beneficial it was to him that he managed to guilt her into this. Her parents reveal her name means “bear fruit” (how did she not know this?) and then he dies, because his only contribution is to ruin her life one last time. Seriously, if he had just died quietly without her ever knowing she would be much happier right now. She’s had to quit doing something she loved and cared passionately about because this dickwad crashed into her life to derail it once again.

YUMI: Dad… Thank you for bringing me… into this world…

You’re right, Yumi, his contribution begins and ends at literally bringing you into existence. Your mom, who ensured you survived that existence, deserves more credit.

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