04 April 2013

'Persona 3' Part IV


Why this guy? Why now? Do I seriously have to pause the review for one stupid character?! He's barely in the game! There's no point in paying any attention to him!




Looks like I can't progress any further until I deal with this asshole first.

Damn it.


I Remember Now 

I lied. Including the protagonist, whether you play as Minato Hiro or Minako Rin, there are ten members of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad. You have nine teammates, not eight.

I avoided this because there is no way to articulate my thoughts about it without screaming bloody murder at least once. I apologize for my dishonesty. It's just that... that jerk and... it... always fill me with rage. One second, I'm sitting on my bed, trying to focus on a tough course I've been struggling with. The next, without warning, it pops into my mind. I think of it and how much it pissed me off. How many tissues I needed to stop the eruption of tears. How I had to recompose myself before my roommate and friends had to see how utterly destroyed the dorm is after my long, brutal rampage.

The first time I saw... it... there was a ton of property damage, which I paid for. My parents are still quite angry: they confiscated my video games and told me to hit the books again. I'm trying to get back on track. ...Then my mind wanders and... it... reappears. I hate Persona 3 for this reason, but not as much as I hate my brain... and myself.

"Get on with it."
Although this is Rants From a Fangirl, this is probably the first post where I must heavily stress this one point. READ AT YOUR DISCRETION. This poor blogger will say so many things that will make little sense (or if it does, you will just not care)... and there will be much rage.

It's funny how people tell you to be very careful of what you put on the internet. While many people post pictures of themselves getting drunk at parties, posing suggestively in the mirror, or bullying others for laughs... I write blog entries with ranting and raving in language a sailor would be jealous of. At least I try to limit my targets to fiction. Unless someone makes a claim that sounds ridiculous and has no idea how to back it up.

Anyway. About that tenth member of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad to join the party... in fact, the third original member to be more specific...

Yukari, Junpei, Akihiko, Mitsuru, Fuuka, Aigis, Koromaru, and Ken have already been mentioned... just not that one other person. Granted, this individual is only a temporary squadmate, so technically there are still eight permanent members, minus the male or female protagonist. Despite his shortly timed appearance, I brought him along far more often than Aigis.

...I really need to stop beating around the bush. *sobs* So much for the therapy and the lobotomy...

Maybe for once, I can just talk about him and not attempt to throw myself out a window. So... I'm ready for this. Come out of the woodwork, you son of a -


So much for being calm.

Shinjiro Aragaki

"Adios, asshole."

*sharp inhale*

Dear universe, superior being(s), whatever you are, I have only one thing in this world that needs to be dealt with before I die. If I cannot find the answer to this before I get hit by an oncoming train in a tunnel, please feel free to send my blasphemous soul to where all the faithless people go.

Why do my favorite characters happen to be the archetypal rude, uncooperative jerkass?

Yep. I said it, Shinji-kun. You're an ass!
In fact, why, on the tiny blue planet with water and plants, do I keep liking the characters that sit anywhere on the jerkass scale? Why must they have at least one occasional [albeit RARE] nice tendency? Why must some be so goddamned nice or tortured (or BOTH) underneath their obnoxiously rude facade? What made the universe think that these people had to evolve into becoming jerks? How do they get away with acting like assholes for so long? How come they don't have hatebases that break the internet? Why do they end up being some of the more talked-about characters within a fanbase? Why are they more interesting than the upbeat, friendly members of the cast? How do the nice characters NOT beat the shit out of them? How does a nice - often female - character happen to make a lasting impression on the jerk? How can any upbeat character be so stubborn and believe he or she can help talk out the jerk's problems?

*breathes in*

How can these jerks bottle up their frustrations in life for so long? What makes the rest of the cast special enough to make an impression on the asshole? Why do some of them think they are monsters? Why do some of them feel unworthy of being admired, respected, or even loved? Why don't the upbeat characters FLINCH when they see the absolute worst side of these jerks? Is it even healthy to be around so much jerkassery over long periods of time? How the hell do they have the greatest best friends ever when a nice, normal person like me has to break my arms and legs? What the hell makes them so likable anyway?

Why, oh, please, superior being(s) - whatever you are - fucking WHY must Shinjiro's mere EXISTENCE be the equivalent to Chinese water torture?! WHY does P3P expand on his character?! WHY does October 4th have to happen? WHY must playing as Rin be so unbearably depressing?!?! WHY DOES NEW GAME PLUS'S ENDING HAPPEN?!?!?!

*slams head against wall*

*injects enough tranquilizer to put down a T-rex*

*checks pulse*

*performs breathing techniques*

*drinks small sips of pomegranate tea*

*stretches fingers*

I'm sorry. Please understand... This character completely destroyed me!

It physically hurts to play this game sometimes. No matter what I do, no matter what I say, no matter what optional actions I do, October 4th ALWAYS happens. No, there is a "variation" that occurs, but all it does is make the game much worse in the long term! No matter what happens, I will still be depressed and I will still bawl like a baby with a broken arm! It got so bad that I had to replace both my graduation present and my personal gift to myself!

After I recovered, I sat on my bed and held my copy of Mass Effect 3. "Is this how the fans felt after they finished the game for the first time last March?" I asked myself. "Were they full of so much rage that they thought they would never recover from the trauma they endured?"

If what I went through was even a fraction of that experience...

...why did I play this game?

Now that's out of my system for the time being...

*squee!* :3
ZOMFGHEISSOKAWAIIIIIIIIII~DESU!!!!!!!! *snuggles* ^///_///^

I adore Shinji-kun. Every time he pops up in the game, I go insane like a preteen girl at her first Justin Beiber concert. Shinjiro makes my pessimistic heart feel nice, warm, and fuzzy inside. If someone made a plushie of him, I would sell everything I own, buy it, snuggle it tightly, and affectionately sing "Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty". He would be superglued to my arms and I'd refuse to ever let him go. And his Persona, Castor, is the epitome of badass.

It's just slightly annoying that I keep enjoying the same damn horse trick (no pun intended) over and over again.

So what is this guy's deal, though?

"Alright, let's kick some ass!"

^_^ *squee*
In combat, Shinjiro has no weaknesses, no resistances, and yet no strengths. Any enemy can try to beat him up, but he will rarely suffer a critical hit. Castor's abilities are quite limited, as he is a Persona that can only deliver physical attacks, predominantly slash or strike-based. Because such attacks use up health points, the Regenerate and Counter abilities barely make up for about half of what is lost. When not directly controlling him, Shinji has a pretty annoying habit of spamming his special abilities, making him even more vulnerable to attacks.

His weapon of choice is a battle axe, meaning his accuracy is even worse than Junpei's... but he utterly demolishes enemies, especially when dealing critical hits. Do. Not. Mock. Him. The interesting thing is that only Shinjiro and Akihiko deliver strike-based attacks with their melee weapons... which is unfortunate. At some point late in the game, notably in P3P, there are a few Shadows that can only be defeated by strike attacks... and once... *sigh* it happens, only Akihiko is capable of taking these enemies down.

Other than being the object of my Fangirlish tendencies, Shinjiro always ends up being in my party. His fighting style is extremely limited and might not work for every player's strategy. In my experience, though,  Shinjiro was far more reliable than the fellow resident physical-attack-spamming android. Aigis might use a wider range of physical attacks and has skills to boost my team's attack and defense, but I never had any good luck with her as her weakness to electricity always demolished her usefulness for me. He might not always grant the final blow to many enemies, but Shinji can dish up some nasty dirt while the rest of my team debuffs the enemy and heals up. My favorite squad make-up was Shinjiro, Akihiko, and Mitsuru, with Hiro or Rin serving as the main healer possessing the ever-reliable Persona Titania. This dream team has not failed me yet.

"I don't owe you anything."

Believe me, you @&$hole, you owe me... BIG TIME. For starters I want your beanie.

Back when I played Persona 3: FES, I found the guy to be a badass from the first few times I saw him. Once he joins the squad around the halfway through of the game, I always brought him along when exploring Tartarus. Every time he smashed the enemies to pieces and posed with a victorious "Adios, asshole," I squealed like a little kid.

So what if he looks like he will pound your face in if you even look at him funny? Deep down he's a natural worrier and nice guy who likes cooking shows and adores puppies. (Tee heeXD)

Swoon indeed, Rin. I wanna man who can cook! :'(

Despite his appearing once in a blue moon, vanishing for weeks on end, and joining the party halfway through the game, the plot demands that October 4th happens. And with Persona 4 and Arena out and continuing the lore, it is sadly canon. Sure, you can play as a female in Persona 3 Portable and tweak a few minor events... but it's never going to be considered canon. And it only delays the inevitable.

No matter what happens, Shinjiro will always die.


Without fail.

It can happen in one of two ways. The first is him falling down what I like to call "the Aerith plothole". Or the game simply suffered an embarrassing case of Cutscene Incompetence. Either way he gets two bullets through the torso. Blood everywhere. Collapsing with his last words, "This is how it should be." The second is his body eventually shutting down after all the Persona suppressants he took.

I want a refund. Both the lobotomy and the therapy have failed miserably. Atlus, I really, really @#%$ing hate you.

Don't get me wrong, the way he goes out is not the problem. No, he went out like a badass. After I stopped twitching at the gunshots and screaming at the screen, I gave a tearful salute. It's just... just...

The reasons why I want to run into the streets with a chainsaw and rip apart anyone that stand in my way are endless!


He's my favorite character! The game never shuts up about how he kicks the bucket (1)! Rin's Moon Social Link is a masochistic ritual to sit through! ALL THE HOURS OF LEVEL AND SKILL GRINDING! What about all the yen I spent on his equipment! The tuxedo! 50,000 yen out the window! Only one full moon boss and a few Tartarus visits? WHAT A WASTE! Why can't you clobber that obnoxious asshole at the funeral like so? CAN SOMEONE CAST DIA OR USE ONE OF THE 99 REVIVAL BEADS I BOUGHT AT THE PHARMACY (hence I dub the Aerith plothole)?! Since when was Shinji-kun vulnerable to pierce attacks? Why can't Mitsuru call a doctor when she had no problem getting a vet for Koromaru? Why must my favorite character die so brutally?! Why must the Moon Social Link be so depressing at the end? How the @#%$ can Rin and I not cry WHEN YOU ARE BLEEDING TO DEATH, YOU @$$?! Atlus, I hate you so much!

Takayaaaa! I hope you get run over by an airplane!

... If any of you read that word vomit, you really have no life.

Granted, most of my bitching is based off of how Shinjiro is portrayed in Persona 3 Portable. In the original game - and FES - some of the guys in SEES mention that he is like a very reliable big brother figure. In some way that might be true. In reality this guy just comes off as a colossal antisocial jerk. Even in combat he gives Hiro and Rin a ton of grief when given orders or when healed. Letting Hiro get to know any of the fellow guys in SEES is tough enough, but Shinjiro is an impossible nut to crack. When you do try to talk to him, he barely changes his apathetic, foul-mouthed nature. The hilarious video of him hiding his Real Men Wear Pink tendencies is in FES, but that's the extent of seeing what's underneath his face of a thug. By the time you're used to having him around... Ken demands Shinji to jump into the monster pit. Then Takaya happily shoves him in.

*remembers Fangirl's tantrum and streams of profanities and tears during October 4th event* *resists urge to scream*

At the very least, he was just a plot device in the original game. He was the match that lit a forest fire and left a ton of damage for the heroes to notice. His death demanded them to take the shadows, the Dark Hour, and Strega seriously. Without that event, the story would continue to move at the speed of molasses. So as much as it pains and kills me to admit it, October 4th was absolutely necessary.

Now, what's so special about this shifty closet expert chef and dog-lover in Portable? Playing as the Rin allows some backstory and character development to add to what little we already had on Shinjiro. Interactions with him go along the Moon Social Link, and once you max it (2), he survives the gunshot wounds. Yet in order for the plot to not be too different from Hiro's story Shinjiro is left in a coma for the rest of the game.

Oh, yeah! Because the blind are incapable of love!
What makes it worse is that at around rank 8 of the Moon Social Link, it is painfully obvious the game hints that Shinjiro has fallen in love with her. Once he wakes up in March, long after the final boss fight on January 31st, Rin is on her deathbed. And Atlus owes me five trillion yen in tissues for that scene alone... especially on New Game Plus.

So... let's see if I got this all straight.

Like Akihiko, who's practically a brother, Shinjiro is an orphan. The two of them joined SEES with Mitsuru in middle school. Then during an operation, for reasons unknown, Shinji loses control of Castor and accidentally kills Ken's mother. He then leaves SEES and becomes self-destructive by taking the Persona suppressants with life-threatening side effects. Once Akihiko finally convinces him to rejoin SEES years later, Shinjiro stays around for about a month until two bullets pierce his torso.

Bonus points are added if playing as Rin and if they fall in love. Cue the new near-death experience on October 4th. Then add in the New Game Plus ending as she dies in his arms. Then he kicks the bucket anyway thanks to the suppressants. Finally, cue Fangirl slitting her wrists to Three Days Grace's "Pain."

Just... WHY?!

Even when Mass Effect had drama as ridiculous as this, it was completely avoidable unless you seriously screwed up a few times! Not only that, but how old are these characters? Other than the ten-year-old Ken, everyone is in high school, right? How old is this guy again?

What, 18?! I don't think most adults get to live through such a highly concentrated trauma conga line! What is this, Elfen Lied

You know what? Why do I even bother? I hate this game! Why did I play this awful piece of emotional and psychological abuse?!

Holy crap. Even in his past life Shinjiro went through hell! (3)

Speaking of Mass Effect... I realized that Shinjiro Aragaki and Thane Krios have some minor similarities in their storylines. Badass fighter that prefers doing things alone? Check. Doomed to die because the plot demands it? Check. Nice guy who is extremely cooperative and personable with the female protagonist? Check. If enough time was spent together, he falls in love with the female protagonist? Check. He's too nervous/freaked out that the relationship will crash and burn horribly if feelings are truly, fully reconciled? Check. Minor villain comes along to deliver the coup de grace in a cutscene with no damn medicine or revival items for anyone in the party to use? *groans* Damn you, Cutscene Incompetence!

At the end of the day though... I still preferred Shinjiro. I found his reasons for pushing himself away from his friends to be more understandable than Thane abandoning his family. Shinji accidentally killed someone, and will never be punished because the authorities will never believe that the Dark Hour and Personas exist. I'd be pretty regretful beyond saving too! His self-destructive, reclusive behavior paints a far more tragic image than Thane killing his wife's murderers, re-devoting his life of being an assassin, and abandoning his young son. Besides, Thane is dying due to him living his life on a humid planet that his arid-climate-adapted body cannot handle.

And BioWare's writing with dialogue did not help much. Thane's "I stalked my wife, threw myself on the ground, begged forgiveness, and stayed with her until she loved me" reeks of Twilight levels of squick. I'll take Shinji's unrealistic, out-of-the-blue cooperation after telling Rin to "buzz off" any day of the week, thanks. Seriously. If a shifty eighteen-year-old, foul-mouthed high school drop out wielding a battle axe in a Japanese RPG is more likable than a smooth, soft-spoken, spiritual assassin from an acclaimed action-shooter RPG... I have no idea what to tell you.


Persona 3 traumatized me in one more way... Rin and Shinjiro. I completely ship this ill-fated couple. It's fucking depressing how much I found the relationship adorable.

Apparently having a happy ending for these two
is waaaaaaaay too much to ask for.
After everything that happens is it my fault that playing as Rin is really painful? Is it wrong that I was forced onto the bandwagon thanks to this stupid, manipulative game? Is it wrong that this relationship is so damn short and depressing that Romeo and Juliet is a sunny meadow in comparison? (4) Is it wrong for me, the pessimist who is known for being somewhat romantic-phobic, to want a happily ever after FOR ONCE? Is it wrong that Titanic and The Notebook COMBINED has got nothing on the New Game Plus ending of this game? ... Superior being(s) dammit!

It's the second-to-last boss fight, however, that is by far the worst part. I don't care if it was Akihiko, Ken, or even Junpei or the male or female protagonist who would do it, I just wanted Takaya dead. Of course, another game does the perfect form of revenge, not Persona 3.


Typically, my stance on things like the death penalty can best be described as "on the fence." Not every single criminal who strangles babies deserves death. A traitor of his own country does not always deserve the guillotine either. ...And yet... I really, really, really longed for Takaya's head to fall off his neck. He put two bullets my favorite character. He put a third in Junpei. He indirectly caused Chidori's death. He stepped on everyone's emotions and manipulated them, particularly Akihiko's. He excited the whole world for the apocalypse by forming a cult and speaking as a "messiah." (His likeliness to Jesus Christ does not help much.) AND he stood in the way between me and the end of the world with no qualms about losing like a dumbass.

There is an option to end him - and I press it every time! - but Mitsuru AND Aki force me to stop.

That's right, the guy who watched the man who was practically his brother GET SHOT IN THE FUCKING CHEST is telling ME to let go. Even with having horrible backstories that even Oliver Twist could relate to, Aki and Shinji grew up laughing together, crying together, beating the crap out of each other, supporting each other through thick and thin, and helping each other survive the worst possible situations. Their Personas are the Gemini twins for crying out loud! It's Akihiko, who has known and loved Shinjiro longer than I ever will, is telling me - both me, the player, and Rin - to spare Revolver Antichrist?!

Just... no. Give me an option to repeatedly stab Takaya in the gut and impale him with my naginata as a warning to anyone who screws with me ever again! Or, hell, give me an option to summon an ice dragon to fling the SOB off a bridge (5)! Let me have a healthy outlet for my fury!!

Even making a revenge fic will not satiate my anger.

*breathes calmly* *smiles*

You know? It was nice getting this off my chest! Now I think I am out of juice. I think I can finally finish up my review with no more emotional breakdowns to stop -

*blink* Wait... did Shinji-kun just -


*heart implodes*

*slaps self*

In vanilla and FES he only had two profiles: the shifty eyes and the... creepy death glare. If Portable couldn't be anymore of a tease, Shinjiro now has at least six expressions. Two are of him... smiling? @_@

Throughout Rin's Moon Social Link, you will see Shinjiro smile... CONSTANTLY. That, added with him inexplicably being very personable right from the get-go, might make you wonder you're on LSDs. It comes out of nowhere and it continues to leave me confused. Might I further add that he blushes like a timid little school girl over the smallest things? Dear God, it's like his heart is made of marshmallows and cotton candy! Then there's the scene when you talk to him after the Link is maxed -

*face flushes* @///_///@

... Th-that's it. Fangirl can take no more. This is making me nauseous. This fanservice is too much for me to handle. I am done. El fin. No more.


Next time, I end this dragging review once and for all!


(1) - I wish I wasn't serious. There are far too many times when Persona 3 either "foreshadows" or blatantly reminds us of Shinji's death. Here are some of the ways:
  • The opening video from the original game just shows him lying on the ground.
  • Actually, even Persona 3: FES and Persona 3 Portable openings give at least one subtly brief, obligatory reference to the October 4th event in some way, shape, or form.
  • Polydeuces (Pollux) and Castor.
  • Once Polydeuces evolves into Caesar, representing his newfound resolve, one of Aki's victory lines is "Ha! Did you see that, Shinji?" Since Akihiko is my most reliable teammate during my several hour sessions of level grinding, I heard him say this more times than I can describe.
  • Sometimes teammates, mainly Aki and Ken, will comment about the gravity of the plot, with subtext that pretty much says "If Shinjiro was still here..."
As a bonus, here are two things from the megamitensei.wiki.com triva section on his character page:

   "The Shirt of Chivalry, a type of costume for males in FES and P3P, is noted for the kanji symbols on their backs that symbolize the character. Shinjiro's sign on his back is Kanji for "life" or "fate" (), a play on irony with his subplot."

   "During the Social Link rank 10 event, Shinjiro is surprised that the female protagonist is the one to return his pocket watch. While overlooked in western culture, objects such as clocks are something of a taboo in Asian cultures. The word for "clock" also sounds like "end" or "death", referring to Shinjiro's near-death experience on October 4th."

(2) - Before anyone asks: after rank 9, go to the police station, talk to Kurosawa, and you'll get the pocket watch. Do this before talking to Shinji again, AND before October 4th. *sigh* Even after three years people still ask about this...

(3) - It freaked me out when I learned that Keiichi Maebara and Shinjiro Aragaki were both voiced by the same actor. Or maybe I'm the only one who tolerated/liked the English dub of Higurashi. Still, for him to be in the same game with a major role alongside freaking Liam O'Brien and Vic Mignogna, Grant George has to be somewhat competent. But now I can't watch Higurashi anymore without thinking that Shinji is bludgeoning people with bats... or getting stabbed in the gut. And Persona 3 is not the same now that I see Keiichi being a total jerk to his friends for no reason. O_o

(4) - Yes. I called the relationship between Shinjiro and Rin more tragic and upsetting than Romeo and Juliet. I can hear the wonderful sound of literature teachers and Willie Shakespeare himself screaming cries of blasphemy. ...and you know what?

(5) - A Fool Named Fortune. Best. Fanfic. With. Best. Scene. Ever.



Well, let's hope in the future I don't have to resort to this. An entire post about a character that barely appears for 20 hours in a game is insane. I will return to being objective again, I promise!

FINALLY! The review comes to a - 


*picks up steak knife*

There is no good in this world. If only I had the desire to live long enough to hear Tears on Tape...


A said...

Wat u wrote at the beginning of persona 3 was so hilarious XD!!! I liked it.

A said...

Wat u wrote on persona 3 part 4 is what I meant. Have an awesome day.

A said...

Felt like I was on a roller coaster ride reading about that.

Voltech said...

Well, damn. It looks like I missed a LOT when it comes to Shinjiro and P3P. Shame that my PSP inexplicably decided to have a meltdown...but, alas. That's a story for another day.

In any case...

"Why do my favorite characters happen to be the archetypal rude, uncooperative jerkass?"

Two theories on that one.

A) It's an alternate version of vicarious living. Social norms demand that we be cooperative and kind to one another, and being a jerkass is generally frowned upon -- but in fiction, it's sometimes (or often, even) the jerkass characters that get the most done. They're lacking in boundaries, and go even further by breaking down boundaries. There's something appreciable about that, I'd say...though I generally prefer nice guys in fiction. (I don't care what anyone says, I think Superman will ALWAYS be more interesting than Batman.)

B) Everybody has a fictional weak point, and I guess jerkasses are yours. Everybody's got some kind of weakness hardwired into them, and even if our brains don't understand it, there's just something about certain tropes that tickle our souls. It'd probably explain why I have a weakness for British accents. And characters that remind me of How I Met Your Mother's Lily Aldrin. Or hot dogs.

With all that said, I think that your experiences with Shinjiro prove just how powerful a tale can be created with a little ingenuity...and suffering. Lots and lots of suffering. Killing off a character is not something I find pleasant, and it has to be handled with a lot of foresight, grace, and merit. If nothing else, I think we can agree that Shinjiro's death exemplifies that rule -- and given P3P, I'd say he gets even more chances to shine and more chances to force his way into the player's heart. In a way, it's the perfect trap: you're supposed to get attached JUST so he can get ripped from your body. It's a dirty trick, but clever and effective.

...Atlus is kind of evil, I'd wager.

Well, whatever. At least the memory of the character lives on -- and at least you can say you got to know him better. And man, that smile...I think I feel my legs getting weaker...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...