My Game of the Year 2008: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2)

Developed: Atlus
Published: Atlus
Genre: JRPG
Platform: PS2

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is a game that I love so much that I beat it again with the best ending just for this article. I clocked in at about 90 hours. Yes. I love this game that much. So if you've been wondering why this has taken me so long, there's your reason. Persona 4 is a JRPG about a murder mystery that a group of Japanese high school kids solve in their free time by going into an alternate reality that exists inside TVs where they fight monsters called shadows with monsters of their own called Personas. I like weird games. Really though it's actually one of my favorite game stories ever with perhaps my favorite cast of characters from any work of fiction. This is gonna be another loooong post that spoils the entire game so read on at your own risk. Just the notes that I took down while playing ended up at over 26,000 words long, so yeah. Get ready.

Before I start, I have to give a huge shout out to Feinne of I used a lot of screens from their let's play of Persona 4 that I couldn't find anywhere else. In fact, most of the pictures here are from that let's play so I hope you don't mind Feinne (On the remote chance that you might read this, heh). Give Feinne a round of applause folks! This article would be bland as hell without their efforts. Anyway...

In Persona 4 you play as a Japanese 11th grader who you name but for the purposes of this article I'll refer to him by his name in the game's anime adaption, Yu Narukami. Narukami will be living in the small town of Inaba for a year while he goes to school there. I should note that Narukami is a silent protagonist aside from dialogue options, so whenever I write that he says something it's the dialogue option that I went with. In most cases I went with the most normal sounding one but sometimes you have no choice but to have him say silly stuff, though sometimes I just feel like choosing a more fun option.
Here's a good example of how varied the dialogue choices can be. Genius or moron. Take your pick.
The game begins with a strange dream sequence in which Narukami wakes up in a limo and is greeted by probably the most poorly designed good character ever, Igor. His design just screams villain in disguise to me but I'll spoil that right now by saying that he's a good guy throughout the entire game. As far as I can tell, he was in all the previous Persona games as well, making him one of the only recurring characters in the series so I dunno why they would have such a creepy design for him. Anyway, Igor tells Narukami that he is in a place known as the Velvet Room; a room that exists outside of time and space. He then reads Narukami's fortune and predicts a horrible catastrophe and a great mystery in his future. Eh, I guess it wouldn't be a JRPG without those so whatever.
Who could ever mistrust a face like that?
Narukami wakes up on the train to Inaba just as it arrives. Narukami meets his uncle Dojima and young cousin Nanako who he'll be staying with for the year. As they stop for gas on the way home, one of the attendants speaks to Narukami about what a boring place Inaba is and as they shake hands, Narukami begins to feel ill. Remember this because it's important...for the very end of the game...and it's required if you want to get the best ending. I'm not kidding. This game kinda requires a guide sometimes...

Anyway, they head to Dojima's house and watch the evening news. The top story is about local politician Taro Namatame's affair with a news anchor named Mayumi Yamano. You're gonna see those names a lot more later so try and remember them. Dojima gets a call and has to leave Narukami to try and make awkward conversation with his young cousin. She tells him that her dad leaves like that a lot because he's a police detective. Nanako perks up when a commercial for a store called Junes comes on, excitedly singing along with the commercial's jingle. It's not really explained until later so I'll say right here that Junes is pretty much Wal-Mart, destroying local businesses and everything, so I don't know why Nanako loves the place so much.

As Narukami sleeps that night, he has a strange dream about walking down a path made of red cubes until he reaches a door and is confronted by someone obscured by fog. The person asks if he wants to know the truth before Narukami suddenly wakes up the next morning. This is also relevant to the game's best ending and doesn't make much sense without it. This happens a lot in this game actually. As Narukami walks to school for his first day of 11th grade, he sees another student crash his bike. This is another one of our main characters who will be introduced later. He makes a great first impression. And by impression I mean the one he left in the concrete. That may have been the worst joke ever. Narukami gets to class and is introduced to the other students by his asshole of a teacher, Mr. Morooka, who I swear to God looks like a racist caricature of a Japanese man that you would have seen in American World War II propaganda. And this game was made in Japan. I am confused.
Seriously, just look at those freakin' teeth.
 During class, an emergency staff meeting is called with students confined to their classrooms until further notice. Morooka runs off as the sound of sirens can be heard nearby. The students clamor to look out the window but the fog is too thick to see anything. As the students wait to find out what happened, they begin to gossip about the affair that was on the news last night. They ask one of their classmates, Yukiko Amagi, if the rumors about Mayumi Yamano staying at her family's inn are true but she doesn't feel like indulging their gossip. Yukiko turns to talk with one of her friends, Chie Satonaka, who tells her about an urban legend that's been going around about something called the Midnight Channel. The rumor states that on a rainy night, if you look at your TV while it's turned off at midnight, your soul mate will appear on the screen.

The students are soon sent home without a word to them about why they were confined to their classrooms. Chie and Yukiko ask Narukami to walk home with them so they can tell him a bit about the town. As they leave, the student who crashed his bike, who happens to be in Narukami's class too, apologizes to Chie as he returns a DVD that he borrowed from her. She sees that he somehow cracked it so she kicks him square in the balls. Ouch. They leave him be and begin to walk home.
I honestly can't think of a caption goofier than that line.
Outside the school gates, a strange looking boy from another high school suddenly asks Yukiko out on a date. He calls her "Yuki" which is apparently a big no-no in Japan. I think it has to do with formalities when addressing someone you don't know personally. The game doesn't explain it; I'm just guessing. Either way, Yukiko turns him down and he runs off. Remember this guy for much later in the game. I told you it does that a lot. Yukiko apparently lives in a bubble and doesn't know what the boy wanted from her. Even after Chie explains she still seems confused. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you our pure virgin female character who knows nothing about boys or dating, even in 11th grade. Aww.
I dunno, Yukiko. Looks like you got yourself a real winner there.
As they walk home, Chie explains what a boring place Inaba is with the only interesting places being Junes and the inn that Yukiko's family runs. They suddenly come across a commotion with a crowd of people gossiping about a high school girl who found a dead body hanging from a TV antenna. Dojima spots Narukami and tells him to hurry home just as Dojima's bumbling partner, Adachi, runs past them and vomits after seeing the body.

Later that night Narukami and Nanako watch the news again and see a story about the body that was discovered. Apparently it was the body of Mayumi Yamano, the news anchor who was just revealed to be having an affair last night. The story confirms the gossip that Narukami heard about the body being found hanging from a TV antenna and ends saying that no apparent cause of death can be determined.

The next day as Narukami walks to school the same student from yesterday crashes his bike again, this time managing to get stuck in a trash can. Narukami helps the dumbass out who thanks him and introduces himself as Yosuke Hanamura. They walk to school together as Yosuke gossips about Mayumi Yamano's death, wondering if the way her body was hanging from a TV antenna was supposed to be a warning of some kind. In class we learn that Mr. Morooka has no problem swearing to his students, calling them assholes and telling them to forget about Yamano's death.
Oh God, I hope his bike is okay.
After school, Narukami, Yosuke, and Chie go to Junes so Yosuke can pay Chie back for the DVD he broke by buying her expensive food. I guess the kick in the stones wasn't payback enough. Yosuke reveals to Narukami that he recently moved to Inaba too and that he works at Junes, which his father manages. While they eat, Saki Konishi, a friend and coworker of Yosuke's and an upperclassmen at their school, comes over to bug him. She embarrasses him, talking about him to his friends like he's a little brother, and asks the others to be nice to him since he doesn't have many friends. She leaves them be and Chie immediately teases Yosuke for his supposed crush on Saki. She changes the subject and tells them about the Midnight Channel. Yosuke is skeptical but she suggests they try it tonight.

That evening, Narukami and Nanako watch the news and see another story about Mayumi Yamano's death. They show an interview with the student who found the body. Her face and voice are disguised but Narukami recognizes her as Saki Konishi. She seems really disoriented and only shows confusion at the interviewer's questions. The story soon ends with the anchor saying that the police still don't know the cause of Mayumi Yamano's death.

Later still, Narukami decides to check out the Midnight Channel. As the clock strikes midnight, a blurry image of a girl who seems to be writhing in pain flashes on the screen several times before the screen goes blank again. Narukami becomes disoriented for a moment but soon recovers and reaches out to touch the TV screen, unsure of what just happened. His hand passes through the screen when his arm and head are suddenly yanked in. Thankfully his TV is too small for him to fit through so he quickly pulls himself free.
The next day, Narukami, Yosuke, and Chie discuss the Midnight Channel. Apparently they all saw the same girl, which freaks Chie out because she thinks that her soul mate is a girl. Narukami explains what happened when he touched the TV but they don't believe him. Yosuke jokes that the TVs they sell at Junes are big enough for him to fit his whole body in, so they head there.

They find the biggest TV in Junes and Yosuke and Chie touch the screen with no result. When Narukami tries though, his hand goes into the screen, much to their amazement. He sticks his head in next, which only freaks them out more, to the point where Yosuke almost wets himself. Customers approach which causes Yosuke and Chie to run around in a cartoonish panic. They accidentally bump into Narukami and all three of them fall into the TV.

After a rather rough landing, they find themselves in a bizarre, TV studio like area with a thick yellow fog all around that almost completely obscures their vision. They can't find any obvious exit nearby so they begin to search the area. They find a creepy room filled with posters with the face torn off of them and blood splattered on the walls. In the center of the room is a makeshift noose made out of a red scarf next to a chair. Yosuke panics after seeing all this and can't hold his urine any longer. He tries to pee in the corner of the room but gets pee shy with the others in there and gives up. Classy. As they leave the room, Yosuke mentions that the woman in the posters looks familiar but the three of them begin to feel ill so they get away from the room fast. Narukami wonders if there's something about the strange world that they found inside the TV that's making them feel ill.
They run back to the TV studio area where they came in and find what looks like a person in a bear costume. They panic and ask him where they are, which he seems to not know though he says he lives there. He tells them that someone has been throwing people in there, much to their confusion, and tells them they should leave because it can get dangerous in there. He taps his foot, which causes a stack of TVs to appear and he quickly pushes them through.

They arrive back at Junes and Yosuke finally remembers who he saw on the posters in that creepy room: The wife of Taro Namatame, the politician who was having an affair with Mayumi Yamano. They wonder if that room could have had anything to do with Yamano's death but decide to worry about it later and call it a day.

Back home, Dojima asks if Narukami knows Saki Konishi, which he affirms. Dojima tells him that she just went missing but not to get too worried. Another snippet of news is heard in the background, confirming the rumor that Mayumi Yamano was staying at the Amagi inn the night she disappeared.
The next morning, a quick scene is shown of a girl hanging from a utility pole. As Narukami heads to school, nearby students gossip about another incident as sirens blare in the background. After class, a short assembly is held where the principle announces that Saki Konishi was found dead this morning and that her cause of death is unknown. As Narukami and Chie leave the assembly they overhear gossip about Saki being found hanging from a utility pole, similar to how Mayumi Yamano was found while others say that they saw Saki on the Midnight Channel. Yosuke walks up and confirms the latter, telling Narukami and Chie that he has no doubt now that it was Saki that they saw on the Midnight Channel and that some students claim that they saw Mayumi Yamano on the Midnight Channel before she died. He wonders if the Midnight Channel is predicting the bizarre deaths and recalls what the bear creature told them about people being thrown into the TV world. He tells them that he plans to go back to the TV world to find out if there's any connection and runs off to prepare. Narukami and Chie soon follow him, fearing for his safety.

They find Yosuke in front of the same TV as yesterday holding a golf club and a rope. He gives the golf club to Narukami and the end of the rope to Chie. He and Narukami enter the TV world while Chie stays outside to hold the rope as a lifeline. Soon after they enter though, the rope breaks, leaving Chie at a loss for what to do. In the TV world, Narukami and Yosuke find themselves in the same TV studio area as before. The bear creature runs up and accuses them of being the ones throwing people into the TV world. Yosuke realizes that he must mean Yamano and Saki and wonders if someone threw them into the TV world intending to kill them. The bear asks them why they would come back knowing that there might not be an exit and Yosuke finally notices that his lifeline is broken. The bear demands proof that they aren't the killers and Yosuke explains what has been happening in the real world.

Both of the victims showed up on the Midnight Channel before they died and it was foggy on both days that they were found. The bear tells them that when it gets foggy in the real world, the fog in the TV world lifts and the "shadows" get violent. Yosuke ignores that comment for whatever reason and asks if the TV studio is where people who appear on the Midnight Channel are filmed. The bear tells him that only he and "shadows" live in the TV world and that's how it's always been. Yosuke gets fed up with the bear's nonsense and pulls the head off his costume, revealing that there isn't anyone inside; he's just a hollow bear costume.
The bear puts his head back on and tells them that he doesn't know what he is and that he just wants to live in peace. He says that he'll stop accusing them but only if they promise to find the real culprit. Narukami recalls Igor's prediction that he will encounter a mystery and wonders if this could be it. He promises to find the real killer which finally cheers the bear up. They introduce themselves to the bear who reveals his name is Teddie. How creative. Actually his name was the only one changed from the Japanese version of the game where his name was "Kuma"; Japanese for "Bear". A lot of thought was put into that one, surely.

The one thing about the game that I find far-fetched happens when Teddie gives Narukami and Yosuke glasses that allow them to see through the fog in the TV world. It isn't that the glasses exist. Teddie claims that he made them and I can even buy that (it's never explained how he makes them however.) All I want to know is how he knew to make them since he said that only he and "shadows" live in the TV world, implying that he'd never seen humans before. How did he know that humans couldn't see through the fog or even how to make glasses the right shape for humans to wear? Whatever. I'm over thinking a game that was made in Japan. I could have a stroke.

Teddie leads them to the place where he senses the last person was thrown in, meaning Saki. They arrive at a dark version of Inaba's shopping district, where the liquor store owned by Saki's parents is. Teddie says that this place recently appeared along with several other locations. They approach the TV world's version of the Konishi Liquor Store when several of the shadows that Teddie kept mentioning appear out of nowhere and attack. Narukami clutches his head in pain as he hears a faint voice. He suddenly notices a Tarot card in his hand and seems to instinctively say the word "Persona" which summons a giant cloaked man with a huge sword who easily dispatches the shadows before disappearing. This is Narukami's Persona: Izanagi.

Yosuke can't believe what he saw and wonders if he can summon a Persona of his own when they suddenly hear voices in the distance. The voices say that they wish Junes would shut down and speak of their disapproval of Saki working there. Yosuke worries that Saki had to endure that kind of gossip in the real world when they hear more voices coming from the Liquor store. They run inside and hear what sounds like Saki's father yelling at her for working at Junes. They hear Saki herself next, who regrets never telling Yosuke how she really felt about him: that he was a pain in the ass and that she was only nice to him because he was the manger's son. She claims that she hated Junes just as much as everyone else.

Yosuke can't believe his ears, when suddenly, a shadowy clone of Yosuke appears. Shadow Yosuke says that he's just like Saki; he can't stand Junes or anyone else for that matter. Despite the real Yosuke's denials, Shadow Yosuke goes on, saying that he just pretends to be a happy, care free guy so he can surround himself with people to block out the pain of isolation. Yosuke maintains that none of that is true to which shadow Yosuke responds that he knows everything about Yosuke because he is his true self. Yosuke responds by yelling, "You're not me." Shadow Yosuke laughs, saying that now he really isn't a part of him anymore and transforms into a giant, deformed, frog like creature. The real Yosuke passes out leaving Narukami and Izanagi to deal with the monster.
Can't say I disagree with him.
After a fierce battle, they manage to subdue the beast and it turns back into it's former self. Yosuke regains consciousness and like a moron, still insists that shadow Yosuke isn't him. Teddie tells him that he needs to accept his shadow or it will go berserk again. After some encouragement from Narukami, Yosuke approaches his shadow and admits that he sometimes feels as the shadow said. He accepts him as a part of himself and his shadow disapears only to be replaced by Yosuke's Persona: Jiraiya. Still saddened by Saki's words, Yosuke asks Teddie if she was attacked by a shadow version of herself. Teddie tells him that all the shadows in the TV world are born from human thought and that they go berserk when the fog lifts, which explains how Yamano and Saki died.

Back in the TV studio area, Yosuke wonders if that whole shopping district came from Saki's thoughts and if the whole TV world is made up of suppressed human emotions. Teddie can't answer that but he can sense when someone has entered the TV world so if anyone else is thrown in there's a chance to save them. Finally some good news. They vow to find the true culprit as soon as possible so they won't have to save anyone else and as they leave, Teddie asks if they'll ever come back. Narukami tells him that they promised to help him make his world peaceful again so of course they'll come back. Teddie warns them to make sure they enter the TV world from the same place every time or they may end up somewhere  where he can't find them.
Expect to hear a lot of this from Teddie.
As they exit the TV world, they find Chie waited for them the whole time. She screams at them for making her worry and runs off crying. On his way home, Narukami see's Yukiko in a formal kimono sitting on a bench and speaks with her briefly. She tells him that she's dressed up because she had some business to take care of for the inn. She shyly apologizes, explaining that she has trouble talking to boys without Chie there to help her and expresses her admiration for Chie's strength, saying that it's always Chie who gives her the push she needs to get through tough times. I can't say I'm surprised by this.

Narukami gets home and watches the news which talks about Saki's death. They say that there could be a serial killer on the loose before moving on to the next story. Yukiko appears in an interview about the Amagi inn but becomes extremely flustered when the interviewer gets creepy and complements how attractive she is. How professional. They also mention that Yukiko will one day inherit the inn before ending the interview. Narukami watches the Midnight Channel again and sees another image, this time a young woman in a Kimono. Hmm...I wonder who it could be.

The next day, Yosuke mentions that he saw the same person on the Midnight Channel and that they should talk to Teddie after school. After class lets out, Chie asks Narukami and Yosuke if they've seen Yukiko at all today. They reply that they haven't and Chie tells them that, surprise, it was Yukiko on the Midnight Channel last night. Narukami explains what happened in the TV world yesterday which only worries her more; Yukiko could already be in there. They try calling the Amagi inn and find out that Yukiko skipped school to help out there. They're relieved but Yosuke wonders why Yukiko was on the Midnight Channel if she isn't already in the TV world. They decide to go ask Teddie if he sensed anyone yet.

They go to Junes but find the electronics department too full of customers to enter the TV. Yosuke and Chie form a wall on either side of the TV while Narukami puts his hand in and motions Teddie over. Teddie comes over all right and he bites Narukami, giving the group a start. They ask him through the TV if anyone has shown up so far and he replies that it's "bear-en." He makes a lot of bear related puns I'm afraid. They conclude that all they can do now is keep watching the Midnight Channel so they head home.

Later, we see Dojima and his partner, Adachi, as they discuss the deaths. Adachi seems convinced that it's murder but Dojima is skeptical because there still isn't a cause of death for either victim. As for possible suspects, Taro Namatame and his wife are the most suspicious but they both have alibis with eyewitnesses placing Namatame in a different town and his wife in a different country when the deaths occurred. Dojima is also skeptical of the theory that Saki was killed to silence her after discovering Yamano's body. She wasn't killed until days later and both bodies were displayed very openly as if someone wanted them to be found. The only connection that Dojima can find between the victims is that Saki went to the same school as Yukiko, whose family owns the inn where Yamano was staying when she disappeared. The scene ends with Dojima saying that all they know for now is that the perp must be somewhere in Inaba.

That night Narukami watches the Midnight Channel again and sees an image that isn't as cryptic as before. Yukiko appears in an elaborate dress, standing in front of a castle. She cheerfully addresses the camera, much less shy than her usual self, saying that she plans to score some hot studs before the image fades. They grow up so fast. Yosuke calls Narukami, confused about what they just saw. He states the obvious saying that Yukiko wasn't herself and that they need to check the TV world first thing tomorrow.

The next morning, Narukami meets Yosuke at Junes. Yosuke brandishes a couple of weapons for them to use in the TV world and like a moron, starts swinging them around. A police officer soon spots his shenanigans and arrests both of them. At the police station Dojima reprimands the two of them, telling them that swinging weapons around in public is bad enough on its own but is especially suspicious right after two people were found dead in the small town. He confiscates their weapons and releases them but they're stopped on their way out by Adachi who tells them what they feared; that Yukiko was reported missing. He begins to tell them that Yukiko might be a suspect in the murders when Dojima interrupts, yelling at him to stop giving out confidential information to civilians. Apparently he has a problem with that. Chie shows up and they relay what they found out to her. They resolve to rescue Yukiko themselves because the police will never be able to save her from the TV world.
I can't help but be reminded of this South Park episode.
They head to a local weapon shop and arm themselves for their mission. Despite Yosuke's protests, Chie insists that she's coming along whether they like it or not. After all, Yukiko is her best friend; they depend on each other and Yukiko needs her now. They split up on their way to Junes so as not to attract attention again, though that could probably be achieved by simply NOT waving weapons around in public like an imbecile. Narukami finds himself being called to the Velvet Room again, though this time he can see the door that leads to it. Igor speaks to him about gameplay elements that aren't story relevant but does leave him with a warning, saying that defeat in battle isn't the only way to fail. This is yet another thing that won't be relevant until later and it's especially relevant to the game's multiple endings. This game loves foreshadowing.

As they meet in Junes we see that they've changed from the casual clothes that they were wearing earlier back into their school uniforms to "hide their weapons". Okay, Yosuke uses knives so that makes sense but Chie uses different kinds of boots to make her kicks hurt more and Narukami uses long swords like claymores and dai-katanas. A later character who I won't spoil yet uses an even bigger type of weapon: shields. I'm sure those can be hidden under a school uniform. Also, Yosuke's casual clothes would probably hide a weapon better than his uniform but whatever. Sorry, I like this game too much and I'm starting to nit pick dumb stuff just to have jokes...

In the TV world, they find Teddie still agonizing over what he really is but they interrupt his contemplation so he can lead them to Yukiko. They end up at the same castle that they saw on the Midnight Channel and again ask Teddie what's going on with the spontaneously appearing areas of the TV world and how people keep appearing on the Midnight Channel. Of course he doesn't know and Chie decides to get impatient and recklessly runs into the castle on her own. Narukami and Yosuke give chase, fighting tons of shadows along the way, and eventually find her standing face to face with a shadow version of herself, just like what happened to Yosuke. Chie's shadow isn't much nicer than Yosuke's, spouting the whole, I have no friends, Yukiko is so much prettier than me routine. Blah, Blah. That's one of the only problems I have with this game. This same scene gets repeated for every party member, albeit it's fairly different for each of them, though the first few though are kinda the same. They get more interesting later.

Anyway, shadow Chie talks about how she loves that Yukiko depends on her because other than Yukiko, she's all alone. The real Chie has had enough and says the same thing Yosuke did, "You're not me", prompting shadow Chie to transform into a crazy looking monster that resembles a woman in bondage with sharp tentacles for hair, sitting atop a stack of weak looking girls. I'm sure there's some kind of symbolism there. That's the other thing that happens every time. Whoever is confronting their shadow will scream "You're not me", and their shadow transforms into some crazy monster that the party has to fight. Hell, it happens so much that by the last party member, one of your current teammates pretty much tells them to say it so they can get the fight over with.
Narukami and Yosuke manage to beat the creature who turns back to normal and Chie tries to fight it again. The guys tell her that she needs to confront her dark side and she eventually accepts her shadow, gaining the Persona Tomoe. Chie collapses and they return to the entrance so she can rest. Teddie tells them that Yukiko should be fine until the fog lifts and the shadows go berserk, and remember that the fog only lifts there when it gets foggy in Inaba. In this game's world it only gets foggy after several days of rain. I don't know if fog works like that in the real world but whatever. This is as good a time as any to explain how time works in this game cause this is the point where you have more freedom to do what you want.

As I said at the beginning, Persona 4 takes place over the course of one year with each day shown in some capacity. On weekdays, Narukami has to go to school, though it usually isn't shown and when it is, it's a fairly quick scene where the teacher will ask you a question that I don't know how you're supposed to know the answer to without a guide. One of the questions is about Japanese poets. How the hell is an American supposed to know this shit. They translated this game too literally. Anyway, after school you can do one thing in the afternoon and one thing at night. Then it's off to the next day. In the afternoon you can spend time with various people which is where Persona 4's other major gameplay element aside from beating up monsters comes in: the social link system.

As you spend time with various characters, they gradually grow to like you more, which levels your social rank with them. Bear with me on this one. Each of the 21 social links corresponds to a different "arcana". The higher level each social link is, the stronger the various Personas you can make will be. Each Persona has an associated arcana too so, as an example, if you have the magician arcana at a high rank, any Persona of the magician arcana will receive a bunch of bonus experience when you create them. So the social link system and battle system actually work together nicely.
One of the social link characters is a fox. Yep.
So TL;DR, during the afternoon you can either go kill stuff and save people in the TV world OR spend time with one person to level up your social link with them. At night you can study or do part time jobs. The entire game takes place from April 11th to December 25th so you have to budget your time. There's one other time constraint to worry about as well. Whenever there's a character in the TV world, like Yukiko was where I left off, you have to save them within about 15 days or they die and it's game over.

Back to the story now, Narukami is confronted by Dojima again at home who tells him to stay out of trouble before sending him to bed. The next day, Yosuke, and Chie are discussing their shadows when they realize that Narukami got his Persona without having to face his shadow. This is yet another hint for the very end of the game. This game expects you to remember way too much. After school they start exploring Yukiko's castle more and as they make their way through, they hear her inner thoughts, just like Saki's thoughts being heard in the twisted shopping district. She expresses a wide variety of emotions, from calmly greeting guests at the inn to screaming to be left alone, which make me wonder if she has some kinda problem with mood swings but whatever. They finally find the real Yukiko kneeling in pain in front of her shadow.
Shadow Yukiko is just as crazy as the other shadows, telling Chie that she's her "prince" who always saves her. This is getting weird. She has another mood swing though and says that Chie isn't good enough for her anymore and that she'll just have to wait forever for a real prince to come and save her. She expresses her hatred of having to work at her family's inn and wishes she could just be set free. The real Yukiko has had enough with this nonsense and you know what happens next. "You're not me!" Transformation. This one is pretty weird looking too. She transforms into a giant bird in a cage sitting atop a huge chandelier. Yay. symbolism. They beat the bird up and Yukiko and Chie share a touching moment when they realize just how much they depend on each other. Yukiko accepts her shadow and gains the Persona Konohana-Sakuya. God dammit, these weird names are gonna make spell checker explode. Anyway, they take Yukiko back home and call it a night.

Things go back to normal for a few weeks. After Yukiko recovers, Narukami and pals speak with her about the night she was kidnapped. All she can remember is the doorbell ringing and someone calling her name. How helpful. Yukiko joins them in their hunt for the killer and is pretty much a mandatory party member because she's the only decent healer besides Narukami and can do enormous amounts of  magic damage by the end of the game. One ironic thing about Yukiko is that, as she explains at one point in the game, her name means "snow child". The funny thing is that the only damaging spells she learns are all fire based. Dunno what the developers are trying to say with that one.

Anyway, they discuss what the killer's motives could be. He seems to be only targeting women and so far they've all been linked to Mayumi Yamano in some way. Saki found her body and Yamano stayed at Yukiko's inn the night she disappeared. The only other hint they have is that the Midnight Channel seems to be predicting who will be kidnapped so all they can do for now is keep checking it. They run to Adachi later and ask the moron if the police think that Saki was killed to silence her. He says that they're exploring that possibility and think that the killer may be someone close to her. He realizes that he's said to much and runs off.

A few more weeks pass without incident until one night while Narukami, Dojima, and Nanako are watching a news story about local gangs. My favorite character is introduced when a news crew tries to interview him but he scares them off. Dojima immediately recognizes him as a local delinquent named Kanji Tatsumi who beats up gang members for fun. He especially hates the ones that make a racket near his house because they keep his mother up at night. I just love that. He's like a freakin' superhero, and despite his violent behavior, he still loves his mom. Aww...

It rains the next day so Narukami checks the Midnight Channel and sees a young man, about high school age. Narukami and the mystery squad meet up at Junes the next day to talk about what they saw. Their assumption that the killer is only targeting females was apparently wrong and all they can do now is keep watching the Midnight Channel to try and figure out who it is so they can warn him before the killer strikes. They watch the Midnight Channel again that night and the image comes in a bit clearer. They decide that it must be Kanji Tatsumi but warning him won't be easy with how violent he is.

The next day they head to the textile shop that Kanji's mother runs and bump into a young man as he leaves the store. Remember him for later. As Yukiko speaks with Mrs. Tatsumi, Chie notices a familiar scarf on sale. It looks exactly like the one that they found in that creepy room the first time they entered the TV world. Mrs. Tatsumi tells them that scarf was a special order placed by Mayumi Yamano which means there's a connection between Kanji and Yamano. They leave and see Kanji talking to the young man from earlier. He asks Kanji to meet him after school tomorrow and walks off. Kanji is extremely flustered by this for some reason, wondering if the boy was asking him out on a date. Kanji isn't very smart. He notices Narukami's group watching him and chases them off. They decide to tail him tomorrow while he meets with the other boy.
The next day they split up into two groups, with Yosuke and Chie tailing Kanji and Narukami and Yukiko staking out Tatsumi textiles. Yosuke and Chie manage to immediately blow their cover and Chie decides it's a good idea to piss Kanji off as he confronts them by saying that "there's nothing wrong" with what he's doing, which he takes as her questioning his sexuality so he gives chase. They lose Kanji and report their failure to Narukami and Yukiko. Kanji catches up and Yosuke finally decides to ask him something related to the case, asking if anything strange has happened to him lately. Kanji again takes this as them questioning his sexuality and chases them off again. Good God, he's insecure. By the way, Kanji is probably the reason the game is rated M because I swear half of his lines contain the word "shit". Anyway, the group gives up for the day and heads home.

Narukami watches the Midnight Channel again and sees probably the most homophobic caricature ever but there's a good reason for it, just bear with me. He sees Kanji dressed in nothing but a small towel who speaks in a hilariously flamboyant voice saying that he's in "a place for sublime love that surpasses the separation of the sexes." I don't think there was enough alliteration in that sentence. The image fades and Yosuke calls, at a loss for words and they decide to check the TV world tomorrow.
What is with that face? Is that how they think gay men look in Japan?
The next day, they speak to Teddie who's more more depressed than ever. They ask him to try and track Kanji but he can't sense him. Now for the dumbest recurring gameplay segment in the game: investigation. For the next few dungeons, you need to find out some kind of hint about the person you're tracking before you can find the dungeon they're in. You do this by talking to every character in the real world until you find the one character who can give you some kind of hint. Without a guide it can take forever. Anyway, the hint you find out about Kanji is from the young man he was talking to who says he has some kind of complex. You don't say? They take this information to Teddie who manages to lead them to Kanji's location: a bathhouse.

As soon as they get near they hear the sounds of what can only be described as men getting, uh...intimate. Yosuke acts like a complete homophobe and doesn't wanna go in but they press on regardless. They eventually find shadow Kanji who, just like shadow Yukiko, seems to think he's on a TV show of some sort. He makes a bunch of thinly veiled homoerotic statements about how he's "penetrated the facility" and that he's looking for "charming encounters". OKAY. I GET IT. Just get it over with and start singing show tunes. (I promise I'm not trying to be a homophobe here. The game REALLY tries to hammer this message home.) Shadow Kanji runs off and they give chase.

They eventually find the real Kanji as he confronts his shadow. Shadow Kanji continues his not so subtle ranting, saying how much he hates women for judging him for wanting to sew, even calling him a queer. Yeah I'm sure it's just girls who are homophobic. What flawless logic. You know what happens next. Of course Kanji rejects his shadow, saying, "There's no way in hell you're me!" Shadow Kanji transforms into...this:
They defeat the mess of symbolism and Kanji of course still doesn't want to accept him. Shadow Kanji begs for acceptance which Yosuke's homophobic ass thinks is a sexual proposition of some sort and shouts that he doesn't swing that way. Yosuke can really be dumb as shit sometimes. Kanji gets fed up with the spectacle and punches his shadow in the face. He says that he doesn't care about men or women; he just doesn't want to be rejected. He's enjoyed sewing since he was a child and had to act tough all the time so nobody would judge him. He accepts his shadow as a part of himself and gains the Persona Take-Mikazuchi.
Best out of context line ever...if you're an immature moron like me.
This is something that disappointed me to no end. I'll go ahead and spoil the fact that Kanji never actually comes out of the closet. It would have made for a much more interesting plot line if he was just full blown gay which is what his shadow seemed to represent but whatever, I guess you can't get everything. There are some scenes that imply he might be bisexual but they never state it outright. Still, it's one of the only times in any game that I can think of at least where a character's sexual orientation was really explored. Also Yosuke taunts him for the rest of the game about it. Like I said, he's kind of a homophobe. Anyway, they take Kanji back to the real world and call it a day. Hmm, maybe it's just me but I think Kanji kinda looks like someone:
1.21 gigawatts?!
A few weeks later, Kanji recovers and they ask him about what he remembers the day he was abducted. He remembers about as much as Yukiko did and all he can add is that he remembers being thrown into a weird dark entrance which the others guess must be a TV. Kanji asks if he can join them in their search for the killer and they gladly accept. They discuss what they know so far and Kanji says he has something important that he took from someone who was "snooping around" the school. It's a list of people who appeared on TV from the past few weeks. First is Mayumi Yamano on 4/11, then Saki Konishi on 4/13. They finally make another connection between all the victims: they all appeared on TV right before they were kidnapped. Yukiko was interviewed about her inn and Kanji appeared in the story about local gangs, both right before they were kidnapped. All that's missing now is a motive. Why kill someone just for appearing on TV? All they can do is keep checking the Midnight Channel.

Several more weeks pass without incident until one night Narukami sees a news story about a young celebrity named Rise Kujikawa who's leaving show business and moving back to her hometown of Inaba. A press conference is shown where reporters ask her all kinds of inane questions while she looks exhausted and uninterested. Dojima can already sense trouble with a celebrity moving into town while the murders going on. The next day Narukami and friends discuss how Rise might be the next victim. Nah, you think? If she is though it means that the killer really is just going after people who have been on TV because she has no connection to Mayumi Yamano's death. Narukami watches the Midnight Channel and, of course, sees Rise. The developers decided to be perverts here and have the camera focus on her chest the whole time but it's fairly obvious it's her. Yosuke calls, excited as ever and confirms that it was definitely Rise. They plan to go warn her at her family's shop in town.

The next afternoon, Narukami, Yosuke, and Kanji head to Rise's shop but find a huge crowd blocking the entrance with Adachi directing traffic outside. When they ask him what he's doing, he runs away for whatever reason. They wonder if the police have already caught onto the same pattern that they did when Dojima suddenly exits the store and is immediately suspicious to see Narukami hanging out with Kanji. They tell him that they just wanted to see Rise and he leaves them be. The crowd disperses when it seems that Rise isn't there and the guys head in. They find Rise right behind the counter. How blind was that mob? They speak with her about the Midnight Channel which she was apparently aware of and watched last night, stating that the girl on the Midnight Channel wasn't her because her "bustline isn't that big." Well I guess that clears that up. They come right out and tell her that she may be kidnapped to which she says that she'll be careful so they leave her alone for now. I'm sure she'll be just fine.

Later, Dojima and Adachi warn Rise but she tells them that Narukami's group warned her already, which only makes Dojima more suspicious. How could a few high school kids figure out that she might get kidnapped before the police? He confronts Narukami later that night, again telling him to stay out of police business, before Nanako interrupts, worried that they're fighting. Dojima again drops the issue for now. That night Rise appears on the Midnight Channel once more, prompting Narukami and friends to come up with a similar plan as when Kanji was targeted.

The next day, they prepare to stake out Rise's shop all day and pick up some supplies at the corner store. Yosuke, ever the moron, suggests that they buy diapers which make me want to make a horribly dated joke about a certain crazy astronaut but I'm probably the only person who remembers that loony broad. They run into Adachi who, coincidentally enough, was on his way to stake out Rise's shop too so they team up. Hours pass without incident until the spot a man climbing a utility pole nearby who runs when he see's the group. They all give chase and eventually corner him at a busy intersection. He threatens to jump into the oncoming traffic but they fool him with the "Look over there!" trick and quickly grab him. Adachi, the genius police detective he is, arrests the man who claims that he just wanted a picture of Rise's room.
Case closed.
 The rest of the dumbass brigade heads back over to Rise's shop to tell her the supposed good news but she's nowhere to be found. Even after searching all over town they can find no sign of her so all they can do now is watch the Midnight Channel. That's their answer to everything... That night, Rise appears on the Midnight Channel again, but this time it's another fake TV show like with Yukiko and Kanji. She appears to be in a strip club and promises to "push the limits of standards and practices" and "bare it all." How subtle. Yosuke calls after the image fades, no doubt sporting some considerably tighter pants, and is more determined than ever to rescue her quick before her shadow does anything drastic on the Midnight Channel.

They enter the TV world the next day and find Teddie more depressed than ever, trying his best to remember who he is. They snap him out of it as best they can and ask if he can sense where Rise is. Again they'll have to find a clue about her so they set out and ask around town. They find out a paparazzi has been hassling Rise so they track him down and all he can tell them is that Rise is having an image crisis which is why she quit show business. Somehow this is enough for Teddie to track her to the same strip club they saw on the Midnight Channel. They navigate the labyrinthine club and eventually find Rise and her shadow. Her shadow goes on and on about how much she hates being a fake celebrity and how she longs to expose her true self, apparently by stripping. Rise gets fed up and, "You're not me", transformation, boss fight, whatever.

Shadow Rise seems like she's set to go down easier than the last few bosses until partway into the fight when she becomes seemingly invincible. It seems hopeless when shadow Rise defeats the party in a single attack and Teddie begins to panic. He suddenly goes Super Saiyan and destroys the boss in a blinding explosion. Teddie lies deflated on the ground, seemingly dead but soon recovers, uninjured other than being, uh, flat. His character portrait while he's flat is hilarious too:
Why is this not a rage comic character? Get on it, Reddit.
They check on Rise who seems to accept her shadow more easily than the others, admitting that she tired of having to be a fake celebrity all the time and just wanted people to accept her for who she really is. Moving. Her shadow turns into the Persona Himiko who is a bit different from the others' Peronas in that it's more of a reconnaissance Persona than a fighter. Teddie begins to panic again and suddenly a shadow version of Teddie appears. Great. Two bosses for the price of one. Shadow Teddie tells Teddie that he will never know who he really is and that he should just live in blissful ignorance. He tells the group just as much saying that the only truth that they have left to discover is that they will die here. He then transforms into a giant decayed version of Teddie that I swear stares directly at the player for the entire fight. Just look:
Oh God...It's staring into my soul.
They defeat the cheap bastard who loves to exploit your party member's weaknesses and he turns back to normal. Teddie tells him that he may never find out what he is but he still wants to keep looking. Shadow Teddie silently yields and transforms into the Persona Kintoki-Douji. These names just keep getting sillier. As they head back to the real world, Teddie speaks to them at the entrance, saying that he'll train hard so he can fight along side them. Then he starts doing situps. Yeah, I'm sure that'll work. (It does actually. Just wait.)

That evening, Adachi brings home an extremely intoxicated Dojima who's angry about an outside detective being brought onto the case after Adachi jumped the gun and arrested that peeping tom. What really pisses him off is that the consultant is a high school student, which prompts him to take out his anger on Narukami, again telling him to stay away from the investigation.
A couple of weeks go by without incident until one morning, we see a scene of a dead man hanging from a water tower. Everyone meets at Junes to discuss what happened. The victim was apparently their teacher, Mr. Morooka. The group is baffled by this. Morooka never showed up on the Midnight Channel or even regular TV so this goes completely against the killer's MO. They start to wonder if they were wrong all along and that the case is unsolvable before Kanji snaps them out of it saying that they're the only ones who can solve this case because "the police can't tell their asses from their elbows." How inspirational. They head to the TV world but find the Junes electronics department full of employees. Yosuke asks what's wrong and they tell him that a strange bear mascot has suddenly shown up. They find Teddie nearby, relaxing in a massage chair.

They ask him how he got over to the real world and he says that he just used the exit...makes sense. They ask if anyone has been thrown in the TV world since Rise to which he replies that he watched until the fog lifted and nobody entered since then. He tells them that he wants to fight along side them now since he has a Persona and that Rise can fill his previous role of recon from now on. They take him to the food court discuss the killer some more. They wonder if saving the last few victims has made him give up on using the TV world as a weapon, in which case they won't be able to save anyone else. Teddie starts to complain about the heat and tries to take his head off. Yosuke tries to stop him, telling him that he'll traumatize all the nearby kids if they see a hollow mascot without a head, but Teddie insists that he isn't hollow anymore and takes his head off anyway. Then this happens:
Yeah, sure, why not? The more weird the merrier in this crazy game.
Apparently doing situps was enough to grow an entire human body inside his suit. Nothing about Teddie makes any sense. Chie and Yukiko take Teddie off to buy him some clothes while the other go to Rise's place to see how she's recovered. Chie, Yukiko and the new, improved Teddie show up and holy crap why did they dress him like this:

Did they buy him the puffy shirt from Seinfeld? ...I'm sure all the young-ins are gonna get that one.
Yosuke and Chie begin to argue over the cost of Teddie's clothes since they charged it to his account while Kanji takes Teddie to get some ice cream and Narukami and Yukiko go to see Rise. They run into the same young man from Kanji's house and he finally tells them his God damn name so I can stop calling him "that young man". Anyway, his name is Naoto Shirogane and he's been investigating the murders. Yosuke and Chie catch up as Naoto discusses Mr.Morooka's death with them. He somehow came to the same conclusion as them, saying that Morooka never appeared on TV and asking them what they think. They feign ignorance so as to not draw attention to themselves so he leaves it at that and walks off.

Rise shows up, fully recovered and they speak with her about the day she was kidnapped. She has even less information that Yukiko and Kanji did, saying that she just remembers being in her house, then waking up in the TV world. How can 3 people be kidnapped and not remember a thing about it? Anyway, she officially joins the group.

The next day, they discuss Mr. Morooka's death some more. Rise gives her insight as someone who is used to stalkers that someone who kills people based on TV appearances isn't very rational so maybe he just changed his mind on how and why to kill people. Naoto shows up and apparently heard what they were talking about. He tells them to not worry about Morooka's death anymore because the police already have a suspect in that case. They ask him how he knows so much and he reveals that he is the special investigator that had Dojima so pissed off. He tells them that there's solid evidence linking the suspect, who is apparently a student from another high school, to the murder so he should be apprehended shortly. Naoto tells them that their "game" will soon come to an end which makes them pretty angry, especially Yosuke with how close he was to Saki. Naoto leaves them be and they call it a day.

Weeks go by without an arrest until one night when Narukami checks the Midnight Channel, someone appears, and for the first time it's a clear image without a bunch of fuzzy ones preceding it. A familiar looking young man stands in front of a door and taunts the viewers to come catch him. The image fades and Yosuke calls, but Teddie takes the phone from him. He tells Narukami that he finally understands what the Midnight Channel is now that he's seen it with his own eyes. He says that it's the suppressed emotions of whoever appears resonating from the TV world. No shit...
The next day, as Rise and Teddie check the TV world, the others discuss what they saw. They say that the boy they saw must be the killer...again, no shit... And that he must have given up on killing with the TV world when it stopped working and killed Mr. Morooka the old fashioned way. When the police caught on to him he had no choice but to flee to the TV world. Rise runs up and tells them that, once again, they'll need a clue about the boy to find him so they begin their search.

Narukami finds Adachi hanging around Junes and threatens to tell Dojima that he's loitering instead of doing his job if he doesn't tell him about the suspect. Our hero! Blackmailing police officers! Adachi tells him that the kid had a job in the shopping district which eventually leads Narukami to one of the suspect's friends. He has apparently been handing out school photos of the boy as a sideshow attraction or whatever and gives Narukami one. The photo is definitely of the same boy and it has his name on it: Mitsuo Kubo. This is somehow enough information to track him so they head back into the TV world.

Rise says she recognizes the boy as a frequent customer to her store and wonders if he was spying on her. Chie finally recognizes him too as the boy who hit on Yukiko at the beginning of the game. I wasn't kidding when I told you to remember him for later. Yukiko wonders if rejecting him was enough of a motive to want her dead and Rise recalls him talking to her a lot about how much he hates biker gangs, though she mostly ignored him; possible motives for kidnapping Rise and Kanji. Chie also recalls a rumor that Kubo believed cheating women should be killed. So other than Saki and Mr. Morooka, he seems to have motives for all the killings.

They track him to what looks like an old school, Nintendo game style castle which make Yosuke think that Kubo sees this all as a game. As they make their way through the 8-bit castle, they can hear Kubo talking about the deaths of Yamano, Saki, Morooka, though not the other kidnappings for some reason. He speaks of his increasing isolation and desire for fame and eventually they hear the panic that he felt as he was forced to flee to the TV world. They eventually catch up to Kubo as he stands before a shadow version of himself. He yells at his unresponsive shadow that he had to kill Morooka because he got no attention after the first two murders.

He suddenly notices Narukami and pals who ask him if he really killed all those people. He gleefully takes credit for the killings but suddenly collapses as his shadow transforms into a giant floating baby with a green halo. What the hell is going on with this game? The baby is suddenly surrounded by...this:
Hmm, maybe 3D Dot Game Heroes wasn't so original.
Thus commences the most annoying damn boss in the game. He gets to attack twice on every turn and you have to keep destroying the 8-bit shell to even damage the actual boss and he keeps regenerating it every time you destroy it. They eventually defeat the cheap bastard and confront Kubo again. They ask him if he really killed all three of the victims which he considers for a moment before claiming responsibility to all three murders. They take him back to the real world and ask him why he did it, which he doesn't have an answer for. They can see that they'll get no further information out of the crazy moron and turn him over to the police.

A few days later, Narukami, Dojima, Adachi, and Nanako all have a big dinner in celebration of the killer being caught. Adachi blabs police information for the millionth time, telling Narukami that it's been hard to pin all three murders on Kubo but they found his prints on Mr. Morooka's clothes so it should only be a matter of time.

After about a month of no story, the gang goes to school for the first day after summer break. They find that Naoto has enrolled there, who tells them that he'll be staying in Inaba for the time being because "there are some aspects of the case against Kubo with which he remains unconvinced." Yeah, Naoto speaks really properly for some reason.

A few days later the school goes on a trip to Port Island, the setting of Persona 3, which raises some really big questions if these two games are supposed to take place in the same universe. Now I haven't actually beaten Persona 3 so I'm sorry if this isn't still true after that game's conclusion but anyway... In Persona 3 instead of the Midnight Channel, they had the Midnight Hour; an extra hour at midnight in which most people turn into coffins and shadows come out to attack the unlucky few who don't. Those who don't turn into coffins are able to summon Personas to defend themselves though so here's my problem. A. Does the Midnight Hour effect the characters of Persona 4? Like when they go to watch the Midnight Channel, do they turn into a coffin for an hour first? B. Does this mean that the characters of Persona 4 can summon their Personas in the real world like the characters in Persona 3? Or do they have to be the special few who don't turn into coffins during the Midnight Hour to be able to do that? I should really beat Persona 3 one of these days...
Enough with the alliteration already.
Anyway they visit the school where the characters of Persona 3 went and are lectured by the schools insane nurse, Mr. Edogawa. He tells a story that is only really relevant if you get the best ending. Again with this. They shouldn't have given this game so many endings if they wanted to put so many things in the game that only make sense if you get the best one. Mr. Edogawa tells them about Izanagi and Izanami, the two gods who created Japan. Long story short, Izanami dies and vows revenge on the world when Izanagi doesn't save her from the underworld.

The second day of the trip, the students are allowed to wander around and have fun, so Narukami and friends visit a local club where they run into Naoto and ask him to join their fun. Since Rise is a former celebrity, she's able to reserve the upper section for them where they hang out for a while. As they drink their supposedly non-alcoholic drinks, Yukiko, Teddie, and Rise manage to get drunk as shit, while the others seem fine. They play a truth or dare like game called king's game that I've never heard of so maybe they made it up for the game or maybe it's a Japanese thing, I dunno...
Rise's drunk face just cracks me up every time.
 They ask Naoto to reveal something about himself since they don't know much about him and he agrees on the condition that they reveal something to him too. He tells them a bit about his family's history as detectives and his desire to further his education so he can be a better detective as an adult. For their side of the deal, he asks them what their true involvement in the murder case is. Yukiko drunkenly tells him all about the TV world and Personas which he believes is her patronizing him so he gives up on trying to get the truth out of them for now. He reveals one more thing: the club they're at serves no alcohol so Yukiko, Rise, and Teddie managed to get drunk off of nothing. Lightweights.
Heh, I like this guy.
A few days later back home, Narukami watches a news story featuring an interview with Naoto who tells them that Mitsuo Kubo definitely killed Mr. Morooka but there are still some details that make him doubt the rest of Kubo's story. The interviewer mentions to the audience that this is contrary to the police's official statement before segueing into the next story. Narukami worries that Naoto may be the next victim if it turns out that Kubo isn't the true culprit. Well we haven't seen an ending yet so what do you think?

The next morning, Naoto Speaks with Narukami and pals before school, asking them to "indulge his theory on the case." He has pretty much everything figured out: That all the victims, save for Mr. Morooka, were locals who appeared on TV before they were killed. He also knows that Yukiko, Kanji, and Rise disappeared shortly after appearing on TV. He believes that they either were rescued or faked their disappearances to divert attention from themselves. In other words, he thinks one of them may be the killer. Or at least he used to. He now believes the opposite; that they are a group of rescued victims and may be the only ones capable of stopping the real killer. He adds that this is all speculation however. The police are desperate to close the case, despite the fact that there's still no evidence linking Kubo to any death other than Mr. Morooka's so Naoto leaves with the cryptic message that "further action will be necessary to uncover decisive evidence." He says one final thing in response to something they told them before, "This isn't a game for me either." Scary.

That night, Narukami checks the Midnight Channel and sees someone, but the image is really unclear. Yosuke calls wondering if they still have to worry about the Midnight Channel with the killer caught and again wonders if the Midnight Channel ever had anything to do with the murders. They discuss it for a bit the next day but unless a more clear image comes up, they can't do anything about it. Narukami watches the Midnight Channel again and gets another crazy fake TV show. Of course, Naoto shows up, standing in front of a surgical table and wearing a lab coat that is way to big for his small frame. He talks in an over the top tone about undergoing a "forbidden bodily alteration process" so that he can be reborn, before the image fades.

The next day they talk about what they saw. Teddie tells them that there's definitely someone in the TV world, but he can't pinpoint where. Yosuke expresses his frustration that nothing has changed since Kubo's arrest when Yukiko has a realization: Naoto knew he would be kidnapped if he appeared on TV so he used himself as bait to collect the "decisive evidence" he was after. The morons finally realize what Naoto's been telling them was true: Kubo only killed Mr. Morooka for attention so the real killer is still on the loose. They hurry to the TV world but Teddie and Rise aren't able to track Naoto's precise location. I call bullshit. All they needed to find Kubo was his name and picture so they should easily be able to find Naoto who pretty much told them his life story during the school trip.

Whatever. They run around town and the only information they get is that he's obsessed with the case and hates being disrespected. This is enough to track him. They already knew that before... They track him to what looks like a bunker but Yosuke thinks it looks like a super vilain's secret base. Okay. They make their way through the complex and eventually find Naoto calmly negotiating with his shadow, who is crying like a child. Shadow Naoto begs them not to leave because he hates to be alone, but Naoto remains calm and tells his shadow that talking to him any longer is meaningless.

Shadow Naoto suddenly gets serious telling Naoto that no one will ever respect him as a detective and begins to cry again. Talk about mood swings. Shadow Naoto whines that he wants to be an adult so he can be respected, then stops crying again. Jesus. He gets serious again and insults Naoto some more, saying that he's just a child emulating the fictional detectives he idolized growing up. He then mocks his name, saying that it sounds so masculine, but it doesn't mean he can grow up to be a great man if he was never a male to begin with. Yep. Naoto's a girl. Having this revealed is too much for Naoto who says the magic words, which Chie tries to interrupt but Kanji knows how this works now and lets Naoto say it. Shadow Naoto transforms into a weird flying cyborg thing who is a real pushover of a boss, especially compared to shadow Kubo's cheap ass.
Dun dun duuuun
At this point I'd like to talk about Naoto for a second. Naoto continues to cross dress for the rest of the game but all the characters use female pronouns when referring to her from this point on so I'll do the same here. As we'll see in a second, she isn't a true transsexual, meaning that she isn't a man trapped in a woman's body; she only wanted to have the respect that men get. So I hope I'm not offending anyone but I think her character is handled very well and is one of the only cross dressing game character that I can think of who isn't just a joke like Birdo. The others being Faris from Final Fantasy V and King from Art of Fighting (Both female by the way. I can't think of a good male example.) but again I don't think either of them are true transsexuals. Enough of that, back to the story.

They defeat shadow Naoto, who turns back to normal. Naoto tells some more of her backstory, saying pretty much what I just did in the last paragraph; that she felt like she'd never be respected in the police community as a woman. She realizes though, that what she really wants isn't to be an adult or a man; she just wants to be respected for who she is. Her shadow transforms into the Persona Sukuna-Hikona, and we get our last party member. They rush back to the real world where Naoto tells them that this proves that the real killer is still on the loose. They berate her recklessness but she tells them that she had no doubt that they would come to her rescue. She continues, saying she could have never imagined the bizarre circumstances of the kidnappings and expresses her amazement that they managed to keep the TV world a secret for so long. They call it a day and head home.

Narukami finds Dojima and a very drunk Adachi this time back home who blabs about confidential shit again. He tells Narukami that Kubo can only be linked to Morooka's death and that he believes there's still a killer on the loose. No shit... Dojima spouts off his catchphrase again, telling Narukami to stay away from the case before heading to bed. Nanako seems worried so Adachi tries his best to calm her, telling her to leave it to him because he has the most brains at the police department. Sure.
A few weeks later, Naoto returns to school where somehow everyone knows that she's really a girl. One of our party members must be a real asshole to blab something like that cause they should be the only ones who know... Naoto doesn't really mind though and tells Narukami and pals to just treat her like they did before.

That afternoon, Naoto tells the others what she remembers about the day she was kidnapped and, hallelujah, she can actually remember what happened. She remembers answering the door and finding no one there before being attacked from behind and being rendered nearly unconscious by a chloroform rag. The culprit then put her in a bag and carried her for a short distance before throwing her into the TV world. She could tell from his build that he was a man, most likely acting alone and since she was thrown into the TV world so fast, the killer must have brought a TV with him. She's all but certain now that the same person committed all the kidnappings, save for Mr. Morooka, who was killed by Kubo as a copycat crime. The only questions now are: how did Kubo learned of the TV world and why didn't he use it to kill Mr. Morooka? Regardless of his innocence of the first two murders, the police still want to charge him with all three and close the case.

Weeks go by without incident, until one day Nanako gives a letter to Narukami without a return address. He opens it and it contains only one unpunctuated sentence, "dont rescue anymore". We then see a quick scene of a man in a messy room, hunched over and frantically writing in a notebook while he talks about protecting people by taking them to a place much more peaceful than here. I wonder if he's the killer...
The next day Narukami shows the rest of the group the letter he got. All they can come up with is that the killer is obviously aware that Narukami's group are the ones interfering with his crimes and of all the members of the group he could have sent it to, he chose the one who happens to live with a police detective. Meaning that he knows if Dojima found out what Narukami was doing, he would be in serious trouble.

A few weeks go by without incident when one night Narukami watches a news story about the frequent fog that has been blanketing the area and its supposed negative effects on people's health. That's almost as stupid as fan death. A local politician visited Nanako's school and spoke with some of the kids to see how they felt about the fog. He mentions one girl in particular whose maturity impressed him. As the story ends, Nanako seems to fall ill so Narukami helps her to bed.

A few days later, Narukami checks the Midnight Channel and sees the blurriest image so far. All that's clear is that someone is there but nothing else can be made out. The next day, the group talks about it but nobody else could make anything out either so they'll just have to watch it again. That evening, Narukami's luck runs out when another letter comes for him, which reads, "if you dont stop someone close will be put in and killed". Dojima snatches it out of Narukami's hand and reads it. He asks what it means, to which Narukami tries to make up an excuse but Dojima won't listen and takes him to the police station.

In an interrogation room, Dojima and Adachi play good cop, bad cop, when Narukami's phone rings, which Dojima quickly confiscates. He again asks what the letter was about and won't listen to any of Narukami's excuses. Even when Narukami explains exactly what they've been doing, Dojima, of course, doesn't believe him and only gets more angry. He tells Narukami to stay there for the time being and leaves him there with Adachi. Adachi assures Narukami that Dojima is only looking after his best interest and starts to blab more confidential stuff, saying that Dojima has started to look at the first case again, but shuts up when he realizes he's said too much.

Meanwhile, Yosuke gives Teddie a cell phone so they can stay in contact and tries to show him how to use it by calling Narukami, whose phone is obviously off at the moment. He calls Dojima's house instead and Nanako answers, telling Yosuke what happened with the letter and Dojima taking Narukami to the station. Yosuke is confused at first but finally realizes that it must have been another warning letter that Dojima saw this time, so he calls the others.

Back in the police station, Narukami is alone in the interrogation room which contains a TV for whatever reason. He notices that it's Midnight, so he approaches it and watches the Midnight Channel. This time the image is a little more clear. It's Nanako. Shit.

Naoto races to Dojima's house to check on Nanako, apparently having come to the same conclusion as Narukami. She speaks with Chie on the phone and explains that Nanako fits the pattern. She wasn't seen on TV but the news story about the politician visiting Nanako's school mentioned a certain girl. That was Nanako, whose name and photo were printed in a local newspaper's take on the story.

Back in the station, Yosuke, Kanji, and Teddie rush in and frantically try to tell Dojima what happened. Yosuke hands Dojima his phone with Naoto on the line, who's at the scene already. She tells him that the front door is open with no sign of forced entry and there's no one inside. Dojima apparently still trusts Naoto despite how much he apparently hates her and takes action. He calls the dispatcher, tells him that there was a kidnapping and to get checkpoints started along the highway. The dispatcher seems to not take him very seriously even when Dojima tells him it could be the serial killer, cause the police believe the killer to be in jail. Dojima gives up and rushes off on his own, leaving Adachi to watch Narukami. The rest of the party manages to get through a station of armed police officers and shows up in the interrogation room. Adachi is still unwilling to let Narukami go so Naoto explains the situation and tries to narrow down who the culprit could be.

She first looks at the fact that the killer always seems to be let in so it must have been someone that Nanako trusts. The killer also brings a TV with him to the scene of each kidnapping, so he must have a fairly large vehicle, but there haven't been any reports of strange vehicles during any of the incidents. Narukami suggests that it may have been a delivery truck which Kanji suddenly seems to remember from the day he was kidnapped. This fits both of the criteria. The vehicle is one that nobody would suspect and most people would open the door for a delivery man without a second thought. They ask Adachi if any of the prior suspects were delivery men and he gets out the file with Dojima's recent research on the first murder. There's one delivery man listed among the suspects: Taro Namatame, the disgraced politician who was having an affair with the first victim.
By the way, you can see Namatame hanging around town sometimes before this point.
Adachi finally lets Narukami go and they all head to Namatame's house. Theres a quick scene of Dojima in direct pursuit of Namatame. As they race down the rain slick streets, Dojima begins to catch up. Just as he gets close behind him, Namatame gets desperate and pulls his freaking hand break, causing both cars to crash violently. How did he expect that to go well for him, exactly?

Narukami and friends find both cars crashed with Adachi tending to a severely injured Dojima. Namatame and Nanako are nowhere to be seen, so they search Namatame's truck. They find a large TV in the back, just as they anticipated, and a diary in the front seat. Naoto reads out Namatame's insane ramblings, " I learned the existence of a new world, thus I must save people", and finds a list of all the victims addresses, save for Mr. Morooka. Adachi remarks that, "that settles it", and Naoto continues, reading the last entry which mentions that Namatame already put Nanako in the TV world. They're ready to jump into the TV right there but Teddie reminds them that they could end up anywhere in the TV world so they should enter from the Junes TV like always. Hmm, can't Teddie just create an exit whenever he wants by tapping his foot? Ah, whatever.
Yeah, I'm sure he'll just walk that right off. Just give him an Aspirin.
Later, Narukami and Naoto speak with Dojima in the hospital, who is beating himself up for not saving Nanako. Dumb bastard is lucky he wasn't instantly killed in a car crash like that but whatever. They assure him that they'll be able to save Nanako and tell him to try and rest. The next day in the TV world, Rise is easily able to track Nanako without a hint. Praise the lord. They end up at what Rise describes as a storybook version of heaven. As they make their way through the place, Rise suddenly senses another person in there with Nanako which the others worry could be Namatame.

As they reach the peak of the bizarre area, their fears are confirmed when they find Namatame holding Nanako hostage. He yells at them that he plans to "save" her and suddenly realizes that they're the ones that he "saved" before. They try to take his attention away from Nanako by asking him what the Midnight Channel. He responds predictably, saying that he "saves" whoever appears on it. He cryptically asks what would have become of them is he didn't save them, which only angers them further. Yosuke screams at him that he isn't saving anyone; he's just a killer. Namantame seems to become posessed and suddenly begins merging with nearby shadows. Since when can people do that? He turns into whatever the hell this is supposed to be:
After a fairly annoying battle, Namatame turns back to normal and falls unconcious. Nanako seems to be effected more severely by the fog of the TV world so they rush her and Namatame back to Junes. Back at the hospital, Narukami's group waits anxiously in the hall to hear word about Nanako's condition. They all take turns beating themselves up until Kanji snaps them out of in with another motivational speech. He should do that for a living. Adachi shows up, telling them that the doctors can't figure out what's wrong with Nanako or Namatame and suggests that they head home for the night.

Several weeks go by and Nanako is still recovering at the hospital. A thick fog has blanketed Inaba ever since they rescued her and people are beginning to panic about it. On the way to school, Narukami runs across the others reading a newspaper with a story about Namatame finally regaining consciousness but hasn't told the police much. Adachi walks by and blabs more police info and holy hell why does this man still have a job? He tells them that the police are slowly piecing together Namatame's story but his diary has been a bit of a help, revealing that he had been making advances on Saki, mush to Yosuke's fury.

The game decides to turn into a soap opera for a while as the group visits Nanako in the hospital. Even after weeks of rest she can barely talk and looks like she's at death's door. Later, Nanako's doctor tells them that they still don't know the cause of her illness. Adachi gossips about the supposedly poisonous fog which Dojima derides. Meanwhile, at the hall of justice-uh I mean on the streets of Inaba...We see some housewives gossiping about the fog when a crazy man in a gas mask runs up to them and yells that the fog is poisonous. He runs off and one of the women suddenly feels ill, prompting them both to hurry home. Morons.
As the days go by, the fog persists and rumors about it only get more widespread. More and more people are feeling sick and some people think it might be the end of the world. One day, the group walks to school together when Kanji suddenly gets an idea. He tells everyone to put their glasses on and just like in the TV world, the fog suddenly vanishes. They wonder if the fog from the TV world is leaking over to the real world. Maaaaaaybe... After school they search for a gift for Nanako when she gets better but they're interrupted when Adachi calls and tells them to hurry over to the hospital.

I have a page full of notes for this scene so let me try to compress it. They go to the hospital where Nanako is in critical condition. Everybody yells at everybody to do something, blah blah. She dies. Dojima rushes off while the rest of them grieve. Adachi shows up, clueless as always. They tell him what happened and he realizes that Dojima must be heading to Namatame's room. Yeah, the killer is still in the same hospital as one of his victims. Nice. Everyone rushes over to Namatame's room, except for Teddie, who stays by Nanako's bed and laments that he couldn't do anything to save her. We see a quick scene of Dojima being stopped by the guards in front of Namatame's room who, along with Adachi, escort him back to his room leaving the door unguarded. Narukami and pals run in and find Namatame trying to escape out the window. As they yell at him, the TV in the room suddenly shows the Midnight Channel where Namatame's shadow taunts them, saying that the police will never find any evidence against him so he'll get away with everything. This enrages Yosuke and Kanji to the point where they suggest throwing him in the TV world and let it take care of him.

Right here is where you pretty much either need a guide or you just have to keep reloading your most recent save. There are 6 specific dialogue options in a row that you have to chose, or else they send Namatame to his death in the TV world and the game ends here with the worst ending. Anyway, back in the best ending route, Narukami tells them to stop and think, which only enrages Yosuke further. Narukami loses his cool for the first time in the game and yells for everyone to"calm the hell down!" The group is shocked to their senses by his outburst and Naoto realizes that they haven't heard anything from Namatame's perspective. Adachi bursts in and asks what they're doing, to which Naoto quickly comes up with the excuse that they were keeping an eye on the suspect. Yeah, it's not like they were about to murder him or anything...
Narukami and the gang step outside and discuss Namatame. Naoto reminds them that he was investigated thoroughly after Mayumi Yamano's death and the police cleared him of suspicion. If he was as mentally damaged back then as he is now and thought that he was "saving" Yamano, the police would have noticed when interrogating him. She also mentions that his motive was shaky as well because he had already left his wife by then and had a good relationship with Yamano. A nurse suddenly runs up to them and tells them to follow her with no explanation. Sure, why not...

Meanwhile, Teddie is seen waking up on a foggy street, back in his bear costume for whatever reason. He seems confused as to where he is and starts to wander. He's not the only one who's confused... Back in the hospital, Nanako has somehow recovered from the whole being dead thing, much to everyone's relief and amazement. It's never actually explicitly stated but the game later hints that Teddie somehow brought her back to life. They decide to call it a night but notice that Teddie is missing. They search everywhere for him but he seems to have vanished.

The next morning, Yosuke shows up, hysterical because he can't find Teddie anywhere. The group searches all over town with no luck so they give up for the day and decide to discuss the case. Naoto reviews what they know so far. Of all the victims, only the first two were killed, and based on Namatame's diary, he had some kind of contact with Saki before she died. After that, there were multiple kidnappings of the members of Narukami's group and Nanako, where they finally caught him in the act. Yosuke again wonders if Namatame's talk of "saving" people meant killing them when Yukiko suddenly remembers something strange Namatame said to them. He told them that they were the ones he "saved", meaning that if saving meant killing, he should have said that he failed to save them. They contemplate for a moment, when Narukami suddenly remembers the warning letters. They read, "dont rescue anymore" and, "if you dont stop this time someone close will be put in and killed". The wording goes against what Namatame has been saying ever since they confronted him in the TV world. He never once used the word "kill", and Kanji notices how strangely worded the second letter is. Even if Namatame was using the word kill, the letter should say "I'll put in and kill someone close" rather than "someone close will be put in and killed".

Naoto finally realizes what's been happening. Namatame really did think he was saving people by putting them in the TV since every member of Narukami's group survived. If he really wanted to kill people, he wouldn't continue to use the TV after it stopped working. Everything points to Yamano and Saki being killed by someone else. They need to speak to Namatame soon and Naoto says she has a plan.

Outside of Namatame's room, Narukami and Naoto approach and speak to the guard. Naoto tells him that she's here to speak to Namatame, which the guard checks on the radio, and by some miracle she's still on the list of investigators even though she was taken off the case months ago. The guard suddenly gets a call over the radio about a suspicious object in the lobby and Naoto encourages him to go help out while they guard the room. The moron falls for it and runs off. The rest of the group shows up and Naoto tells them that they won't have much time because "there's nothing much inside that suspicious object", so they hurry inside to speak with Namatame.

Naoto lays out the situation to him: everyone in town thinks he's behind the killings but they want to hear his side of the story. He seems to understand so they start by asking him who the first person he put into the TV was. Unsurprisingly, he points at Yukiko. They next ask if he was the one who killed Yamano and Saki. He shakes his head and says that they died because he "failed to save them". Narukami again asks if saving means killing, to which Namatame says, if nobody saves them, then they'll be killed. Now we're getting somewhere.Naoto's theory seems to have been correct. She pleads with him to tell them his full story, telling him that they're the only ones who can really understand it. After a moment of thought, he begins his long-ass story.

After his affair became public knowledge, he moved back in with his parents in Inaba. Yamano stopped taking his calls so he became severely depressed. One night, he happened to see her on the Midnight Channel and He reached to the screen without thinking, causing his hand passed right through. This is how he learned about the TV world. After Yamano died, he became distraught and when Saki showed up on the Midnight Channel, he feared she would be next. He tried to warn her in person but she wouldn't believe him. After she turned up dead, he was certain that the Midnight Channel was predicting the murders. When Yukiko appeared on it, he knew that he had to save her, so he kidnapped her and put her in the one place that the killer would never find her: the TV world. They break it to him that the TV world isn't as safe as he thought and that if they hadn't rescued the people that he "saved", they would have ended up just like Yamano and Saki. He tells them that he has no intention of running from his crimes, when the guard suddenly comes back and isn't too pleased to see so many people in there. As they leave, Namatame begs them to find the real killer, something that they assure him they plan to do.

The next day, the most annoying clue gathering segment in the game takes place, where you have to talk to every character you can find in Inaba twice until you gather the most important clue of them all: a suspicious person was seen around town!!!
Later, the group discusses what they found out: Nothing.
Thank God I spent half an hour investigating then.
Narukami, Yosuke, and Naoto step outside to get some fresh air. Dunno how they expect to do that with all the poisonous fog. Narukami goes over the suspect profile in his head. It has to be someone who had contact with Mayumi Yamano and Saki Konishi. They also have to be in a position to monitor Narukami's group and be able to approach Dojima's house to deliver the warning letters without arousing suspicion. Based on the letters, they were also aware of the TV world and Namatame's kidnappings, which they allowed to continue. There were no witnesses to the first two killings and no suspicious people were reported in either case. Who in the small town of Inaba could fit all of these criteria? After a great deal of though, Narukami can think of only one person: Adachi.

Narukami speaks Adachi's name, startling the other two who have been standing in silence the whole time. Yosuke seems confused but Naoto understands immediately. A police detective would have the perfect cover. He could approach the victims without anyone becoming suspicious, just like Namatame's cover as a delivery man. He could easily deliver the warning letters to Dojima's house and he could even use his position to cover up evidence as needed. Yosuke is sceptical, saying that Adachi is "your textbook lousy detective." You can't argue with that. Naoto begins to say that something about Adachi has bothered her for a while but she's interrupted by a sneeze.

They head back inside to get out of the cold and tell the others about their deduction and Yukiko can't believe what she's hearing. Adachi was Mayumi Yamano's bodyguard at the Amagi inn the night she vanished. Naoto adds that Adachi questioned Saki on multiple occasions; highly unusual for someone who only discovered a body. Yosuke comments on how Adachi always seems to run into them everywhere and manages leak police information every time. Naoto reminds them that this is only a theory so they hurry to the hospital to speak with Adachi.

They soon find him just as Dojima hobbles over to ask where Namatame is. Adachi tells him that he's been relocated to Dojima's fury. He demands to know who authorised his transport, saying that he wasn't done questioning him about the first two murders. Dojima notices Narukami and pals and asks what they're doing there. Yosuke says that they just want to confirm some things with Adachi and begin to ask him a few things. First, about the days that Yamano and Saki disapeared, which he can remember nothing about and then the warning letter, which he claims to not remember either. This raises alarm bells with Dojima who yells at him that he gave him that letter to take to the crime lab. Adachi begins to panic, telling Dojima that he needs to get back to his room to rest and yelling at Narukami and friends to go home before they get in the way of police business. Naoto tells Adachi that they know for a fact that Namatame didn't kill Yamano or Saki and Kanji comes out and tells Adachi that they think it was him. Adachi then gives himself away like a moron:
Now Dojima is really pissed and demands to know what he means by "put in". Naoto remembers the thing about Adachi that was bothering her earlier. The night that she read Namatame's diary out loud, she mentioned that even the names of victims who survived are written in the diary. His response to that was "Wow...Then that settles it." She asks why he would react like that when, as far as the police knew, the others were nothing more than simple disappearances and knew nothing about the other attempted murders. Why didn't he raise an objection as she read the list? He answers by bolting off down the hallway.

They chase him to the room that Namatame was in and find it empty. Dojima catches up, saying that he contacted security who told him that Adachi hasn't left that ward yet. Dojima's nurse drags him back to his room as the others stare at the large TV in the room. I wonder where he went. They decide to enter the TV world at Junes like always and call it a day.

That night, Narukami is called to the Velvet room in his dreams once more but Igor is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Teddie sits alone, unaware of Narukami's presence. He stands up and notices him, asking how they got there. Of course Narukami doesn't know so Teddie begins to tell him what he's been doing the past few days. He says he finally realized what he is; since only shadows live in the TV world, then he must be one too. He recalls the night that Nanako had that bout of death. He remembers thinking that there was nothing he could do and losing consciousness. When he came to, he was in a fog covered street. He walked and walked until he came across the velvet room.He goes on and on about how shadows can't live in the real world and that he couldn't do anything to help Nanako. He perks right up when Narukami tells him that she's alive though. Then he suddenly feels sleepy and disapears.

The next day in the TV world, Rise has no luck tracking Adachi and whines that Teddie just had to disappear when they needed him most. Back in Nanako's hospital room, Teddie has rematerialized and soon realizes that the others must need him so he rushes to the TV world. Just as Narukami and friends are ready to give up, Teddie shows up and bitches some more about how he's just a shadow, ugh, who cares? Kanji states the obvious, asking, "So what's your problem with being a shadow?", and after some words of encouragement from the group, Teddie is finally ready to man up and track Adachi. Back in the TV world, Teddie tracks Adachi to the room that Narukami, Yosuke, and Chie found the first time they entered the TV world.
I wonder how many other memories Chie associates with Yosuke almost pissing himself.
They find him talking to himself and ask him right away if he was the one who killed Mayumi Yamano. He says it was an accident because she started struggling. We see a scene of exactly what happened. He apparently wanted to sleep with her but decided that she "betrayed" him by having an affair with Namatame, so he confronted her one night at the Amagi inn and pushed her into the TV. Yep. He killed her because she wouldn't sleep with him. Saki too. Yeah. He's a bit insane. They ask if he had anything to do with Namatame, and apparently he did. We see another scene of Namatame trying to warn the police about Yukiko's impending death and Adachi happens to answer. He dismisses Namatame's claims of the Midnight Channel predicting deaths and suggests that Namatame save her himself and put her somewhere that no one would find her. The man's a freakin' sociopath.
That's a creeper face if I've ever seen one.
They ask him why. Why would he kill two people and trick Namatame into almost killing several more. For fun. Holy hell. He then reveals that he was the one who put Mitsuo Kubo into the TV world, so Kubo never had any powers. And why did he throw Kubo into the TV world? Again, for fun. Also so Namatame would think the killer was on the loose and keep throwing people into the TV world.  Or as he puts it, so his "game" would keep going. He decides to stop making sense and talks about how the two worlds will soon merge. Kanji has had enough at this point and attacks, but Adachi disappears. Apparently that wasn't the real him. A gateway opens up in the wall and Adachi taunts them to come catch him.

They rush in and find a twisted version of Inaba. Adachi taunts them mercilessly as they make their way through the hellish vision of their town. They eventually catch up to him where he does his big dumb villain speech about the world being devoured by fog and humanity turning into shadows. The group takes turns telling him like it is; that he's an egotistical brat who refuses to face life. He gets pissed and attacks somehow being able to summon a dark version of Narukami's Persona, Izanagi. They easily beat him and he is engulfed in hundreds of shadows, then turns into a GIANT FREAKING ROBOT EYEBALL.
Sense. This game makes none.
The eyeball, Ameno-Sagiri, claims responsibility for creating the TV world and the fog that is leaking into the real world. He also created the Midnight Channel, but the people who appeared on it were determined by the unconscious desires of humans. That's why people who got media attention appeared on it and why they saw Namatame's shadow appear as they confronted him in the hospital; because they wanted to believe he was the killer. He then says he must test them and attacks.

After a nearly hopeless battle, they manage to subdue the beast. He tells them that they have proven human potential so he will lift the fog from the real world. He warns them however, that if humanity continues to desire an escape from the hardships of life, he will one day return. Ameno-Sagiri disappears, leaving Adachi in a heap on the ground. He tells them to leave him so the shadows can finish him but they won't let him off that easy. They take him back to Junes and find the police and an ambulance are already waiting on Dojima's orders. As they head outside, they see the fog has lifted and the sun is shining. The group finally feels a sense of relief, and they attempt to do the "hands in the center" thing in celebration twice, but fail both times. Yosuke points out that you're supposed to do that before you do something and they all share a laugh.
Three months later, it's the day before Narukami is set to go home, so he goes around town saying goodbye to everyone. He feels as if something isn't right, so he heads to Junes and sits alone in the food court where they always held their meetings. Everyone else shows up, apparently having the same idea. They reminisce for a while until Yosuke mentions the Midnight Channel, and they wonder how the rumor started. Chie recalls that Narukami was able to go into the TV before his Persona awakened and they realize that Adachi and Namatame must have been the same. Narukami remembers that he was handed a letter by Nanako as he left the house that morning and decides to check it. It's from Adachi. Wonderful. He writes that he plans to accept his punishment and abide by the rules of society from now on. He has a bit of information for them as well. He remembers that he first learned about the Midnight Channel very soon after arriving in Inaba and he recalls reading the same thing about Namatame in his file. Neither of them can remember who told them about the Midnight Channel but he hopes that information helps them somehow.

Yosuke can't help but be bothered by this. He feels as if there's someone who's been controlling things from behind the scenes; someone above even Ameno-Sagiri. Chie wonders if it might be the person that Adachi was talking about who told him about the Midnight Channel and Naoto asks Narukami if he met anyone like that. He says that there may be someone but he can't quite remember. The first people Narukami can remember meeting when arrived in Inaba were Dojima and Nanako, so he goes to speak with them. He asks about his first day in Inaba and Dojima can't remember much but Nanako recalls the strange attendant that Narrukami spoke with. Remember? I wasn't kidding when I told you to remember that for the end of the game.
Narukami runs over to the gas station but can't find the attendant he talked to. He is called to the Velvet room where Igor gives him a Chekhov's Gun; in this case, an orb that will reveal the truth. As he steps back outside, it begins to rain and the attendant is standing outside of the gas station. Narukami speaks with her, asking a series of questions about Namatame and Adachi. She claims to not know what he's talking about until he asks if she gave him his powers. She laughs and says, "You've reached me at last." That's right folks. The mastermind behind everything that happened throughout the whole game was the gas station attendant that you talk to at the very beginning.

He asks why she chose him and she responds, "For your special potential, of course." She reminds him of how it happened. As they shook hands on Narukami's first day in Inaba, he felt ill. That was his power awakening. She did the same to Adachi and Namatame. She asks Narukami why he is here after completing his assigned role. He of course responds that he wants the truth, causeing her to reveal her true form:
Yep. That's the other thing I told you to remember for the end of the game. The story about Izanagi and Izanami creating Japan. Apparently she's the real Izanami from that story. She tells him that Ameno-Sagiri was something she created a long time ago and that she could have never imagined they would defeat him. She tells him to find her "there", where she will test them, and disappears. Yosuke, Chie, and Yukiko show up just as she disappears and asks what that was. Narukami explains it to them and they head to the TV world, where Izanami was most likely referring to when she said "there".
Another comparison, but this time relevant to the game. Izanami and Narukami look almost exactly alike.
They track Izanami with ease and arrive at a familiar place. This is the place that Narukami dreamed about at the very beginning of the game; the foggy pathway made of cubes. Apparently Izanami was taunting him even that early in the game. They fight their way through the abstract complex and eventually find Izanami calmly waiting for them. Izanami gloats some more about how awesome she is and reiterates what Ameno-Sagiri told them about the Midnight Channel only showing people what they wanted to see. Somehow her plan was to figure out what humanity wanted. I dunno how giving people the power to enter the TV world and causing a series of killings factors into that but whatever. She ends her dumb villain speech by saying humanity desires a world enshrouded by fog and transforms into a weird bondage freak. They battle the weirdo and eventually find that she cannot be killed. Narukami remembers the Chekhov's gun that Igor gave him and pulls out the orb of truth, revealing Izanami's true form:
Well the legend did say that Izanami was left to rot in the underworld so I can hardly say I'm surprised. A fierce battle ensues and as Izanami begins to weaken, she gets desperate and starts casting a curse of death on Narukami. One by one, his party members push him out of the way of the curse and are dragged down to the underworld. Eventually only Narukami remains and is hit by the curse.

He awakens in a white abyss and is addressed by all the people who he met over the past year. They all give him words of encouragement,some of them begging him to get  back up and some, like Kanji and Dojima, pretty much telling him to stop being a pansy. Yeah, sure, I'm sure he'll walk that death curse right off. Actually he does and Izanagi transforms into a more powerful form which means an even more spell checker destroying name: Izanagi-no-Okami. Narukami awakens back in the TV world and withstands a barrage of attacks from a baffled Izanami. Narukami then uses Izanaki's only attack in his new form:
Yep, Izanagi shoots Izanami with a truth laser, and she's finally defeated. Somehow, Narukami's friends are all back and Izanami of course has to do her dying villain speech. She tells them that by defeating her, they have forever lifted the fog from both worlds but it will be up to humanity from now on to decide their fate. Izanami disappears and Igor speaks to Narukami one last time, congratulating him for finally solving the mystery. The TV world then transforms into a paradise, the way that it used to be a long time ago according to Teddie. He has a really selective memory.
The next day, Narukami's friends all say goodbye as he prepares to head back home. Chie says that the reality that he's leaving is finally hitting her, which causes Rise to start crying. Kanji tells her to stop but he sounds like he's on the verge of tears too. Nanako begs Narukami not to go, though Dojima reminds her that she promised not to cry. He tells them that the case against Adachi is going well and that Inaba has gone back to its peaceful self. He welcomes Narukami to visit anytime, a sentiment that Yosuke and Yukiko share. Naoto breaks character for a moment and jokes that she may go with him since she was only staying in Inaba until the case was solved. Teddie tells the others that he plans to go back to the TV world to watch over it so it never goes bad again but the others know he'll be in and out like always.

Everyone says one final goodbye as Narukami boards his train and as it departs, they run along side it to the end of the platform where they watch it disappear into the distance. The credits roll and afterward we see a quick scene of Teddie giving a dumb ass speech about friendship as Narukami sits on the train and looks at a photo he took with all of his friends.
Holy lord that was a long summary. A little over 18,000 words, so I managed to trim down my notes a bit... It was worth it though because I love pretty much everything about Persona 4. First off, as I said at the beginning, the plot is one of my favorites of any game and the cast may be my favorite in any work of fiction. Over the course of the game, you gradually learn more and more about them. The social link system really is a fun way to explain each character's story, little by little. Lets take a look at a few highlights.

Kanji, as I said, is my favorite character. In his social link, you help him come to terms with his feminine side and teach him that it's okay for men to enjoy sewing. As if that really needed to be said but Kanji is really hard headed. Naoto's is really interesting too. She receives a series of cryptic letters and eventually finds that several things have been stolen from her home. It's up to you to help her solve the riddles in the letters and get to the bottom of who is behind them. One very strange one is an elderly woman who claims to be Death who gradually tells you the story of her marriage and the eventual death of her husband. The only one that I really hate is Yumi Ozawa. Her story is a soap opera, plain and simple. You pretty much serve as a shoulder for her to cry on as her father slowly dies in the hospital and that's about it.
I hate this girl so much.
One thing that must be noted is that the main character is the very definition of a Mary Sue. It seems as if he can do no wrong, unless you chose the stupider dialogue options. Probably the biggest indication of his Mary Sue status is that he can date all the female social links that are his age. At the same time. With no consequences. Even your female party members are fare game. And if you chose to spend Christmas with one of the girls you are dating, the game implies that they sleep together. Probably the one that I find funniest is Naoto, but it makes me feel like a complete tool. She spends the entire game cross dressing but if she becomes your girlfriend and you spend Christmas with her, she dresses like a girl for one scene. And it feels more like she's cross dressing in that scene than any other. You just get used to thinking of her as a guy I guess. I'm such an ass.
All right, enough about story and characters. Lets talk about the game's technical aspects. As far as graphics go, it's a PS2 game released in 2008 so it looks about as good as a game on that console can. Silent Hill 3 and Killzone are still the best looking games on the PS2 as far as I'm concerned but Persona 4 still looks great. One thing that stands out to me is the menus. They're colorful and stylish with liberal use of high contrast. A lot of the game's environments do this too, like the twisted version of Inaba where you track down Adachi. I really like the animated cutscenes too, though I wish there were more of them. One negative thing that I can say about the game's visuals is that the in game animations can get extremely repetitive, and I notice that many attack animations end in characters standing completely motionless, as if the developers forgot to end the animation. It should be noted that I have only played Persona 4 on my PS3 so there may be some graphical errors associated with playing it that way that I'm unaware of.

The music is interesting to say the least. I'll say right now that it isn't for everyone. There's a lot of J-Pop and J-Rock, complete with lyrics, along with a few nice instrumental tracks. The normal battle theme will force you to start enjoying it if only through repetition and it's one of the most engrishy songs that I've ever heard. In fact, most of the songs are in English, sung by a Japanese singer. The only song in Japanese that I recall is the credits song, which I'll put at the end of the article.

I've heard a lot of varying opinions on the voice acting but I find it to be just fine. Anyone who plays a lot of video games or watches dubbed anime will recognize most of them. Troy Baker as Kanji especially stands out to me; another reason why he's my favorite character. One choice that is hilarious to me is Johnny Yong Bosch as Adachi. Mr. Bosch almost always plays good guys so its pretty fun to hear him ham it up after Adachi shows his true colors. He pulls double duty as the main character as well. Though the main character doesn't have any spoken dialogue during scenes, he does say the name of his Persona when attacking sometimes. One thing that didn't bother me but probably would bother most is the color commentary during battle. Teddie at the beginning of the game and then Rise after she joins will tell you stuff during battle like, "Yosuke beat an enemy! 3 left!" or "Someone should really heal Yukiko." It can get repetitive as hell at times but it never really got on my nerves.
Thanks Rise. I never would've been able to count to two without your help.
Okay, on to gameplay! I've explained the social link system pretty well but not the other aspects of gameplay. In the TV world, you explore various dungeons that are crawling with shadows. There are no random battles and enemies appear on the field, much like in Chrono Trigger. A more apt comparison would be Earthbound actually. Just like in that game, if you can manage to attack an enemy from behind on the field, you'll start out battle with an advantage, gaining an extra turn at the beginning. Likewise, if they manage to hit you first from the front or back, they get the advantage. The game is kinda cheap like that.

The battles themselves are entirely turned based. Enemies won't attack you as you chose your actions so you can take your time deciding what to do. Combat can be surprisingly fast paced as you get used to choosing your actions quickly and even fights against tough foes can be over quick if you exploit their weaknesses. Speaking of weaknesses, there are 6 elements: Fire, ice, wind, electricity, light, and Dark. Most enemies are weak to at least one of these and if you can hit them with their weakness, they'll fall down and the attacking character will get another turn. This goes for the enemies as they attack your characters as well unfortunately so you have to watch out, especially against bosses, where extra attacks can mean game over. Anyway, if you can manage to knock all the enemies down, you can do an "all out attack", which does huge damage to all enemies, usually ending the fight against most normal enemies.
One thing that I haven't mentioned yet is Persona fusion. Most of your party members are limited to the one Persona that they started with but the main character can have up to 12 at once. You can obtain new ones from a mini game that randomly occurs after battle or by fusing Personas that you already have. As I briefly explained in the plot synopsis, this is where social links come in. Each Persona and social link has an associated Arcana and if you fuse a Persona of a high level social link, it will get bonus experience and maybe gain a few free levels.

I could go on and on about how much I adore Persona 4. I'm gonna do an article on my top ten games of all time in a few days eventually and this one is on it. One thing that I really love about the game is that it isn't afraid to talk about anything. It's one of the only games I've ever played that explores sexual identity and with two separate characters. As I write this, I realize that the whole game can be seen a a metaphor for growing from a troubled teed to a responsible adult. It even ends with the main character leaving home.

Right now the game is only available on PS2, but there's an enhanced Vita port in the works, which pretty much sells that platform to me. There's also a fighting game based on Persona 3 and 4 being developed by one of my favorite studios, Arc System Works. Lastly, there's an anime based on Persona 4 airing in Japan right now and its American licensing company has been awesome enough to put each episode on Hulu with English subtitles the same day it airs in Japan. I don't know how they pulled that one off but regardless, it's a great show. I haven't watched anime in years but I'll watch anything if you base it off one of my favorite games. It's probably the most faithful adaption of anything that I've ever seen. They even have the in game calendar for scene transitions. You can watch it here.

All right, this has gone on far too long. All I have to say in closing is; Persona 4 is a marvel of a game that deserves to be played. I can't recommend it enough, especially to RPG fans. You can find it for criminally cheap online so do yourself a favor and give this one a try.

We move back a few years to 2001, the year my favorite game of all time was released.
But first, number 5 in my top 5 games of 2001!
An adorable turn based strategy game that helped lunch a hugely successful platform.

I'll leave you with three songs from Persona 4. The first is the regular battle theme, Reach out to the Truth. I can't stress enough how many God damn times you hear that engrishy song while playing. And I still like it. Maybe I have Stockholm syndrome. And yes it is in English, just really bad English.

The second is The Almighty, which plays as you fight Ameno-Sagiri. Not much to say about this one. I just think it sounds really cool.

The third is the wonderful credits song, Never More, which is a lyricized version of a song that itself is based on the badass boss music, if that makes any sense. It may be the only song in the game that's actually in Japanese, which is pretty strange because all the songs were sung by a Japanese singer. I guess they just wanted a mostly English soundtrack. Probably the only reason I like it so much is because you hear the song that it's based on a lot so it's a nice change to hear it with lyrics.

The first two videos are brought to us by YouTube user Slayer0 and the third is brought to us by YouTube user Rikuo86.

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