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Unread 04-05-2017, 01:48 PM   #1
Solid Snake
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Dreadful Persona 5 is a pretty good game with a HUGE Ann Takamaki Problem

SPOILER WARNING:

There are minor character-specific spoilers covering the first fifteen hours or so of Persona 5 in this thread, basically covering aspects of the story from the beginning of the game to approximately June 1st. None of these spoilers encompass the more major facets of the overarching plot, it's just about certain social links and how one character in particular is treated by her so-called 'friends'.
IF you decide to include spoilers in your arguments that goes beyond early June in Persona 5, please use spoiler tags because I'm not there yet. I will read your arguments eventually, once I get to the part of the game you're in, so long as you precede your Spoiler tag with the month of the game the events you reference take place in. Does that make sense? I hope that makes sense. Thanks!


I've envisioned posting a "NieR Automata is the Game of the Generation" thread here on NPF for weeks now, and hopefully I'll still get around to creating that thread some day, but right now I'm more in the mood to critique awful writing in videogames than to worship the sacred ground our blessed hero Yoko Taro stands upon.

...And, fortunately, released as if on cue to give me something new to complain about: Atlus' latest Persona title!

You all remember how atrocious the last entry in the series could be, right? Well, boy oh boy, Persona's esteemed writers of some of the most cringeworthy scenes I've ever witnessed in a game are back at it again, and this time they're ready to prove if anything they've somehow managed to regress over the past half-decade, like a lizard heading back to the sea and devolving into a fish.

This is unfortunate, because Persona 5 is nothing if not exceedingly well polished. Let me get some of this objective, unbiased commentary on the game's strengths and weaknesses out of the way first, so none of you claim I'm some deranged social justice advocate out for Atlus' blood. (Let me be abundantly clear, though; reasonably decent human beings should be infuriated with more than a few of Atlus' story decisions here.)

From a pure gameplay perspective, this is undeniably the best variation of the Persona formula yet, with subtle innovations that generously manage to lessen the tedium of grinding and that enable players to employ more even more strategic thinking to take down opponents that always feel 'just right' in terms of the challenge they present. They've introduced a funky new negotiating system where you can barter for new personas, and that's neat.

Even more impressively, from a pure aesthetics perspective the game is gorgeous. I've never found myself more transfixed by scene transitions and menu screens. Character designs are quite exquisite and they've added all kinds of intricate animations to the character models that bring story scenes to life in ways previous Persona titles could never pull off. The music is kind of hit-or-miss; the soundtrack hasn't hit me quite as hard with feels as Persona 4's did, but a few tracks in particular are worth listening to on repeat.

The voice acting is...weird. Whereas Personas 3 and 4 employed casts of VAs who felt a bit newer to the scene, Persona 5 reuses a lot of the same VAs from so many other significant roles in JRPGs I've played lately, even from earlier Persona titles. The aftereffect of this on me has been an inability to really bond as thoroughly with Persona 5's cast because...instead of viewing them as their own unique and independent characters I'm viewing these characters as their VAs' previous roles. Your uncle is played by the excellent VA who voiced Papa Nier in NieR, while Yukari (from P3) and Yukiko (from P4) both voice new love interests in Persona 5 with Yukari and Yukiko's voices, which is awkward. If you're like me and you've played the Trails of Cold Steel series of Persona-like JRPGs, be prepared to listen to Rean, Sara, Claire, and others play different roles this time around. And if you've played the infinitely superior NieR Automata lately, which I so very strongly recommend, A2's voice is Makoto's voice here and 6O's voice is Morgana's.

Anyway, that's enough of the pseudo-review. Let's talk about how Persona 5 infuriates me.

I have to shorten this to a specific subset of things that Persona 5 that irritate me or I'd rant and rave about it forever. So I've chosen to focus my critique on the single specific character of Ann Takamaki because I'm less than a third of the way into this atrocity of a storyline and the story's already gone out of its way to utterly ruin her with some of the most profoundly idiotic bullshit I've seen in a game like this. I feel so bad for her. I want you all to feel bad for her, too.

But before I talk about Ann, it's worth covering a few of the basics of What's Wrong with Persona 5:

- The main character can 'steal hearts', which apparently gives him the superpower to enter into relationships with up to nine women at once, including -- somehow -- adults such as a teacher, a doctor, and a journalist, all of whom are well beyond college-aged. The narrative makes it clear that this isn't some consensual polyamorous pseudo-orgy or a covenant among the ladies to share and split the Protagonist's time; the game just encourages you to make the Protag a conniving, cheating bastard with little in the way of consequences.

- Somehow that's all true but you still can't romance any of the guys, swap the Protagonist's gender or face any genuine, decently written repercussions for your actions in which the women express any independent agency or have any of their own say in your relationships. The women are treated like objects; once you reach Max Level with them as Confidants you can completely ignore them for months and there's no consequence beyond a few texts they'll send begging to see your face again. Realistic romance, everyone!!

- The main character himself is punished for the grave crime of...saving a woman from a man who was attacking her, and then being sued by the guy? I don't know, maybe this gets clarified a bit deeper into the game, but I'm fifteen hours in and even most the women in this game have ostracized the guy not for being a womanizing jackass (more on that later; he somehow comes across as worse than Yu Narukami in many of the 'comedic' scenes where misogyny runs rampant) but rather for that one time in his past where he actually did the right thing and protected a woman under circumstances that would be legally justifiable in America. Maybe Japan's just weird about this? But I'm uncomfortable with a game so overtly promoting the moral lesson of "Don't defend a woman who's being physically assaulted or else society will ostracize you and you'll have to move from your hometown and be treated like a criminal."

Having covered some of the basics that strike me as offensive so far, let's talk about Ann Takamaki, the sole sane voice among some clinically insane fucking dipshits and Atlus' punching bag for Persona 5's first grueling fifteen hours of story shenanigans:

So, first and foremost, Atlus makes a crucial mistake here that subjects Ann Takamaki to so much more abuse than Yukari or Mitsuru in Persona 3's male protagonist route, or Chie or Yukiko in Persona 4's; for the first couple months of in-game time, she's the only woman on your team of combatants. This may seem like a subtle difference in the order of character introductions, but it has a profound impact on character interactions down the line.

In Persona 4, Chie and Yukiko were together, and they fought against misogynistic bullshit perpetrated against them together as a cohesive unit of human decency when Yosuke, Kanji, Teddie, and/or even Yu Narukami said or did stupid shitty things. Yosuke says something offensive and sexist when they're forced to wear swimsuits? The scene's still ugly and bad, but Chie and Yukiko can conspire together to mock Yosuke and get some revenge. Some random pervert creeps on Yukiko? Chie will threaten to pound the asshole to oblivion. Teddie makes an awful comment? Chie and Yukiko will gang together to make the boys feel bad or make some snarky comment about immaturity that will at least make you feel for a moment that maybe, just maybe, Atlus understands on some deeper level that Teddie is a fucking grotesque monster.

This keeps Persona 4 from falling too far into the abyss with misogyny. By contrast, Persona 5 tries a different approach: Ann is the sole girl surrounded by up to four guys before another girl joins the main cast of thieves, meaning there's no one else willing to stick up for Ann when the boys get raunchy.

Oh, and let's complicate matters with the following three tidbits of information:

- Ann's a beautiful model, and at least three of the boys introduced appear to have huge crushes on her. Ironically, the only guy who may not have feelings for Ann is the Protag, depending on how you roleplay as him, and he's the one and only guy who Ann may actually like. She clearly has no feelings for the other three and tries her damnedest to make that brazenly obvious from the get-go with all of them, with little to no success with deterring their batshit lunacy around her.

- The three guys who have crushes on her are:
1) The new Yosuke, the Nice Guy childhood friend who's been rejected by her in the past but who still clearly is a bit more attracted to her than he probably should be, given how frequently she attempts to remind him that they're nowhere near suitable for each other;
2) The new Teddie, and boy was I disappointed to learn in spite of the name (and in spite of the excellent voice actress portraying him, it's 6O and Fie's VA) that he's a he and he's every bit the raunchy, perverted asshole that Teddie was, complete with the same excuse Teddie had of "I don't really understand how humans work, so it's totally okay for me to be extremely aggressive in pursuing ladies in really creepy ways!"
3) Worst of all three so far, there's the creepy painter. I'll get into why Yusuke is the worst of the three momentarily, as he's really the one I want to highlight as the worst of the bunch, but for now just understand that he thinks Ann is hot and he acts like a monstrous barbarian around her to concoct a circumstance to paint her naked.

- Here's what happens to Ann in the first ten or so hours of Persona 5, and keep in mind this is just background that offers context to the particular scene later in the game that I find utterly offensive as fuck:

The first antagonist
(the initial boss with the first dungeon)
in the game also has a huge crush on her, because everyone apparently does. Except he's a powerful and charismatic teacher who uses his privilege as a favored member of the faculty to attempt to forcibly coerce her into a sexual relationship. She initially refuses his advances, as any sane person would because Kamoshida's an awful, abusive jerk and she's an underage student.

To convince her to partake in relations Kamoshida targets her best friend, who plays for the volleyball team that he coaches. Kamoshida basically tells Ann "Sleep with me or I will ruin your best friend's life," and when Ann hesitates Kamoshida first beats up her best friend, then he sleeps with her best friend, and then her best friend attempts to commit suicide.

I do not know why Atlus felt the Persona series was an adequate forum to attempt to portray this kind of an antagonist with this kind of a sexual fixation on a student, but this is what we got.

...By the way like, none of the male characters have tragic backstories to work through with nearly as much bullshit. Ryuji's trauma which Atlus dares to compare to Ann's is that Kamoshida ruined his life by...kicking him off another sports team and ostracizing him from his former team members. Kind of tame compared to attempted sexual assault, actually sexually assaulting your friend because you refused to comply, and then your friend attempting suicide and ending up in a coma, don't you think?

Oh, and did I mention that at one point Ann is confronted with a fantasy version of herself -- concocted from Kamoshida's imagination -- who's dressed in a scantily clad bikini and who kisses and gropes Kamoshida right in front of her? Because I feel like that's an additional really disturbing thing to note that actually happens.

I don't know why Atlus seeks to burden Ann with all this awful atrocious baggage, but boy is she a trooper for putting up with it and actually still functioning as a full-fledged member of the band of merry thieves. To Atlus' meager credit, Ann does get some nice revenge against Kamoshida, and she does act with some appropriate agency in her final confrontation with him -- Atlus actually made the wise decision to ensure that the boys gave her the final say as to whether to spare or kill him, and throughout that sequence she's genuinely badass in bringing her attempted rapist to justice. She's a cool character! She's one of my favorite characters in teh cast so far.

But here's a tip for Atlus: If you're going to write a character as the very serious victim of attempted rape and assault, and subject her to guilt over her BEST FRIEND suffering the fate her abuser originally intended for her specifically because she refused to comply with his demands, AND you're going to burden her with some serious trauma over all that, MAYBE DON'T FUCKING WRITE A SUPPOSEDLY COMEDIC PLAYED-FOR-LAUGHS SCENE WHERE HER SO-CALLED 'FRIENDS' ON HER SO-CALLED 'TEAM' COERCE HER INTO AGREEING TO POSE NUDE FOR A PERVERT you fucking Neanderthals

Okay, so, finally, FINALLY, we get to the scene I want to talk about. Sorry! It was just really important to burden you with all that context so you'd understand why this scene UTTERLY ENRAGES ME WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING

Okay so, now the Phantom Thieves are gunning after a new baddie; he's an elderly artist who's secretly a lazy bum profiting off the work of his pupils by selling their work as his own. (He represents Sloth; Ann's wannabe rapist represented Lust. Apparently all the baddies are represented in the abstract as deadly sins? I dunno.) The current trainee under his mentorship that the new bad guy is exploiting is Yusuke, who's an orphan that the famous artist 'adopted' and a victim of that artist's plagiarism.

The thieves, including Ann, confront Yusuke and seek answers regarding his mentor's alleged crimes. Yusuke is loyal to his mentor, so he covers up for the bad guy. He refuses to interact with the thieves any longer...except for Ann, who he insists he wants to model for him for his next painting.

So far so okay, I guess. Ann actually works as a model in her spare time, and even though she's reluctant to model for Yusuke because she wisely senses something is 'off' about the whole situation, Yusuke hasn't yet demanded she model in the nude so nothing's too crazy about the situation.

Later, Yusuke changes the terms of their deal: He now wants Ann to pose for him in the nude. He insists -- and I think it's important to note this because this actually makes this even worse in my mind given what happens later -- he insists to Ann that he's not interested in seeing her nude for any sexual reason. He's a serious painter, he alleges, he takes this kind of art seriously, it's just a job to him, and he just wants to translate her beauty to a canvas for purely artistic reasons. I mean, I know plenty of artists who draw nude portraits and it really is just about the art and not at all sexual to them and he's about Ann's age so maybe, just maybe, we can trust his word, right?

...Nope!

Fortunately, Ann's too smart to actually end up in a situation where she completely undresses in front of this pervert. But the entire scene is played for laughs, and she's less than a month out of a situation where she's recovering as a victim of sexual misconduct and attempted assault. She's healing after all the bullshit Kamoshida's put her and her best friend -- STILL in a coma -- though and now she gets to play the comic relief in a scene that frequently teases the (presumably male, presumably heterosexual) audience with the possibility of her gettin' nekkid.

So, first things first: Before she shows up to be Yusuke's model, you and Ryuji and Morgana have to fucking convince her against her wishes to do this. You see, there's no other option. (There are actually other options, the boys just suddenly have no imagination to conceive of any other possibility.) After Morgana drools over the thought of Ann stripping and after Ryuji barely contains his own jealousy over the whole situation you as the Protagonist have the option to text her a message that reads,
and I FUCKING QUOTE:"Strip for him, Ann."


(Unlike Yu Narukami at Inaba's disgusting pageant, it's worth noting you don't even have a Decent Human Being option to choose from as the Protagonist here. You can demand Ann strip for the perverted painter, you can merely remind her that she has to or your investigation hits a dead end, or you can wish her luck and remind her to 'Be Careful.' That's it.)

Now, Ann's a model, but she isn't anything like Rise Kujikawa was in Persona 4. Rise's characterization at least enabled her to just come across as extremely sex-positive and more than willing to indulge men's masturbatory fantasies because she didn't mind that kind of attention for...whatever reason Persona 4 concocted to justify her acting that way. Ann, by contrast, vehemently opposes the plan and shouts that it's inherently and fundamentally wrong to request this of her in a way that painfully reminded me of everything she just went through three goddamn weeks ago in the game. This is not something she wants to do. That should be enough on its own. Nope! She still ends up being convinced that this is a sacrifice she must make for the good of the team.

Okay, so: She shows up in Yusuke's room, alone, and the first comic joke that Atlus really wants you to laugh with them is...she decides to wear like, twenty layers of clothing so she'll delay the inevitable nudity by slowly removing each layer of fabric (while Morgana hopefully unlocks a door they need to unlock, that is the extent of their plan.) HAHAHAHA, you get it guys, Yusuke is naively dismayed and verbally moans and groans because he thinks Ann has 'gained weight' in the whopping twenty-four hours since they last saw each other. Ann appears to be fat, har dee fuckin' har, it's seventh grade humor all the fucking over again.

So the camera POV obscures Ann from the audience's view and focuses on a closeup of Yusuke and his artsy canvas as she begins to 'strip.' Pieces of Ann's clothing begin to appear on the screen as she tosses them his way as she's removing them. Ann instructs Yusuke to look away but as she begins to remove her clothes, Yusuke catches glimpses of her clothing near his feet and...he begins to stutter and slur his words and blush and act all predictably clumsy and betray the fact that he's actually a pervert who just wanted an excuse to see an attractive woman nekkid. As someone who desperately wanted to believe that Yusuke was telling Ann the truth when he insisted upon his honor that he only wanted to draw her for some abstract artistic motivation, and that he wasn't at all motivated by sexual desire, this revelation was...well, not surprising, still annoying as all hell.

Ann picks up on Yusuke's juvenile behavior and is perturbed enough to begin begging Morgana to finish unlocking the damned door so she can make an early getaway, dammit. Of course, the gag at this point is that Morgana runs into unexpected difficulties unlocking said door, requiring poor Ann to continue to find awkward excuses to buy time.

For the (heterosexual, male) audience's amusement, at this point Ann is revealed to have stripped down to just a tanktop and the shortest of imaginable short shorts. Morgana reveals Ann needs to continue 'acting' so...
...Ann decides she's going to have to seduce Yusuke, I guess? I think the joke on Atlus' mind is having Ann utilize vague language with Yusuke that could be interpreted both ways -- the classic "Let's go inside that room for more privacy, then we can do exactly what you want" kind of purring that just strikes me as icky to the extreme. Here's a problem, though: While Ann is 'acting' this way she is simultaneously whispering sincere despondent "PLEASE TELL ME YOU'RE FINISHED!" messages to Morgana, and she comes across as very, very uncomfortable with the situation she must 'act.'

Yusuke is flustered and betrays any possibility that he really was just motivated by 'fine art' by seeming perfectly willing to engage in far dirtier escapades than just painting a nude portrait with Ann until his mentor, the elderly plagarizing baddie, shows up and shit hits the fan, I guess.

Now, here's an additional problem: Yusuke is NOT an antagonist. He is actually a supposed 'good guy' who ultimately joins the Phantom Thieves and becomes a full-fledged fighting member of your team who works alongside Ann.
And, here's yet another fucking problem: After all's said and done and Yusuke apologizes TO THE WHOLE TEAM for obstructing their investigation and he joins their team, Yusuke ***DOES NOT*** apologize to Ann for the whole nude drawing fiasco. In fact, Ann angrily confronts him as the group's chilling in the diner after all's said and done, and Yusuke's response is not so much "I'm sorry" as it is, essentially, "I'll drop the nude portrait thing FOR NOW but I really hope you do reconsider heh heh heh..."

...And the guys are all okay with this, of course. All grins and giggles from those lunatics.
This is where it'd be really nice if Persona 5 were more like Persona 4, and if poor Ann had another woman in the group to help defend her, or to keep the boys honest, or to just rip them to shreds. Chie wouldn't tolerate this shit if this happened to Yukiko, y'know? But Ann is all alone, surrounded by guys who spend those moments in the diner relating with Yusuke's desire, not Ann's entirely justifiable anger at Yusuke.

...And then, like a battered victim who's just sick and tired of putting up a fight, Ann just...sort of drops it. Yusuke's a full-fledged member of the team, it isn't brought up again, Ann no longer seems pissed about it, extremely selective memory seems to apply and she just moves on. And the two become good friends, I guess. Sure. That makes sense.

This infuriates me even more than the goddamn pageant, for some reason. Unlike the comparatively happy-go-lucky cast of Persona 4, Ann has undergone some serious trauma in a MUCH darker game with darker thematic elements and in prior conversations with the Protagonist and Ryuji she makes it damn clear to them that she's struggling with post-traumatic stress after her gym coach's attempted abuse of her and her best friend's attempted suicide and subsequent coma that she BLAMES HERSELF for because it wouldn't have happened if she accepted Kamoshida's primal lust.

...It's a fucking atrocity.
It's a fucking atrocity.
Persona 5 isn't an awful game, sure, maybe, but this is an awful moment and I feel terrible for having financially encouraged it with my money.
Don't let Atlus get away with it.

EDIT: An acquaintance who's also playing Persona 5 and who read this rant before I posted it here -- and who actually disagrees with me to some extent, heh -- pointed out that Ann's best friend was only in a coma for about a week after her attempted suicide and her friend wasn't still in a coma by the time the nude modeling scene unfolds. Ann's best friend had recovered from her coma, but decided she couldn't stay in Tokyo anymore so she's transferring schools. I don't really buy his other criticisms of my points, but I did get that wrong, so I'll correct myself accordingly.
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Last edited by Solid Snake; 04-05-2017 at 07:30 PM.
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Unread 04-05-2017, 02:29 PM   #2
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Default Kim was always right, boycotting Atlus was the right thing to do

Hoofah. That's a lot of gross bullshit for the sake of gross bullshit and nothing more.
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Unread 04-07-2017, 12:32 PM   #3
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Dreadful

Minor Persona 5 Spoilers Incoming, through 7/5 In-Game

I'm a bit more than a month of in-game time further along into Persona 5's story and things really haven't improved for Ann. Another woman's joined the Phantom Thieves and she's been treated more respectfully and like an actual human being so far; by contrast, all the boys are still drooling over Ann and interspersing the serious plot developments with creepy comments that she's just shrugging off.

Yusuke still occasionally brings up his desire to paint Ann in the nude and has moved on with a new plan to try to move in with her to increase his chances of this happening (long story there), which she repeatedly rebuffs. At one point, Ann decides she's going to take a nap during a Phantom Thieves meeting on the Protag's couch (they're all in his bedroom), and Persona 5's animators took the time to animate specific character movements showing Ryuji and Morgana attempting to 'sneak a peek', followed by Ann adjusting her clothing and her positioning on the couch so she isn't as 'exposed.' Oh, and as if all her previously established admirers weren't enough, even the Protagonist's elderly uncle has a scene with Ann where he's charmed by her and flirts with her. Oy vey.

In perhaps the weirdest and most counter-intuitive of developments, if you get far enough along in Ann's social link you'll spark a scene where she seeks Ryuji's help to train her body and become stronger (Ryuji's the athlete of the group, so it makes sense she'd seek his guidance.) Here's the counter-intuitive part; Ryuji then accuses Ann of being obsessed with her appearance and being shallow and the type who likes to showcase herself and have a certain nefarious reputation. This strikes me as projection to the extreme; all the guys, including Ryuji, find her beautiful and have been over-sexualizing her. Unless you view Ann's part-time modeling gig as inherently sinful behavior (it's at least implied that Ryuji may believe this, because Ryuji's apparently a dunce), or unless you want to join Ryuji in judging Ann on the basis of the clothing she wears (ick), Ann has literally said and done nothing to merit this impression. So basically Persona 5 has a moment where a boy accuses a girl of a slutty reputation because he finds her attractive, har dee har.

This might well work as incisive social commentary over how fucked up some high school boys can be, except Atlus plays all this so painfully straight that you're left to assume their writers practically side with Ryuji in the above debate, and similarly are rooting for the boys to sneak peeks and finally convince her to strip off her clothes for Yusuke's pervy painting.


In general, Ann's story arc should feel truly liberating -- she does, after all, get sweet vengeance against the monster of a man who tormented her and her best friend. But it feels less like a genuine victory for her and more like she's traded a greater evil for lesser ones. Kamoshida was violent, brutish, grotesque -- worse than the boys in the Phantom Thieves, to be sure -- but guys like Ryuji and Yusuke and Morgana are the epitome of the 'Nice Guy' passive-aggressive phenomenon, hellbent on a less flashy and more subtle way of repeatedly objectifying and belittling her. It's sad that you actually witness Ann slowly lose her willpower to fight this...she starts off much angrier and more confrontational, then eventually seems to decide that the guys' 'good character' somehow counteracts bad behavior. Soon she's giggling along with the rest of them at all their comedic hijinks.

And given her fierce loyalty -- and romantic interest -- in the Protagonist (you can choose whether to reciprocate or not, but if you advance her social link it's clear she has feelings for him, as it is with nearly all the women in this game who are Confidants), it's easy to summarize Ann so far as someone who Atlus has written to essentially trade blind loyalty from one male authority figure (in Kamoshida, who she initially defended and protected for her friend's sake in spite of his monstrosity) to another (in the Protag, who she appears to like so much that she'll endure all kinds of slings and arrows from the others so long as he remains in her life and she remains a Phantom Thief.) That's not at all liberating; it's just sort of sad.
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Unread 04-07-2017, 10:09 PM   #4
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So, not gonna be contributing terribly much to this thread in the immediate future, as I'm going to have to wait 'till I can buy myself a PS4 'cause I don't want to spoil myself, but I gotta say it's nice to see that Walls, Walls never change.

I'll just have to necromance the thread when I get around to playing P5 for myself in a couple months.
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Unread 04-07-2017, 10:57 PM   #5
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Just going to start my post off by saying I'm at the beginning of August in-game, so anyone who cares has an idea of where I'm at in the game (which I'm guessing is roughly halfway).

I have also never played any previous Persona games so any references to those will be met with a blank stare on my part because I know nothing about them.

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- The main character can 'steal hearts', which apparently gives him the superpower to enter into relationships with up to nine women at once, including -- somehow -- adults such as a teacher, a doctor, and a journalist, all of whom are well beyond college-aged. The narrative makes it clear that this isn't some consensual polyamorous pseudo-orgy or a covenant among the ladies to share and split the Protagonist's time; the game just encourages you to make the Protag a conniving, cheating bastard with little in the way of consequences.
I haven't gotten far enough in the confidant ranks to actually date anyone (well there was a "date" with one character of appropriate age, but it wasn't an actual date), so I can't comment to much on this, but I have heard you can date multiple people at once. What i will say is that after getting multiple female characters up to ranks 5-7, the game has never once encouraged me to be a "conniving, cheating bastard."

Although I will say I've only ranked up one of the older women (and only to rank 5), as the other confidant bonuses didn't appeal to me so I've spent my time doing other things.

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- The main character himself is punished for the grave crime of...saving a woman from a man who was attacking her, and then being sued by the guy? I don't know, maybe this gets clarified a bit deeper into the game, but I'm fifteen hours in and even most the women in this game have ostracized the guy not for being a womanizing jackass (more on that later; he somehow comes across as worse than Yu Narukami in many of the 'comedic' scenes where misogyny runs rampant) but rather for that one time in his past where he actually did the right thing and protected a woman under circumstances that would be legally justifiable in America. Maybe Japan's just weird about this? But I'm uncomfortable with a game so overtly promoting the moral lesson of "Don't defend a woman who's being physically assaulted or else society will ostracize you and you'll have to move from your hometown and be treated like a criminal."
You're missing the point here. It was clearly implied the guy was a high level government official abusing his power. There's also some other implications that you should be getting to soon.

There's also the fact that all anyone knows is that you were arrested for assault (because said official tampered with shit). Nobody except the protagonist, the official, and the woman knows what really happened that night, and in this case nobody is believing the protagonist's version of the story.

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- Ann's a beautiful model, and at least three of the boys introduced appear to have huge crushes on her. Ironically, the only guy who may not have feelings for Ann is the Protag, depending on how you roleplay as him, and he's the one and only guy who Ann may actually like. She clearly has no feelings for the other three and tries her damnedest to make that brazenly obvious from the get-go with all of them, with little to no success with deterring their batshit lunacy around her.

- The three guys who have crushes on her are:
1) The new Yosuke, the Nice Guy childhood friend who's been rejected by her in the past but who still clearly is a bit more attracted to her than he probably should be, given how frequently she attempts to remind him that they're nowhere near suitable for each other;
Except it was never mentioned that Ruji made advances on Ann in middle school, so he was never rejected by her in the past (at least not in main story or in any of the confidant scenes I've seen, if I'm wrong please let me know). And they were never really childhood friends, they just went to the same middle school. As for Ryuji's persistence, it actually reminded me of someone I knew in high school who would make similar brazen jokey comments, just hoping that his persistence would pay off. Is that model behavior? No of course not, but Ryuji isn't a model character. He's brash, and a bit of a delinquent, but still a good guy when it matters. I find him to be a realistic high schooler, and I fail to see how that's something to criticize in a game about high school kids.

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2) The new Teddie, and boy was I disappointed to learn in spite of the name (and in spite of the excellent voice actress portraying him, it's 6O and Fie's VA) that he's a he and he's every bit the raunchy, perverted asshole that Teddie was, complete with the same excuse Teddie had of "I don't really understand how humans work, so it's totally okay for me to be extremely aggressive in pursuing ladies in really creepy ways!"
Yeah I was also a bit thrown off when I found out Morgana was a boy. But still, "raunchy" and "perverted asshole" are not words I would use to describe Morgana. The way he acts is definitely cringe-worthy in regards to Ann, but it made me think of a younger kid trying desperately to show he is mature enough for the older woman he instantly developed a crush on. So while I'm not a huge fan of the personality, I can understand it, and I feel like you're taking it to the extreme. And honestly Morgana has grown on me quite a bit since the start of the game.

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3) Worst of all three so far, there's the creepy painter. I'll get into why Yusuke is the worst of the three momentarily, as he's really the one I want to highlight as the worst of the bunch, but for now just understand that he thinks Ann is hot and he acts like a monstrous barbarian around her to concoct a circumstance to paint her naked.
Okay you could not be more wrong here. Specifically this:

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concoct a circumstance to paint her naked.
Yusuke has no ulterior motives, he's not some big creepazoid that you seem to think he is. He is obsessed with painting, not Ann. He doesn't want to see her nude, he wants to paint her. Well okay, he also wants to see her nude because he's a high school kid and who wouldn't say no to seeing a naked woman in front of you at that age, but ultimately he wants to paint (but more on that later).

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To convince her to partake in relations Kamoshida targets her best friend, who plays for the volleyball team that he coaches. Kamoshida basically tells Ann "Sleep with me or I will ruin your best friend's life," and when Ann hesitates Kamoshida first beats up her best friend, then he sleeps with her best friend, and then her best friend attempts to commit suicide.
Yeah that part I bolded was never implied. At least I never got that implication from any of the dialogue. Like at best he was going to try to force herself on her, but she attempted suicide before that happened.

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...By the way like, none of the male characters have tragic backstories to work through with nearly as much bullshit. Ryuji's trauma which Atlus dares to compare to Ann's is that Kamoshida ruined his life by...kicking him off another sports team and ostracizing him from his former team members. Kind of tame compared to attempted sexual assault, actually sexually assaulting your friend because you refused to comply, and then your friend attempting suicide and ending up in a coma, don't you think?
Uhhh the game never implies they have the same severity. It tells you they are both bad things, and to each individual they are really bad things, but it never really compares them directly.

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Oh, and did I mention that at one point Ann is confronted with a fantasy version of herself -- concocted from Kamoshida's imagination -- who's dressed in a scantily clad bikini and who kisses and gropes Kamoshida right in front of her? Because I feel like that's an additional really disturbing thing to note that actually happens.
Is this really a criticism? Like it's supposed to be disturbing. You're supposed to feel gross seeing that. That's the point. I think they did a good job of portraying how much of a scum bag Kamoshida is.

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big ol' wall of text about Yusuke
Okay before I pick apart specific parts of what you wrote that I disagree with, I just want to say that this is a story about high school kids. Because I feel like that is an important part of the story and ultimately a lot of the actions in the story are pretty damn accurate for people of that age (at least in my personal experience from when I was that age). And it seems like you're getting hung up on Atlas sending perfect moral messages at all times instead of acknowledging their accurate portrayal of high school kids. So with that said, let's get into it.

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stuff about pressuring Ann to strip
Personally, I interpreted the plan as Ann (and the guys) never intending Ann to actually strip. Ryuji's persistence, and even the option give to the you to say "strip for him Ann" are them being high school kids and teasing their friend. Is it in poor taste given what happened so recently? Yes, and I wish Atlas had addressed that. But ultimately these aren't the actions of lecherous perverts, these are the actions of high school kids who have been through a lot of shit and are blowing off steam.

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the stuff that happens in Yusuke's room
I'm sticking with what I said earlier that Yusuke's sole motivation is to paint. He goes on at length about how the Sayuri painting inspired him, and how he wants to create something just as inspiring. That is his goal in asking Ann to model for him. His flustered reactions to Ann's clothing aren't revealing that he has perverted ulterior motives, it's revealing that despite his haughty art-focused attitude he's still a high school kid, and that he wasn't prepared for what he was getting himself into.

Yeah the lame humor overstays its welcome in this scene (and in the hallway with Morgana), so that's a fair criticism, but the awkward urgency in the scene isn't so Ann can escape, it's so Madarame can see the door unlocked and that people are inside it. Without doing so, his cognition won't change, and they can't make progress in his palace.

Also Ann's "revealing" outfit in this scene is actually her casual summer clothes, so take that how you will.

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Yusuke is flustered and betrays any possibility that he really was just motivated by 'fine art' by seeming perfectly willing to engage in far dirtier escapades than just painting a nude portrait with Ann until his mentor, the elderly plagarizing baddie, shows up and shit hits the fan, I guess.
Again you're missing the point. Yusuke is flustered because 1) he's a high school kid with no experience with women, 2) Ann keeps pressuring him to essentially betray his mentor and guardian and father figure, the man who looked after him and cared for him since he was 3 years old. Like honestly, put yourself in Yusuke's shoes. You invite a beautiful woman over to model for you, then the realization hits that oh shit you actually are going to see her in the nude, the only nudity you've seen before was art. And then on top of that she runs off in the direction of a forbidden room you never went into in 15 years, and starts making vague suggestions. Are you telling me you wouldn't be flustered in that situation?

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And, here's yet another fucking problem: After all's said and done and Yusuke apologizes TO THE WHOLE TEAM for obstructing their investigation and he joins their team, Yusuke ***DOES NOT*** apologize to Ann for the whole nude drawing fiasco. In fact, Ann angrily confronts him as the group's chilling in the diner after all's said and done, and Yusuke's response is not so much "I'm sorry" as it is, essentially, "I'll drop the nude portrait thing FOR NOW but I really hope you do reconsider heh heh heh..."
Because in Yusuke's mind it wasn't a big fiasco. He still wants to create his perfect piece of art. But I'm just parroting myself at this point so I'll leave it at that.

And now onto your follow up post you had spoiler tags on, so EVEN MORE SPOILER WARNING FOR ANYONE READING THIS FAR BUT REALLY WE'VE BEEN SPOILING STUFF SO FAR SO NO EXCUSES.

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Yusuke still occasionally brings up his desire to paint Ann in the nude and has moved on with a new plan to try to move in with her to increase his chances of this happening (long story there), which she repeatedly rebuffs. At one point, Ann decides she's going to take a nap during a Phantom Thieves meeting on the Protag's couch (they're all in his bedroom), and Persona 5's animators took the time to animate specific character movements showing Ryuji and Morgana attempting to 'sneak a peek', followed by Ann adjusting her clothing and her positioning on the couch so she isn't as 'exposed.'
Just voicing my agreement that I'm not a fan of that couch scene. It was definitely done for laughs and didn't add much, and while yeah it might be an accurate representation of high schoolers I feel like that one crossed the line since it served no real purpose.

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Oh, and as if all her previously established admirers weren't enough, even the Protagonist's elderly uncle has a scene with Ann where he's charmed by her and flirts with her. Oy vey.
What? WHAT? Are we playing the same game here? Because Papa Nier Sojiro did not flirt with Ann. He remarks on her being a charming young girl because he thinks you're dating her (or will be soon) since she's the first girl you brought home. Alternatively, he's happy that this nice girl is in your life because she seems like a good influence on you (because Sojiro still thinks you're a criminal who committed assault)

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And given her fierce loyalty -- and romantic interest -- in the Protagonist (you can choose whether to reciprocate or not, but if you advance her social link it's clear she has feelings for him, as it is with nearly all the women in this game who are Confidants), it's easy to summarize Ann so far as someone who Atlus has written to essentially trade blind loyalty from one male authority figure (in Kamoshida, who she initially defended and protected for her friend's sake in spite of his monstrosity) to another (in the Protag, who she appears to like so much that she'll endure all kinds of slings and arrows from the others so long as he remains in her life and she remains a Phantom Thief.) That's not at all liberating; it's just sort of sad.
And yeah just reiterating that I can't really comment on this as I've only gotten Ann's confidant up to rank 6 I think.
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Unread 04-07-2017, 11:11 PM   #6
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That's a lot of tapdancing and twirling to dodge around gross shit actually being really, completely gross.
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Unread 04-07-2017, 11:19 PM   #7
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Arcanum would dive into a lake to save a drowning girl from a sinking car, without even stopping to think about how dangerous it was. Arcanum would dive into a lake to save a drowning girl from a sinking car, without even stopping to think about how dangerous it was. Arcanum would dive into a lake to save a drowning girl from a sinking car, without even stopping to think about how dangerous it was. Arcanum would dive into a lake to save a drowning girl from a sinking car, without even stopping to think about how dangerous it was. Arcanum would dive into a lake to save a drowning girl from a sinking car, without even stopping to think about how dangerous it was. Arcanum would dive into a lake to save a drowning girl from a sinking car, without even stopping to think about how dangerous it was. Arcanum would dive into a lake to save a drowning girl from a sinking car, without even stopping to think about how dangerous it was. Arcanum would dive into a lake to save a drowning girl from a sinking car, without even stopping to think about how dangerous it was. Arcanum would dive into a lake to save a drowning girl from a sinking car, without even stopping to think about how dangerous it was.
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Originally Posted by Marc v4.0 View Post
That's a lot of tapdancing and twirling to dodge around gross shit actually being really, completely gross.
What am I tapdancing around? I'm stating the character's motivations as I've perceived them, and pointing out where I feel Snake misinterpreted the game.

Like at least put a bit more effort into a response other than "I think Snake's post is better so your post has no validity" especially since it seems you haven't actually played the game.
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Unread 04-07-2017, 11:58 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
Just going to start my post off by saying I'm at the beginning of August in-game, so anyone who cares has an idea of where I'm at in the game (which I'm guessing is roughly halfway).
I'm still in mid-July, though it's clear there's some divergence in our experiences so far because of social links we've prioritized and whatnot: In the early game when Ann, Ryuji and Yusuke are your only party Confidant choices I basically chose to exclusively hang out with just Ann because the guys were comparatively boring and/or infuriating. So I'm further than you are with Ann's scenes (though based on what you've typed about her I'd suspect you and I will disagree on interpretations of a couple scenes you haven't seen yet.) At any rate, I will avoid unnecessary commentary here on scenes you haven't seen and limit main plot discussion to stuff you and I have both already seen.

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I haven't gotten far enough in the confidant ranks to actually date anyone (well there was a "date" with one character of appropriate age, but it wasn't an actual date), so I can't comment to much on this, but I have heard you can date multiple people at once. What i will say is that after getting multiple female characters up to ranks 5-7, the game has never once encouraged me to be a "conniving, cheating bastard."
This is something that I actually honestly haven't experienced either -- I think I just now entered into a relationship with Ann and only because I'm going to treat this as my "Let's just see all the romantic content for everyone so I can critique it" playthrough. It's actually something that I consider 'not a spoiler' because of experience with past Persona titles, so I'll spoiler-text this from here as you're unfamiliar with past titles in the series.

Like Persona 3 and Persona 4, at a certain point in Persona 5 you're given the option to pursue a relationship -- not just go out on dates but explicitly make a commitment -- with multiple women with no in-game repercussions (aside from a Valentine's Day scene at the end of the game like Persona 4 Golden's that designed to make you feel bad.) I haven't gotten far enough to know this myself but I inquired about it because I was willing to spoil my own experience and I wanted to know whether Atlus changed things up with actual consequences for cheating this time around. According to people who are much further than me due to playing the Japanese version of Persona 5 after its release, Persona 5 suffers from the same baggage here that Persona 4 did.

Oh and, massive spoilers because I spoiled myself on this one:
This time around in Persona 5, at least three of your romance options are with older women who are at least in their twenties. There's excuses to rationalize or justify this -- your teacher / maid, for example, in her final scene if you pursue the romance route with her is like "We have to wait to make things official until after you're done with school [but she's totally going to wait for you]", but it still strikes me as the epitome of inappropriate wish fulfillment fantasy for heterosexual males who dreamed of such relationships in high school.


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You're missing the point here. It was clearly implied the guy was a high level government official abusing his power.
Yeah, I didn't see the additional contextual scene that reframed this narrative until after my first post. I still think it's bizarre that the Protagonist doesn't bother sharing the truth with someone like Sojiro, and the other Phantom Thieves are the only one he confesses the truth to, and he's just sort of comfortable being ostracized by everyone else for a crime he didn't commit. Sure, the high-ranking government official getting away with things legally makes sense, but the notion that said officials are corrupt and can use their wealth and power to screw over folks isn't exactly mind-boggling for most regular ordinary folks in the US and Japan.

I dunno, I guess "nobody believing the protagonist's version of the story" strikes me as a bit far-fetched and implemented in this case just to ramp up some dramatic tension, even the most charismatic and likable politician or celebrity in the US wouldn't have that kind of that power to smear you irredeemably in the realm of popular opinion. And physical assault of another older man isn't exactly the kind of crime that leads to that degree of ostracizing among youths in America. The way the other kids at school react to the rumors about you -- some seem to be in abject terror with your presence -- you'd assume you were accused of killing folks.

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Except it was never mentioned that Ruji made advances on Ann in middle school, so he was never rejected by her in the past (at least not in main story or in any of the confidant scenes I've seen, if I'm wrong please let me know).
If I stated or implied that Ryuji made advances on Ann in middle school, I misspoke. I intended to state that Ryuji liked Ann in middle school, though I do think there's a clear dynamic between the two (based on Ann constantly reiterating reasons to Ryuji why she finds them incompatible, and based on Ryuji 'joking' as you describe it and acting skeevy and pervy in moments around her) where Ryuji's clearly liked Ann since they met and Ann's clearly tried to dissuade him from pursuing her.

It's kind of vague as to how well the two knew each other back then, but Ryuji and Ann certainly weren't strangers and had spoken to each other and related on some level as acquaintances.

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As for Ryuji's persistence, it actually reminded me of someone I knew in high school who would make similar brazen jokey comments, just hoping that his persistence would pay off. Is that model behavior? No of course not, but Ryuji isn't a model character. He's brash, and a bit of a delinquent, but still a good guy when it matters. I find him to be a realistic high schooler, and I fail to see how that's something to criticize in a game about high school kids.
"He's [X trait, Y quality], and a bit of a pervert, but he's a good person at heart" is basically how Atlus writes all its boy characters in every Persona game, and that's a huge source of criticism from me because it's tiring to see Atlus attempt to excuse all kinds of inexcusable behavior from boys as just 'high school boys being high school boys.'

I also don't think most high school boys actually act this way, because most of them have a basic degree of tact and etiquette to function decently in society. You can argue that Atlus plays up and melodramatizes a lot of this for the sake of 'grins and giggles' among its heterosexual male devotees, but I'd retort that's part of the problem, that Atlus is treating objectifying women in extravagant ways as a joke for its target audience because it's supposedly funny to watch guys openly treat women like sexual objects.

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Yeah I was also a bit thrown off when I found out Morgana was a boy. But still, "raunchy" and "perverted asshole" are not words I would use to describe Morgana. The way he acts is definitely cringe-worthy in regards to Ann, but it made me think of a younger kid trying desperately to show he is mature enough for the older woman he instantly developed a crush on. So while I'm not a huge fan of the personality, I can understand it, and I feel like you're taking it to the extreme. And honestly Morgana has grown on me quite a bit since the start of the game.
I actually partially agree with you here, insofar as I do like Morgana a bit more than Teddie. If you ever play Persona 4, prepare yourself; Teddie is an infinitely worse version of Morgana with the same childlike boyish desire for women taken to an even greater extreme. I do think that's hardened my impression of Morgana off the bat, because I honestly assumed he was a girl (because of the voice actor and the name, Atlus seems to be intentionally deceiving us here) and was disappointed to learn he was actually Teddie 2.0, complete with Teddie's cringeworthy debacles dealing with raw, primal lust for every girl he interacts here.

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Yusuke has no ulterior motives, he's not some big creepazoid that you seem to think he is.
...Ah. Here's where we're really going to disagree.
We did watch the same awful and odious attempt of a 'comedic' scene at Madarame's place, right? It feels like you're about to describe a very different scene than the one I experienced.

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He is obsessed with painting, not Ann. He doesn't want to see her nude, he wants to paint her. Well okay, he also wants to see her nude because he's a high school kid and who wouldn't say no to seeing a naked woman in front of you at that age, but ultimately he wants to paint (but more on that later)
No, no, no. I disagree.
If Yusuke were just motivated and passionate about painting he'd be just as interested in drawing Ann clothed, or any other character, with any other expression, or he'd talk about other possibilities of things to draw even if nude painting fascinated him.

Instead he zeroes in with otherworldly focus on the possibility of drawing Ann and obsesses over drawing her -- specifically her -- nude for months, to the point where he's interjecting it in conversations that have nothing to do with Ann or painting and he's actually trying to plot his way into living in her home as that would presumably facilitate this painting.

If Yusuke were just interested in painting -- even just interested in painting Ann because of some quality she evoked that he wanted to capture in his art -- when Ann angrily and vehemently effectively kept saying "Fuck off Yusuke, you're not drawing me nude that makes me fucking uncomfortable" (I know she doesn't actually curse, but the cursing is essentially implied) Yusuke would back down.

He doesn't back down, because to Atlus the joke is that Yusuke is a horny boy who's looking for an excuse to see a beautiful woman nude. This joke is reinforced by Yusuke's reaction once Ann removes layers of clothing -- if he really had no sexual interest in her (as he asserted in his attempt to convince her to play along with this!) he wouldn't react by blushing and stammering and acting like a horny boy as her clothes hit the floor. More importantly, if Yusuke really just wanted to draw her for the dispassionate sake of quality art he'd act like an ACTUAL ARTIST acts when painting nude models -- professionally, treating it as a job and not a chance to gawk.

Instead, Yusuke is so infatuated with Ann that when she -- for the sake of unlocking a door -- starts flirting with him he ditches the professional artist act entirely and just becomes the teenage boy who really wants to get frisky with her but would prefer not to do so in Madarame's secret private room that he's been told by his mentor is off-limits. That's the nature of Yusuke's dilemma and it's why he doesn't just immediately tell Ann off when she recommends he break into Madarame's room and disrespect his beloved mentor's privacy -- he's compelled to say No for ethical reasons related to Madarame's trust in him, but he doesn't outright say no because he's attracted to Ann and wants to see where her flirtation is going. Which betrays the true motivations that's guided this entire creepy scene all along.

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Yeah that part I bolded was never implied. At least I never got that implication from any of the dialogue.
Watch the scenes again; Ann tells us point blank that real-life Kamoshida sexually abused Ann's best friend (Shiho) after Ann rejected Kamoshida's advances as a way to get back at Ann for rejecting him, and that's one of the reasons Shiho attempts to commit suicide. He physically abused her at first as he physically abused the other volleyball players in general, but he's also sexually abused many female students at the school. Shiho was not the first, but Kamoshida sexually assaulted her shortly before her suicide attempt.

I'm willing to concede a lot of my arguments here are based on interpretations, but there's no room for interpretation here on that one. It's outright stated. Kamoshida's raped girls (via statutory laws even if they consented under pressure) at the school before and, while we don't know exactly what he did with Shiho but it was sexual abuse that drove her over the edge.

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Personally, I interpreted the plan as Ann (and the guys) never intending Ann to actually strip. Ryuji's persistence, and even the option give to the you to say "strip for him Ann" are them being high school kids and teasing their friend. Is it in poor taste given what happened so recently? Yes, and I wish Atlas had addressed that.
Weird that on the one hand you chastise me at times for making assumptions based on things I imply based on my perceptions of certain characters, but here you're doing the same: You're just using your assumptions to give Ryuji and the Protagonist the benefit of any doubt.

Do I really think Atlus intends Ryuji and the Protagonist to come across as immoral sleazeballs? No, and that's part of my problem with Atlus. They're treating the objectification and sexualization of high school girls as some sort of byproduct of normal high school behavior. This is how misogyny is normalized. And no, it shouldn't be normal for two guy friends to joke with each other about coercing their female friend to strip nude against her will for a creepy boy they barely know.

...Jesus Christ, it's sad I had to type that.

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I'm sticking with what I said earlier that Yusuke's sole motivation is to paint. He goes on at length about how the Sayuri painting inspired him, and how he wants to create something just as inspiring.
This justification would work much better if Sayuri was nude in that painting, but she isn't nude, so why would the Sayuri painting inspire Yusuke to draw Ann nude?!?!

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Also Ann's "revealing" outfit in this scene is actually her casual summer clothes, so take that how you will.
Yeah, I've learned that since, though at the time her 'revealing' outfit looks unique to the player (who's never seen it before) and it certainly leaves little to the imagination.

Ann can and should feel comfortable wearing whatever the heck she wants, and in the context of the summer scenes she's clearly comfortable wearing that outfit and that's great. But the crucial point here is in the context of that scene in the presence of that particular person (Yusuke) who she barely knows in that particular moment in time, she doesn't want to be wearing what she's wearing. Her discomfort in that moment is what concerns me, not how much clothes she is or is not wearing.

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Are you telling me you wouldn't be flustered in that situation?
I'd definitely be flustered in that situation.
I'd also never ask a woman to pose nude for the sake of my 'art' as a teenage heterosexual boy who'd clearly have ulterior motives.

Keep in mind that Ann actually sees through Yusuke's ulterior motives, and has a hunch at just how flustered Yusuke will be to see her naked, and that's the entire reason she so angrily and vehemently tries to strike this idea down. At one point she basically begs Ryuji and the Protagonist to think of any other feasible alternative that would give them access to Madarame's door without any possibility of her agreeing to pose nude. That's kind of important!

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Because in Yusuke's mind it wasn't a big fiasco.
I'm more concerned with how Ann feels about it than how Yusuke feels. Yusuke was never at risk of being a victim.

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Just voicing my agreement that I'm not a fan of that couch scene. It was definitely done for laughs and didn't add much, and while yeah it might be an accurate representation of high schoolers I feel like that one crossed the line since it served no real purpose.
Glad we agree on one scene, at least.

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What? WHAT? Are we playing the same game here? Because Papa Nier Sojiro did not flirt with Ann.
'Flirt' may be a strong word as I don't think Sojiro has any actual desire to pursue any sort of relationship with Ann, but prior events in the story clearly establish that Sojiro has a bit of a reputation with women (hell, he refuses to save the Protagonist's phone number to his cell phone because the Protagonist is not a girl) and given how nearly every other male character treats Ann in the game, it just feels like yet another moment where another guy is inappropriately ensnared by her 'charms.'

Again, this doesn't automatically make Sojiro a pervert as a character, but I think it's important to look at this from the broader perspective of: What kinds of messages are Atlus' writers intending to send with Ann's character and how literally apparently all the men in her life treat her? Even Sojiro objectifies and reduces Ann a bit here -- instead of viewing her as her own person, she's primarily viewed as someone who's mere existence (because of her beauty and Sojiro's own desires for attractive women in his life, even in a nonsexual capacity he clearly values and admires them as one might admire gold or other desired material possessions) validates the Protagonist's decisions and life choices. In other words, to Sojiro Ann isn't her own person, she's an attractive thing who by virtue of the Protagonist 'possessing' her in his life must mean the Protagonist is doing something right.

And that's how nearly everyone seems to treat Ann, aside from maybe the Protagonist in Ann's Confidant link scenes. Her physical beauty seems to dwarf any independent consideration of who she is and what she wants for herself in her life.

EDIT: Given you're further than I am, Arcanum, I'm sure you have thoughts about the scene I just saw in the Catmobile driving through the desert?
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Unread 04-08-2017, 09:15 AM   #9
Arcanum
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This is something that I actually honestly haven't experienced either -- I think I just now entered into a relationship with Ann and only because I'm going to treat this as my "Let's just see all the romantic content for everyone so I can critique it" playthrough. It's actually something that I consider 'not a spoiler' because of experience with past Persona titles, so I'll spoiler-text this from here as you're unfamiliar with past titles in the series.

Like Persona 3 and Persona 4, at a certain point in Persona 5 you're given the option to pursue a relationship -- not just go out on dates but explicitly make a commitment -- with multiple women with no in-game repercussions (aside from a Valentine's Day scene at the end of the game like Persona 4 Golden's that designed to make you feel bad.) I haven't gotten far enough to know this myself but I inquired about it because I was willing to spoil my own experience and I wanted to know whether Atlus changed things up with actual consequences for cheating this time around. According to people who are much further than me due to playing the Japanese version of Persona 5 after its release, Persona 5 suffers from the same baggage here that Persona 4 did.

Oh and, massive spoilers because I spoiled myself on this one:
This time around in Persona 5, at least three of your romance options are with older women who are at least in their twenties. There's excuses to rationalize or justify this -- your teacher / maid, for example, in her final scene if you pursue the romance route with her is like "We have to wait to make things official until after you're done with school [but she's totally going to wait for you]", but it still strikes me as the epitome of inappropriate wish fulfillment fantasy for heterosexual males who dreamed of such relationships in high school.
Yeah having never played previous Persona games I'm definitely seeing this stuff with a significantly different mindset from you as I'm still navigating all the social stuff with a sense of wonder and confusion.

I also knew about dating the older women, and it's a thing that bothers me too. I have no intention of pursuing those relationships for pretty much the reasons you wrote above. They just seemed so weird and out of place.

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Yeah, I didn't see the additional contextual scene that reframed this narrative until after my first post. I still think it's bizarre that the Protagonist doesn't bother sharing the truth with someone like Sojiro, and the other Phantom Thieves are the only one he confesses the truth to, and he's just sort of comfortable being ostracized by everyone else for a crime he didn't commit. Sure, the high-ranking government official getting away with things legally makes sense, but the notion that said officials are corrupt and can use their wealth and power to screw over folks isn't exactly mind-boggling for most regular ordinary folks in the US and Japan.

I dunno, I guess "nobody believing the protagonist's version of the story" strikes me as a bit far-fetched and implemented in this case just to ramp up some dramatic tension, even the most charismatic and likable politician or celebrity in the US wouldn't have that kind of that power to smear you irredeemably in the realm of popular opinion. And physical assault of another older man isn't exactly the kind of crime that leads to that degree of ostracizing among youths in America. The way the other kids at school react to the rumors about you -- some seem to be in abject terror with your presence -- you'd assume you were accused of killing folks.
They're definitely exaggerating these aspects for the sake of the story, and I agree it's one of the weaker points of the game's introduction. There are some things that I wish they explained or implied sooner that makes the whole situation slightly more believable. I won't elaborate more than that for fear of spoilers but I think overall we're mostly on the same page here.

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If I stated or implied that Ryuji made advances on Ann in middle school, I misspoke. I intended to state that Ryuji liked Ann in middle school, though I do think there's a clear dynamic between the two (based on Ann constantly reiterating reasons to Ryuji why she finds them incompatible, and based on Ryuji 'joking' as you describe it and acting skeevy and pervy in moments around her) where Ryuji's clearly liked Ann since they met and Ann's clearly tried to dissuade him from pursuing her.
Having played more of the game there's some... inconsistencies (I guess? trying to think of the right way to phrase this) in their interactions/relationship. I dunno, it's not every scene, but some of them just feel off in some way. I'm having a hard time articulating exactly what it is, so I know this isn't adding much to the discussion, I just didn't want to ignore this point as I mulled stuff over in my head. Hopefully later on I can make another post once I have my thoughts straightened out.

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"He's [X trait, Y quality], and a bit of a pervert, but he's a good person at heart" is basically how Atlus writes all its boy characters in every Persona game, and that's a huge source of criticism from me because it's tiring to see Atlus attempt to excuse all kinds of inexcusable behavior from boys as just 'high school boys being high school boys.'
Okay yeah if it's a Persona staple then I can understand your dislike for it. Being new to Persona (and being someone who usually doesn't look too deep into writing in games, some times to my own detriment) Ryuji is still a solid bro character in my eyes. And actually he's the first confidant I maxed out (which happened shortly before me writing this post).

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I also don't think most high school boys actually act this way, because most of them have a basic degree of tact and etiquette to function decently in society. You can argue that Atlus plays up and melodramatizes a lot of this for the sake of 'grins and giggles' among its heterosexual male devotees, but I'd retort that's part of the problem, that Atlus is treating objectifying women in extravagant ways as a joke for its target audience because it's supposedly funny to watch guys openly treat women like sexual objects.
I didn't mean to imply that all high schoolers act that way, just that some do and in my own experience Ryuji reminded me of one person I used to know. But again this seems like a clash between you seeing this song and dance multiple times before, and me getting this nostalgic blast on my first trip through that's helping me overlook many of the flaws.

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stuff about Yusuke
So I forgot to mention in my previous post that after Yusuke joined the team I never ranked up his confidant for a significant amount of time (I actually only recently ranked him up once after clearing the fourth palace just so he could have Baton Pass in case I needed to swap him in).

Like ignoring the argument of him being a creep or not, I wasn't a fan of his personality or his moves (I already had some ice casting Personas, and Ryuji's got me covered for physical damage).

I say this to point out that I had mostly been avoiding him and brushing him off (haha painting pun oh god sorry it wasn't intended) as just a weirdo.

Well, he's definitely a weirdo, but having played more he's probably more perverted than I initially gave him credit for.

I think I just wanted to believe that he wasn't a pervy creep during the whole studio scene and chose to perceive that scene in a more favorable light than it deserves.

But since then he has made some more comments that made me stop and think "ok this is looking more and more like Snake is right."

There's actually a dialogue option at one point after the fourth palace to tell him to stop being a pervert.

So yeah, I'd like to rewrite what I wrote in regards to the studio scene but I feel I wouldn't make a decent argument without re-watching the whole thing again and ehhh that's too much work when I could just play more Persona, so I'll just say your points in this regard are more valid than mine.

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Watch the scenes again; Ann tells us point blank that real-life Kamoshida sexually abused Ann's best friend (Shiho) after Ann rejected Kamoshida's advances as a way to get back at Ann for rejecting him, and that's one of the reasons Shiho attempts to commit suicide. He physically abused her at first as he physically abused the other volleyball players in general, but he's also sexually abused many female students at the school. Shiho was not the first, but Kamoshida sexually assaulted her shortly before her suicide attempt.

I'm willing to concede a lot of my arguments here are based on interpretations, but there's no room for interpretation here on that one. It's outright stated. Kamoshida's raped girls (via statutory laws even if they consented under pressure) at the school before and, while we don't know exactly what he did with Shiho but it was sexual abuse that drove her over the edge.
So you doubling down on this has cast doubts in my mind on how I'm remembering the scene, and I will definitely have to rewatch it at some point.

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Again, this doesn't automatically make Sojiro a pervert as a character, but I think it's important to look at this from the broader perspective of: What kinds of messages are Atlus' writers intending to send with Ann's character and how literally apparently all the men in her life treat her? Even Sojiro objectifies and reduces Ann a bit here -- instead of viewing her as her own person, she's primarily viewed as someone who's mere existence (because of her beauty and Sojiro's own desires for attractive women in his life, even in a nonsexual capacity he clearly values and admires them as one might admire gold or other desired material possessions) validates the Protagonist's decisions and life choices. In other words, to Sojiro Ann isn't her own person, she's an attractive thing who by virtue of the Protagonist 'possessing' her in his life must mean the Protagonist is doing something right.
Sojiro is definitely an odd subject, and I feel he just suffers from poorly paced / inconsistent character development. Like yeah they set him up to be this womanizer I guess to mess with your expectations when they reveal more about his character later on? But it's just like... why? Knowing what I know now where I'm at in the game (which is months after the scene with Ann), that scene has a completely different meaning. Which is kind of neat, but I feel it would've been better if the scene was better on its own merits and not solely in hindsight. I dunno, I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts again so I hope you can understand what I mean with my ramblings.

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EDIT: Given you're further than I am, Arcanum, I'm sure you have thoughts about the scene I just saw in the Catmobile driving through the desert?
Oh boy. Before I started writing my first post I had meant to mention later fan service scenes but forgot to do so. Yeah I was not a fan of that clip. Like I'm no stranger to fan service, and I'm not inherently against fan service, but man that was some bad fan service. All that scene did was be creepy and act as a detriment to everyone's characters.

Unfortunately there are some more questionable scenes like that coming up, although in my opinion none of them have been as bad as that bus ride.
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Unread 04-08-2017, 11:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
I also knew about dating the older women, and it's a thing that bothers me too. I have no intention of pursuing those relationships for pretty much the reasons you wrote above. They just seemed so weird and out of place.
Yeah, I'll just add that it's even more bizarre as someone who's played Personas 3 and 4 that Persona 5 seems to take further steps backward in terms of catering to weird wish-fulfillment fantasies with some very irregular, taboo relationships that are presented just seriously enough that it all crosses into an uncanny valley of yuck.

In the case of the Protagonist's homeroom teacher in particular -- I will spoiler-text this as I'll be discussing scenes I've witnessed that are optional and that you may or may not have seen already depending on whether your prioritize her Confidant link -- it's so strange that there are scenes that establish she's struggled in the past with inappropriate relationships with students and being too flirty with students, and she's paid an enormous price for doing so, and there are aspects of her narrative that are played very straightforwardly as a tragedy where she's in desperate need of redemption...and apparently her redemption is found in falling in love with another student. And in that case in particular it's like, okay, the entire narrative for the character is completely subverted by Atlus' desperate need to ensure every woman can be romanced by the protagonist.

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Having played more of the game there's some... inconsistencies (I guess? trying to think of the right way to phrase this) in their interactions/relationship. I dunno, it's not every scene, but some of them just feel off in some way. I'm having a hard time articulating exactly what it is, so I know this isn't adding much to the discussion, I just didn't want to ignore this point as I mulled stuff over in my head. Hopefully later on I can make another post once I have my thoughts straightened out.
I think it's pretty clear -- you've seen the same scenes I have that I'd submit as evidence -- that Ryuji is very attracted to Ann. Granted, every guy in Tokyo seems to fit that descriptor at this juncture, and Ryuji isn't quite as bad as someone like Yusuke or Morgana is in handling rejection from her, but there's definitely some feelings there.

Beyond that, I think that the Persona series' approach of leaving every supporting male NPC in the dust so that every woman is equally viable as a romance candidate for the Protagonist and the Protagonist alone is in play here. Not that Ryuji deserves any better fate, but it often feels like some of these guys (Yosuke was a similar example in a previous Persona title) are written as offensive dunces around women in part to justify the Protagonist's charm and popularity. Surround the Protagonist with a few really offensive jerks and of course the Protagonist is going to have tons of dating options, at least that seems to be Atlus' theory on the subject. Unfortunately, it often feels like this results in the Protagonists of each Persona game benefiting tremendously by simply being portrayed the least overtly misogynistic douchebag in a given town.

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Okay yeah if it's a Persona staple then I can understand your dislike for it.
Not only is it a Persona staple by this juncture, it also feels like it's an aspect of storytelling where Atlus is regressing and getting worse and worse with each iteration. Persona 4 was slightly worse in the aggregate than Persona 3, Persona 4 Golden tossed lots of disproportionately objectionable content into Persona 4, and now Persona 5 is eager to be the worst of the bunch.

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Ryuji is still a solid bro character in my eyes. And actually he's the first confidant I maxed out (which happened shortly before me writing this post).
I would've been more sympathetic to this viewpoint on Ryuji had I not just recently seen that Catmobile cutscene I referenced earlier. Up until that moment, I was at least of the opinion that, as bad as Ryuji was, he wasn't nearly as awful as Yusuke or Morgana. He may well still be the best male supporting character in the Phantom Thieves, but that's only because his competition has set the bar so low.

There's definitely at least some tangential evidence of the possibility that Ryuji is just way too much a stereotypical 'Nice Guy' With Ulterior Motives around Ann -- that's just a vibe I feel frequently with him, and scenes where he indulges his baser instincts and just becomes so pervy around her certainly don't help his portrayal.

I'd still take Ryuji any day over the week over Yusuke, as Yusuke's easily my least favorite member in the Thieves by a country mile (for reasons you're about to cover in your own dissection of his creepiness.) Still, in general, I'd say the women in the Phantoms are much better written than the men. Independently of all the shit the writers have happen to Ann her characterization is quite exceptional, and I increasingly feel like the writers did a near-perfect job with Makoto (who somehow escapes most of the sexist bullcrap that's thrown at poor Ann's feet.)

I find I'm excited to spend time getting to know the women on the team, though I do feel guilty about seeking romances with all of them. I'm gritting my teeth through most the scenes with the guys.

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So I forgot to mention in my previous post that after Yusuke joined the team I never ranked up his confidant for a significant amount of time (I actually only recently ranked him up once after clearing the fourth palace just so he could have Baton Pass in case I needed to swap him in).
This is the right approach to Yusuke. I'm likely a little further into his Confidant link than you are (if only because my attempts to criticize how awful he is require me to indulge his eccentricities and seek out whatever the hell Atlus intended with him) and it's just so fucking painful. I have no idea what the writers were thinking with Yusuke, but even independently of everything I already articulated that disgusts me about his interactions with Ann, he just comes across as a very disjointed combination of holier-than-thou elitist prodigy and brazenly misogynistic immaturity.

He's like a Red Pill Redditor who is desperately eager to prove just how intelligent and unique he is with some fancy vocabulary and a desperate need to reframe every conversation into some pseudo-philosophical gobleygook, only every conversation eventually ends with some variation of Yusuke musing on just how unfair it is that the cute girls he likes won't strip naked for the sake of fine art.

At least Ryuji and Morgana aren't nearly as pretentious and enraptured with the sound of their own voices when they behave like sexist cavemen.

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I think I just wanted to believe that he wasn't a pervy creep during the whole studio scene and chose to perceive that scene in a more favorable light than it deserves.
Honestly, having gotten into the beginning of August in my Persona 5 playthrough, I'd just be thrilled if the writers let us move on from the really shitty studio scene and stop rehashing it for the trillionth time in a desperate attempt for cheap laughs at Ann's expense.

At this juncture I'm far past a point where I give a damn about Yusuke, he's pretty much irredeemable in my book. I just want Ann to feel safe and secure and comfortable as a member of this group and instead it feels like every time the conversation shifts to her I have to brace myself for some unnecessarily offensive commentary from the frat bros. The boys' behavior would be unjustifiable around any woman, let me make that clear, but when you toss in the severe post-traumatic stress Ann repeatedly verbalizes she's suffering from in the aftermath of being abused by Kamoshida it just feels so utterly despicable.

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So you doubling down on this has cast doubts in my mind on how I'm remembering the scene, and I will definitely have to rewatch it at some point.
Admittingly, what happens is more along the lines of Shadow Kamoshida first 'confessing' during one of his lunatic rants that he turned his attention from Ann to Shiho out of a desire to hurt Ann after Ann refused to indulge his advances. Shadow Kamoshida explicitly describes acting on a plan to have Shiho become what he originally hoped Ann would be (coerced into sexual acts) and Shadow Kamoshida also differentiates an initial period where he just physically abused Shiho to a later period (shortly before Shiho's suicide attempt) where he began interjecting sexual activities into his demands of her.

And while the Shadow versions of characters do have a propensity to exaggerate certain aspects of their real selves' personalities and actions, Ann later confirms that Shiho suffered from sexual abuse before her suicide attempt and promptly has several scenes with the group after Kamoshida's been defeated where she metaphorically beats the crap out of herself and holds herself in some way accountable for Shiho's suicide attempt because it wouldn't have happened if Ann just accepted Kamoshida's advances.

The whole situation with Shiho, Kamoshida, and Ann (and a number of other women on the volleyball team; Shiho and Ann were not Kamoshida's only victims) is utterly tragic and -- even in the context of a presumably 'darker' Persona title -- it just does not at all jive and fit in well with the more slapstick Adam Sandler-style 'comedic' (if you'd generously call that kind of juvenile humor 'comedy') tone of so many other scenes with the Phantom Thieves.

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Sojiro is definitely an odd subject, and I feel he just suffers from poorly paced / inconsistent character development. Like yeah they set him up to be this womanizer I guess to mess with your expectations when they reveal more about his character later on? But it's just like... why?
I mean, I do appreciate the nice twist you and I have both reached with him and his 'adopted daughter.'
Still...I'm skeptical on Sojiro. We'll have to circle back on him after we've finished the game.
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