Persona 3 Club Book: World Guide Q&A [Translation] Part 1 (Pages 174-176)
OK, you are probably all wondering where the letters for yesterday and today have been. Well, seeing how I have recently realized that I am using a lot of information in these letters that the majority of English-speaking fans has no access to, I have decided to share with you one of my primary sources that I refer to for questions regarding the inner working of the current Persona Universe:
Enter the “Persona 3 Club” Book (ペルソナ倶楽部 - P3 - Persona3). This book was released in December 2006, just a few months after the initial release of Persona 3. It is often mistakenly referred to as an “Artbook”, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, the first chapter of this book is a recap of Persona 1, Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, commented by Kazuma Kaneko. The majority of the following chapters contain character profiles of all of Persona 3’s characters and a collection of selected fanart and fanfic regarding the Main Characters, as well as the occasional Yonkoma.
However, what’s most interesting and relevant to me is the last chapter of the book. Pages 174 to 207 form the “World Guide Q&A”. This section, written by an Atlus Staff Member, reveals a lot of important backstory and supplementary information regarding the inner workings and rules of the current Persona Universe, especially regarding Nyx, Deities, Shadows, Plumes of Dusk, and much more. The Information given in this “World Guide” chapter is definitely canon. This is proven by the fact that, though this book was published in 2006, many of the concepts first mentioned in it have since implemented into the games. It indirectly explained Erebus before there was a P3FES, the Shadow Selves before there was a Persona 4, and a lot of information quickly dumped onto us in Ultimax actually originated from this book as well (and was also much better explained in it.) It can thus be assumed that Persona 5 is probably going to be using concepts from it as well.
Seeing how the “World Guide Q&A” is written in a dialog-style which fits quite well with the format of the letters on this blog, I’ve decided to translate it in the same way I’m writing letters for this blog, using sprites instead of names to indicate who is speaking. Aside from that, this is an absolutely authentic translation of the book’s contents, as far as my abilities allowed it, and I am paying great attention to not mistranslate anything that is said, so this translation will be usable as a reference for the Fandom
That said, enough with the introductions! Follow me under the cut to take a look at facts about the Persona Series that were never officially released for an English-Speaking audience! Have fun and enjoy! ♪
Don't get me wrong, the games are pretty good, but the persona series does have a nasty habit of recycling ideas. Ryuji is a genderswapped Chie mixed with Mark and Kanji, Ann is Rise with the personality of Yukari and the body and problems of Lisa, Morgana is Teddie, Makoto recalls Mitsuru, Haru's "story" is much like Yukikio's and she's similar to Fuuka it seems, Yusuke is Jun, Mitsuba is a "good" Jin, and Goro is Naoto's successor. Even our first boss is Ginji and Kashiwagi's lovechild.
I feel you might be a bit too harsh here. While I agree that there’s a lot of reused character types, that doesn’t make them the same character. I like to teasingly call Rise “Lisa 2.0″, because I know that that’s pretty much the template the character was built on, yet I don’t think this means Rise was “lazily written” or anything. The same goes for any other time the game has used similar character types. Junpei and Yosuke, for example, were built on the same character type to the point that Character Designer Soejima even stated that the dev team themselves had a habit of joking that Yosuke and Junpei were the same, yet in the finished games, if you put those two next to each other, they have entirely different motivations and intentions, and, in fact, in Persona Q they don’t even get along all that well, because the far more childish Junpei is just too much for the way more down-to-earth Yosuke.
Character Creation is not easy. As someone who’s worked on several original stories (and not fully released any of them because whoopsy-) I’ve experienced myself what a daunting task it can be to make a cast colorful, distinct, and, most of all, diverse. We joke about tropes and character types, but the truth is that these archetypes are what our mind latches onto for recognizable. Even if a character is not designed around any sort of “character type”, the human mind will end up assigning them one. Name me one fictional character who is absolutely “unique” without falling into any common tropes or types, and I’ll show you an incoherent mess of a character. Characters resemble each other because they are supposed to be humans, and humans are as similar to each other as they’re different.
Being original isn’t easy. Fun fact, I actually ended up rewriting several characters in my current passion project, UnEnding, from the ground up once the first Persona 5 trailers came in, since I realized that a couple of them were eerily similar to characters from P5. Note that I had written these characters BEFORE the first P5 trailers came out. I had NO way of knowing what was gonna happen. It was a coincidence.
You say Ryuuji is “Chie and Mark and Kanji”. That’s already 3 characters, and I’ll add you in a Yosuke for good measure. That makes 4 characters who have tangential similarities to Ryuji. That doesn’t sound like reused characters to me, and more like Teenagers just being teenagers and resembling each other. If anything, that description proves that Ryuuji already appears to be fairly unique, rather than based off any specific previous character, which is a feat.
As for Anne, I’ll give you Lisa and Rise, since she clearly falls into the “inherited” character type set by Lisa in P2, which Rise also fell into, but her personality being Yukari? Where do you get that from? We’ve heard 3 lines of dialogue from her so far at best. You can’t really judge a character’s personality of that. I am going to dismiss that and leave it at her being part of the obvious “Lisa Family”, which, OK, is getting old, but some patterns are fun if they are kept.
Your comment about Morgana I find hilarious, because everything I know about Morgana so far points towards her being the polar opposite of Teddie, which means they are deconstructing their own set character types, rather than retreating them.
Makoto “recalls” Mitsuru only in the way that both of them are student council presidents who happen to ride bikes. If you can have only one female character who’s allowed to be in a position of power and pilot a motorcycle, that’s kinda sad, don’t you think? In fact, the info we have about Makoto so far suggests that she is unpopular and has anger management issues which is *nothing* like Mitsuru.
I cannot see where you get the comparisons between Haru, Yukiko and Fuuka from at all. Haru has been characterized as a rich, spoiled brat by the articles so far, a character type that hasn’t been used as part of the Main Cast by the Persona Series before, ever. I’d go as far as to call her the most “original” out of the cast so far.
Yusuke looks very similar to Jun, yes, but again, we don’t know anything about his personality yet, and the couple of spoken lines we have from him so far, in fact, suggest a very different personality from Jun’s, since unlike Jun, he seems to be blunt and down to earth. Jun was a soft-spoken romantic.
Futaba and Jin are both hackers. That’s all. You’re allowed to have more than one character who’s a computer genius in your series. Fuuka is a computer genius too (she’s one of the few people capable of repairing Anti Shadow Suppression Weapons), so if anything, you should have complained that we have another navigator who’s a computer genius on board. You didn’t mention this, because Fuuka had a strong, defined personality outside of being good with computers. And Futaba will have that too.
Goro being another detective kid irks me, but, really, let’s be real, this game is of the Phantom Thief genre. There HAD to be a Genius Detective in there. It’s obligatory. Making a second detective kid is still marginally better than outright reusing Naoto. P4 and P5 both happen to be based on literary genres where Detective Characters are common. That’s a coincidence. And as much as the repeat angers me, I can also see it having a lot of potential for exploration, so I’m putting my faith in Atlus.
And I have no idea how you know anything about the first boss yet, if all we have is 2 lines of trailer dialogue and some screenshots.
Honestly,Archetypes will always exist. We’ll always see them. That doesn’t mean we should demonize them as they occur. I, for my part, will judge the character once I’ve actually gotten to meet them.
i was wondering why so many people dislike trinity soul and x detective naoto (i even heard that they used to be canon until backlash came) were they poorly written or was it some other reason?
OK, let’s tackle these separately, shall we?
Persona Trinity Soul:
From the get-go, this show clearly wasn’t created from the same people who worked on Persona 3 - let alone any other Persona Game. The way Personas are used contradicts lore established in Persona 3. A strange rule they made up about only teenagers being Persona Users contradicts lore established as early as Megami Ibunroku Persona, the very first game. The only thing that ties the show back to Persona 3 is some terminology and the fact that Igor, Akihiko and, arguably and maybe, Ken exist, and, in fact, Akihiko’s and Ken’s(?) futures are so similar to how they end up after P4U2 (but not the same), that it’s likely that the writers of Trinity Soul got to look at the series bible including future canon for the characters, to write their thing.
Otherwise, however, it does not fit into the universe at all. Does it suffice when I say “Exploding Apathy Syndrome Victims” and “Brain-Transplant-Induced Persona Fusion”?? Also, Persona Users can levitate. For some reason.
If it had been a stand-alone show, it could have been decent. The animation is really beautiful and the music (with vocals done by our all favorite, Lotus Juice, and Shuhei Kita, who’s later go on to sing the title song for P3P) is awesome throughout. However, the disconnect to the world, lore and themes of the Persona Series is just so painfully apparent, it’s really distracting when you watch the show as a Persona Fan, and a lot of stuff that happens doesn’t make sense with the Jungian Themes of the games. It’s a completely different flavor of Urban Fantasy than any of the Persona Games, it feels more like it was trying to be something among the lines of a much tamer Death Note. Despite the beautiful animation, it is also a very grey show all throughout, you’ll barely ever see any vivid colors, except on a Persona Design, if you’re lucky. Generally, the vibe is very bleak and unhappy, it’s just really not pleasant to watch and the characters are bland and don’t stick with you.
So yeah, long story, short: It just doesn’t feel like Persona. Not at any point.
The good news is that it at least gave us this track of Lotus Juice music. That was definitely worth it. It’s also rumored that some minor plot-ideas and character-templates in this Anime served as inspiration for various things in Persona 4 to the Persona Team, but I don’t know if that’s even one bit true.
(…By the way, Trinity Soul might also be part of the reason why I’m so averted to the idea of a grim-dark Persona. It just makes me think of this friggin’ show.)
OK, now we move on to
Persona x Detective Naoto
DEAR GOD WHY.
OK, first of all, there’s a reason here why this was first believed to be canon. The basic scenario IS canon. From what I heard, the outline it was based on was written by Katsura Hashino, the current director of the Persona Series. However, the problem is not the story itself. The problem is what the person who wrote the Light Novel did with that story.
Alright, so, Naoto is now a Detective specialized on cases involving Shadows and Personas, just like how she said she would be after P4U2. That’s OK. It makes sense. That part seems pretty canonical.
She also gets a 4th tier Persona, Amatsu-Mikaboshi, which is cool. Persona Evolutions are always cool.
What’s NOT cool is that, as soon as Naoto’s Persona evolves, it apparently loses all combat skills and she is reduced to nothing but an (admitted really cool) support ability. UM. WHAT. This is especially glaring since the situation in which the Persona Evolution happened would logically have required for Naoto gain MORE combat skill, rather than lose it, but apparently the author didn’t think that far. So yeah. This novel pulled a Reverse-Rise on Naoto. Oh and talking of Rise…
…Another big problem with this novel is the fanservice. IT’S EVERYWHERE. Out of the entire Investigation team, flashbacks with Rise are the most common, which is mostly used as an excuse with how Naoto is apparently “closest” to Rise, which, on turns, is used as a convenient excuse to have Rise cameo and force Naoto in really uncomfortable fanservice situations, having her PLAY BIKINI MODEL IN FRONT OF CAMERAS as early as within the first 50 pages of the book. This scene serves no purpose other than to embarrass Naoto, establish that Rise exists and make horny fanboys hornier. Nothing else. And if that wasn’t enough, the Manga based on the Light Novel constantly finds excuses to put Naoto into showers and underwear, showing off her naked body to the readers on every other page like there was no tomorrow. It’s beyond distracting. It’s insulting to the character and what she stands for. And, on a note that’s more of a personal pet peeve of mine, the Manga loves drawing Naoto’s hair in ways that totally and utterly defy all physics, for no other reason than to prove that the Mangaka can make Naoto look sexy even in the scenes when she’s wearing tight coats that hide her breasts. Uhhhh….
It’s a real shame, since the basic scenario is just so interesting. We learn more about the Kirijo Group, about the Anti Shadow Suppression Weapons, and even see some new examples of Shadow-related criminal cases that Naoto can work on from now on with her new aspirations, but the execution is just so painfully terribad that absolutely nobody liked it, not even the Persona Staff, who apparently disowned the novel while the Manga was being drawn. I myself never managed to read past the first two chapters of the novel or the fist volume of the Manga… I just couldn’t manage. 3 naked scenes of Naoto in one single volume was just too much for me.
I still think that the actual scenario-outline itself is canon - P4U2 definitely hints that it is - but not the way it’s portrayed in this novel and manga. Persona x Detective Naoto seems like a fanboy’s bad retelling of what actually happened - and I guess that’s what it should be treated as.
Beginning booting sequence. 0%…..10%….20%……30%……40%……50%……60%…….70%……80%……90%….100%. Anti Shadow Suppression Weapon Unit #031: “Labrys” now online. Now awaiting further instructions….
“Ah yes, she’s waiting in here for you. Right this way, Aragaki-san.” A middle-aged scientist led a young Shinjiro Aragaki inside a large empty training facility. The strong scent of iron was wafting in the air, the sound of footsteps on metal floors echoing. Inside the single, large room was a single, white and grey robot girl with a sky-blue ponytail standing in the middle, waiting instruction. The scientist chuckled a bit, seeing Labrys standing inside. “You see that? It’s been waiting for you. Go ahead and introduce yourself. Or not, it shouldn’t really matter to it.”
This world was… very strange. Even if it resembled a fairly typical high school upon first glance, Mitsuru knew that this was certainly not the case - she had travelled through a TV screen to get here, after all. Initially, she had been with Aigis and Akihiko, but they had somehow become separated from one another, and she was currently attempting to navigate the corridors of the unfamiliar building by herself. Things were only made more complicated by the addition of what appeared to be some sort of invisible walls, blocking her at every turn and forcing her to take a very particular path - not to mention that every other person she had come across since entering had thus far insulted her and tried to engage her in battle.
The leader of the Shadow Operatives released a sigh of frustration. The sooner they found the Anti-Shadow Suppression Weapon that had been stolen from her, the better. Her fingers wrapped around a door handle and she entered what looked like a classroom, stopping dead in the doorframe as her eyes fell upon another figure. Someone else to fight? It took a few moments for her mind to process that she knew this figure - and her face lit up in surprise.
“Shinjiro..?” Finally, a familiar face! It had been at least a few years since last the two had last seen one another, and their parting had not been under happy circumstances. She took a few steps closer, clearly pleased with the thought of a reunion - until a thought occurred to her that visibly soured her expression, and caused her to freeze again. “Wait a moment. Why are you here?”