What are your thoughts about Marie from P4G? She seems to a contrversy in the fandom so I would like to know your opinion about her and her role in the game.
Ahhh, to Marie or not to Marie. The old song and dance of love, betrayal and the fandom ripping each other’s heads off in the neverending cycle of waifu wars.
To give you my take on the issue:
Short Version: I like the character. A lot. Love her, even.
When I first played Persona 4 and was made aware of the fact that “The Golden” had some additional content I had no chance to experience yet, I was fully prepared to hate her. What I saw go around in the Fandom were horror stories of badly written dialogue, character derailing escapades and a character who has no business being there taking over the entire narrative. Additionally, I wasn’t really sold on her design, since her fashion style seemed pretty badly out of place for P4. So that’s what I went in expecting. A one-note plot device character who’d make my experience worse for it.
Then I actually played P4G and realized that absolutely nothing of what I’d heard was true. Instead of the “obnoxious Tsundere Mary-Sue” I was warned of, I was greeted by a very well-woven in story about a lost girl trying to deny her own loneliness and confusion by distracting herself with the material world and channeling her emotions into secret writings. In many ways a typical teenager, but the way she acts isn’t romanticized at all. It’s ridiculed where it deserves to be ridiculed and treated seriously where it deserves to be treated as such. At no point is she framed as some great, romantic “ARTEEEST” whose suffering makes her a bigger person. She’s just somebody desperately trying to not feel lost. Everything she does, having the protagonist take her out, her stance on consumerism (which she seems to embrace), her constant boredom and impatience, and her poems are symptomatic of how desperately she wants to *not* talk about her real issues that are making her hurt, simply because she doesn’t know how to talk about them. That is, of course, because she’s actually a fragment of Izanami which once rebelled against the goddesses’ corrupted desires and was cast out for it, now resigned to forgetting about its own ideals, which adds a whole layer more to the character. She’s the embodiment of a desire for people’s most honest, sincere wishes to come true, but since Izanami has abandoned her, she can no longer believe in the very ideal that makes her up, hence why she’s so resigned to materialism and living out her own desires only in secret. Additionally, the fact that she’s not actually human makes it hard for her to understand human social norms (just how Izanami doesn’t actually understand humans either), so she often acts terribly out-of line, which is where we get the “Tsundere Archetype” accusations from. However, unlike most cases, Marie is actually a GOOD execution of that character archetype: Not only is her “Tsundere-ness” not just an expression of embarrassment towards a guy she has a crush on (she acts like that towards EVERYONE, not just him), she also has damn good reasons to act like that, since she never actually learned about social guidelines.
Still, I am not surprised the fandom is often as opposed to her as they seem to be. As soon as I’d decided that I actually really like Marie, I felt immediately reminded of the exact same thing happening with a character in another fandom I am big on: Xion from Kingdom Hearts received pretty much the exact same cold initial reception from the fandom as Marie did. And that even though in character analyses she tended to be called a “very good character”.
Of course, the parallels between the cases are immediately visible: Both characters are black haired girls who were added to their respective games in retrospect by the way of expansions to the stories, turn out to be deeply important to the story and lore the players have cared about ever since before they knew this character exist, also turn out to be intrinsically connected to an important canon character, and their absence from the initial release ends up being explained with “All memories of them were destroyed when they died, BUT you now have a chance undo that!!!!”. They are perceived as somehow acting as a “forced love interest” towards a major character.
It’s pretty clear how a character like that would irk players, who might already have invested hours and hours into doing fanwork and crafting fan-theories that do not involve said character. It can be extremely frustrating to have your image of canon foiled like that by a retroactive update to the narrative. However, in both cases I think the kneejerk reactions were actually greatly overstated:
Even though both, Xion and Marie, change something about the lore they were introduced to, the changes are not so great as one couldn’t accommodate for them with ease, a love-relationship with a main character is only implied as a possibility in both cases (In fact, with Marie you can deny taking her down a lover’s route, just like you can with any other character, and with Xion I’d argue it isn’t there at all outside of Axel’s overinterpretation; Xion and Roxas’ relationship seemed strictly platonic or brother-sisterly to me) and, again, timelines where the characters have been erased from existence still exist in both cases, so if you really don’t want to involve them, you can still set your fanwork within those timeframes/timelines.
If anything, I see Marie’s - and by extension, Xion’s - case as a cautionary tale for writers as to what kind of violent reactions to expect from your audience if you decide to introduce important elements retroactively, as to opposed to putting them into the story right away. No matter how well done those elements are, there will be fans who just can’t find it in them to accommodate to that sudden change in the lore. That’s just how it is.