LOST IN THE FOG: 4/18, Monday

“Deductive reasoning like whoa, son!” — Funky Student

At the start of this series, I made a promise to myself. I said I would try and keep each day’s writing above 800 words. Let it be known that it took a staggering two weeks for me to realize that this is a terrible idea.

There’s a lot to explore in Persona 4. That’s true. Here are some other things that are true: I like to have fun when I write. You like to have fun when you read. And on days like 4/18, you probably don’t need a windbag like me prattling on about metatextual symbolism, or whatever. I don’t really need to make a dense, 80-hour stone bleed.

What happened on 4/18, you ask? Nothing! Well, close to nothing. In a refreshing change of pace for my critical reading skills, Persona 4 finally handed me the keys. The author is dead. Long live Evan, the author.

The day starts at school, where Yosuke wonders aloud if Chie will be okay. Yesterday was pretty heavy, after all. Turns out, Chie’s more than okay! She’s embarrassed, sure, but she also seems… content. So content, in fact, that she starts a Social Link with Yu.

This is the one of the only mandatory segments in 4/18. Finally, the promise of storytelling “emergence” that I foreshadowed is paying off. Once school is out, Persona 4 lets you do whatever you want. Want to go save Yukiko? Go for it. Want to explore Inaba? For sure.

The real question, though: what did Yu want to do?

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This is my first playthrough of Persona 4 where I’m really trying to get inside Yu’s head. Or at least, my version of Yu’s head. When presented with a few choices, my instinct was not to pursue the leads I was interested in, but rather to wonder: what would Yu do? WWYD.

Here’s my thinking. Yu has had a rough week. He knows that he shouldn’t rush trying to save Yukiko. As Yosuke said yesterday, they need to be prepared. Otherwise they’ll get got, and then nobody can save Yukiko. I think Yu’s first instinct would be to explore his school. He’ll be coming here close to every day. It’s his home away from home. Why not get a little acquainted?

So he explored. Not for long — Yu would be far too tired. He explored just long enough to meet your friend and mine, Funky Student.

Okay. I’ll address the elephant in the room. Funky Student is emblematic of a very particular type of crass, anime-adjacent racial stereotyping. I am not oblivious to this. But a part of me still loves Funky Student, because his gimmick is painfully obscure. He’s not just a stereotype; he’s a riddle master and apparent genius. And he was so fucking proud of Yu when he solved his first riddle! Fast friends, the two of them.

Let loose in the town for an afternoon, Yu flashes back to an embarrassing encounter from earlier this morning. He wanted to ask Chie for her number, straight out, but lacked the proper courage. Given that he and Chie are destined to grow old together watching shitty VHS rips of obscure kung-fu movies, he decides to toughen up. There’s only one stop: the Chinese Diner Aiya.

At Aiya, he eats a great big bowl of spicy tofu. His courage increases greatly! One step closer to asking out Chie on a steak date.

Drunk off tofu fumes, Yu stumbles home, only to discover that Dojima is out. Nanako (what a champ) is really into the quiz show she’s watching. This is the perfect opportunity for some teenage rebellion. He sneaks out to hit up the Inaba nightlife scene. And where does he go?

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Spicy tofu. Gotta grind out that courage, son.

So no, nothing much happened on 4/18, but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful. If Persona 4 is going to loosen up, then I might as well too. How will I feel when 4/19 rolls around? Let’s find out together, folks.

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