“You feel your Courage needs to be at least Reliable to set foot in here…”
These early essays have been chock full of milestones, in both Yu’s journey and mine. Yu has now helped two friends face the darker aspects of their personalities. He’s embarking upon an adventure to rescue another friend from her rapidly approaching demise. He is becoming a hero.
And this is the first time I’ve written a Lost In The Fog entry on a bus.
About four hours ago I took off on a weekend trip from my sixth-floor apartment in Vancouver, BC to see a couple Mountain Goats shows in Seattle and Portland. It is endlessly amusing to me that I chose to start this series in the busiest year of my life, so that I have to manage my time about as stringently as Yu does. Life imitates art.
Lucky for me, 4/19 is a day that largely follows in the esteemed footsteps of 4/18. There was no need for me to spend an hour hunched over my dying PlayStation Vita, murmuring about subtext while the couple across the aisle stole the occasional fascinated, horrified glance. Though I would have done it for you, dear reader.
4/19 is another day where Yu decided to stay home from all that TV business, a decision I felt okay about justifying after Margaret called him on his cell phone. Use your time wisely, she said. Pace yourself. Good thing she said it today, or I might’ve had to write the second half of this essay in my hotel room after that aforementioned Mountain Goats show.
With Yukiko’s suffering tucked away in his mental vault, Yu walked to school, content to just shoot the shit until his anxieties caught up with him later (am I projecting here?). But as we all know, Yu is an overachiever, and after he hears some students talking about sports clubs he just can’t help but investigate.
Now, I’m presented with a choice: basketball or soccer? I went basketball, mainly because I’m from California, so investing myself in the World’s Game makes me feel like a poseur. Do people call soccer the World’s Game? They probably should.
So Yu signs up for basketball and goes to meet his teammates. It’s a shitshow. Only a couple people even show up. Two of those people are Kou and Daisuke, the threshold guardians to the Basketball Team Social Link. Hopefully now I’ll be able to fuse Stephen Curry. (I know nothing about basketball.)
An actual interesting thing to analyze in this encounter is one of Yu’s dialogue choices. Kou asks how familiar he is with basketball, and you can reply one of three ways: very familiar, a little familiar, or not at all. It’s a neat way of letting the player fill out a blank slate’s backstory, and it helps to make you feel in control of what’s happening. Especially since the big reveal of Persona 4 is that you were never in control.
I figured that Yu wouldn’t be a pro, but he’s no chump, either. He says he’s “a little” experienced. In my head, Yu went with basketball for strategic reasons. In the TV, he needs to fill a certain jack-of-all-trades role. Basketball would be better suited to training that role. Soccer? That’s Chie’s game right there.
Back at home. Nanako’s watching TV, like always. Dojima isn’t there, like… well, a lot of the time. Yu is never, ever going to pass up a chance to sneak out at night. And! He has a motive. Earlier today, he overheard Kou and Daisuke discussing something that “lives at the shrine.” Yu knows of the shrine, but he’s never visited. What better time?
Turns out, any other time would’ve been better. Yu takes one step into the shrine, and freezes. Could the shrine… be haunted? Or worse? Yu doesn’t want to find out. He ditches, and as he does, he becomes acutely aware of his own deficiencies. If he’s going to rescue Yukiko, he needs to shape up.
So we meet again, Aiya.
In a sublime twist of fate, this third bowl of spicy tofu pushed Yu over the top. He’s now courageous enough to visit the shrine. He’s one step closer to the perfect JRPG hero. And he’s one step closer to seeing if Chie maybe, you know, wanted to get a steak sometime, or something.
And I’m about fifteen miles outside Seattle. How time flies when you manage it efficiently.