LOST IN THE FOG: Friday, 4/29

“Marie is murmuring something to herself… Whatever it is, it rhymes…”

I am the son of a poet. This fact is inescapable. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad, but poets are tough. He once said that “there are no good or bad poems, there are only Poems and Not Poems.” I do not know what that means, but it’s exactly the kind of thing a poet would say.

Marie is a poet, and she seems to know it, but she doesn’t want you to. Uh. Yu… to. She is driven by her moodier impulses, like I’d imagine many poets are. The main difference between Marie and my dad is that Marie had never eaten a steak skewer before 4/29.

Showa Day. Yu has this Friday off: a pointedly relaxing reward before Yukiko’s ready to join the Investigation Team. It’s still raining when he decides to visit the Velvet Room. A free day and an appropriately moody, poet-y atmosphere. Why not show Marie around a little?

Marie’s Social Link is, undoubtedly, the very best in Persona 4. This is surprising only because of its context outside of the game — Marie’s is one of the new Social Links shoved into the Persona 4: Golden re-release. That makes it additionally impressive how seamlessly she’s integrated into the main story, themes, and overall geometry of Inaba.

This is the only Social Link that, upon completion, unlocks literal hours of new content. It is the only one that feels like a continuation of the main narrative, rather than an addendum or side-story. Actually, Adachi’s Social Link (also new to Persona 4: Golden) checks some of those boxes as well.

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But while Adachi’s S. Link does go some bizarre, exciting places, nothing in Persona 4‘s huge roster of excellent supplementary characters can quite match Marie’s spiraling tone poem. Her arc is so fleshed out that it almost suggests her as a canon love interest for Yu, but attentive readers will already know where I stand on that debate.

Anyhow, Marie seems taken aback by Yu’s willingness to hang. Why shouldn’t she be? She’s never left the Velvet Room. She’s probably never spoken to anybody but Margaret and Big Nose. It’s a brave new world.

First stop: steak skewers! Yu has a lot of complicated emotions tied up in the shopping district, joyful and sorrowful. It is a natural starting point.

“Y’know… I feel weird. It’s like… nostalgic, for the smell and all.”

I feel ya, Marie.

Yosuke drops by. Remember what I said about the simmering crushes most male characters harbor for Yu? Yosuke is, arguably, the one who falls hardest. It’s one of the great missed opportunities of Persona 4 that they don’t follow this subtext through, especially in light of Yosuke’s later interactions with Kanji.

Consider this interaction, and tell me if I’m totally off-base.

He starts off frantic.

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Yu says she’s “a friend.” Yosuke tries to play it off cool, but his jealousy is showing.

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Marie, the eternal inquisitor, needles him innocently.

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Yosuke replies honestly and changes the subject.

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He then intrudes on their Tour of Inaba, offers to buy them food, and only leaves when he feels like Yu gets who really deserves his attention.

Marie, wise beyond her years:

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Next and final stop is a gorgeous little park that looks out over the town. This is the first time Yu’s been here, but he pretends like he knows what he’s doing. He has assumed the title of Totally Reliable Authority Figure. It’s in this park that Marie first lets her poet brain get the best of her. She is naturally embarrassed by this, as a poem in progress is no sturdier than a half-built house. Yu, I can only imagine, finds all this endearing.

Social Link: activated.

And now, an epilogue. In a true shock to the system, we cut back to the living room, where Dojima, Nanako and Yu are all watching the news together. This is unity. This isn’t normal.

“A thick fog is expected to set in tonight and remain until tomorrow morning, with heaviest concentration in the Inaba area.”

Yu cracks a smile. Bullet dodged. Dojima, detective gears spinning, wonders aloud if the fog is a bad sign. Nanako changes the channel without permission, and we arrive at our bleak reward.

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But the conversation doesn’t end there. Golden week is coming up, and Nanako wants to go somewhere. Where, you ask? Junes! Of course! Nanako’s favorite place in the world! Dojima is confused. They can go to Junes anytime, he says. Nanako will not hear it. Junes or bust.

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What rhymes with disappointment?

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