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"'Do not betray my expectations,' Ganondorf drools in a major close-up. Expectations? Has Lenzo been giving out details of their encounters again? That fucking gossip whore!"
     -Jeanne, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Part 12

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Persona 4 : Part 2
By Ben
Posted 07.05.13
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7
At the time of writing this recap, it's come to light that Atlus, the developers of the Persona series, are in a spot of trouble. As for what this means for the series, only time will tell, but whatever happens this game will always be here for me to poke fun at, right?

In the inaugural recap of Persona 4, aka "2 hours of gossip, repetition and homosexual innuendo", we were introduced to our blank slate of a protagonist, Gary McStu, along with two of his family members, several of his new classmates, assorted freaks and a dead woman who seemed to get more coverage than all of them put together. Oh, and there was some stuff about a mysterious world inside the TV, too, not that anyone cares about that.

We also learned that people who appear on a blank TV screen on rainy nights turn up dead shortly afterwards, having apparently been killed by evil versions of themselves, and that someone is presumably helping them along for reasons which have yet to be determined. Amid all the confusion and voices in Gary's head, he and new butt buddy Yosuke discovered they had the power to call upon Personas, which are effectively Pokemon with added groin cups. When we left Gary, he was reeling at the discovery that the latest person to appear on the Midnight Channel looked extremely similar to another of his new friends, Yukiko. Who could this mysterious girl be, and why do she and Yukiko look so alike? Read on to find out!

In a thrilling start to the recap, Gary pays another nocturnal visit to the Velvet Limo. I guess this should have been included at the end of Part 1, since the two Velvet Limo scenes act as bookends to the introduction, but that would have required some forward planning and for me not to have been in an alcohol-induced stupor at the time. Hopefully you can look past this heinous mistake on my part. Our good friend Pedocchio greets the slumbering Gary, creeping "Do not be alarmed. You are fast asleep in the real world..." I don't know about you guys, but when a pedophilic old man with a phallic nose, wide, bloodshot eyes and thick arched eyebrows tells me not to be alarmed, I tend to do the exact opposite.

"It seems you've been summoned to the Velvet [Limo]..." the Invisible Narrator advises. Thanks, IN! I thought Gary had just taken a wrong turn on Dream Street! "In your daily life, you subconsciously heard the call to awaken, and you chose to follow the destiny of your inner voice..." Margaret drones, then babbles about the "glorious awakening" of Gary's power. I have no idea why, but that last sentence just made me think of Gary waking up with a stonking morning glory, having been dreaming of Yosuke. No need to thank me for that worrying glimpse inside my head.

"Hold on to this..." Pedocchio breathes, making me gag, but thankfully he isn't talking about his nose or any other phallic part of his anatomy; he hands Gary a Velvet Key, which will enable him to enter the Velvet Limo whenever he wants. Which would be never, in case you were wondering. The only condition, Pedocchio states, is that Gary must abide by his contract and assume responsibility for any decisions he may make. Even though he feels coerced, Gary answers in the affirmative, and then Pedocchio waxes lyrical about his Persona, claiming it's "a façade of determination [he wears] to face various difficulties in life." Gary thought it was just a badass warrior spirit with a codpiece, but he isn't about to argue with the guy in charge of the door lock.

Right now, Gary is set on 'bonding' with Yosuke.

Not yet finished trying to groom Gary with flattery, Pedocchio reveals that Gary possesses the wild card ability, which makes his Persona powers even more special than usual. In gameplay terms, this means that he can summon multiple Personas, as opposed to his poor schlub friends who are stuck with the same one throughout the game. But I'm getting way ahead of myself here.

"The Persona ability is the power to control one's own heart...and the heart is strengthened through bonds," Pedocchio continues, segueing into a lecture on Social Links. I'll explain more about the riveting mechanics of Social Links as we get to them, but for now just remember that they A) help strengthen Personas, and B) have the power to make completionists like me break out in a cold sweat. For the purposes of this recap, I'm going to try to complete as many of them as I can, but because I'm insane I'm going to attempt to do so without using a guide. We'll see how well this decision works out for me in future recaps (if I haven't already been sent to the mental hospital by then, of course). "I look forward to traveling the road of your destiny together..." Pedocchio chuckles just before we fade out. Gary would like to take a scalding hot shower right about now, and he's not the only one.

The following day starts with Yosuke riding up behind Gary on the way to school, ringing the very gay-sounding bell on his bike to get his attention. He brings up the girl who appeared on the Midnight Channel last night, but--surprise!--he couldn't make out who it was. I have an idea--let's drag this out for as long as possible, even though dogs know who the girl on the screen was!

"If it turns out someone was thrown in again, there really might be a culprit behind all this..." Yosuke continues, adding that they should hop through the TV and ask Teddie about it after school. Wait, I thought they'd already established beyond doubt that somebody was deliberately throwing people through the TV? Why are we back to speculating? He goes on that the investigation is up to them, as the police would never believe their story, and then remarks that he managed to get his head through his own TV last night, indicating that anyone with a Persona can do it too. Am I the only one cracking up at that? Like, I know it makes sense in the confines of the in-game universe, but if somebody said that to me in real life, I'd probably burst out laughing in their face. Or run away from them as fast as I could.

Gary certainly feels something stirring.

A little bolder now, Yosuke comes right out and says "I feel like, as long as you're with me, I can find the culprit and crack this case." Gary is touched. Seizing the moment, the two guys reach out and take each other by the hand. Oh my God. I'm not even kidding. "Even with so much mystery swirling around, Yosuke is trying his hardest to move on..." the Invisible Narrator interjects. Judging from his grip on Gary's hand, he seems to be succeeding on that front. The IN continues that there's a "faint stirring of friendship" between them--well, that's one way of putting it--and then there's a sudden breaking glass sound effect as the screen flashes white. No, someone hasn't been making homemade smoke bombs in the chemistry lab; this is what happens when Gary establishes a new Social Link. Amid sparkly light effects, a tarot card appears over Gary's head as vaguely pretentious text is daubed across the screen: "Thou art I...and I am thou. Thou hast established a new brings thee closer to the truth..." I think this is supposed to be the same dude who spoke into Gary's head just before he summoned Izanagi for the first time, so, in the absence of a name, I'm going to refer to him as the Wordy Tarot Guy, or WTG. I do hope you can keep up with all these acronyms, but if not, then hey, that's what the awesome new VGR Wiki is for!

"Thou shalt be blessed when creating Personas of the Magician Arcana..." WTG declares, giving me the perfect opening to explain some more about Social Links. Pay attention at the back. See, each Persona belongs to one of the Major Arcana, and, as coincidence would have it, each Social Link also corresponds to a particular Arcana. By forming and developing Social Links, Gary increases the experience bonus that matching Personas receive when he fuses them (more on that a little later). For example, since Yosuke is the Magician Social Link--and incidentally, Gary's wondering whether this means he has magic hands--any Personas Gary creates from the Magician Arcana will now be stronger than they would have ordinarily been. But enough about all that boring stuff--back to the HoYay!

"As you form a bond with Yosuke, you can feel the power in your heart strengthening..." the IN reveals. That isn't the only thing Gary can feel. We get yet another recap of the crap Pedocchio was spouting earlier, and then the IN tells Gary he's "established the Yosuke Hanamura Social Link of the Magician Arcana!" So, does this mean they're official now? Barging in on the moment, the IN crows that Yosuke's determination in battle has been enhanced--he can even take a mortal blow for Gary!

How romantic!

Well, the last thing Gary wants to do now is go to school, but he isn't enough of a rebel to cut class in his first week. Sigh. Incidentally, it's so fucking alien to me that these guys have to attend school on Saturdays. Yes, I know this is actually the case in some parts of Japan, so if you were planning to send me a ranting email and/or call me a baka gaijin...well, you can still do that if it makes you feel any better about me making fun of your favourite game.

In class, Gary and Yosuke are discussing their relationship something the game designers don't allow us to hear, only to be interrupted by Chie rushing into the room like someone just told her Yukiko was lounging naked across her desk. Unsurprisingly, her urgency does relate to Yukiko--namely, the fact that she isn't in class today. Ruh-roh, raggy! She despairingly wails "Oh man...what should I do?" and then asks if the others were telling the truth about the people on the Midnight Channel being killed in the "other world". No, Chie. They made the whole thing up as a joke. Sweet Jesus. Also, if my memory serves, Gary and Yosuke never actually got the chance to tell Chie about their pet theory before she pitched a fit and ran off, so I'm just going to assume that one of them emailed her or something. Apparently Chie also watched the Midnight Channel last night and, amazingly, she's already realized the girl in the kimono was Yukiko. I honestly thought we were going to have another 2-3 scenes of discussion before the group reached that conclusion, so I'm a little taken aback by this revelation.

'She also wears it for our special dress-up games when my parents are at work, and...shit, I've said too much.'

Chie goes on to say that she emailed Yukiko last night, but hasn't had a response. Uh, if Yukiko is even half as bad as me when it comes to checking her email, I'd say there's nothing to worry about, but then again, we kind of already know she's in trouble. Also, I am totally picturing a very slushy, un-Chie like email containing numerous kisses and <3 symbols. She trails off like she's about to cry, prompting Yosuke to try to calm her down, and then the fucking IN tries to get in on the act, too. "You summed up the information you gained in that other world for Chie..." it informs Gary. Wait...does this mean what I think it means? I don't have to listen to it all over again? This cannot be real. I refuse to believe that this game would ever pass up an opportunity to repeat information.

But no, the scene's moving on, so it looks like the IN was telling the truth. I bet some poor junior game designer lost his job because of this oversight. More importantly, this momentous occasion marks the first instance of the IN actually being helpful, instead of just redundant and annoying. Man, they're hitting me hard and fast with the shocks in this recap. At this point, I actually wouldn't be at all surprised to see a full-on yaoi scene between Gary and Yosuke.

Okay, maybe I'm crediting the game designers with a little too much benevolence there. Upon hearing what's been going on, Chie's aghast that someone may have deliberately thrown her girl through the TV. She's about to go and stomp a mudhole in anyone who's ever so much as looked at Yukiko before, but Yosuke again calms things down by suggesting she tries calling her again. She does, but of course it goes straight to voicemail, so she tries to rationalize that Yukiko might have just skipped school to help out at the inn. Yosuke thinks that would be out of character for her, but Chie insists on calling the inn anyway, saying she has the number somewhere. By "somewhere", she clearly means "on speed dial, just underneath Yukiko's personal number".

Which reminds Gary...he must tell Yosuke that using his teeth does NOT make it more pleasurable.

I think we're supposed to be on the edge of our seats here--the background noise has even faded out so as not to distract us from the palpable tension. To cut an extremely long story a tiny bit short, Chie calls the inn and, to her surprise, Yukiko answers. Apparently they had a large reservation and she had to stay home to help out. Whew, crisis averted! I'm sure glad Yukiko wasn't in any danger after all! Clearly the girl on the Midnight Channel who looked like her exact double was just a red herring. Those dastardly game designers! Chie tries to save face and basically blames Yosuke for blowing this whole event out of proportion, like she wasn't the one having palpitations over it. His defence is that he and Gary assumed that the people on the Midnight Channel were already in the TV World at the time they appeared on the screen, but this latest development has obviously thrown a spanner in the works of that particular theory. They all agree to meet at Walmart after school, because apparently Gary hasn't seen enough of that God-forsaken place already.

Gary was supposed to have a double period of algebra today, so he's relieved when we skip straight to the end of the school day and he finds himself in front of the Walmart TV portal. As the irritating yet catchy Muzak version of the Walmart theme blares in the background, he once again explains to Chie about what happened last night. Well, more precisely, the IN tells us that's what he does--for the second time in this recap, we're spared a painstaking retelling of past events. I feel like I'm in Bizarro World. Chie suggests asking Teddie for more information, but since there are two paying customers inconveniently choosing their new TV a few feet away, the party can't very well just jump through the TV like usual. Yosuke has a plan B, however: "Try sticking your hand in [!] and calling him over. I bet that bear's wandering around by the entrance anyway." Gary isn't best pleased--only he should be anywhere near Yosuke's entrance--but agrees, even though talking to an unseen bear on the other side of the screen is going to appear just as suspicious to any bystanders.

With Yosuke and Chie forming an extremely ineffective human wall, Gary sticks his hand through the screen and beckons Teddie over, only for the little shit to bite him. It probably didn't hurt, given that Teddie is a fucking stuffed toy, but Gary still wants to stick a rocket launcher through the screen right now. Yosuke asks if "anyone else" has been thrown through the TV since they left, but all Teddie will say is that he's alone like always. The world's smallest and whiniest violin is probably tuning up on his side of the screen at this point.

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