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  -Part 1 :: [02.28.13]
  -Part 2 :: [07.05.13]
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"The other guys are Blank, Cinna, and Marcus, and they all wonder where their 'boss' is. I hope 'boss' is not synonymous with 'pimp'. Yes, I have this same paranoid fear in every game I start playing."
     -Jeanne, Final Fantasy IX Part 1




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Persona 4 : Part 2
By Ben
Posted 07.05.13
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7
According to the all-knowing Teddie, Chie is behind the doors, so the guys barrel through them and into a large, spacious chamber with a grand chandelier and floor-to-ceiling velvet drapes. Chie stands in the middle of the carpet with her back to the doors, swaying like she's slightly drunk. When Yosuke asks her what the hell she's doing she doesn't respond, and we soon hear why--she's listening to Yukiko with rapt attention. Or, to be more precise, Yukiko's innermost thoughts, which are presumably being played over a loudspeaker. "She said that red looks good on me..." Disembodied Yukiko gasps, obviously referring to Chie. I reckon she secretly thinks red looks even better off Yukiko, if you follow me. With Chie staring vacantly at the space the voice seems to be coming from, Disembodied Yukiko goes on that she hates her name, which apparently means "snow child": "Snow is cold and it melts quickly...it's transient...worthless...but it's perfect for me. Apart from inheriting the inn, I'm worthless..." I would normally roll my eyes at such a wanksty monologue, but I'm going to give Yukiko a pass because she isn't intentionally inflicting it on her friends like this. In fact, if she knew they were hearing all this she'd probably cringe so much that she'd spontaneously combust. With his similar experience fresh in his mind, Yosuke duhs "Are these Yukiko-san's innermost thoughts?" No, this is her school drama project. Jesus.

Incidentally, it's only now that I notice Teddie is in the room too. God only knows how he made it here so fast, but I'm just going to file it under "Evidence that Teddie is a demonic entity from hell."

Disembodied Yukiko gets even more personal in her next outpouring of angst, claiming that Chie is "the only one who gave [her] life meaning." Yeah, there's a little more than friendship going on here. She continues that Chie always protects her and is so kind and strong--proof, if any were needed, which one of them is the butch. Before Chie can take in everything she's heard, her own Shadow self mockingly interjects from out of nowhere: "Are we talking about THAT Yukiko!? She says I'm protecting her!? She says she's worthless...that's how it should be, right?" The real Chie boggles in disbelief as her yellow-eyed counterpart bitterly talks about how pretty and feminine Yukiko is. "When Yukiko looked at me with such jealousy...man, did I get a charge out of that!" she announces, adding that she secretly enjoys Yukiko having to depend on her. As expected, Chie denies everything her evil doppelganger is saying, and we all remember how well that turned out for Yosuke, don't we?

After some prompting from Teddie, Gary and Yosuke rush forward to intervene, but Chie wheels around and tells them to stay back, ashamed that they've overheard everything. "No, this isn't me!" she wails, causing Shadow Chie to clutch her stomach in laughter and taunt her: "I can't win as a girl, let alone as a person...I'm pathetic." Wow, that's below the belt. She then reiterates that Yukiko relies on her, hinting that this is the primary reason Chie is her girlfriend. This is too much for Chie to hear and, despite a warning from Yosuke, screams "You're not me!" Get used to characters saying this, and the boss battles that happen immediately afterwards--these people take a while to catch on.

We all remember that Shadow bosses are a manifestation of their respective character's hidden thoughts and desires, right? So there's really only one conclusion I can draw when Shadow Chie transforms into a hulking dominatrix in a gold fetish costume, sitting atop a tower of schoolgirls and brandishing a whip. Seriously, take a look at the screenshot if you don't believe me.

 
What the fucking fuck?

But that isn't all! Clearly vying for an early shot at the Most Disturbing Boss crown, Shadow Chie also has an enormous curtain of hair flowing from beneath her pointed gimp mask. This in itself wouldn't be all that troubling, but it becomes pure nightmare fodder when Gary notices that some of the hair tendrils are sticking up and slowly probing the air like bladed tentacles. Needless to say, Gary thinks he's getting an uncomfortably intimate glimpse into Chie and Yukiko's relationship right now. He wants nothing more than to get away from all these icky symbols of female sexuality and retreat to somewhere a little more private with Yosuke, but he'd never be able to live with the guilt if he didn't at least try to rescue the girls. As freaked out as he is, he must fight on in spite of all the uncomfortable connotations surrounding him like so much fog. He must!

For a moment, Gary thinks the victory is in the bag when Yosuke exploits Shadow Chie's weakness with a Garu spell, but he's sadly mistaken; on her next turn, she erects a barrier that blocks wind attacks. But because every single aspect of this boss fight must be as mindrapingly horrible as possible, she does this with a crack of her whip and a suggestive moan of "Scream for me!" Gary's doing plenty of that, except not in the way she probably intended. With their only tactic cut off in its tracks, the guys decide to take care of Shadow Chie the old-fashioned way--by pummeling her with their weapons. Pssh, who needs a Persona when they have an imitation katana?

This strategy works for roughly ten seconds before Shadow Chie ups the ante on the disturbing shit and uses an attack called "Bottomless Envy", which essentially involves violating Yosuke with several of her hair tentacles. Okay, Gary and I are both ready to call a time-out on this fight--it's safe to say we have reached the end of our rope. It's kind of a miracle I'm still able to type this and am not already in a straitjacket. After another few rounds, which I don't actually see because I've poured bleach in my eyes, Shadow Chie goes down. I probably should have worded that a little better, given all the sexual imagery in the battle, but I'm so happy it's over I don't even care.

'But it's totally cool--some places even allow us to marry now!'
 

Anyway, the Piano & Brass Theme of Acceptance cues up as Chie gets to her feet and once again confronts her Shadow self. Gary isn't good with all this touchy-feely, "Let's all talk about our feels!" shit, so it falls to Yosuke to give her the self-acceptance pep talk. "Yeah, I kinda get it now..." Chie says, though her tone indicates the exact opposite, and steps towards herself. Just like Yosuke did with his Shadow, she accepts Shadow Chie as a part of herself (I hope her hair doesn't get like that when she grows it out) and then it transforms into her very own Persona, Tomoe Gozen. Somewhat disappointingly, there are no groin cups or random Pokemon-esque appendages to be found--Tomoe is pretty much just a helmeted female warrior wielding a double-ended dildo naginata. Still, she looks like she can kick ass, so I can live with her distinctly normal design.

Once Chie grabs her Tarot Card of Summoning, the others crowd around her like braindead fangirls to a Tidus cosplayer. Jesus, guys, give the girl some space. "I...um, well it's true that part of me feels that way..." Chie says awkwardly, embarrassed that her friends (and Teddie) are now privy to her kinky sexual fantasies involving Yukiko. Oh, and there's the whole "I like having her around because she relies on me" issue, too. She hastily clarifies that she wasn't lying about being friends with her, compelling Yosuke to wink "Like we didn't know that already." Yeah, he knows the score. If only he could be as open about his own preferences as Chie is being--poor Gary would have been spared so much doubt and confusion. After standing impassively for a few seconds, Chie falls to her knees and gasps that she's "just a little tired", which is Chie-speak for "I'm fucking exhausted, you guys." The others agree they should regroup for now, but Chie insists she's strong enough to continue. Recalling the voice of Yukiko that called out from the ether before Shadow Chie made her appearance, she cries "If those were Yukiko's true feelings...then I have to tell her something!" Uh, Chie, there's a time and a place to say the L word, and I don't think this is it. "Well, you need to get your strength back! Then you can tell her!" Teddie chirps. When Teddie is the one talking the most sense in any given situation, you know it's time to head home and rest. And possibly kill yourself.

"Yuki-chan's normal," Teddie, who suddenly knows everything again, reveals. "The Shadows don't attack normal people." Homophobic, much? Also, if being "normal" equates to heterosexuality, poor Chie is in for some heartbreak once Yukiko figures out who she really is. The group establishes that Yukiko should be safe here until the fog lifts in the outside world, which gives Gary plenty of time to catch up on the really important stuff like studying, climbing the social ladder and eating out at the local Chinese diner. Priorities, people. After some more convincing from Yosuke, Chie agrees to come back to rescue her girl on another day. Fine by Gary--now he should be home in time for Nanako to launder his school uniform before her bedtime. It simply wouldn't do if he had to turn up at school with dried sweat on his clothes. Just think of the gossip!

Back in the foyer, as it were, of the TV World, Chie complains of a splitting headache. Gary's just about to tell her that he and Yosuke got used to Teddie's shrieking after a while, but then realizes it's because she isn't wearing a pair of Hipster Glasses of Clarity +1 and her inadequate human eyes can't adjust to the fog. Never fear--Teddie is at hand to produce a pair he made for her in advance. As for how he knew about her dropping by beforehand, and indeed, where the hell he produces these things...hey, look over there! Also, now he has his back to the camera, I cannot avert my eyes from his pom-pom tail vibrating obscenely at sporadic intervals. What's making it worse is that I just KNOW someone, somewhere has a fetish for this. Oh, how naïve I was when I assumed Shadow Chie was the most mind-scarring thing I'd be forced to deal with in this recap.

 
*stab*

Because they can't get enough of his silent badassery, Chie and Yosuke appoint Gary to be their team leader. So does Teddie, but nobody cares what Teddie thinks. After another flash of white, the IN tells Gary that he and the others have formed the "Investigation Team Social Link of the Fool Arcana!" I know it's early days yet, but I don't think I'm ever going to come across a more appropriate match of Social Link and Arcana. Basking in the warm glow of friendship or something, Yosuke declares that they should keep checking the weather forecast so they know when Yukiko will be in danger. In short: when it rains, panic. Trying to make an impression, a relative of the Invisible Narrator--perhaps the Bodiless Advisor--seizes the moment and drops a help window across the middle of the screen. "In addition, you can only explore on weekdays after school or during daytime on holidays," it tells Gary. What, so he can't even cut class to rescue a friend in danger? Not even one of those useless classes like citizenship or phys ed? Gary isn't feeling the benefits of his special abilities at all.

Eventually, we cut to Gary and family eating dinner in front of the TV. The news anchor announces that the local news is imminent, something which is now conditioned to instil dread in the pit of Gary's stomach--he's seen enough of these local news broadcasts to know that they're either going to show the next totally anonymous victim of the possible serial killer, or repeat information he's already heard a billion times (or both, if the game designers are feeling especially sadistic). He can't really decide which is worse.

This time, however, his uncle is the focus of the scene. "[Hot Uncle] is quiet, with a stern expression on his face," the IN whispers, prodding Gary in the side with his non-existent fingers. For a moment he thinks Hot Uncle and Adachi have had a quarrel, but then he remembers being arrested this morning. No wonder there's an uncomfortable atmosphere. Finally breaking the tension, his uncle comes right out and asks him if he's involved in any "funny business." Well, Gary doesn't particularly want to be institutionalized, so he chooses not to mention his strange powers and escapades inside the TV. Hot Uncle doesn't quite buy his insistence that everything's fine, though, and apologizes for being too caught up with work to talk to him about stuff. Uh, shouldn't you be saying this to your fucking daughter!?

'Yes...I lied. That Cher CD you found in my room the other day? Well, it isn't Yosuke's.'
 

Speaking of Nanako, she pipes up to ask her dad if he and Gary are fighting. "This isn't the police station..." she yells, causing her dad to back down and Gary to give her a mental high-five. Go, Nanako! Hot Uncle once again warns him to stay out of trouble, and then Nanako makes an "Aww, kids say the funniest things!" remark about the weather lady actually controlling the weather. I half expect a burst of canned laughter, but instead we get a fade out. After dinner, Nanako's engrossed in her usual pastime of watching cartoons, so Gary decides to go to bed. On his way out, Hot Uncle sheepishly apologizes for "killing the mood". Incidentally, he's now reading a newspaper instead of spending quality time with the daughter who's probably seen him for a total of half an hour in the past week. Best dad ever!

Next day, the 18th, Gary and Yosuke are discussing Chie's current health in homeroom. To their surprise, she walks into class as right as rain, and then apologizes for the guys having to witness her working out her personal issues last night. Remembering that Yosuke basically told her they're in the same club, she asks what his Shadow said to him, but he wusses out of telling her and deftly deflects the spotlight onto Gary. He is not in Gary's good books right now, but as dickish as he's currently being, he does raise an interesting point. Gary never had to go through an embarrassing public psychoanalysis--his Persona kind of just appeared of its own accord. "Hmm...could that be because you've got nothing to hide?" he wonders. Yup, that's exactly the reason. Gary is an open book, unlike some people around here, Yosuke. "I gotta agree that you seem like a pretty open guy," Chie confirms. "There's a funny air about you..." My God, what is with these closet cases ganging up on Gary all of a sudden? He thought they were supposed to be his friends!

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