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  -Part 1 :: [02.28.13]
  -Part 2 :: [07.05.13]
  -Part 3 :: [11.19.13]


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"As if Twink's life weren't difficult enough, he has to eliminate a lone Bokoblin guarding the bridge. It's just one of those low-level annoyances that, on top of everything else, serves to put Twink in a pissy mood. God, where's a Tingle backrub when he needs one?"
     -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
Reading Gary's hurt expression, Chie tries to backtrack and turn her insensitive comment into a compliment about people being drawn to him, but the damage has already been done. Even the game designers seem to have a hard-on for inflicting misery on him today--more than usual, that is. Two of the dialogue options they offer him are slightly flirtatious retorts clearly geared towards starting a romantic rapport with Chie. Fuck that--Gary's out and proud. He won't be railroaded into a hetero relationship! Choosing the least coquettish response, he prays the game designers will take the hint, at least for now. There's a weird moment where the three of them throw their heads back and let out a silent guffaw, then the school bell reminds Yosuke he has to go to the bathroom. I don't know about you guys, but I have a similar bell installed in my house, programmed to go off several times a day--without it, I'd never know when it was time to take a piss.

 
Ew, Gary promised no such thing.

The more observant among you will have noticed this convenient bathroom break leaves Gary and Chie alone. I really hope this isn't leading where I think it is. Chie again thanks him for saving her yesterday, before claiming that Yosuke's cool and all, but--wait for it--there's something different about Gary. Oh my God, THEY ARE NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. I think I'm getting a small taste of the frustration Jeanne experienced when the game designers suddenly started shoving the Squall/Rinoa OTP down her throat out of the blue. Not that I'm comparing Chie to Rinoa in any way, shape or form--that would be grossly unfair in more ways than I can count.

Even the fucking Invisible Narrator gets in on the act, gushing that there's a faint bond forming between Gary and Chie. "Faint bond" is fine. "Fake romantic bond when we all know both parties bat for the home team" most definitely isn't, so let's just leave it at that. To cut a long scene short (too late), Gary forms the "Chariot Social Link" with Chie. He's informed that Chie can now take a mortal blow for him in battle, which he chooses to ignore because THAT'S YOSUKE'S PRIVILEGE, DAMMIT, and then the IN oversteps the mark yet again by chiding "You haven't asked Chie for her contact information." Fuck off, IN. Brushing off the request isn't an option, so Gary is forced to pick between "Ask her straight out" and "Say it's for the investigation." He opts for the latter, because it's the fucking truth, and then Chie suddenly remembers she's a lesbian and has a girlfriend to rescue: "We have to be careful of the fog that sets in after the rain, right? Let's save her before that happens!" Personally, Gary would hop through the TV and rescue Yukiko right now if he could, if only to stop the game designers from shipping him and Chie like a gaggle of teenage Tumblr users.

Also, while we're on the subject of Yukiko, I have to wonder how she's occupying her time inside that castle whilst patiently awaiting rescue. I hope the place has Wi-Fi, or at least a library, otherwise she'll have probably resorted to counting the cracks in the ceiling by now.

That afternoon, we get a brief glimpse of Gary actually attending a class: an English lesson, to be exact. Because nobody at Yasogami High teaches English, the PE teacher, Mr Kondo, is filling in. Gary's quite happy about this, because it turns out Mr Kondo is quite the looker. OK, he's not the most striking guy he's ever seen, and the unflattering tracksuit simply HAS to go, but the dude's a freaking Adonis compared to the likes of Wiggy and Queen Tut. Gary's finding it mighty difficult to concentrate, but still manages to answer correctly when he's picked on for a question about definite articles. He's definitely imagining certain articles of clothing strewn on Mr Kondo's bedroom floor, as wrong as he knows it is.

Gary is so not taking any of this in.
 

It's a sunny day, which means that the most ridiculously upbeat music in the game kicks in when the school bell rings at the end of the afternoon. The Bodiless Advisor has some good news to go with the good weather--starting today, Gary can spend his time after school however he wishes. Yes, after what feels like a dozen hours, I finally have some control over Gary's actions in between cutscenes and dungeon crawling. Nothing can deflate our hero's mood as he practically skips towards the door, golden sunlight pouring in through the classroom windows. Sure, Yukiko's plight is at the back of his mind, but there's plenty of time to rescue her; today, he's going to take a trip into town and check out the shops (while making sure to stay well away from Daidara's psycho emporium and the portal to hell the Velvet Limo, natch). After that, he'll grab a bite to eat and take a leisurely walk down by the Samegawa river. Maybe call Yosuke if he's forgiven him by then. The world is Gary's oyster on this most glorious of days, and the scent of freedom is in the air.

...Until Yosuke and Chie both demand he takes them inside the TV tonight, that is. Goddamnit, can't he have just one night off!? His grades are going to suffer because of this, and more importantly, so is his social life. Figuring that he might actually get some time to himself once Yukiko is safe, he decides to bite the bullet and get it over with. Little does he know, this is only the beginning.

Back inside Yukiko's Fucking Castle, the group fights its way up to the second floor, where Teddie stops them outside another set of double doors. His advice this time is that larger Shadows are generally more dangerous than smaller ones. Phew, thanks for that, Teddie! Gary never would have figured that out by himself! On the other side of the doors they find Not!Yukiko waiting for them in her Princess Peach dress, and even though she's exhibiting all the tell-tale signs of being a Shadow person--you know, yellow eyes, aura of blue fire, sinister piano piece arpeggio-ing away in the background--they all start talking to her like she's the real Yukiko. Seriously, I don't see how this girl could any more obviously NOT be Yukiko, but the others act like there's nothing amiss about her whatsoever. I should be immune to such dumbassery by now, but it's still faintly ridiculous.

A spotlight suddenly shines on Not!Yukiko and she spins round, microphone in hand, squealing about her "special guests". Throwing in an evil laugh for good measure, she declares "Okie-dokie! I'm going back to hunt for my Prince Charming! Ohhh, where could he be?" Even Chie doesn't seem to have realized there's anything wrong by this point, even though A) her girlfriend is talking about finding a prince, i.e. a male, and B) she sounds like a fucking Deadite. Can we get a shipment of clue-by-fours in here, please?

 
For the first time, Gary isn't the gayest thing in a scene.

Enjoying the spotlight, Not!Yukiko uses her special Shadow magic to conjure up a neon, rainbow-hued sign reading "Princess Yukiko's hunt for her Prince Charming!" There's a roar of applause from an invisible audience, and it's this, of all things, that finally clues Chie in that this isn't her Yukiko. The unseen audience begins to murmur, which causes Teddie to announce that the Shadows are getting agitated. They're not the only ones. Not!Yukiko finally gets bored and runs off, imploring her prince to be ready "with bells on". Why do I get the feeling I'm going to need more alcohol before this recap is finished?

With Not!Yukiko out of the picture, the others are all "Hey, that wasn't the real Yukiko!" Altogether now...DURRRRRRRRRR!!! Chie runs off again, because that worked out so well for her last time, but Gary isn't all that concerned--she's kicked more than enough Shadows to the curb in the process of getting here that he's confident in her ability to handle herself. Teddie generously allows the gang to climb a single staircase before making his latest helpful contribution, and this one is punctuated by one of his trademark jokes, for that added "Kill me now" factor. Gary feels slightly guilty for wanting to strangle Teddie even when he's being helpful, but he is so not in the mood for puns right now.

*STAB*
 

With their eyes still stinging from Yukiko's flashing sign, Gary and co hurry through the third floor, fending off attacks from Magic Hands (large, gloved hands-with-heads walking around on their fingertips) and Trance Twins (pairs of shrouded corpses joined at the neck, wrists and ankles by iron rods). You know, your everyday random battle monsters. After sending the latter back to Silent Hill the party heads up to the fourth floor, only to be stopped yet again by the sweet tones of Yukiko's disembodied voice. This time, she welcomes them to the Amagi Inn, and the group actually notices how odd this is given that they're currently in a fucking castle. Unraveling this mysterious dialogue will have to wait, however, because a hitherto unseen monster chooses this moment to step up to the plate and reduce me to hot, bloody tears engage the gang in combat.

The deceptively-cute Positive King looks like Julius Pringles dressed as a monarch, complete with ermine robes and a periwig. Alone, he poses little threat, but he has a particularly devious trick up his potato- and wheat-based sleeve: giving birth to Melisandre-style Shadow Babies, otherwise known as Secret Bambinos. These little blighters have a habit of crawling up to Gary and headbutting him in the groin, making annoying baby noises all the while. What's more, King Pringles can produce up to four ankle-biters at a time. I guess once he pops, he just can't stop (I'm so sorry). What this means is that poor Gary is overwhelmed by rabid brats before he can even move. I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but this game has a lovely little system whereby I get a Game Over if Gary dies, so I'm sure you can see the deadly risk involved in a battle like this. And, like, how idiotic it would be for someone to attempt to exploit King Pringles' infinite baby-dispensing ability for leveling purposes, only for it to all go horribly wrong. Let's just say my nerves were so shot after this battle I almost needed tranquilizers.

 
Chie gets ready to taste the all-new 'Shame and Humiliation' flavour.

You know the worst thing about this? King Pringles apparently can't take the heat once the tables are turned--as soon as the fight is finally going in Gary's favour, the Michelle Duggar of the TV World decides to get the hell out of dodge and suddenly escapes, possibly in search of some birth control. Gary vows to shove the royal scepter where it's never been shoved before if he ever catches King Pringles around here again. Wait, that sounds wrong. Moving on.

Well, the group emerged from that impossibly humiliating encounter intact, but with their HP and SP all but spent. It's safe to say that the one thing they REALLY don't need right now is a boss fight. Three guesses at what they find on the next floor?

Pausing outside yet another set of doors, the party listens to Teddie claim he can sense "that girl's scent" coming from the other side. I sincerely hope Yukiko's wearing some strong perfume, because the alternative explanations my mind has dredged up are too unpleasant to repeat here. Also, how the fuck can Teddie smell her from outside!? Either Yukiko has severe personal hygiene issues, or Teddie's mysterious powers are even more omnipotent than I feared. Before long, his abilities will probably have grown to the point where he can leave the TV World and creep into Gary's bedroom at night, which will coincide with me throwing the game disc into an incinerator. Through the doors, Not!Yukiko's skunk-like miasma isn't potent enough to prevent the group from seeing her...or the gigantic mounted knight beside her. Shit.

"My Prince wouldn't lose to guards such as this, correct?" Not!Yukiko giggles, before siccing the Avenger Knight on the party. Man, she's twice as annoying as the other Shadow people we've met so far. Fortunately, the Avenger Knight isn't as intimidating as he looks; his only real form of offense is impaling a character with his poisoned lance. I like to think that this attack is a metaphor for an STI, but that's because I'm in something of a fanwanky mood today. With three teenagers wailing away on him, Ser Fails-a-lot soon succumbs to their attacks and heads off to the big tourney in the sky. Afterwards, Teddie advises the gang to head back and rest if they're too tired. As much as it pains him to agree with that thing, Gary knows he's right--that fucker King Pringles and his litter of Shadow spawn put a hefty dent in the group's resources. Plus, he just knows his hair is matted with sweat, and that's so not a good look. Sorry Yukiko, maybe you'll be rescued tomorrow! Hang in there now, you hear?

There's another handy-dandy doorway to the Velvet Limo in the lobby of the TV World, so Gary does something he promised himself never to do--he visits Pedocchio of his own accord. It's safe to say that his dignity is at an all-time low. His unannounced visit to Pedocchio's lair does serve a purpose, however--he finally makes use of some of the Personas he collected while gallivanting around the castle to create new ones. Sadly, none of the new Personas have any phallic protrusions or similarly remarkable features, so I won't waste recap space describing them. I need that space for my hilarious euphemisms, after all.

I've never been so disturbed by a Black Screen in my life.
 

I can barely believe I'm typing this, but here goes--it turns out the most onerous part of Gary's day isn't his little chat with Pedocchio. When he arrives home he heads straight to bed, falling asleep almost instantly after hitting the futon. But the Invisible Narrator, not content with making his waking life a misery, gleefully decides to menace him in his dreams, too. "You dreamed that you were Chie's parent..." he whispers, and then follows this up with the truly horrifying, "It was a surreal, awkward dream, but your relationship with Chie has intensified..." What. What in the fuck. This cannot be happening. I mean, it was bad enough when the game designers were trying to force Gary/Chie to happen, but this is just the bitter, poisonous cherry on the cake of wrongness. Her parent!?

The first thing Gary does on the morning of the 19th is to scrub himself bloody with a wire brush in a scalding hot shower. Perhaps taking pity on him, the Invisible Narrator doesn't knock on the wall of the shower cubicle to tell him all about the suspicious stains on his bedclothes. All this time he's been so sure of himself, and yet he's now having those kinds of dreams about girls? Is his entire existence a lie?

I'm still shuddering at the description of that nightmare, so it takes me a while to remember that this turn of events almost certainly didn't occur in my first playthrough (trust me, I would have remembered). A quick visit to Google tells me that these dreams are essentially random occurrences, and what's more, there are even worse possibilities out there. Even though he's squicked out by the whole parent issue, Gary is immensely relieved that he didn't dream he and Chie were rolling around wearing luchador masks. The only comfort he takes away from this sordid ordeal is the possibility that he'll have a nicer dream involving Yosuke in the near future.

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