A Terrifying Panoply of Human Events
Seriously, Yosuke and Teddy are just the worst when it comes to women.

So I just read a Tumblr post claiming that the treatment of Naoto in Persona 4 is extremely transphobic.

And my response was at first a visceral “NO!” Now I’m tempering it to be “I don’t…think it is?”

SPOILERS FOR PERSONA 4 FOLLOW

The thing is, both Naoto and Kanji, as characters, are fairly mutable. How you see them is at least in part how you want to see them, and I think that’s mostly by design. Maybe Kanji is homosexual. Maybe he’s bisexual. Maybe he just isn’t sure how to make friends, and his shadow played up on the idea that he might be homosexual to freak him out and get the power it wanted. It’s a weird, complicated thing, and I think that’s both intentional (he’s a teenager, he doesn’t have everything figured out yet) and unintentional (it’s not like Japan is the best about homosexual depictions…).

Naoto is even more mutable. She could be a woman in both body and gender. Or she’s a woman in body, but a man in gender. Or she’s a woman in body and gender, but fairly or completely asexual in terms of her interests. In addition, how you see her is in part determined by how you treat her in the game after she joins the party-you do have the choice of whether to pursue her as a romantic partner, or just as a friend.

But to me, Naoto is neither trans nor homosexual. Rather, she is repressed as hell.

The key thing, to me, is that Naoto’s Shadow talks about making her into a man not just in terms of gender, but in terms of age. Part of her hangup is that she thinks she won’t get any respect for her intellect as a woman-and let’s be honest, this is in a Japanese game, set in a modern-day small Japanese town. That concern alone is pretty fucking realistic. But she also feels that even when presenting herself as a boy, she is…well, a boy. Not a man. So opinions that she presents, even presented when she’s passing as male, are disregarded because she’s younger than the people she’s helping.

When she accepts her shadow, to me she’s not accepting the idea that she actually wants to be a man. She’s accepting that she’s frustrated about being disregarded for being too young for detective work, and her fear that even when she’s older, being a woman will keep her from getting the respect that, frankly, she deserves. None of that discounts the idea that her mental gender might be male instead of female, but it also doesn’t reinforce it, either. In short, it could go either way. And without compelling evidence that Naoto reads herself as a man outside of her disguise, I don’t want to assign that to her.

However, that’s where my secondary response of “I don’t think P4 is transphobic?” comes from. Because as someone who is A) solidly heterosexual and B) not transsexual, I know that I do not have the personal experience to go “Oh, yeah, this is trans positive and this is trans negative.” Nor do I have any clear training. So my reading of Naoto as not being trans is not a definitive thing. I might be missing clues that other people would pick up on (the fact that it’s been at least a year since I played the game doesn’t help there either).

For example, even after the party learns that her physical gender is female, Naoto still dresses like she did before, rather than going for more obviously feminine clothing or characteristics. Her voice goes up a little higher, but while noticeable, it’s not a drastic change-more of dropping an affectation around people who she doesn’t have to fool. To me, those don’t seem like big things, but I could be wrong there.

As for some of the things other party members do to Naoto after the reveal-sign her up for a beauty pageant without her permission, try to read her physical measurements-I saw that more as teens being kind of shitty to each other. Like yeah, Yosuke the horndog would do that to all the women he knows, and Teddy the socially incompetent horndog would think it was actually okay to swipe the women’s measurements and find out what they are. Some of that comes from unfortunate behaviors that pop up in Japanese games and anime a lot (the bedroom intruder bit in the inn is probably the worst fucking thing ever, seriously, STOP THAT SHIT), and some of it from teenagers not realizing that a prank can cut deeper than they intended. The more important things they do are find out the truth about Naoto, accept it, and welcome her detective skills onto the team with open arms.

So….I don’t know, in the end. I don’t think Persona 4 is transphobic about Naoto, but your mileage may vary. She’s still my favorite character after Kanji.

All right, had to delete that because it contained the spoiler in question, BUT: Not happy to see someone casually spoil a big thing in GotG before I got to see it. Working 12 hours on Saturday and Sunday means I literally cannot see movies the weekend they come out.

charlotteofoz:

sounds-simple-right:

pelonni:

necromatador:

ignoramusintensive:

thelilnan:

paper mario and sharknado 2????????

dragon age: origins and sharknado 2fucking kill me

Dishonored and Guardians of the Galaxy holy hell I like this.

Borderlands 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy…. I… I’m now realizing that there isn’t that great of a difference lol

Captain America 2 and Dragon Age 2. Guess we’re blowing up Chantries or Helicarriers and goin’ on the lam, either way.

Supreme Commander and The Purge: Anarchy. For the next twelve hours, self-assembling nanotech warfare with robots the size of four city blocks is legal.

Shin Megami Tensei IV and The Winter Soldier. Summoning demons to save America from Hydra. Should be interesting!

charlotteofoz:

sounds-simple-right:

pelonni:

necromatador:

ignoramusintensive:

thelilnan:

paper mario and sharknado 2????????

dragon age: origins and sharknado 2
fucking kill me

Dishonored and Guardians of the Galaxy holy hell I like this.

Borderlands 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy…. I… I’m now realizing that there isn’t that great of a difference lol

Captain America 2 and Dragon Age 2. Guess we’re blowing up Chantries or Helicarriers and goin’ on the lam, either way.

Supreme Commander and The Purge: Anarchy. For the next twelve hours, self-assembling nanotech warfare with robots the size of four city blocks is legal.

Shin Megami Tensei IV and The Winter Soldier. Summoning demons to save America from Hydra. Should be interesting!

charlotteofoz:

image

I choose to believe that Superman swoops down and gives his point of view any time someone mentions his name in an argument.

Superman isn’t standing for anyone using his name for their own ends.

"Superman wouldn’t stand for all these immigrants flooding into our-"

*CRASH*

"JESUS CHRIST!"

"Say what I wouldn’t do again, Senator. While I’m here. Go ahead."

anthemisegan:

God fucking damn it, I just heard a Gamestop employee saying they wanted to see this in Hyrule Warriors.

FEAR THE FAIRY COCKROACH.

anthemisegan:

God fucking damn it, I just heard a Gamestop employee saying they wanted to see this in Hyrule Warriors.

FEAR THE FAIRY COCKROACH.

thedrunkenminstrel:

This is how I feel though I am also happy that it’s majorly pissing off fans of the first anime who never read the manga. But then I remember that I think the manga was boring shit and get sad…

Eh, as…

The real question I have so far isn’t how the first episode goes, but the 2nd and 3rd. We only have one data point at the moment.

thedrunkenminstrel:

So the controversy behind Rick Remender is about Jet Black supposedly being underage right?
When has 23 been underage?
If there’s another reason please explain it to me, because I am genuinely confused as to what this is about.


Pretty much all about a Tumblr user who already hates Rick Remender making shit up to try and get more support for their opinion.

thedrunkenminstrel:

So the controversy behind Rick Remender is about Jet Black supposedly being underage right?

When has 23 been underage?

If there’s another reason please explain it to me, because I am genuinely confused as to what this is about.

Pretty much all about a Tumblr user who already hates Rick Remender making shit up to try and get more support for their opinion.

No, I would not call the clan the Wu-Tang.

The other day I talked about how a dream movie of mine would be a Japanese period drama, but with a cast where everyone was of African descent. Since no one asked me to, I wanted to elaborate on that.

The thing is, this is a dream project in both the “I would love to see this” and “there is no way it would be made.” How many Japanese period dramas have we seen coming out of Hollywood? 1, starring a white guy (I’ll give them credit for saying he’s half Japanese and the son of a foreign trader, at least) and with overt supernatural elements. And it flopped. So, probably not going to see another one for some time. I’m sure there are some being made in Japan, but probably not a huge amount, and good luck telling them “Hey, you know that big medieval picture you’re doing? Yeah, don’t cast any of the thousands of actors you have in your own country and put a whole bunch of foreigners in it instead!” Leaving aside the often ignored xenophobia and racism that can rear its ugly head in Japanese culture, that doesn’t seem like the best argument.

So why would I want to see a movie like this?

Because it hasn’t been done before, and it would be completely atypical.

All the arguments against it that will obviously keep it from happening make me want to see it happen. I want to see a movie so weird, so obviously idiosyncratic, pop up and leave audiences wondering what they want to see. And I want to see so many actors of African descent in completely nontraditional roles, with a completely nontraditional story, because it would both be a gigantic challenge to the regular Hollywood “black” movie, and mean scouring the country (hell, possibly MULTIPLE countries) for enough actors and actresses to fill all the roles. And you know there are enough talented actors and actresses to do the roles justice, they just don’t get the chance to play them very often.

Like the many SNK games I’ve brainstormed that will never be, it’s just a dream. But it’s a nice one, at least to me.

StrexCorp issues.

I know we’re still in the middle of a two parter for Night Vale (for the vast majority of listeners who couldn’t attend the live show), but at this point my issues with the show are no longer about how the StrexCorp plot might conclude, and with the fact that it’s been the main plot at all.

In a show where every conspiracy is true at once, of course the evil corporation was going to show up at some point. But I was uneasy with their more dedicated introduction, where they became owners in the Night Vale radio station. It immediately defanged the original station owners, and meant this would probably come up again as a direct plot, rather than a passing reference or vignette. And every time they’ve shown up since, it’s involved taking over more of the town, enforcing a corporate hegemony. And to an extent you could argue this is the point-driving out the strangeness and menace of Night Vale with boring, bureaucratic bullshit can be a potent narrative.

Instead they tried to make StrexCorp themselves menacing and strange, and it falls flat for me. In effect, it makes the town of Night Vale less interesting not by draining the weirdness out of the town within the plot, but making them less exceptional, because there’s something similar out there to buy them up. Combined with how long it’s been strung out, it has made the show itself less interesting.

Was this just a pothole that the show got stuck in and is now getting out of? Or is it a sign of a more lasting decline? I’m hoping it’s the former, especially since Night Vale seems like a concept with a lot of potential mileage. Besides, I’d much rather see it continue as a show I enjoy, since even in the middle of StrexCorp heavy episodes, there have been good things; The ‘adorable’ visitor that attacked Cecil, Lauren not-so-subtly threatening Cecil’s extended family, and Kevin all around. And to be fair, I can’t argue every episode beforehand was unalloyed gold; there was definitely a formula that was getting stale. Still, the sooner StrexCorp is done and dusted in Night Vale, the more I’ll look forward to new episodes rather than being ambivalent.

Since I was asking Jerry, I'll ask you also. What is the worst JRPG villain? Either a particular example or just an archetype you hate?

I’m going with the archetype here (and I am so sorry it took me this long to find an answer for this), and that’s God. I hate it.

I’m not a religious person, so I’m not offended due to religious regions about having to fight God in a JRPG. And there have been some great ones where that ends up being the final enemy. But the problem is that to me, a “god” is not just a really tough fight. It implies a being with the power to do things like remake or disintegrate matter, almost limitless energy (even if it’s within specific domains), and the like. Obviously that depends to some extent on how you conceive of a diety and what limits they have, but the God archetype I’m talking about is when your party fights either the supreme leader of the gods, or a monotheistic one, and it just breaks down. It’s an attempt to go for maximum dramatic tension, and instead I see it as a cheap ploy most of the time.

Again, there have been some great JRPGs with this theme. I loved Grandia II, for example, and I think FF6 comes pretty close to it with Kefka’s final set of abilities; Tales of Symphonia and Xenoblade have you taking on “angels” and “gods,” even though they’re not quite what they seem. But each of those games managed to personify the diety in question, and make it clear that the problem stems not from God the Father being A Divine Jerk, but from a person being arrogant enough to decide they should be God, and seeking to impose that on everyone else. In that sense, you’re fighting the same kind of battle you would be if someone was trying to be the king or emperor of the world, just on a bigger scale, and thus it doesn’t bother me as much as “You’re fighting Yahweh!” does. Or to put it another way, punching Kefka in the face is a lot more satisfying because he’s been around for almost the entire game, and he’s taken actions outside of “ascension to godhood” that seal the deal on him being an evil fucking bastard. Not every villain should be like Kefka-in fact, I’d go so far as to say most should not be evil just because they’re crazy. But the point is that he could be trying to achieve entirely earthly power instead of godhood, and I’d still want to stop him because of his personality and behavior.

If, on the other hand, you go “God is going to kill everyone because he thinks they’re too sinful” and spring this as a last minute reveal of your true foe, I’m going to go “Really? This is what we’re doing now?” Persona 4 is a perfect example of this. The true ending isn’t bad, mind you, and the fact that it’s optional means I don’t think it detracts from the overall story. But after finding out the true murderer and stopping them (being vague because even though the game is years old at this point, it’s STILL a great character piece I don’t want to spoil), following up with a reveal that it’s a deity that was behind it and that you must now stop doesn’t add anything. It doesn’t detract in this case, but if it hadn’t been optional, it certainly would have.

So yeah: Fighting God is my least favorite archetype for a JRPG villain. It can be done well, but usually not for the reasons they want to do it.