Girl in the Machine
Monday, June 9, 2008
Character Spotlight: Mitsuru Kirijo

Summer 2007 brought the North American release of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, much to my Megaten fangirly delight. I had never played any of the Persona series before, so while I was eager to dive into an experience completely different from Nocturne or Digital Devil Saga, I was a tad apprehensive about the game's anime-heavy art and story. Like many people, I equate most anime with teeth-grinding cliches and predictable plotlines, but, aside from a few missteps, Persona 3 really impressed me. A character that specifically caught my eye was Mitsuru Kirijo.

In this world of demon-battling high school kids who shoot themselves in the head to summon monsters, Mitsuru is the leader of SEES, a special team dedicated to banishing the nefarious Shadows from Japan. She's tough, smart, and serious to a fault. She's so efficient and intelligent that she finds time to be president of student council, practice her fencing, and maintain her rank as valedictorian alongside her many SEES duties. I kind of fell in love with her during the course of the game.

Not only is it awesome to see a female character so independent and smart, it's also refreshing to see that she has great relationships with everyone. The Tough Girl character is often painted as a ballbuster or a bitch, but such is not the case here. Mitsuru's fellow students and SEES members all admire her, and even an NPC at the high school continuously confesses her undying love for our red-haired swordswoman throughout the game.

Tough Girls in many fictive media also find themselves being stripped of their strong exteriors, usually in a sexist attempt to put them in their place or make them dependent on stronger male characters. Mitsuru does not fall victim to this trope. Without spoiling too much (I want you to go out and play this wonderful game right now!), I'll just say that Mitsuru suffers a deep personal crisis that leaves her showing real weakness and insecurity. She even withdraws from the game for a couple weeks as she tries to make sense of it all. However, it's Yukari -- an often brash, outspoken character who doesn't always get along with Mitsuru -- who guides her back and convinces her to be strong again. Needless to say, I was flabbergasted to see a pair of women in a video game help each other through a tough situation . . . just because! No underlying motive or anything! No secret jealousies or bitchy competition! Flabbergasted.

Truly, the most interesting part of Persona 3 is the sheer number of female characters. Out of all the playable characters, half of them are women (and one of the "guys" is a dog). As you've seen in Calabar's posts on the game, the protagonist can end up in a relationship with three of the female characters in your party, but it's important to note that only a relationship with Yukari is ever even hinted at by the main plot. Mitsuru's Social Link is just a sidequest. While there's nothing inherently wrong with a tough female character finding love, it's a huge cliche for such a character to become dependent or seem "accessible" to male characters, while there is no such equivalent for men of the same caliber.

I was pleasantly surprised by a majority of the female characters (and male characters, to boot) of Persona 3. Doubtless, I'll write more about this game in the future, so I highly recommend you go pick up a copy of P3: FES right now and indulge in probably the best JRPG to come out since Final Fantasy XII.

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 Posted by BomberGirl
 11:32 AM + Link to this post
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