Girl in the Machine
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
S'up Dude?

Masculinity in the High School Boys from Persona 3: FES

I recently exchanged books with a friend, and he lent me a copy of Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School. It was a fascinating read--I cringed throughout the book as it reminded me of the many cruelties of being a young man in high school. As the text mulled in my brain, those thoughts mingled with my longing to complete Persona 3: FES.

It's tough to speak for every character in the game, as I haven't been able to finish it while I've been away from my PS2 during my summer job. I can't want to speak for the main characters, but I'm comfortable with discussing a few of the social links that I've completed so far!

For some reason or another, I neglected to begin my relationship with Kenji Tomochika until after summer break (even though he's one of the first people with whom you can form a social link). He is represented by the Magician Arcana. Kenji's pretty much a typical high school guy. He’s got a thing for older "experienced" woman, slacks off when it comes to finals, and enjoys watching plenty of television during his free time. He usually comes to you for support and advice during the social link events--this guy needs constant validation! He reminds me of most of the youth I work with in my day job.

The Temperance Arcana, Andre “Bebe” Laurent Jean Geraux, had me worried when I first met him. This fan-wielding foreign exchange student with a passion for fashion seemed to be the perfect set-up for a big gay joke. I was pleased to discover that most of his eccentricities stemmed from being a rabid Japanophile. Still, his character design was given more traditionally "feminine" facial features, and his stance is curvier than that of the other males in the game. I can't help but wonder if the producers are trying to suggest something. I'll be optimistic, though, and assume that they wanted to include different body types, counterbalancing the poor Moon Arcana, Nozomi.

The first social link I cultivated was with Kazushi Miyamoto, the star from Sports Club. Aside from the Sun Arcana, Kazushi has remained my favorite since the beginning of the game. He is represented by the Chariot Arcana, and much like his card, he's a bad ass. He requires that you respond to his situation in a similarly bad ass way--Kazushi is focused on victory for his athletic club. Admittedly, part of his fervor comes from a deal he made with a younger nephew, but still, he won't let even a crippling knee injury prevent him from winning. When he’s down, responses like “Toughen up” are better than things like “Don’t overdo it.” When he’s injured, simply allowing him to lean on your shoulder is better than carrying him or going out to look for help. He has tremendous pride in himself, and he is slow to open up.

Based on what I've seen thus far, I praise Persona 3: FES for the variety of heterosexual Japanese males represented throughout the game, both in Gekkoukan High and out. I know that's specific, but I don't say it mockingly. Working within the context of a medium-sized Japanese port town, it's not terribly surprising that we don't see a mix of races. Still, they do show males in a variety of roles and positions, and none of the characters come off as a complete joke. Also, while those characters are presumptively straight (as no alternative is offered), folks like Bebe challenge the traditional perception of masculinity.

I also want to praise the game because the male social links are based on building relationships based on commonalities rather than tearing apart the differences of others. It would be heart wrenching if the game forced you to make a decision between athletic Kazushi and fey Bebe because the jocks refused to be around guys who can sew.

I look forward to seeing what Persona 4 has to offer in the future! I imagine that the social links system will be slightly reconfigured to become even more engaging. Any Persona fans have something in particular they'd love to see?

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 Posted by Calabar
 9:23 AM + Link to this post

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