The lights are on
Social Links form the heart of the Persona games. With each one, you go on a special journey toward making another person come to some profound realization about life. But some characters are just more entertaining and thought-provoking than others. Since it’s not easy to max out every social link in Persona 4 (although, Golden makes it much easier), here’s what I consider to be the social links that you shouldn’t miss.
Kanji Tatsumi – Emperor
Out of all the playable party members, Kanji’s social link is easily the strongest. Kanji’s life has been about putting up a front to prove his manliness, since he’s embarrassed about his enjoyment of sewing. After enduring teasing as a child for his “girly” choices, he’s been on a quest to prove something. But this social link is more about seeing the strengths in your differences and accepting yourself. Soon, a young boy enters Kanji’s life and changes the equation. Let’s just say he mirrors Kanji’s struggles, helping his mentor adapt a new outlook on his love for sewing. From Kanji’s hilarious overreactions to seeing him show his true emotions about his struggle, the social link is fun and heartwarming.
Ryotaro Dojima – Hierophant
First off, the man is letting you stay at his place, you should probably get to know him...but he’s not around particularly often. Beyond his absence, Dojima’s link is extremely heart-filled for someone who usually runs away from his emotions. It also explains what happened to Nanako’s mother and the quest to find answers – for both Nanako and himself. Persona 4 does such a great job at setting up the non-standard dynamic with Ryotaro, Nanako, and the protagonist, and this link further establishes that the three of them have created a new family.
Nanako Dojima – Justice
Nanako is one of the cutest child characters to grace video games. From the way she innocently calls you, “big bro,” to her undeniable love for Junes and its theme song, you can’t help but want to get to know her. Also, since she takes care of herself due to Dojima’s demanding job, spending time with her is the least you could do. But despite poor Nanako’s mature exterior, she still grieves the loss of her mother. Death isn’t something that’s easy for a young child to grasp, especially when her father isn’t exactly forthcoming about it since he’s lost in his own misery and regret. This link mainly centers on a little girl who just loves her father and wants to see him back on his feet. The way Nanako yearns for her dad’s affection shows a different side to her. On the outside, she seems well-adjusted and wise beyond her years, but her reactions to Dojima’s abandonment in this social link show she needs her father; she’s still just a child.
Ai Ebihara – Moon
Ai Ebihara is the kind of character that you expect to hate from the get-go, but her struggle surprisingly becomes one of the better links in the game. Ai is pretty and rich, and she knows it – something that makes her insufferable at the start. She is always stroking her own ego, keeping up appearances, and spends her time being generally self-centered. But it takes a form of rejection to show Ai is dealing with some heavy feelings, even suicidal thoughts. What I loved so much about Ai’s social link is that it’s unpredictable – a rollercoaster of uncertainty. Every time you think you know where you stand with the girl and make progress, you get slapped in the face with an unsettling event or revelation. The question the link poses: Is there a redeeming quality about her? Can a kind soul be all it takes to save someone? Watching it all unfold is beautiful.
[Next Up: A brother left to pick up the pieces, drama club gets some real drama, and a kid who wants a life of his own]
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.