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The Best Persona 4 Social Links

by Kimberley Wallace on Nov 20, 2012 at 08:00 AM

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]

Naoki Konishi – Hanged Man

In Persona 3, the Sun social link’s Akinari brought me to tears; in Persona 4, it was the Hanged Man link with Naoki. Naoki is overcoming the murder of his sister, who was unfortunately one of the victims in the TV killings. Gossip and stares accompany Naoki wherever he goes, but this social link gets even more realistic with Naoki coping with being the leftover child – the one who still has a shot at life, but is overshadowed by his sister’s tragedy. Naoki won’t exactly be the nicest or easiest guy to talk to at first, but don’t let that dissuade you. His story is extremely touching, since his sister’s death everybody has given him a free pass, lifting responsibility from him. Naoki is searching for a meaning to his existence, while trying to confront the reality of what happened to his sister. The link is heavy and bleak, but ends in hope. 

Yumi Ozawa – Sun

As much as I like Ayane’s battle with self-confident in the band social link, I find Yumi of the drama club to be the more gripping social link. Yumi begins her link very dedicated to the drama club and a pro at what she does, but is she merely using acting to escape her realities? This soon becomes clear when her estranged father ends up in the hospital with limited time to live. Yumi is angry over him abandoning her and her mother 10 years ago for another woman, saying he feels more like a stranger to her than a father. Yumi is struggling with forgiveness and if she even wants to make amends just because her father is ill. Can this social link even have a best-case scenario? It takes some interesting turns along the way that end in a realistic, yet eye-opening message about life and loss. 

Tohru Adachi – Jester

Adachi is a new and surprising social link in Persona 4 Golden, and he’s worth your time over Marie, who turns out to be more generic than endearing. Adachi has always been a lost puppy at what he does, but what’s behind the man and his intentions? Adachi’s link is unpredictable from the start – he’s impolite to an old woman who just wants some company, but then is completely sympathetic to Nanako’s struggles. Where does this guy really stand? Discovering that is more than enough reason to get insight into one of Persona’s more mysterious characters. 

Shu Nakajima – Tower

The tower link begins as you take a part-time tutoring job. Initially Shu seems like an over-confident, bratty little kid. He’s an overachiever, mostly due to his mother constantly pressuring him to be the smartest in his class and fast-tracking him for college. But Shu’s perfection comes at a cost; he and his mother neglect his birthday, leading to the main character and his cohorts throwing an impromptu party. These scenes are touching, but when Shu reveals just how much the pressure is tormenting him, this social link provides interesting insight about creating your own path, rather than blindly following one set out for you. The struggle between parents’ expectations and kids carving out their own identity is a universal struggle. Seeing Persona 4 capture it so honestly is refreshing.

What are your favorite Persona 4 social links?