Kanji Tatsumi

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Kanji Tatsumi
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona character
KanjiTatsumi.png
Kanji as seen in Persona 4
First game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (2008)
Created by Shigenori Soejima
Designed by Shigenori Soejima
Voiced by (English) Troy Baker
Matthew Mercer (Animation, episodes 13-26, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Persona Q)[1]
Voiced by (Japanese) Tomokazu Seki

Kanji Tatsumi (巽 完二 Tatsumi Kanji?) is a fictional character in the 2008 PlayStation 2 release Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 by Atlus. In the game Kanji is a high school student who becomes famous in television after fighting delinquents in the streets. Kanji becomes a victim of a series of kidnappings where the person is thrown to a dimension known as the TV World and the main cast of characters goes to save him from his alternate self, his Shadow. After Kanji is saved from the experience with the Shadow being turned into a power known as Persona, he joins the Investigation Team, befriending them in the process. He has also appeared in other works such as the fighting game Persona 4 Arena and the crossover Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, He is voiced by Tomokazu Seki in Japanese, and Troy Baker in English in Persona 4, Persona 4 Golden, Persona 4 Arena, and the first twelve episodes of Persona 4: The Animation; his English voice actor for the remainder of Persona 4: The Animation, as well the games Persona 4 Arena Ultimax and Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, is Matthew Mercer.[1]

Kanji has received generally positive reception for his role in Persona 4 including his Social Links where he undergoes character development. However, his ambiguous sexual preference has become one of the game's most controversial themes with several writers commenting on whether the game does a good job in explaining Kanji's personality.

Concept and creation[edit]

Early designs for Kanji

Early designs of Kanji were drastically different from the final one. He was initially given the classic gang-style pompadour. His design was made by Shigenori Soejima.[2] Both of Kanji's Personas are based on his own visual appearance.[3]

Yu Namba, the Persona 4 Project Lead for Atlus USA, commented that while Kanji's Shadow might offend some players due to it being a gay stereotype, Kanji was nothing like a stereotype. Kanji's sexual orientation was left ambiguous to all players.[4] Namba added "We would like everyone to play through the game and come up with their own answers to that question; there is no official answer ... What matters is that Kanji's other self cries out, 'Accept me for who I am!' I think it's a powerful message which many, if not all of us can relate to."[5] Nich Maragos, Persona 4 Editor for Atlus USA, agreed with Namba, but personally held the opinion that Kanji was homosexual.[5] The localization team of Persona 4 made a point of keeping as true to the original translation as possible.[5] He cited Shadow Kanji's flamboyant personality and stated, "That flamboyance was also what the viewers of the Midnight Channel wanted to see: a typical gay person on TV that people would laugh at. The TV station broadcasts what the audience prefers to watch -- it's a stark portrayal of modern society."[5] Namba also made some scenes which involved Kanji's sexual orientation more subtle without removing the scenes' value.[5]

He is voiced by Tomokazu Seki in Japanese, Troy Baker in English,[4][6] and Matt Mercer in episodes 13-26 of the English anime dub.[7] Seki's portrayal was highly praised by the game's staff due to the delivery of his lines.[4] Youichiro Omi was cast as Kanji Tatsumi for the Persona 4 musical.[8]

Appearances[edit]

Kanji Tatsumi first appears in the PlayStation 2 video game Persona 4. He is a delinquent who has a reputation as being a bully, and is the center of numerous rumors regarding a confrontation with a local biker gang.[9] As a result, he was initially given the "classic gang-style pompadour" in the making of his design.[10] The fourth victim to be sent to the TV world, Kanji is revealed to have a complex with his Shadow revealing he hates girls as a result of criticizing his sewing and is more interested in boys.[11] After the protagonist's group comes to save Kanji when he is trapped in the Midnight Channel, he accepts that his other self is an important part of his identity.[12] Kanji learns of the Investigation Team's actions in Persona 4 and joins them to find the culprit.[13]

His sexual orientation remains ambiguous across the series, with Kanji being first interested in Naoto Shirogane when first meeting her, believing her to be a boy, but is still attracted to her when it is revealed that she is a girl.[14] His Persona is Take-Mikazuchi (タケミカヅチ?), an imposing, black, robotic humanoid which has a skeleton-like design, like Kanji's shirt, and is armed with a large lightning bolt.[12] Throughout Yu's interactions with Kanji, he reveals to be skilled at tailoring inspired by his family who runs a textile shop but stopped making dolls when accused by fellow students. Kanji eventually learns to take pride in his skills, rather than hide them.[15] Shortly afterwards, Take-Mikazuchi evolves into Rokuten Maoh (ロクテンマオウ Rokuten Maō?), who has a fiery motif instead of Take-Mikazuchi's skeleton and lightning.[16] In Persona 4: Golden, Kanji's new Persona is Take-Jizaiten (タケジザイテン?), which resembles Rokuten Maoh but has elaborate white armor with red flame details.[17]

The friendship made with Kanji serves as the Social Link to The Emperor;[18] this is signified in Persona 4: The Animation by Yu's Persona King Frost (キングフロスト Kingu Furosuto?).[19]

He appears as a playable character in Persona 4 Arena with Take-Mikazuchi.[20] In the game's story mode, Kanji accidentally falls into the TV World's P-1 Grand Prix tournament and believes he is having a dream as he encounters his friends.[21] He later believes that the main cause of this is his Shadow who has been impersonated by an unknown person.[22][23] He is also set to appear in the spin-off game Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.[24]

Reception[edit]

Kanji has received generally positive reception for his role in Persona 4. According to Gamasutra's Samantha Xu, reception for Kanji by Persona 4 players has been "neutral or positive."[5] Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton found Kanji to be a particularly funny character in Persona 4 Golden. He cited Kanji's animal crackers and "general grump obliviousness."[25] GamesRadar staff claimed that Kanji, as well as Chie and Teddie, were "well-defined by scenes that shift between comedy and drama fluidly."[26] Game Informer '​s Kimberley Wallace felt that Kanji had one of the best Social Links in Persona 4. She stated, "From Kanji’s hilarious overreactions to seeing him show his true emotions about his struggle, the social link is fun and heartwarming."[27] Atlus senior project manager Masaru Nanba remarked on how popular the interpretation of Kanji and his Shadow were in the west in an interview with Famitsu in 2013.[28]

Sexuality[edit]

While acting as a gay stereotype, Kanji's Shadow actually reveals his gender insecurities. This was one of the most discussed themes between writers.

Kanji's sexuality is one of the most controversial elements of Persona 4 by North American players according to 1UP.com's Andrew Fitch.[4] Fitch worried that both gay and straight players in North America may be offended by how he was designed.[4] Atlus senior project manager Masaru Nanba remarked on how popular the interpretation of Kanji and his Shadow were in the west in an interview with Famitsu in 2013.[28] CVG Online's Matthew Pellett called the examination of his sexuality a "first" for Japanese role-playing games.[29] Game Career Guide's Patrick Hayes stated that Shadow Kanji represents his "confusion over manhood and sexuality."[30] Larry Hester of Complex ranked him the sixth best LGBT character in video games.[31] IGN's Keza MacDonald cited Kanji as one of the few playable gay video game characters in a Japanese video game.[32] Kotaku's Jason Schreier suggested that his lack of understanding of his sexuality comes from his young age.[33] Colette Bennett, editor for Destructoid, felt that most American gamers would think Kanji was gay.[5] She also felt that American designers were not "comfortable with portraying characters like Kanji."[5] VG247's Julie Horup listed Kanji as an example of a homosexual character in video games.[34] Huffington Post also featured it in a list of LGBT video game characters.[35] Salon's Luke Winkie chose Kanji as his favourite LGBT character in video games. He stated, "By the end of the game you remember Kanji as your friend, not a kid in the closet."[36]

Gamasutra's Xu noted that Kanji was one of the first video game characters to address his sexual identity in an "engaging and meaningful manner." She followed by stating that while he "may not be politically progressive enough to dub him the Harvey Milk of gaming ... his unique existence in Persona 4 is a small and positive move forward toward a more socially diversified gaming universe."[5] Brenda Brathwaite, author of "Sex in Video Games" stated: "It would have been amazing if they would have made a concrete statement that he is gay. That we could play as a gay main character in a video game would be a big deal." She added, "I can find twenty things that I didn't like about how Kanji was portrayed, such as the game's juvenile nature in dealing with his sexuality, but there is a part of me that is thrilled there is a gay character in a game and that a game would portray how they are dealing with their inner struggles and interactions with friends."[5] Dr. Antonia Levi, author of "Samurai from Outer Space: Understanding Japanese Animation", discussed the differences between homosexuality's acceptability in the United States versus Japan. She claimed that unlike the US, Japan had no legislation related to homosexuality and did not view sexuality as a matter of "right or wrong." She explained that this was the reason for Kanji's sexual ambiguity.[5] Xu cited Levi in her article to explain that Japanese people tend to be outwardly traditional, and their private sexual life is not judged. She stated, "For Kanji, working at his family's textile shop was a very traditional and respectable job, one that could have been at risk had he made a lifestyle choice to have an openly gay relationship with another man."[5] She further cited Japan scholar Dr. Mark McLelland, who stated that "recent research has shown, the notion of 'coming out' is seen as undesirable by many Japanese gay men and lesbians as it necessarily involves adopting a confrontational stance against mainstream lifestyles and values, which many still wish to endorse." Xu explains that this culture may explain that Kanji was not rejecting the existence of his homosexuality or that the developers were not homophobic.[5]

GameSpot's Carolyn Petit felt that his depiction "leaves a great deal to be desired" and stated that it "rejects" Kanji's sexuality instead of "embracing" it. She stated that she was intrigued by the idea behind Kanji initially, but was disappointed that Kanji's "shadow self" was based on his fear of women rather than his attraction to men. She felt that this theme didn't make sense, given the imagery of his dungeon. She claimed that the rejection of Kanji's sexuality "sends the message that homosexuality is shameful and should not be accepted." She also criticized the handling of how Yosuke reacts to Kanji's sexuality, claiming that his homophobia toward Kanji was left unaddressed and uncriticized by the end of the game.[37] Metro Weekly '​s Sean Bugg felt that while elements of Kanji weren't homophobic, they weren't "exactly a PSA for tolerance, either."[38]

Author Jordan Youngblood described Kanji and Naoto's depictions as "meta-commentary on the means by which the idealized vision of queer utopia within the digital is disrupted by the player’s engagement in the game’s encoded processes." He added that the "ruptures this creates in exposing and involving the player in queer play (so to speak) offer a fascinating tension between the game’s intended outcomes and the result brought about through engagement in its procedural rhetoric." He made a point of using it to examine how game theory and queer theory can interact in a discussion. He discusses Kanji's dungeon and suggests that the steam in it represents "concealment and uncertainty." He added, "As the player moves through the dungeon, her spatial experience mimics the larger confusion of Kanji’s sexual needs: objects appear and disappear, bodies are harder to locate." He felt that the stage became a "body itself for the player to queerly experience via the avatar." The use of the word "queer" by Shadow Kanji was described by Youngblood as a word used to describe Kanji's "failure to live up to" the opposite sex's "assumptions of male identity" rather than a failure to live up to it to the same sex. The two enemies that accompany Shadow Kanji's boss battle - "Nice Guy" and "Tough Guy" - were claimed by Youngblood to be evocative of bara and yaoi, and that the "split black/white appearance of all three bodies also indicates a mixing and rupturing of sexual expectations along the lines of race as well as gender." He also discusses a scene wherein Yosuke questions his sexual identity, stating that "for the rest of the game, then, Kanji will be on a quest to “prove” that his desires follow a non-queer path—but as hard as he tries, the body he feels the closest attraction to is still his queer partner, Naoto."[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b https://twitter.com/matthewmercer/status/482663053742186498
  2. ^ Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Visual Data. Atlus. 2008. p. 29. 
  3. ^ Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Visual Data. Atlus. 2008. p. 66. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Fitch, Andrew. "Persona 4 Afterthoughts". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Xu, Samantha (2009-01-28). "Opinion: Sexuality And Homophobia In Persona 4". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  6. ^ "Sentai Filmworks Licenses Persona 4: The Animation". Anime News Network. 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  7. ^ Card Games For Charity 6. 12-08-2012. Event occurs at 5:26:15, 6:27:20, 6:31:10. Retrieved 12-10-2012.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ "VisualLive Persona 4 Twitter Dec. 1 update". 
  9. ^ Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Visual Data. Atlus. 2008. p. 26. 
  10. ^ Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Visual Data. Atlus. 2008. p. 29. 
  11. ^ Atlus (2008-12-09). "Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4". PlayStation 2. Atlus. Shadow Kanji: Ohh, how I hate girls... "You like to sew? What a queer! Painting is not for you. But you're a guy... You don't act like a guy...." Men are much better... They'd never say those awful, degrading things. Yes, I vastly prefer men... 
  12. ^ a b Atlus (2008-12-09). "Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4". PlayStation 2. Atlus. Kanji: It ain't a matter of guys or chicks... I'm just scared shitless of being rejected. You're me... and I'm you, dammit! Narration: Kanji has faced his other self... He has obtained the power to overcome life's hardships, the Persona Take-Mikazuchi! 
  13. ^ Atlus (2008-12-09). "Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4". PlayStation 2. Atlus. Kanji: Anything I can do to help? If there's some bastard out there who put me through this, I ain't gonna rest until I make 'em pay. / Yosuke: Seriously? Awesome! You'd make a great addition to our team! 
  14. ^ Atlus (2008-12-09). "Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4". PlayStation 2. Atlus. Rise: Silly Kanji. Just tell her you wanna see her in the stage. So, is it a deal? The four of us will be in the beauty pageant? /.../ Naoto: Wh-What are you saying?! /.../ Kanji: Um... I beg you, please be in it. 
  15. ^ Atlus (2008-12-09). "Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4". PlayStation 2. Atlus. Kanji: No more being scared of everyone, hiding my hobbies, staying away from people... Anytime, anyplace, I'm gonna bust right through as my own self! 
  16. ^ Atlus (2008-12-09). "Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4". PlayStation 2. Atlus. Narrative: Kanji's Persona has been reborn...! Take-Mikazuchi has transfigured into Rokuten Maoh! 
  17. ^ "Persona 4: The Golden Could’ve Been Called "The Garden"". Siliconera. February 26, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  18. ^ Yūko Kakihara (November 24, 2011). "We've lost something important again". Persona 4: The Animation. Event occurs at 0:18. MBS. "Margaret: I see you have obtained yet another Arcana: The Emperor."
  19. ^ "ペルソナ4アニメーション 公式サイト | ペルソナ". Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  20. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (September 15, 2011). "Atlus Shares Persona 4 Ultimate Move Chart". Andriasang. Retrieved December 7, 2011. 
  21. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. "Persona 4 Arena". Atlus. Kanji: This is just a dream! (No other explanation makes sense. I was so sleepy, I guess couldn't avoid it.) / .../ Kanji: A Grand Prix to decide the strongest fighter, huh? Heheh, that's not a bad dream at all. This is gonna be fun! 
  22. ^ Spencer (May 17, 2012). "In Persona 4: Arena Yukiko Is A Chef & Kanji Fights His Other Self". Siliconera. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  23. ^ "『ペルソナ4 ジ・アルティメット イン マヨナカアリーナ』天城雪子と巽完二のストーリーモードを紹介". May 18, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  24. ^ "See Kanji And Yukiko Switch Personas In Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth". Siliconera. April 11, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  25. ^ Hamilton, Kirk; Schreier, Jason (2012-11-21). "Persona 4 Golden: The Kotaku Review". Kotaku. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  26. ^ "The best videogame stories ever". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  27. ^ Wallace, Kimberley (2012-11-20). "The Best Persona 4 Social Links". Game Informer. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  28. ^ a b "『ペルソナ4 ザ・ゴールデン』が北米でも大人気の理由・前編【翻訳担当者インタビュー】 - ファミ通.com". Famitsu.com. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  29. ^ Pellett, Matthew (2011-03-27). "Catherine: Is the world ready for a JRPG this disturbing?". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  30. ^ Hayes, Patrick (2010-09-24). "Game Narrative Review - Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4". Game Career Guide. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  31. ^ Hester, Larry (2013-06-08). "The Coolest LGBT Video Game Characters Ever". Complex. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  32. ^ MacDonald, Keza (2012-01-25). "A Gay History of Gaming". IGN. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  33. ^ Schreier, Jason (2012-11-16). "Why We Love Persona 4". Kotaku. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  34. ^ Horup, Julie (2011-10-29). "Not just a trend: Why queer visibility matters in games". VG247. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  35. ^ "10 LGBT Video Game Characters". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  36. ^ Winkie, Luke (2014-04-18). "From a pink dinosaur to "Gay Tony": The evolution of LGBT video game characters". Salon. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  37. ^ Petit, Carolyn (2013-03-01). "Denial of the Self: Queer Characters in Persona 4". GameSpot. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  38. ^ Bugg, Sean (2012-08-16). "Review: 'Persona 4 Arena'". Metro Weekly. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  39. ^ Youngblood, J. (2013-06). ""C’mon! Make me a man!": Persona 4, Digital Bodies, and Queer Potentiality". ada. Retrieved 2014-04-24.  Check date values in: |date= (help)