(Missed me talking about the main cast of Persona 4? Check it out here: [Persona 4] Reaching Out To The Truth Pt. 2: The Scooby Gang (Investigation Team))
(Image taken from Zerochan)
The Colorful Cast Who Bring Inaba to Life
(Persona 4 Spoilers Ahead, Turn Back If Unprepared)
As is to be expected with a game on the scale of the Persona franchise, the supporting cast of Persona 4 is very wide and filled with colorful, interesting characters you’ll meet and interact with several times throughout the game’s near-100-hour story. Each of these characters has their own story that grows and develops with the main cast as you proceed throughout the game and it would take far too long to cover every character in the detail they so rightly deserve. As such, I’ll be picking and choosing from my particular favorites amongst the large supporting cast who inhabit the rural town of Inaba. These are just my personal picks and there are certainly many amazing members of the cast I won’t be able to get to, so just because your favorite supporting member isn’t here doesn’t mean I wouldn’t talk about them at length given the chance.
(Artwork by Aile)
Starting off in a reasonable place, we have the uptight, hardworking father who learns the true meaning of “family” over your twelve months living under his roof, Ryotaro Dojima. Dojima is introduced from early on as your primary caretaker during your time in Inaba and is presented as a hardworking to a fault detective on the case of the mysterious serial murders. His personal backstory and development come through his relationship with his daughter, Nanako, and his personal quest for vengeance by gaining justice for the hit-and-run murder of his wife, Chisato. Through the development of Dojima’s Social Link, you help Dojima come to terms with the death of his wife and realize the effect his obsession over the case is having on Nanako. While Dojima’s attitude towards Nanako and his late nights make Nanako question if he really loves her, his love for his daughter is proven through his actions surrounding Nanako’s kidnapping by Taro Namatame. In a rage, Dojima storms out of the police station to give chase and entrusts the Protagonist and Naoto with rescuing Nanako after he is injured. Though his life revolved around Nanako initially, the Protagonist helps Dojima to move on from his wife’s death and embrace the family he’s built for himself with Nanako and the Protagonist. The story of the Dojima family was personally relatable for me as I know the feeling of losing a close family member, with my Dad passing away two years ago. While the situations aren’t the same, I feel the pain of not being able to move on and the grief that comes with it.
(Artwork by Yuugure)
Since we mentioned her so much in Dojima’s section, it only makes sense we would move to the adorable daughter of the Dojima family, Nanako. Initially distancing herself from the Protagonist, she grows closer to him through the development of her Social Link and comes to think of him as her big brother. Through the development of Nanako’s Social Link and her personal character, the Protagonist learns of the separation between Nanako and her father and the rift that has existed between them since the death of the family’s mother, Chisato. As the two become closer, Nanako begins to learn more of how her father felt, realizing he loved her all along and didn’t forget about her mother like she had felt he had. Nanako’s character was personally fantastic to me because of how well the two sides of her were carried across. She was able to show a side of herself that was mature beyond her years, often breaking up arguments between Dojima and the Protagonist, while still maintaining her childlike naivety and innocence that made her just want everyone to get along. Nanako’s kidnapping, along with her near-death experience in the hospital following, were two of the most emotionally charged moments within the entire game and her character was one of the best-developed among the entire cast.
(Artwork by Tokiwa)
From the outset of Persona 4, you are presented with the option with joining clubs within Yasogami High School. You are given the choice between two sports clubs and two cultural clubs. During my playthough, I didn’t join a sports club but chose to join the Music Club with the related Social Link being the first-year trombonist, Ayane Matsunaga. I was instantly won over by Ayane early on in the game through my relation to the primary issue she overcomes in her Social Link, her self-esteem. Ayane starts with her self-esteem in the gutter, not believing in herself whatsoever and never really sticking up for herself. As she interacts with the Protagonist and grows during her Social Link, she battles with her own issues with self-confidence and gains a newfound belief in herself. Ayane’s character was personally very relatable for two reasons. The first of these reasons is my involvement with school music programs, having been both second and first-chair viola in my school’s orchestra at different times during my nine years of playing with the group. Secondly, Ayane’s issue is very much my own as I’ve often battled with my own self-confidence and self-worth over the years. Seeing Ayane overcome her own sometimes crippling self-esteem problems gives me hope for myself and was really inspiring to watch, personally. She was a personal favorite from the cast of Persona 4 and a large reason I continued to attend the Music Club even after maxing out my Expression.
(Artwork by Shion)
(Just to note, this section contains spoilers pertaining specifically to Persona 4 Golden)
Rounding out my cherry-picked choices from the Persona 4 supporting cast is the Golden-original addition to the Velvet Room, the mysterious Marie. Marie’s introduction to the game is laden with mystery at every corner as she retains practically no memories of who she is and seems to have no understanding of the function of the human world. Marie’s development throughout the course of Persona 4 was interesting as you chase down any clues relating to Marie’s past, trying to help her recall who she really is. If you are able to max out her Social Link before December 24 en route to the Good ending, you are treated with a bonus dungeon and backstory for her. Marie is revealed to be the embodiment of Kusumi-no-Okami, the carrier of the fog that had plagued Inaba. Intending to lock herself away in the Hollow Forest along with the fog, she is stopped by the interference of the Investigation Team who wannt to bring her back. Marie’s story was one of the more interesting Social Links to follow, seeing how she interacted with elements of the human world she was clearly unfamiliar with. It gave off a sense of, as I mentioned before, mystery and discovery as she chased her memories while, at the same time, making her own precious memories in the human world.
While there are still many, many more amazing characters in Persona 4 that I could go on and on about, I prefer to go for brevity in this situation and leave it to just a few particular standouts for me. The wide cast of Persona 4 was one of the best factors of the entire game, making the rural town feel alive and bustling with things to do at every corner. The stories were interesting to follow throughout and I look forward to future playthroughs and exploring more avenues of the characters I hadn’t previously experienced. However, as you may have noticed, there is one particular character from the cast who, despite my proclaimed love for said character, hasn’t really gotten a proper discussion yet. I wonder who that could be…Stay tuned!