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Persona should be called "Pimp-sona" and its heroes are enviable pimptastic jerks

3:00 PM on 04.25.2009 // Josh Tolentino

You know, I like's me some deep-thoughts 'bout my Persona, but there are times in life when it's okay to be about as deep as a kiddie pool. This is one of those times.

The men -- more specifically the main men -- of Persona are not just wildcards, but pimps of the highest order. No others have been able to capture so many of the most well-developed (and well-developed) female characters in the JRPG space. They stand tall above the pitifully mild-mannered milquetoasts and amnesiac angst-factories of lesser RPGs, harem anime, and eroge. Deserving of particular recognition are the protagonists of Persona 3 and Persona 4.

Glower then in disgust and envy, my fellow RONERY PEOPLE, as we profile these paragons of smooth operation, infinite potential and male accomplishment, the douchebag princes of Pimp-sona.

Note: I've tried to keep this as spoiler-free as humanly possible, and it's nothing you don't already know if you've ever read a cast roll.

Persona 3 Guy:

What He Looks Like:

Persona 3's lead ladykiller is easy to underestimate. He's short (second-shortest male in the game), with noodle-thin limbs straight from the CLAMP school of character design, and has that whole hair-covers-one-eye thing going. That passive look is only amplified by his expensive Audio-Technica earphones (they're real).

His manga adaptation portrays him as somewhat lackadaisical and sleepy, which is probably refreshing for Persona 3's serious, tightly wound female cast.

Why He's An Enviable Pimptastic Jerk:

Apparently, having a backbreaking slouch and being a frickin' mute equate to an aura of mystery, which is the source of his power. With that in mind, Persona 3's hero is just like a fart -- silent, but deadly.

How deadly? In Persona 3 he managed to date no less than SIX women, almost simultaneously! MMO friends, faculty, classmates, seniors, freshmen, paranormal elevator attendants, and androids who aren't even anatomically correct, nothing even vaguely female-shaped (just like himself, durr hurr) was safe.

Persona 4 Guy:

What He Looks Like:

Persona 4's head heartbreaker seems purpose-built for the task. He's tall (second tallest character in the game), lean, and totally rocks Yasogami High's traditional Gakuran-style uniform. His manga adaptation is often nicknamed "banchou" (gang leader).

He'd be a villain/rival character in nearly any other anime setup, an ice-cold, silver-haired hawk, perfect foil to the hot-blooded protagonist. Everyone who thought that Akihiko looked cooler than Persona 3 Guy (or had the patience to watch the Trinity Soul anime) was rewarded with Persona 4 Guy's character design.

Why He's An Enviable Pimptastic Jerk:

Why isn't he enviable?! He's tall, wears cool uniform, has a walking animation straight out of Esquire, and hangs out with a fox that deals in "special healing leaves". Even his persona Izanagi looks bitchin', complete with cool coat and giant metallic codpiece. Plus, he's got SEVEN women to woo, and nice glasses to wear when he wants to look even cooler. He's like the Power Glove, so bad.

In conclusion, we hate and envy these two jerks. But the last question on our minds is: who would win in a pimp-off?


Right off the bat Persona 4 Guy claims the early advantage. His appeal is more straightforward and universal. Much as we might think, not every young person in Japan prefers the effeminate feathered-hair fops that infest its host clubs, music videos and Tetsuya Nomura art books. Persona 4 Guy doesn't even need a particularly complex design to distinguish himself. All he really has to do is keep his school jacket open and voila, no expensive earphones needed.

And with the simpler, more versatile design, he can adopt any attitude he needs to get things going. He's playing against type by working the "Family Man" angle with possibly the most adorable child in gaming (see below), or rolling deep as the whole crew's founder and leader. By comparison Persona 3 Guy was only elected leader by virtue of talent.

He also benefits greatly from Persona 4's mechanical improvements and change in setting. As mentioned above, Persona 4 Guy is a big fish in a small pond. From day one he impresses everyone but King Moron just by being "from the Big City". He can cook well, run multiple jobs, and doesn't have to get tired just running one big, boring dungeon, working in the day rather than at midnight.

Persona 4 Guy also has extra time to ingratiate himself with the community, performing fetch quests aplenty and answering Funky Student's riddles. Furthermore, he has no effective competition to deal with. Of all his potential rivals, one is stuck on the rebound, the other is "confused", and yet another is "bear-ly" human. The only guy that could conceivably put up a fight ... well ... isn't.

All is not lost for Persona 3 Guy, however, for he's got his own advantages to exploit. An aura of destiny and a mysterious background makes for powerful, plot-rooted leverage. The mysterious, unknown background helps, too. When no one knows what to expect of you, anything you do is surprising and satisfying. At all times, Persona 3 Guy is the unknown quantity. He's a junior student, so those above him are surprised at his maturity and superpowers, and those below are instantly awed by the way he runs around with his hands in his pockets all the time.

Hipster city life is grinding and aloof. All it takes is a fresh face to turn frowns upside down, which is what happened when Persona 3 Guy slouched into Gekkoukan High School. Persona 3 Guy's competition was formidable, but to his fortune, voluntarily out of the game. One's got his own fan club to deal with, another is taken, and the third is young enough to be worried about catching cooties from icky girls.

He's also got connections. Does Persona 4 Guy go to school with the heir to the world's biggest conglomerate? Does he attend class at a giant white palace that the hayseeds come and admire on their field trips? Does he dorm with everyone he courts? He also plays the violin, which has to be worth something. Persona 4 Guy's stuck in the boonies with drama class and the marching band. Woo-frickin'-hoo.

In battle, Persona 3 Guy can use any weapon type and can multitask well enough to send his companions out on their own to find loot, staircases and enemies to grind on. He's also way more courageous. Anyone can smack a burning tarot card, but who has the balls to shoot himself in the head over and over again?

But then again, this is a pimp-off, not a deathmatch. Like buying a luxury car, it comes down to options, and in the end, Persona 4 Guy's got more thereof. He's got seven out-and-out S.Link highlights, while Persona 3 Guy counts but six. Even if you grab the inference-and-implication dial and crank it up to eleven, Persona 3 Guy only hits eight, while Persona 4 Guy's counter skyrockets to an astounding TEN. You'd need a time machine to keep that going!

Overall, the final judgment falls in favor of Persona 4 Guy. Both still rule over all would-be JRPG man-whores, but the silver-haired dandy from the Big City sits atop the throne. It's a good thing they're just avatars for the player, else we'd be kind of stupid for genuinely hating and envying fictional characters! Now -- technically -- we hate and envy ourselves, which is totally acceptable in modern society.

Hit the gallery for pictures of what those two pimptastic jerks would have stolen from us, were they not merely our "shadow selves"!

*If you have ever read anything I've written, you'll know that this entire article is an elaborate front for me to engage a Persona image dump. I have no regrets!*Photo Gallery: (31 images)
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Josh Tolentino, Random Asian Contributor
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When not posting about Japanese games or Star Trek, Josh serves as Managing Editor for Japanator, Dtoid's sister site for the best in anime, manga, and cool news from Glorious Nippon. more   |   staff directory

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