「Suspicious Tropical Paradise」

Going into this adaptation, there was one social link in particular that I was most concerned about how it would be adapted, and that was Tatsumi Kanji’s. He is, as far as I know, one of the first video game and anime characters who actually struggles with his sexual orientation. This is a serious and relevant subject that is ripe for insight and development, but so far, I don’t think this adaptation has done it nearly enough justice yet. Social links, not action scenes, are what made the video game so memorable for me, so for the show to only barely graze the surface of these issues was a bit disappointing to say the least.

Instead of having the members of the Investigation Team actually address the issues surrounding Kanji’s sexuality, they resort to juvenile humor and stereotypes like Yuu and Yousuke constantly hesitating to explore the steamy bathhouse, summoning their Personas whenever they felt uncomfortable, or fainting when their asses were fondled. While I do think that the inclusion of more comedy is a good recipe for improving the somewhat heavy nature of these Persona awakening episodes, Kanji’s whole rescue mission felt like a huge wasted opportunity for novel character development and commentary on the subject of sexual orientation as a whole.

Yuu and Yousuke’s behavior (and Chie’s to a lesser degree) reminded me of how children would act around LGBT people, which only serves to reinforce common stereotypes. They could have used this episode to show that the Investigation Team members are people who are willing to not only risk their lives to rescue Kanji, but also accept him for who he is. After all, they should know by now that they are going to experience people’s hidden and repressed sides and be ready to face whatever issues come their way in a mature way. Granted, I don’t actually know enough about the views of homosexuality in Japanese culture to say whether these are actually issues and stereotypes that are common, but from what little I have read, it is something that is not openly talked about enough. Out of all the things that the characters could have said about Kanji’s struggles with his shadow self, the fact that the most substantial line was Yuu telling Kanji that the keychain he made was cute is definitely indicative of the all squandered opportunities to explore the issues relating to sexual orientation. Hopefully future episodes will showcase more of Kanji’s struggles, especially as he continues to interact with the mysterious boy. (Poor Kanji, already confused about his feelings, gets even more confused when the boy tells him “You’re weird.”)

All seriousness aside, there were still many bright spots to the episode though. More humor involving the girls is never a bad thing, as it gives a chance for Yukiko to show a wider range of emotion from the deadpan delivery that we’ve been used to. (Although, the water scene felt a little tacked on – guess you have to somehow put in a little fanservice in here and there.) Kanji’s keychain acting as the bridge beginning and end of the episode was a nice touch as well, as it represented a physical manifestation of the hidden side of Kanji’s personality. And another one of viewers’ many wishes was probably fulfilled as Yuu finally used his true Wild Card ability, fusing together Priestess and Magician Personas to summon Yamata no Orochi of the Moon Arcana. What I’m really looking forward to though is next week’s episode, the long-awaited school camping trip!

* Yuu’s summoned Strength Persona was Rakshasa, a demon of Hindu myth.
* Kanji’s Persona is Take-Mikazuchi, the Shinto god of thunder.
* I wonder if Yuu just records all the Mayonaka TV appearances now, just in case another episode like Yukiko’s shows up again – and he probably didn’t anticipate in a thousand years that the next one would be something as crazy as Kanji’s TV show.
* Full-length images: 1, 22, 24, 26, 35
* Interesting essay about Kanji’s character in the video game



    1. Basically the anime beat around the brushes instead of stating the obvious…Kanji likes guys.

      Maybe the animators thoughts that by not being direct that they can avoid any potential backlashes, but it was stupidly done. So what if he is gay…at least he will “push” Yuu to hit on Chie or Yukiko harder now. If anything that I learn in life, it would be it take another man to make the first guy realized that women may not be perfect, but they are a whole lot better than liking that guy. Yay! to boobs and Va-jay-jay…That is what Kanji taught me anyway.

  1. Like most people I’m going to call it as it is: God damn bloody brilliant =D!

    As if to response to my disappointment of a lack of Narukami one-liners from last week, this episode we had a butt-load of priceless comedy gold moments =D Not to mention we got to see the first Fusion Persona!

    All in all still my favorite show this season.

  2. this is the best episode so far imo. i don’t really mind that they didn’t go indepth with the social issues on homosexuality and shiz, that’s far too serious for the somewhat relaxed atmosphere of persona… i’m actually liking the MC’s characterizations, and i lul’d at a lot of the scenes. the execution of fusions were also very well done. although it’s quite weird that he chose to summon Yamata no Orochi when it’s weak against Zio. oh well.

  3. This episode could have been done with some comedy but deal with the issue of sexuality. Instead it was just gay jokes and how they’re funny. The worst part is that people think this is a great job for mocking Kanji and his issues while Yukikos petty issues are dealt with seriously.

  4. Ah yes, Kanji’s orientation. The one topic in the SMT fanbase that will cause huge paragraphs of debate and flaming. Those were good times. I’ll just say that Kanji is awesome and that his orientation matters little.

    The comedy was great. I particularly like the part where Yuu offered Yosuke a copy of Shadow Kanji’s video. Its even funnier when you realize his last comment with Shadow Yukiko. He actually remembered to tape the videos now. Verdant was right though, some of it felt out of place especially in the Shadow fight, which is supposed to be life threatening.

    The episode at least, established that Kanji was a better person than his first impression gives. And hey at least he punched his own shadow. They got that part right.

  5. the episode did not disappoint in lol’s department MC recording Kaji’s midnight channel had me lmao the only glitch i saw was the TOW. Next week Chie and Yukiko in swimsuits Mystery food X and also the tent scene it just gets better and better

  6. While reading your rant about this episode, I do agree they could have gone further with Kanji’s issue. But I think it fit fairly well.

    I think a point we have to keep in mind is that the rescue group themselves are only in High School, and it’s only during this journey that they mature and stop believing and acting on these various stereotypes and ideas that society and the media has kind of “created”.

    So I do have hopes that they do explore it a bit further and more seriously in the future.

  7. I don’t recall the game going in-depth on Kanji’s sexuality either. From what I remember the subject was pretty much dropped after his dungeon; save Yousuke who referenced it a few times afterwards.

    The atmosphere of the boss was somewhat comical in the game so I didn’t mind the anime cranking things up a notch in that department. I think the message still got across anyway; you can’t judge a book by its cover. As Kanji himself said, it’s not about men or women but just that he was scared of being rejected.

      1. The game leaves it relatively open if he is gay or bi or not. However staff from ATLUS when asked implyed that his interest in men is a real part of him. As I understand it, they don’t want to press his sexuality into the strict hetero or homo concept, but instead leave the lines blurry (as it actually is for most people in real life btw)

    1. It’ll be interesting how they tackle the party line issue. The game limited it to four so I wonder if they’re going to do the same or just throw everyone out there.

      As for how many characters are to join, 2 more but……3 more personas along with the obligational mid series upgrade.

      1. i imagine the anime will simply show them all there fighting.
        and that would match up with the game, story-wise.

        the gameplay limited the characters to 4 at a time, but the anime sequences in the game clearly showed that all of them were supposed to be there, not just those 4.

  8. While it was funny and I loved the episode overall, I DIDN’T like Yuu’s reactions. He’s supposed to be this cool, understanding, level-headed guy, and yet he was freaking out just as badly as Yosuke. Not a good change, takes away from his “leader”-like personality. He sorta redeemed himself at the end, and I know it’s hard to say what his “personality” was in the game, but this was too much.

    Otherwise, great like I said. The lotion was outta nowhere and not necessary and they basically hand-waved dealing with the two “Muscle Men”, but still great. Yukiko freaking out is always fun XD Was interesting how they put part of Kanji’s S. Link BEFORE the group met him with the doll, but I liked how they worked it.

  9. I agree with the faults you found with this episode. The comedy only made the fight ridiculous since it doesn’t feel threatening when there’s a joke every few seconds or so during the fight. While the first three are treated as actual threats of jokes to be made fun of it. Just leaves me disappointed.

    Also Yosuke and Yu blushed as well after their butts were fondled. That felt like better fanservice than Yukiko and Chie getting wet.

  10. the screenwriters probably could not write a good scene for kanji’s sexuality problem, so they made it into a comedy episode. i think it’s more of a kanji having a problem deciding whether his hobbies are considered too girly for him, when his dad told him to be manly. and when he met naoto (and had affection for), he probably got confused whether he is homo since he likes cutesy stuff & naoto.

    hmm, yuu’s responses to hanamura is also a bit unlike of his normal cool & unwavering personality, his character sure is a wild card…

    1. that scene will need to have the whole team members recruited though, might be quite some time 🙁

      also hope they’ll add in the part where they visit a certain ‘old’ place, and maybe add in some ‘old’ characters that the game didn’t show, like a certain blonde girl.

  11. I really like the inclusion of the word “suspicious” in the title, as I think it–intended or not–provides the implication or idea that not all is as it seems, just like with Kanji himself.

    …I think truly understanding Kanji’s problems lies in gender issues, not sexual orientation.
    Though Naoto doesn’t help…

  12. Too much comic relief. It’s almost hard to take Kanji’s insecurity seriously. Instead of delivering the message with tact, they kind of took the easy route and threw jokes at everything.

    Also Yamata no Orochi? Someone’s cheating.

  13. Hmmm…maybe so much comedy was used in this episode because things weren’t meant to be taken so seriously. After all, the shadows are supposed to be vastly exaggerated (as if the TV World is putting their insecurities in front of a demented fun house mirror).

      1. Yes, you are exactly right. Kanji’s real issue is a very serious one. It rubs me the wrong way they turned it into a complete comedy episode while taking the other character arcs seriously.

      2. Believe me, I don’t think it’s fair at all either. I love Kanji and I hate to see him ridiculed. That was just my personal take on the portrayal. Resorting to comedy may not have been the “best” direction for the episode, but maybe it was seen as the “safest” route.

  14. Thanks for the review Verdant ! Much appreciated…

    Ok… let’s see (I might be wrong on some points):
    – Of course, Yukiko being amazed by the TV World happens in the middle of Kanji’s arc, not right at the end of her own like in the game, mainly due to the fact that they sped it up.
    – The whole rabbit charm, based on a social link, is known after Kanji received his Persona, not before. Basically, you don’t know about the charm before the arc begins.
    – Ok, I’m not sure about that one… but I’m pretty sure that Show Spoiler ▼

    – Yosuke getting creeped out when entering the bath house is amplified here compared to what his reaction is in-game. Your character doesn’t flinch at all as well.
    – Shadow Kanji… huh… splashing… or slurring (I have no idea how to call that) the gang doesn’t happen in-game. They just barge right in the room and find Kanji with the Shadow.
    – Shadow physically attacking his Shadow before the battle never happens in-game… and that includes the orgasmic cries of joy that go with it.
    – Kanji remains conscious during the battle / Shadow Kanji talks way more during the battle, like what happened for Yosuke, Chie and Yukiko.
    – The 2 musclebound shadows don’t talk at all in-game…
    – … nor do they butt-grope both Yosuke and Yuu. (That was a good laugh though)
    – Kanji getting reminded by the charm doesn’t happen in-game, due to the Link appearing later.

    That’s pretty it, the rest is spot on. Thanks againh buddy !

  15. Anyone else find it cute how Amagi is clinging to Narukami? Like how she tends to be near him:


    Not sure how to embed the link into a phrase, if anyone wants to enlighten me that’d be nice. Amagi also asked for Narukami’s input when it came to the bath house and not Chie’s.

    Anyways I also think it’s nice how they still show the characters as normal people. Cause no normal guy can just walk in a place like that and not be disturbed. Also there were Chie and Amagi’s reactions to the comments of the shadow.

    1. She isn’t really clinging to him in a romantic way though, more of a “your a guy some im gonna hide behind you” way. It was still pretty cute, but if they do Rise right her clinging will put it to shame! Mmmmm… Lovers Arcana….

  16. ABC! easy as: one, tow, three.

    Tow days ago I was pretty sick.

    November tow is our famous “Day of the dead”.

    I call it just a typo and just one not tow.

    Fan-service next week? I´ll be served!

    Lectro Volpi
  17. I agree that it was rude for them to make fun of Kanji and crack jokes at his sexuality (esp how they made his shadow so flamboyant. Gay guys are not like that. They’re normal people too -_-). But Kanji himself admits it’s a huge exaggeration and well, although it’s a weak argument, but the progtagonist is supposed to represent the player. Unfortunately, not all people accept homosexuals. If they made it serious and without jokes, then a large part of the audience might not care for the episode. Besides, Yuu and Yosuke’s reactions were realistic, teenage boys are repulsed by gay guys, and in a perfect world, there would be no ridicule and everyone will be treated the same, but that’s not the case. Yes, the absurd amount of jokes was unnecessary, but many fans enjoyed it, and that’s what the animators were going for. If they treated it seriously, it would be great, but would many of the audience enjoy it as much?

    1. Not really, I think it paces reasonable well past episode 3 since the plot will thicken in the later part of stories. Must also think of those non-battle social links, they will most like take at least 2 links / episode like the strength+moon one on episode 5.

      Also, I think they progress the early story quite fast because they just want to push out all the playable characters from the game out first. I can’t wait until Rise makes an appearance!

  18. I was going to drop this anime due to the repetitive “I accept myself” episodes and rushed episodes in between those. However, this episode really made me rethink the series because it was so funny. It’s getting steadily better.

  19. I can’t remember for the life of me, if Bufudyne and Agidyne was that weak.

    Also Lol for the annoying homo act. It’s not sexist IMO: it’s more like descriptive and played for laughs, since there are gays that act like that, at least in wrestling ( remember Hard Gay? )

    The Moondoggie
  20. Kanji isn’t actually gay though, he just wants to be accepted for his hobbies and tastes because he’s a guy who likes cute things and can sew.

    Their TV World counterpart is just taking that concept to the extreme. I mean Yukiko doesn’t actually want to hunt for hunks, she simply hates how her fate is bound by tradition of running her Inn and wants to be freed from it (which waiting for a prince charming indicates).

    1. there were things that supported Kanji being gay, some things that didn’t.

      the official statement from the writer (the original writer, for the game) was that he didn’t definitively say one way or the other; and that was intentional.

      1. Kanji definitely isn’t gay though. At the most he’s bi. He got excited over Yukiko and Chie’s swimsuits just like Yosuke and MC. His like for men in addition to women is what was intended to be ambiguous.

    1. I agree it was awesome, but weird timing though. In the middle of a “comical” fight they just kinda throw in “oh hey, here’s your REAL power!”. Would’ve felt better during Yukiko’s Shadow fight.

  21. F*CK me for looking at JiCi’s spoiler. I looked because I thought “what could be so bad the author thinks it should be contained?…. Usually it’s not even that big a deal.” then like the saying goes curiosity killed the cat…. Son of a b*tch. anyway I pretty much agree that they could have elaborated on the struggles Kanji goes through instead of solidifying his claims that everyone’s judgmental when the gang basically acts immature about it, way too slap stick, it’s a shame they didn’t capitalize on the episode. Still, I liked it, the rest has been pretty good.

  22. I am a bit sad that many people across forums are saying that this episode was funny. Most people seem to be ignoring the fact the this episode could be very offensive to gay people, and the boys’ behavior is frequently excused as “normal teenage” behavior when they were really overreacting. The manga version did not have them whine about going home, the manga version captured the original game’s seriousness by showing a young Kanji being bullied for sewing/girls called him sissy/the girl he liked cried after he fixed her bag/his transition from normal boy to delinquent after he beat another boy with a chair in middle school. The shadow in the manga was also very angry and serious at the end, while the anime one is stupidly happy the entire time. The manga version had everyone supportive of Kanji/they actually valued his life, instead of their “virginity.” Kanji also hugged his shadow after punching it in the manga.

    1. Chie, Yukiko and to a degree Yousuke shadow forms really gave us the opportunity to delve into their characters on a personal level. I feel like it was missed that opportunity with Kanji where 60% of this episode was insanity and extreme jokes.

      All the others despite the ridiculousness of Yukiko had a very serious side to it.

  23. I have played the game and read the manga and I think it’s interesting that they give another point of view about it. Besides, I think their reaction is normal, if everyone were serious about it it wouldn’t be real. Besides, it is never said that he’s gay. What’s more he says that it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman, he just wants to be accepted. It’s not really a sexual thing, more about acceptance.
    About Narukami’s behaviour I think that a lot of people is forgetting that he really never had his own personality. When I played it he was dead serious and always said the right thing, but it was my decision, it doesn’t mean he has to be like that.
    Just relax and enjoy of another way of seeing this great game.

  24. The next episode will be more unfortunate as Yu will turn out to be just as homophobic as Yosuke. He already says that he does not accept Kanji at night, and the boys’ bullying of Kanji will be played for laughs. And Kanji says that he will risk his life for them…Isn’t it sad that Kanji will be made fun of by his new so-called friends and all the viewers will just think it’s funny. Many people are already saying the camping trip will be fun, when that was the part that showed Yosuke’s worst side: his kicking out Kanji and making the girls dress up in revealing outfits as if he was their pimp.

  25. I think the whole fainting thing while being groped was to mimic one of Shadow Kanji’s attack(forbidden murmur or something) which poisons only the male party members. The girls getting pissed off could also be attributed to Shadow Kanji’s “roar of wrath” attack which enrages only the female party members.

    Also, the Nice guy and Tough Guy absorb ice and fire respectively in the game which would explain their reactions to Chie and Yukiko’s attacks.

    On a side note Priestess+Magician does make a Moon arcana. Furthermore to make Yamato no Orochi with Pyro Jack would require his Priestess persona to either be High Pixie or Ganga.

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