I was actually having problems on what to write about Persona 4 today. You know, those trademark @fkeroge writer’s blocks that happen every once in a while. But thanks to I Don’t Have Many Friends (Argh, the title is too long. I’ll refer to this as Haganai from now on), I finally got some ideas on what I’ll be talking about today.
But before that, first things first. The third episode of Persona 4 handled Chie’s introduction better compared to the game. The first time I played through the game, I made it so that the main character (I’ll be referring to him as Brotag from this point) would go out with Chie. Yeah, I’m a Chie fanboy. Haters, STFU. Anyway, like with Yousuke, the Shadow battle was more dynamic and well… animated compared to the game, and that’s as much as I could ask for. Overall, a good episode.
Now that impressions are over with, it’s time to move on to the main meat of this post. As I’ve said, I was having trouble with what I would write about in this episode. I feared that I might have to cancel my first attempt at episodic blogging. But while I was watching Haganai, it hit me. I’m the kind of guy who thinks about pointless stuff every day – one of which is the true nature of these little things we call friendships.
What is a friend? We have seen countless interpretations of the concept of friendship in our visual media. In anime, shounen titles in particular, friendship is usually seen as a form of camaraderie. The concept of “nakama” in Japanese or “bayanihan” in Filipino. People who will help each other out without any real personal benefit, the ideal interpersonal relationship.
But we all know that friendship isn’t all that simple. As we grow up and develop our egos, we start to see friendship in a different light. Inevitably, we start to get selfish and search for merits in an interpersonal relationship. “What will I gain from hanging out with this person?” “How can I use this person to advance my personal agenda?” As much as we want to deny it, those feelings are there. I WILL call a bluff on anyone who says that s/he doesn’t want anything in exchange for friendship. Call me cold-hearted if you will.
Take for example our character of the week, Chie. She’s a nice girl. She cheered Yukiko up when they were still kids and has hung out with her ever since. She is a true friend to Yukiko, as far as my standards for friendship goes. But then we see Chie’s deepest insecurities and selfishness. Do those feelings make Chie less of a friend to Yukiko? I guess it would probably boil down to our own judgments. But as I’ve said, it’s natural to look for personal gain in anything we do. It’s called motivation. You need motivation to do something willingly. Making friends is a conscious act, so it’s just natural and human to seek merits and motivation to do it. We just pretend not to because we are afraid of what society will think of us. We put on that special mask, the persona.
I feel really bad for people who can’t make friends because they let a part of their individuality (their shadow), manifest itself in their personality. I think they are the ones who you can be really close friends with, which explains my tendency to hang out with “outcasts” while I was still in high school. I still believe that all people are kind at heart, but are much more preoccupied by personal gain to let that natural kindness show. I may be speaking nonsense here, but that’s how I truly feel.