History Lesson: Persona 3, Persona 4, and Atlus’ Localization Changes

With the recent releases of Catherine: Full Body, and Persona 5 Royal, developer Atlus fell under scrutiny due to notable censorship of these two fabled titles. In the case of Catherine, a bit of controversy emerged from dead-naming a trans-female character. In Persona 5 Royal’s case, Atlus chose to change a scene where Ryuji got hit on by homosexual men. This created outrage from various sides of the fanbase to include responding by boycotting the game.

While many fans of Atlus’ games got their start to the series with Persona 5, their past titles showcased scenes that might be deemed “not kosher” in today’s political climate. While Catherine was originally released in 2011, and Persona 5 came out in 2017, Atlus deemed it necessary to edit the re-releases’ scenes to acclimate the changing internet culture. One example of these past titles includes 2007’s Persona 3. I’ll outline a few scenes that, while some viewers may find innocuous or humorous, might also raise a few eyebrows.

Persona 3

During a trip to the beach, three of the male characters decide to go on a “babe hunt.” This means they will flirt with women on the beach in hopes of getting a date. While their first two attempts end up getting blown up in their faces, the third option starts off successfully.

The scene begins at 5:06 when Akihiko and Junpei make their pass at a woman. All is going well until Akihiko points out what is implied to be a stray beard hair. This outs the character as trans. However, while the identification itself isn’t so much noteworthy, she also comments how close she was to snagging a “boy-toy.” This implies the character to be promiscuous and predatory, seeking to date someone and trap them.

Persona 4

In the month of June, three male characters once again go on a “babe hunt,” this time in the city of Okina. While their efforts end with their rejection, one character seems to get catfished with the number he got. The number he calls belongs to a classmate, Hanako Ohtani, who is morbidly obese and unattractive.

At 14:00, you’ll meet the girl who follows the stereotypes of “selfish, ugly, fat girl.” She suddenly invites herself to Yosuke’s bike and breaks it by jumping on it.

Days later, you meet her again on a camping trip. She’s unwilling to share her massive portion of food and snores loudly at night. At 7:14, Yosuke asks her for food, only to be turned away. At 14:21, the snoring ensues.

Also note that the Persona wiki deems that there is another overweight character in an earlier game, Persona 2, who’s said to be treated more sensitively. However, if you look through the gallery, you’ll notice that she ends up losing weight at some point in the game, perhaps used as a sort of redeeming quality to her appearance. Once again, many players deem this scene normal and humorous. Others, however, might consider this fat-shaming.

How has censorship changed the landscape for gaming?

Moving slightly off the Atlus subject for a minute, keep in mind how much the political climate has changed in just the past 5 years. Nintendo censored Fire Emblem Fates, Fatal Frame, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and the recent Tokyo Mirage Sessions release on Switch. They even censored Bernadetta’s Support conversation in Fire Emblem: Three Houses in a recent patch as well as replaced a voice actor due to his history of abuse. Another smaller example would be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s censorship of Mithra, from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. However, Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, explained in the past that he had to censor female characters or else the game’s CERO rating would raise.

Sony has also taken measures, in their recent policies, to censor or not release games in the west. Among these include longtime favorite series from Japan, such as Senran Kagura and Dead or Alive.

How this affects Atlus’ games.

Persona 3 and Persona 4 were released before the days of digital patches and updates. The aforementioned scenes fell in with cultural humor considered normal for its release. While the scenes were likely created with humor and no harm intended, reflect on censored games in the past few years. They might not pass the litmus test to be released without various amounts of editing to be re-released in the west today.

In my personal case, I played Persona 5 before going back to 3 and 4. Knowing of the censorship of Persona 5 and watching the aforementioned scene, it immediately crossed my mind. “They probably wouldn’t be allowed to get away with this today,” I thought as I watched the scenes. Granted, I could be entirely wrong, but I could also see why groups on social media could create an issue out of it.

However, please consider that Atlus has done a tremendous job of gracefully touching social issues. They tackle one character’s insecure homosexuality in Persona 4 and allow his newfound friends to accept him for who he is. Persona 5 deftly tackled issues of bullying, sexual assault, exploitation, plagiarism, suicide, blackmail, sex work, and trauma. The story revolves around punishing abusive adults, and removing them from power, while exposing their crimes for the world to see.

Some parts of the internet argue Atlus is insensitive with handling certain characters. Others praise the series for its deft handling of social issues. However, perhaps the most important thing to consider is the gray area. It becomes paramount to educate other players on the importance of accepting other people, for who they are. This falls in regardless of whether a publisher will cater to the whims of one side or the other. A black and white difference encourages fighting among fanbases whereas a gray area brings players together for a common cause: respect for other viewpoints.

Final Thoughts

Given the recent examples, scenes that involve alleged transphobia, fat-shaming, deadnaming, and homophobia are indeed hot-button issues. It’s easy for a few articles to argue one side, attack the other, and create social media fighting while doing so. However, this article does not serve to cater to any side, but to serve as a history lesson on Atlus’ titles and how recent localization policies affect social media as well as game re-releases. If you’re a fan of Persona 5, or Catherine, and did not know about these scenes in Persona 3 and Persona 4, then hopefully this enlightened you with a bit of trivia.

Also, on last personal note, Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden are wonderful JRPGs that I strongly recommend getting. If you enjoyed Persona 5, please give them a try one day!

Do you feel these issues are worth addressing for game releases or do you feel they’re blown out of proportion? Let us know in the comments below!

Guilty Pleasures: Divas of YouTube

I’ve actually lived half a life that if I wanted to learn about the latest music, I go to YouTube, Vevo, or Vimeo.  ‘The other half before, I would go to MTV, VH-1, or BET.  This isn’t one of those “yesteryears articles,” so don’t worry.  You’ll be spared of any stories.  I thought I’d talk about some of the ladies of YouTube that I’ve been occupying my time with, lately.. .If you haven’t heard of them, you might be glad you just did.  Each one of them are very unique, even amongst themselves, so I think you’ll be entertained by my choices  These are my Guilty PleasuresDivas of YouTube.

Yeah…I know. You try to find a better word for “woman who musically vocalises or stylises well.”

 

Lion Babe

“We wanted there to be a certain duality, like there is with Blondie, with me as the frontwoman, you might think I’m Lion Babe, but it’s like, no, we’re Lion Babe. We liked that. It’s about embracing your uniqueness and rocking it.” – Jillian Hervey  to Billbard magaine

Well, it worked!  Lion Babe is actually the duo of Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman, and I thought it was a diva that liked to show off her handsome boyfriend in her videos. Jillian Hervey is the singer/dancer combo we have all come to know and love in entertainment, and Lucas Goodman is a producer. I think that he plays guitar and some other instruments, as well as handling sound quality, but there is not very much written about him.

As a style, I would describe them 2 parts Erykah Bahu, 1 part Beyoncé at her funkiest, and a big pat of Doja Cat for thickening and smoothness.

Atmosphere-wise, Goodman does not stick out like “The Other Guy from Wham!” and have you wondering “WTF is he doing here!?” He’s more like “The Other Guy from PM Dawn.” You think, “Okay, I don’t mind. Just be good and don’t get in the way of the real talent.  (I’m kidding.  Hervey is very vocal that Goodman is the full other half of Lion Babe.)

Lion Babe has some visually appealing videos that compliment the music, well. Lion Babe has worked with Moe Moks, Disclosure, and Childish Gambino.

For trivia sake, you may want to know that Jillian Hervey is the daughter of Ramn Hervey II and former Miss America, Vanessa Williams. She is also the niece of actor Chris Williams and great-great-great-granddaughter of William A. Fields, a former USAmerican slave that was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives during Reconstruction.

 

Brooke Candy

“I have been kicked out of my home for being gay.  I felt that.”  –Brooke Candy

Brooke Candy is a straight up succubus that found YouTube and said, “Bet! I’ll never go hungry for souls and sex again!” Background-wise, Brooke Candy is a rapper/singer, songwriter, fashion stylist, and director from LA.

Her father is Tom Candy, a former CFO for Huslter. In fact, Larry Flynt was even in one of her videos. (Then WTF did she get thrown out the house for being gay!!? I guess you can be as sleazy as you want in the Candy Household.  Just don’t be gay…)

I think that musically speaking, she is probably still trying to fine tune her exact sound. She screams, “Brooke Candy is in The House looking to fuck!” That’s about it, for the most part.

She is one of those entertainers whom’s music is sometimes hard to separate from her videos because she puts so much into the imagery and story of the video, itself.

Some of her music is like that of many of the nasty girls of rap’s, but with a good helping of Lady Gaga and Lords of Acid. However, she is not above pop tunes like “Volcano” or “Paper or Plastic.” Brooke Candy even performs jazzy and happy songs like “Nasty,” and flat out sings ballads in songs like “Living Out Loud” and “Freak Like Me.”

If I could sit down with Brooke Candy, I’d love to get her drunk and have her tell me the real stories behind each and every one of her tattoos.

 

Zheani

“You said you fucking picked me, cos I looked like your daughter, sixteen.  You’re ‘disgusting paedophile cunt!  ‘Hope you’re glad that I’m finally gushing!” – Zheani, The Question

Zheani, also known as Zheani Sparkes, is an Australian rapper that received a lot of press and social media attention and from her controversy with Die Antwoord.

According to Zheani, she was a fan that was contacted, groomed, and then lured to South Africa to meet Ninja (Watkin Tudor Jones), where he gave her drugs, alcohol, and performed strange sexual and mental acts both with and against her will at times. This was a part of his conditioning to make her a convenient human sex object.

According to Die Antwoord, Zheani has been called everything from a former girlfriend, a fan, an employee, and even a satanic prostitute looking to come up. Ninja said he had her flown to see him, but felt “catfished” when she arrived. Even though he was displeased with her, he had sex with her, became friends, and even hired her.

I’m not going to get into the controversy anymore. I felt that I had to touch on it for her background. As for the rest of it, much of the money she got for her career she got as investments from crowdfunding and what she might call “creative marketing.”

I think this is a shirt is actually merch from her site.

What can I say about Zheani’s style? Zheani sort of reminds me of an anime pixie with an angel’s voice, and a sailor’s vocabulary. She likes to sing and rap about having a good time and screams about the bad ones…but it ALL sounds great! Of course when she vocalises about lighter and happier things, the melodies of the music fit; it’s almost two different great styles.  However, I think she really shines when she’s angry or excitable, like in “Powder Tuff” and “The Question.”

Zheani was good enough to put her whole EP, “The Line,” on YouTube with filtered background images of her.  In fact she has many playlists on her YouTube channel.

 

Snow Tha Product

“Yo soy primero, no nunca creo en el last.  I don’t need a record label, I already got my fans.” –Snow Tha Product on Snow Tha Product Quotes Facebook, December 23, 2018

I get the feeling that her name is more telling than people realise, in the fact that the personality is somewhat of a product. When I look at the total package of Snow Tha Product, I get the feeling that she and several individuals sat down to think of the best YouTube personality that she could become…and that is the brilliance of who she really is.

While I do not believe that Claudia Alexandra Feliciano, the person, and Snow Tha Product, the entertainment personality are 100% the same, I do believe that Claudia Feliciano is a scrappy spirit with some street in her, and one of the laws of the street is that if you are a hustler, then have your hustle game on point; be the best you can be and to see all the angles.

I think that Snow Tha Product is the epitome of certain facets in Claudia Feliciano, so where there may be some exaggeration, there are still no true lies. Snow Tha Product is a product based on a true story: A Mexican-American bilingual, bisexual rapper that still loves to party and mix it up.

Snow Tha Product is just as entertaining and addicting to listen to when she spits English or Spanish. She’s sexy. She’s bold. She’s even cute when she wants to be. (not nearly as often as I wish she was, BUT…that could be a part of her charm that just isn’t meant for me)

Trivia: I believe that she is a mother of one son (about 11 years old), and said she wanted to be a social worker when she was growing up.

 

Ashnikko

“pooping is honestly the best part of my day I swear to god” – Ashnikko on Twitter, September 29, 2019

I think Ashnikko, Ashton Nicole Casey, is how a lot of non-Millenials see Millenials.

We are all products of our times, in some aspects. They try to mold us by their rules. ‘What’s acceptable for race, sexual, sex, professional, as well as so many other relations. As we grow up, we push, ignore, and create our own norms. The distance we travel and the morals that we establish, much to the dismay to the ones that came before us, become the new times that contribute to, and judge the new future.

I’m sorry, I tend to wax didactic. ‘Back to Ashnikko. None of the artists that I’ve mentioned in this article can really fit in a box. No style of anything should really be absolutely uniform or predictable. Ashnikko practices this concept very well. She raps. She sings, but what is her style? That’s hard to explain, because not only would Ashnikko not be able to exist 20 years ago, (Such fusions of styles and images would be far too unfamiliar and incompatible.) but her style is understood without words, as her image is almost cliché…for the times.  (Am I the only one that could see her dating Oliver Tree for a second, only to have him stalking her for the rest of her life?)

Ashnikko is a sign of the times. She is an avatar. She is Hip Hop with a Punk aesthetic, an weeaboo frame, a digital coating, and creamy inside that has a slightly more refined and aged taste than you would expect. Oh, and she smells female. She smells extremely female, which of course attracts other females. This seems to give her some amount of pride as well, despite not really trying for any male attention, except as a target for her rage for being mentally inferior. (“Stupid”)

Ashnikko: She’s NOW! Try some! You just might like her!

 

Jessi

“I don’t have to fake it. Real recognise real. They already know.” –Jessi, “Who Dat B

Ho, ho, ho! I had to write about this lady! She is the antithesis of many of the other ladies on this list! She is from the East, heavily dipped in music and culture from the West, and her love is serious! ‘Don’t understand? Just how Zheani surrounds herself in otaku kawaii in “LULU,” Ashnikko is portrayed in “Tantrum,” and Snow Tha Product gets down in her kigurumis in “NoWhere To Go,” Jessi immerses herself in the Hip Hop culture…However, Jessi can argue that Hip Hop IS her culture, and her claim to it is legitimate in almost every way. Let me explain…

Jessi was bourne Jessica Hyun-ju Ho, and as you might have guessed, is a Korean-American rapper/singer and songwriter. In fact, Jessi was bourne in New York, raised in New Jersey, and moved to South Korea when she was 15…Yeah, she was pretty much USAmerican when she moved.

I don’t know how attitudes are in South Korea, but I heard that North Koreans have a serious problem with Korean-Americans, and that would-be idols have suffered for it in the past.

Just like her Western counterparts that adopted music and culture from their opposite hemispheres, Jessi is attracted to the more flashy and attractive attributes of that music and culture.

Jessi is Gucci. Jessi is Cristal. Jessi is Ciroc. Jessi is Hennessy. I’m surprised there isn’t a project with Jessi and Lil’ Wayne somewhere. (Somebody get Weezy on the phone!)

 

Whitney Tai

“It’s been difficult releasing music, but I remind myself that everything made in love must permeate and keep us bonded together in strength.”  –Whitney Tai, April 13, 2020

I have been enjoying this woman’s music for some time, now.  I have listened to her music break through the mold of time and trend, and become something truly timeless.  Even songs like “To Be Loved” seem to have matured and evolved, when listen to, in recent performancesWhitney Tai sings with heart, soul, feeling,  and true talent, separating her from a sea of synth and autotune in her own atoll of sonic beauty.

If this was 4,000 years ago, Whitney Tai would be sunning herself in shallow waters luring mariners into the foamy depths with her beauty and song.

Whitney Tai is a true balladier.  Her style poetically and organically swims in pop, jazz, rock, tech/synth, and even country when the desire arises.  Whitney Tai’s music has no boundaries of stone; only of sensibility.

The 1905

While Whitney Tai definitely deserves the lion’s share of credit for her growth, she has worked with many people along the way, including an inner circle of similarly talented musicians and professionals in the biz.  Men like Tim Janssens, aka Sunfreakz, and Andrew Kingsley have worked with her for years on many occasions, forming a perfect synergy both on stage and in the recording studio.

In fact, Whitney Tai and Andrew Kingsley also have their own group, that like Lion Babe, is a full partnership in music, completely different from Whitney Tai in feel and style:  The 1905

Whitney Tai dropped her latest LP, “Apogee,” a couple of weeks ago.  Her single, “Surrender” is enjoying rotation on some impressive playlists at the moment, and is receiving great reviews from critics and fans of music everywhere. Her single, “Righteous,” comes out May 12, 2020.

 

Conclusion

These are some of my ladies of YouTube. There were quite a few others that I enjoyed to some degree, yet didn’t quite find them entertaining enough to feature in this article. I even contemplated making this a two or three part article, but in the end, I just wan’t feeling them enough. If you want to check them out, feel free:  Alice Chater, Nitty Scott, Bebe Rexha, AleXa, SoRi, Ängie, Qveen Herby, and Kerli.

Some of them like Alice Chater and Bebe Rexha sound somewhat dated and ordinary, while acts like AleXa, Ängie, and Qveen Herby should probably work well on paper, but also seem ordinary. I guess at one time, they would have been a little edgy, but you can’t just say “pussy” and expect be shocking anymore. You also can’t depend on trendy directing in a cool music videos to carry a song, either.

The one honourable mention that I wanted to be on this list was SoRi, but there just wasn’t enough recent stuff from her released. From what I understand, she had some small amount of success about 5 years ago, and she is in the middle of her comeback, but two songs are not enough to get a good idea of her.

I should say that I was impressed by what was out there, and both songs and videos were very different from each other. This speaks to me of hopes that her style is very versatile and that there will be different sides to her as an entertainer.

So what do you think? After you get a chance to check out some hyperlinks and listen to some songs for yourself, please come back and and share your opinions. Share and start some discussions. We would love to hear what you think.