Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. Well seeing as how I’ve reviewed the Persona 3 movie and both of the Persona 4 animes what else is there to talk about in the Persona series? The answer, social links. Persona 3 & 4 can be split into two categories, one is dungeon crawling the other is spending time with other characters in the game. Persona 3 introduced a new feature in the Persona games known as social links. Each social link is represented by one of the major arcana and you the player can interact with this person developing a bond with them. Now these social links aren’t just there to waste time and give you extra work do, they are actually rather important. Each social link has 10 ranks and the more you spend time with that social link and increase their rank it will allow you to create stronger personas to use in dungeons and once you max out that social link you’ll be allowed to create the ultimate persona of that arcana. So far the social link system has been a huge success with everyone liking it and some admitting they actually spent more time interacting with their social links than they did dungeon crawling and the reason for that is because the social gives you excuse to interact with the game’s world and learn the main lesson the game is trying to teach us without forcing it down our throats. But I have to ask which social links are the best? Which social links do we enjoy maxing out the most? Which social links have the best lesson that you learn the most from. Well I’ve spent over 500 hours playing both of these games and through it all I think I’ve managed to narrow down the field and found the top 11 social links in the games. Why top 11? Because just like someone else I too like to go one step beyond. Thou art I and I art thou. Thou shall have my blessings upon reading the top 11 social links of Persona.
#11: The Devil social link from Persona 3
Probably the easiest social link to max out in the game and one of my favorite social links. In this social link you befriend Tanaka the president of a mega company that sells commodities all over the country. He also runs a Sunday shopping show where you can buy stuff from him that will help you out in the game. After Tanaka tricks you out of money and afraid you’ll go to the police he takes you under his wing teaching you questionable business tactics and threatening to sue you or make you swallow needles if you break your promises to him. As I said before this is the easiest social link to max out, just simply talk to him and agree with everything he says and you’ll max this social link out in 10 visits. Now while l like this social link and consider it one of my favorites it is one that has faults. Normally at the end the character who you interact with learns something and becomes a better person but Tanaka really doesn’t learn his lesson. He’s still somewhat of a sleazy businessman and even at the end of his social link when he’s doing something good and thoughtful he’s only just doing it in the hopes that it’ll benefit him in the future. There’s an epilogue at the end of the game that says he’s cleaned up his act but I don’t know we never really see it and even if it’s true he’s probably only doing it for the benefit of himself and not the customer. But I think that’s why we like the guy so much. He’s a sleaze ball yes but he’s a likable sleaze ball who’s just like everyone else trying to live in the world in the way he thinks is right and since he’s such a likable sleaze ball you hope that he turns his life around and becomes a legit businessman who’s clean his act up. Tanaka’s a sleazy businessman with questionable business ethics but he’s a fun guy to hang around with and a fun social link to max out in the game.
#10: The Strength social link from Persona 4
One of the unique things Persona 4 did with the Strength social is it gave you the choice to choose between two people. If you choose to join the soccer team you’ll befriend Daisuke who will take on the role of the social link but if you choose the basketball club you’ll befriend Kou, Daisuke’s best friend. Personally, I always choose Kou because one I like basketball more than soccer and two Kou has the overall better story. The Strength arcana as I said in m side blog about the Major Arcana is all about internal struggle, a battle going on in your mind. Daisuke’s struggle is that he still holds onto the feelings he had for his ex-girlfriend who humiliated him in middle school when they broke-up thus causing him to develop a fear of putting effort into something. Kou’s problem is more personal. He’s an orphan boy who was adopted into a traditional family where he was being raised to be the next successor even though he doesn’t want to be a successor because it means he would have to give up basketball which is one of the things he loves in life. But one day his family tells him that he’s free to do whatever he wants now and that he won’t be the next successor of the family. Rather than be happy about this he feels depressed about it because he feels that his family only saw him as a substitute and not their real son making Kou wonder who he really is. So for a majority of the social link you help Kou try to find answers to his past but coming up short each time until Kou finally realizes that he doesn’t need to know about his past because the bonds he has with his parents and everyone around him defines who he is today and not his past. This lesson along with the whole not knowing who you are story is what makes me like this social link so much. It focuses on a very serious subject matter and handling it maturely while giving a good philosophy about it. The story is set good, the main character of the story being Kou is good you really do feel his pain and wanna see him find the answers he’s looking for, and the revelation that his family really does love him and just wanted to see him follow his own dreams without being tied down is also heart-warming. Daisuke may have had the easier social link story but Kou’s social link story was deeper and got its point across better than Daisuke which is why I’ll always choose his social link over Daisuke.
#9: The Strength social link from Persona 3 Portable female side
I’m probably cheating putting a social link up from the portable version of Persona 3 but it’s basically the same story with better mechanics and the addition of a female protagonist to choose from instead of just a boy. The female side of the game opened the window for players to interact more with the team and one of the team members that stood out the most for me was the Strength social link where you developed a bond with the dog Koromaru. Yeah, when I heard that they gave Koromaru his own social link I was a bit skeptical at first but surprisingly it’s a really good social link. In the social link we learn a few things about Koromaru such as how he looks after other dogs without homes, is very protective of the shrine he grew-up in, and even though he doesn’t show it he still holds on to the feelings of losing his previous owner the shrine priest. Fuuka than begins to wonder if the bond the team has with Koromaru is just a substitute for the bond he had with the shrine priest. But in truth it’s not like that, Koromaru doesn’t see the team as a replacement he sees them as new friends to look after and develop a new bond with. Koromaru’s social link shows us that nobody can replace the bond he had with the shrine priest but that doesn’t mean he can’t develop a whole new bond with other people and that’s really the lesson of his social link. The bonds that we make in life whether they be with friends or family members nobody’s gonna be able to replace those bonds because of how special and unique they are. Each bond is different, can be seen as different, and nobody can replace those bonds. Good boy Koromaru, you’re a good dog.
#8: The Temperance social link from Persona 4
This is a social link I think a lot of people tend to overlook in the game and not really pay close attention to but it really is a hidden gem in my opinion. In this social link you take on a part-time job at a daycare center where you meet Eri the stepmother of a boy named Yuuta who is considered a troublemaker by all the mothers in town. Eri and Yuuta are really distant from each other the two really don’t know how to approach each other. Yuuta believes Eri doesn’t like him so he keeps his distance away from her while Eri keeps believing the gossip of the other mothers about Yuuta being a bad kid and engrossing herself in BS lectures on TV while still being afraid to face Yuuta. As the social link progresses we actually do see that Yuuta does think of Eri as a mother and will protect her if people hurt her as seen in a misunderstanding when Yuuta attacks you in the game because he believes you made Eri cry and Eri starts to see Yuuta as a good and sweet boy and stops being afraid to face him. Sure he makes mistakes here and there but he’s quick to apologize and he’ll always stand up for people he cares about. At the end of the social link Eri realizes all of her mistakes and the two become a real mother and son getting along and everything. What makes me like this social link is their whole take on labeling others and believing what people say about others. As people we tend to do that in real life, we believe what other people say about a person we don’t know and believe them without really talking to that person and getting to know them. What we as a society need to realize is that you can’t believe everything you hear about others and that in order to have a real opinion about someone or something you have to see them first and get to know them which is what Eri did near the end of her social link, she stopped putting labels on Yuuta and saw him for who he truly was allowing the bridge between the two to close and them becoming closer than ever. This social link is living proof of the expression don’t judge a book by its cover but there’s one more social link I think represents this statement better.
#7: The Emperor social link from Persona 4
I was never a big fan of the teammate social links in the games. They weren’t bad I just felt that they didn’t have as much effort put into them as the other non-teammate social links. That’s is except for this social link that follows the story of Kanji. If any video game character is living proof not to judge a book by its cover than Kanji takes first prize. Throughout the game Kanji is misunderstood as nothing but a troublemaker but in truth he’s actually a very nice and gentle person. He likes cute things, he’s incredible at crafting stuff, and he’s very respectful and caring of his mom. Throughout his social link you help Kanji discover what it means to be strong. Is it fighting others to protect those closest to you, acting tough around others, or is it just seeking power? Kanji’s answer is none of these things. To him, being strong means not being afraid to be who you really are no matter what anyone else says about you. At the end of his social link Kanji changes greatly, he accepts who he really is on the inside and begins selling his dolls in the store even starting a class on how to make dolls. Kanji’s answer to what makes a man strong may be one’s opinion but it’s an opinion I think works out well. It may not be the answer for everyone but it’s an answer I can get behind.
#6: The Tower Social link form Persona 4
The main theme of the Tower arcana is destruction and rebirth and that can be said for the character in this social link. In this social link you take up another part-time job becoming the tutor of a boy named Shu who is considered a genius by his mother and comes off as kind of a prick. You find out that he doesn’t have any friends in school and is under constant pressure by his mother to be number one in school. When a new student comes in who’s smarter and talented than Shu, Shu decides to cheat on the next exam to beat him, gets found out, and gets shunned by his mom because of it. But near the end the mother apologizes for what she said, they have a long talk on why Shu did what he did, and he comes to the realization that he doesn’t have to be the best at school to earn his mother’s love he just has to be himself. Shu’s social link serves as a reminder to us that if you focus on just one aspect of your life it’ll lead you down a path of self-destruction and that no matter how late it is there’s always a chance to start over.
#5: The Fortune social link from Persona 3
Here’s another social link I think a lot of people overlook in the game. This social link focuses on a fellow student named Keisuke who is the club president of one of the fine art clubs you join. During his social link we find out that he’s the son of doctor and everyone expects him to be a doctor when he grows up but in truth Keisuke doesn’t wanna be a doctor and he goes out of his way to avoid talking about it but surprisingly the guy is really good at it. Every time a student falls ill he’ll drop what he’s doing and go to check up on them and treat them until the proper staff shows up. But he still refuses to be a doctor and when his art piece gets selected from a tournament and he’s offered the chance to study abroad he accepts the offer using that as an excuse to get out of being a doctor forever. When the day comes for him to leave and you’re there to see him off two elderly people fall ill and it’s Keisuke who’s there to save them and keep them alive until the ambulance shows up to take them to the hospital. He finally admits that he wants to be a doctor saying that he enjoys helping people and the reason why it took him so long to realize this was because of his dad’s domineering personality that overshadowed him and never gave him the chance to decide things for himself. This social is very similar to Yukiko’s social link in Persona 4 but the main difference is it was really never hinted that Yukiko would be forced to inherit the inn it was just something everyone assumed she would do and she too tried to do different things to escape her fate but she doesn’t go to great lengths like Keisuke goes to. The guy literally does everything he can to not be a doctor even willing to study abroad to get away from it all but he can’t deny his fate. And that’s what the Fortune arcana is all about accepting one’s fate and not running from it. Keisuke is going to become a doctor hell he’s already a junior doctor. He’s good at it and he enjoys it the problem was he just never got the choice in the matter it was always forced on him which is why I liked the social link. It shows that trying to force your will on someone doesn’t help the situation it only makes it worse and steers them away from their fate. In life sometimes fate is predetermined for us other times we have to go out and find it but no matter what fate has in store for us we shouldn’t try to force it on others just because we want it, they come to it themselves.
#4: The Emperor Social link from Persona 3
This social link opens up when you join the student council and form a bond with Hidetoshi a member of the discipline committee. In the social link Hidetoshi is tasked with finding a culprit who’s been smoking in the boy’s bathroom and he talks you into helping him. We see that Hidetoshi becomes obsessed with finding the culprit even going as far as questioning and accusing people at random with no basis. We find out that Hidetoshi believes that power is everything and things like trust and friendship will only lead to backstabbing and betrayal. When Hidetoshi is told by a teacher to put you on the list of suspects he refuses saying that he trusts you and that even if the whole school turns on him he won’t sell you out. At the end of his social link he comes to realize that trust and friendship are more important than power and begins acting more friendly to others and open-minded to their opinions. I really do like Hidetoshi’s character. He’s not really a bad guy he has the right motives he just has the wrong methods. He doesn’t want power to control and belittle others he wants power so that he can help others and when someone in a powerful position forces him to sell out his friend he realizes that power means nothing if it means selling out those you trust. I do like how he was put in the position to sell you out instead of you selling him out. The game could have gone the lazy route and just have you show him the importance of trust and friendship by you being tempted to sell him out but instead they choose to keep the focus on Hidetoshi and have him see and realize the importance himself through his interactions with you. The Emperor arcana is often associated with order and a desire to rule over one’s surroundings. Hidetoshi wants to rule the school for the better but an emperor who doesn’t have the trust and friendship of those around him is doomed to fail.
#3: The Justice and Hierophant social links from Persona 4
I decided to put these two characters together because they complement each other. Now I’ve talked about these two social links in my Persona 4 review so I’ll try to keep this brief. These two social links focus on Dojima and Nanako who even though they’re father and daughter and live under the same house the two could not be more further apart. Dojima doesn’t really know how to interact with Nanako and is obsessed with trying to find the car responsible for killing his wife, using that as an excuse to stay away from Nanako and engrosses himself in work. Nanako doesn’t think Dojima likes her and ignores her because of this. As you advance both social links (which I forgot to mention are the two most time-consuming links in the game) you see that Dojima comes to realize that even though his wife is gone he still has Nanako and you (his family) and should care about you guys more than work. Nanako comes to understand that just like she felt lonely and missed her mother so too did Dojima and begins to understand him a little bit more. At the end of each social link the two mend their relationship and become a true family once again. These two social links are the most heart-warming links in the game, they could have easily just combined these two social links into one but instead they actually take the time to show you that they both had things to work through things that were stopping them from being a real family and it’s so heart-warming to see the two mend their ways at the end and become a family again. For me, these two social links may have the most time-consuming but it was time well spent that led to a good ending.
#2: The Tower social link from Persona 3
This is one of the more unusual social links between the two games. In this link you befriend a monk in the local night club whose wife has left him because he was a terrible husband and father. The guy spends his time drinking and smoking to run away from his problems instead of facing them but through your interactions with him he begins to see and realize all the mistakes he’s made in the past and comes to the conclusion that he wants to fix it and get his family back. What makes this social link great for me is the approach they take with it. Usually in these kinds of situations we focus on the person who was hurt instead of the person responsible for all the pain. Here, we focus on the guy who’s responsible for the pain and see how he tries to deny that this whole situation was his fault and defend himself. But as time goes by he starts to see and realize that this whole mess is his fault no one else’s. He has no choice but to fess up and face it and he does that. He even goes the extra mile and tries to fix it most guys in his situation probably would have either denied it being their fault and moved on or realized the fault was theirs, don’t admit it, and move on. And through this experience not only does the monk reunite with his wife and family but he also becomes a better person through it all. The monk shows us once again that the Tower social link is just like a Phoenix: it lives, dies and from its ashes gets reborn into something amazing.
And the number one social is. . .
#1: The Sun social link from Persona 3
This is hands down my favorite social link between the two games. The character, the story, and the lesson he offers is just amazing. The character for this social link is an older teenager named Akinari who has been diagnosed with an incurable disease and doesn’t have much time to live. Rather than feel sad about it or curse the world for his condition he decides to make the most of his life and write a book about what he thinks the meaning of life is about. He writes a story about a pink alligator who is searching for his meaning in life and accompanying him is his good bird friend. One day the alligator accidentally swallows his bird friend and the alligator is so overcome with grief that he cries himself to death and through his death he creates a beautiful lake for all the animals in the forest to come and gather around to relax with none of them realizing that the alligator created this lake and that he was gone. But here’s where his answer to life comes in. Even though the alligator couldn’t find his meaning of life the animals in the forest were able to find their meaning in life they just never realized it showing that his answer to the meaning of life is something that we make but don’t see. After telling you this he gives you the book and takes his leave disappearing into the sunlight and dies. I love this guy. I love how even though he’s gonna die he doesn’t hold a grudge against anyone or anything. He’s at peace with it, he accepts it, and rather than just spend his life moping around and feeling sorry for himself he decides he wants to tell the world what he thinks the meaning of life is. The story is just beautiful it’s a tragic story with a somewhat happy ending that can be related to in real life. But the main selling point of this social link that wins me over is his answer to the meaning of life in that it’s something that we make but don’t see. That phase resonates within me to this day and will continue to resonate within me until I die. That phase holds so much truth to the world. In life we make an impact on people around us everyday and even though we never see how much of an impact we have in a person’s life or how much of an impact that person has in our life we feel it. The sun social link from Persona 3 gave us a great character, with a great story, and an even greater lesson to take from it than all the other social links combined. It is because of this that in my eyes this is the greatest social link in the Persona series.
Well that’s my list. I hope you enjoyed and tune in next week when I wrap Persona-mas up with the main event. Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj, and happy holidays to everyone out there.
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