Massive Spoilers Ahead
Tohru Adachi. Oh I love Adachi. Persona 4 is full of colourful characters that have real ‘life’ injected into each of them. Each character’s corresponding social link arcana reflects their character’s surface personality. Kanji adopts the ‘emperor’ Persona- that shows his surface values. Before you get to know him, he seems pretty intimidating and certainly rules the roost, as an emperor would. It’s only later on you realise how insecure he is. Chie’s the Chariot: ‘The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed… One of life’s greatest blessings is the freedom to pursue one’s goals.’ This shows Chie’s spirit and determination that’s constantly present- but later we find out that underneath this she is a little more fragile than you would expect. Adachi’s Persona is the Jester. Throughout the story, he is always the unassuming bumbling idiot who constantly makes mistakes and slips up, frequently letting slip parts of the case he is working on to the team. What we learn though, is that this is a devious cover up for the most deranged character in Persona 4. His constant slip-ups? To emphasise his apparent innocence to avoid blame. His leaking of information? He wanted the team to follow the clues of the police department because they were always on the wrong track. Little old unassuming Adachi has a big sinister secret up his sleeve.
Throughout the game, Adachi is the loveable idiot. He is in the police force yet keeps ‘accidently’ telling the protagonist elements of the case. He frequently embarrasses himself in front of Ryotaro Dojima (your uncle and his boss). The way he talks is innocent and playful, constantly being the friend in the police force that the team needs on their side. Even the artwork for him portrays him as a scruffy puppy-eyed dope. Then there is the meme surrounding his love for cabbages, which is due to him not being able to afford much else. Importantly though, Adachi is never in a state of anger throughout the game, always aiding the character and humouring the player.
I am going to jump right to it: Adachi’s personality throughout the ‘ending’ (Ignoring the big boss Izanami, featuring in the true, true ending) is what makes him my favourite character in the game. When I discovered Adachi was behind the evil in the story; I lost it. Perhaps others saw it coming, but I certainly did not. WHAT a plot twist. The whole ending sequence of the game is so dangerously delicate too. In the final moments, you are given a small dialogue section where you are discussing with your friend Yosuke, and the rest of the team, if you should kill Taro Namatame. Taro is, up until you discover Adachi’s role, the main antagonist. To be fair- he has lost it. In the false final boss fight against him, he transforms into the giant hippy-angel thing, Kunino Sagiri. He slurs out lines, drunkenly repeating ‘I’ with no context and even greets the battle with a ‘peace’ gesture. This is why this conversation is so difficult. The player will assume that he is the killer and may even be angry because the protagonist’s sister, Nanako Dojima, is lying in a hospital bed as a result of his actions. But you must assume that Taro is not the killer, despite all the odds (you physically see that he has kidnapped Nanako). Choosing a very specific selection of speech options, you will then unlock the true ending- not that’d you’d know that on your first play through. This will stop you from killing Taro and eventually lead to the accusation of Adachi, after you hear Taro’s side of the story once he’s calmed down. Interestingly, ‘Namatame’ sounds very similar to ‘Na-naki-me’ – the Japanese word to be correct. Maybe it was obvious from the start that he was not the true killer?
I need to stress how incredible Persona 4’s endings are. If you decide to take this route, you actually carry on the game for at least fifteen minutes more, the narrative progresses, and time flies by in the calendar. When you leave your home, the mysterious fog that has been covering the town for months is still there- this can’t be the ending, surely? Then a gut wrenching and horrible cut scene plays out. The protagonist leaves to get the train in the foggy Inaba region. Barely a word is spoken between your friends, despite all you’ve been through. You leave by train, the credits roll, awful saddening music plays. Ah, good one Atlus, you’ll throw us back into the story after the credits. Nope. That’s literally it.
These are the dialogue options:
2. Wait a second here…
3. We’re missing something.
4. Namatame’s true feelings.
5. Something’s bothering me.
6. We’re missing something…
7. Calm the hell down!
If any single one of these are chosen incorrect (There’s a choice of three per step) you descend into the bad ending. I immediately booted up my save which took me back to right before the conversation at the end and nailed it the second time. Turns out I was only one off before. It takes balls for a game developer to hide away a twist ending and two entire dungeons (3 if you’re on Vita). The ‘bad’ ending is chilling, but not as chilling as Adachi’s special ending.
In Persona 4: Golden (The Vita re-polish) Adachi has a quest line you can follow that develops his Jester arcana. This storyline is innocent until towards the end, when you find out that he is the true culprit. You find this out right before the end of the game and is the only 100% way of knowing he was the antagonist all along (other than guessing or being a genius). When you do find out, you have a choice to help him, or hinder him (and proceed into the good ending). If you help him by destroying some evidence against him- you have just triggered the most gut-wrenching ending of the game. Adachi will start to laugh at you, revealing his true colours early. He mocks you for betraying your friends and points out that all the work you have put in through the game is wasted because you decided to help the bad guy out in the end anyway. There is no way out now. You as the protagonist probably expected Adachi would now be an ally but he is truly insane. If you strived for the good ending, you would eventually find out this. As a middle finger to the player and protagonist, you unlock the final tier of the Jester arcana and unlock the benefits it brings. Not that it matters; the game now ends with no more dungeons to crawl anyway. The protagonist on the train and looking out the window replaces the bad ending’s final scene. He catches Adachi by the train and he grins in the dense fog still surrounding Inaba. As the Protagonist leaves the region in a dark tunnel, Adachi lifts out his phone and clutches it. He has full power over the protagonist and can ring him whenver he wants. Since the protagonist burnt evidence in front of him, he’s never going to be free. Then the credits. What have you done!?
Adachi’s backstory is actually very interesting. The reason he is in the Inaba region to start with is that he made ‘one tiny mistake’ (this is not elaborated on). Before being sent to the Inaba region, he became a police officer for one reason: to own a gun. ‘Don’t make me laugh. Just because someone join the police doesn’t make them some kind of agent of justice’. Already, this is becoming worrying. Before the boss fight against Adachi, he reveals that he finds society disgusting ‘There’s nothing great about the real world, is there?’ ‘Those who actually succeed in life are born with a magical ticket called ‘talent’’. He is extremely angry about the world and his lack of talent, which is clear through his obvious awkwardness and clumsiness. The investigation team obviously disagree with him, essentially telling him to ‘deal with it’. Adachi is certainly not going the right way about showing his beliefs , revealing that the reason for the fog is so that the TV world and the real world collide and everyone becomes shadows (the main standard enemy/demon in the game). This, in his mind, will present a world without pain and suffering. Once you beat Adachi he turns into a gigantic Big-Brother eyeball Apocalypse machine. I’ll explain.
After you beat the giant eyeball camera thing, Ameno Sagiri (Kunino’s brother and a physical representation of Big Brother), you still have yet to finish the game. Despite the final boss having an epic battle theme that leads to the fog clearing and everyone living happily ever after, this is still not the end. After another lucky sequence of dialogue choices with the NPC’s of the game you can unlock the path to the ‘best’ ending of the game. Great. That means you get to meet the actual big bad of the game- Izanami- a GOD. Izanami explains that Adachi was given powers the moment he entered Inaba, the same way that you, the protagonist, have. It’s difficult to explain the powers, and would require going on a pretty big tangent, so I’ll brush over it and say that it essentially means that anyone who was touched by Izanami (who was disguised as a gas station attendant) has the power to go into the ‘TV world’ (where the shadows are) and, crucially, put people inside it. This explains how Adachi could feasibly be the murderer. Izanami touching him also impregnated the entity Ameno Sagiri into him, so both were 2 sides of the same coin.
Ameno actually represents the Japanese spirit of the fog, which of course explains its ability to emit fog over the world. It represents the heavens and is actually directly linked to Japanese mythology, in the mythological chronicle Kojiki. The Kojiki is the oldest known record of Japan’s mythology and actually contains direct references to bosses and characters in the game. Essentially, Persona 4’s story has its story firmly grounded in Japanese mythology, which is extremely interesting. This would also explain some of the shadows- half of them reflect humanities prejudices and the other half are just weird.
Ameno Sagiri is what Adachi would love to become (and partly is). Ameno describes his power as being able to make the wishes of mankind true. In the game, there is a TV world (As I have already mentioned) that seemingly has people thrown into at certain intervals. At midnight, TV’s across Inaba switch on to reveal the TV world in a backdrop that shows what the characters initially think are their inner most thoughts. For example, the overly macho Kanji is shown almost naked in a steam room area, with a very different tone of voice. Based on some of the language he is using, there is a strong emphasis on revealing that the character may be homosexual. The characters believe this to be their inner most secrets until it is revealed that it is the opposite. The TVs show what the audience want to see from that character. What they see on the TV screen is essentially false rumours and gossip made hyperbole for everyone to see and laugh at. When the protagonist and the investigation team enter the TV world, they can hear the audience cheer and roar with laughter as the characters on the TV show slowly reveal more of this character. This is supposed to represent media in the modern world, with game shows and reality TV trying to make a mockery of a person and create a stereotype out of them so that they can mock them. Essentially, the TVs are making people not see the true persons behind them and the audience LOVE it. Which is, of course, exactly what happens in real life. Therefore, the TVs and the TV world in the game are actually used as a window to help aid humans curb their hunger for stereotyping individuals they haven’t met. When Ameno Sagiri and the fog arrive, he is simply trying to help humanity. The fog represents a shroud over the truth, which, apparently, is what humanity wants. ‘Humanity’s wishes are my wishes’. Ameno is a deity that collects the worldwide urges of humanity and makes them come to life. It is, in fact, not so evil at all. It simply wants what humans want- but of course does so in a severely misinformed way that only a non-human would do. It views the investigation team as enemies and uses them as a test to see if humanity does not want what Ameno wants. ‘No one wishes for the fog to lift. Why act against the wishes of your fellow man? Consider… is that truly just?’ Ameno’s ideals are actually very accurate, and in it’s non-human naivety, mistook their wants for something far too monstrous. ‘To defy me is a senseless act that goes against your world’s wishes. Now, let everything vanish into the sweet fog of illusion’ As you may have noticed, Ameno and Adachi have very similar goals, they want an equal world where nobody has a chance to flourish.
Adachi is the figment of hate towards the world and is boiling up with rage inside him. When Adachi is sent to prison at the end of the events of the perfect ending, it seems that he is actually happy. He has reached a place that can contain his monstrously over blown ego and also a place where everyone is equal. In prison, everyone is an inmate and it doesn’t matter what qualities of talents you may possess, you are confined in the same building and routines. Certainty, Adachi is better off an inmate, than a crooked police officer.