Let’s talk gay people.
This year saw Tiger and Bunny sport the fabulously flaming gay Fire Emblem. He was essentially just a mixture of endless gay stereotypes. Flamboyant, wears lots of pink, tries to be one of the girls, randomly groping various straight men. He’s actually a very entertaining character in his own right with a lot of good qualities, but he’s hardly doing much for a nice variation of gay characters in television. He’s certainly an interesting contrast to Tatsumi Kanji.
Tatsumi Kanji is a delinquent who has started to question his sexuality (gay? Bi? It’s all left a bit vague, so I’m just going to call him gay for convenience sake). But his actions hardly fall into any of the categories of gay stereotypes. Some do, such as his appreciation of cutesy, girlie stuff like teddy bears, but by and large he’s an abrasive, blunt tough guy, unsure of himself but barreling forward regardless. One thing I love about his character is how his homosexuality doesn’t define him. Unlike Fire Emblem, where there’s not a single part of his character that is not defined by his unbelievable campness, Kanji is a person before he’s gay. It’s still a vitally important part of his character, but there’s more to him than that. But what’s brilliant about Persona 4 in this regard is how they tackle that side of him.
I’ve got in trouble for mentioning this before, but I despise the method used by Wandering Son to tackle these sorts of problems. The careful delicate touch, unable to ever crack a joke about such a serious subject in case it offends or scares off those too sensitive. Persona 4, on the other hand, devotes an entire episode to the characters entering a gay paradise, being covered in lube and assaulted by macho masochistic men. Ridiculous, hilarious and only offensive if you totally missed the point of the entire piece.
This is what Tatsumi Kanji is afraid of. The stereotypes of gay people he sees in the media with characters like Fire Emblem have led him to believe that’s what people will see him as if he’s gay. It led him to retreat inside himself and become afraid of his own feelings. It’s rather fitting that a show where characters jump into televisions that it’s televisions portrayal of these characters that is the focus of the episode. Persona 4 laughs at these stereotypes, mocking them for the crude, ridiculous portrayals that they are, while presenting us with a character more balanced in his presentation. It’s an episode that’s willing to crack jokes about its subject matter and through this hilarity deliver the message. It’s satire in its most bizarre yet most brilliant form.