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The writing in the Persona games feels really… childish?

First up, a couple of disclaimers that will probably help:

  1. I love RPGs, and have played tons of them, and Final Fantasy X is one of my favourite of all-time so I do enjoy a good JRPG.

  2. I actually lived in Japan for just under 4 years, so I "get" the anime culture, even if it's not really my thing.

That said…

After seeing massive praise for this series on forums for years and that they contain unforgettable stories, I decided to bite the bullet and buy both Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 when they were both on sale.

Initially they both grab you due to their excellent art style and extremely slick UI design (Persona 5 is just so stylishly done in particular, such talented artists), and the accuracy of the towns/cities in Japan they are set in is second to none.

Obviously Atlas are a Japanese company, but no other series I've played captures the exact minute details of both bigger cities and their convenience stores, crowded train commutes, parks etc, and the quaint old ramen shops, local inns and "snack bars" and little highschools of semi-rural towns.

My wife is Japanese and Inaba in Persona 4 feels EXACTLY like her hometown where her parents live, it's uncanny. The architecture, the local shrine, the Yodobashi Camera-ripoff "Junes", etc.

That said, being RPGs, a massive part of these types of games is not just the overall story/plot – which in both of these is fairly interesting – but the dialogue needed to convey that story in the first place.

I understand that the games are probably mainly targeted at Japanese highschoolers, but my God the overly-Kawaii and over-the-top way the characters speak (I'd say the Japanese voice actors even moreso than the English ones in this case) is just so extreme and childish that it is grating.

"EEEHHH?! WHAAA?! DAME!!!" feels like every second word that is shouted when it's not even necessary… sure, these are used in Japanese conversation but not to this extent and in this way of expression.

I've met a ton of highschool age Japanese teens and they do NOT talk like that. These games also almost always suffer from "Every Adult is An Idiot" syndrome, where pretty much every adult is portrayed as being some kind of creep/weirdo, over the top insane, or really just "stupid" compared to the "ultra-smart kids".

About the only exception/likeable one is Dojima from P4 (and his Japanese voice actor is very good too, actually speaks naturally like a believable person) – every other one is another level of cringe.

So much of these games also treat you like an idiot for the first couple of hours with the most over-the-top tutorials where you feel like you are spending hours just closing/confirming popups. I understand it has some complex mechanics, but man… just let us opt-out and then look stuff up when we need it. It breaks story flow badly.

There's also a fair bit of fanservice that is pretty cringeworthy… random bikini shots, the whole Kamoshida 'pervert' plotline and its visuals/dialogue (playing this on our bedroom TV my wife thought I was some kind of weirdo, haha), and sexualising teens etc. Again, I "get" anime and why it's popular, and do like a fair few of the more mature ones, but there's a limit.

I'm probably about 1/4th through each game, and the "shell" of elements that I like is there, but as a 31 year old white dude I just feel like this game series at this point is NOT made for me. However I don't think it's just an age thing, as even if I was 20 the childish-ness of the dialogue would still probably be a turnoff.

It's a shame, because I loved Catherine and thought the storytelling in that was done very well for the most part… would be nice if Atlas / JRPG makers in general might try incorporating adult party members who aren't social weirdos into some games in future?

Especially considering "gamers" aren't always just kids these days, as gaming has been around for a lot longer now and older gamers have a lot of money/buying power.

And letting all characters just speak… like normal Japanese people… would help as well.

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