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- Alternative Character Interpretation: Fanon characterizes the Male Protagonist as a Sugar and Ice Emo Teen and the Female Protagonist as a Stepford Smiler Genki Girl. These characterizations are supported by the manga and drama CDs:
- Compared to the usual fan interpretation and his characterization in the manga, the male protagonist is surprisingly less stoic and more expressive in the drama CDs, particularly in the second P3P drama CD, where he is shown happily conversing with various friends. Though reserved and still somewhat quiet, he's capable of expressing a number of emotions, including cheerfulness, annoyance, exasperation, anger, alarm and relief. However, he still retains his trademark stoicism, in that his emotive cues aren't readily apparent to others and he rarely voices his opinion on most matters.
- Much like the male protagonist, the female protagonist is also given a tangible personality in her own drama CD. She's is shown to be significantly more cheerful, energetic, childish and certainly more rambunctious. She even gets angry at one point ("Her mouth is smiling, but her eyes aren't...") and later attempts to pummel Kenji when she loses her temper.
- How close are S.E.E.S. really? The game clearly tries to show them as True Companions, with two Social Links representing them growing closer, but that's brought into question by the fact that, with few exceptions, they never seem to hang out unless they need to and the protagonist's death results in them falling apart. This stands out when you compare it to the Investigation Team and the Phantom Thieves, both of which managed to stay together without their leader, even when he got thrown into juvenile hall in the latter's case. Granted, it probably doesn't help that S.E.E.S.'s leader died, but the fact that they end up having a catfight over a key really brings into question how close they were to begin with.
- Anticlimax Boss: Strega can be beaten in a single turn every time you fight them after The Hanged Man they are the only boss fights on full moons, contributing to the Ending Fatigue. Many of the Full Moon Shadows also come across as sort of pathetic as well, particularly in comparison to the tower guardians inside Tartarus. This is entirely intentional, since the tower guardians give you the opportunity to heal, save the game and prepare your personas before fighting them, while the Full Moon bosses often restrict you to whatever prep work you did the day before.
- Justified in the case of Strega. They're just persona users, not all that different from your party, and you always outnumber them, so there's no particular reason why they should be hard.
- The game further justifies this by explaining Strega's link to their Persona as something forced and manufactured. Compared to the SEES kids, who all have natural links with their Persona, Strega don't stand a chance.
- Justified in the case of Strega. They're just persona users, not all that different from your party, and you always outnumber them, so there's no particular reason why they should be hard.
- Base Breaker: Yukari Takeba, whose insecure, overconfident personality tends to rub some fans the wrong way. Her actions in The Answer doesn't help her much either, but she more than makes up for that.
- Mitsuru is either one of the best characters in the game or one of the worst. Her Pillars of Moral Character tendencies don't help one bit.
- Critical Research Failure: A rather funny one in the PSP port. Because Fuuka's lines for the Bonus Boss fight weren't re-recorded from the fight against Elizabeth, when the PC fights against Theodore, Fuuka calls him a "she" at the start of the battle.
- Crowning Music of Awesome - The final battle theme, "The Battle for Everyone's Souls." The voice for Nyx's Avatar between each phase only turn the awesomeness of the whole fight Up to Eleven.
- Die for Our Ship: In essentially any character the Protagonist is shipped with, Yukari will be reduced to the Clingy Jealous Girl.
- Some see her as the Designated Love Interest, if you find that the scenes with her and the protagonist are rather forced.
- Does This Remind You of Anything? - Several of the Persona designs have this in play, but it's difficult to see the Tower Arcana Persona called Mara as anything but a penis on wheels. If you have this Persona as your main when you visit the Velvet Room, Elizabeth even seems to comment on how masculine it seems... Theodore, on the other hand, does not approve, protesting that it isn't ladylike.
- And how can we forget the method of summoning Personas?
- Easy Mode Mockery - In the PSP remake, the descriptions of the difficulty levels have subtle shades of this. Easy mode is passive-aggressively described as being for people who don't have time for tactical combat, as if the game is offended that you aren't playing it seriously. And the description for Normal difficulty implies if you aren't playing on at least that level you aren't enjoying the game at all.
- Ensemble Darkhorse - Elizabeth, the world's coolest elevator attendant. Another notable example is Chihiro, who is just a Social Link, yet gets to return Older and Wiser (and Hotter and Sexier) in Persona 4. And there's Shinjiro, whose sheer fan popularity might make non-players think he's the main character in the game. Koromaru is given a special spot in most players' hearts (and parties) for general usefulness in combat and coolness.
- Ending Fatigue - After The Hanged Man no boss fights occur on full moons, your current portfolio of Persona have pretty much hit the top end of power (and with FES fusing, the same is true for equipment) and can last until almost endgame. Fighting (and plot advancement) is restricted to a day a month and you have likely already maxed your social stats leaving nothing to do for many game months but a long long string of social links.
- Fan Nickname - In fan circles, the officially nameless protagonist has acquired the name "Minato Arisato (有里 湊)," the name given to the character in the manga adaptation. The Gender Flip protagonist in Persona 3 Portable has been lovingly nicknamed "Minako" by Western fans. She is also known as "Hamuko" (ハム子) by Japanese fans, loosely interpreting the last character of shujinkou (主人公), which means "protagonist," as katakana.
- The J-fandom has nicknamed the protagonist Kitaro, a reference to the similarly Peek A Banged GeGeGe no Kitaro.
- Other nicknames for the Female Protagonist are "MShe" and "FeMC" (presumably pronounced "fem-cee").
- Before the male Velvet Room assistant's name was released, fans referred to Theodore as Malelizabeth, Manlizabeth, and Flight Attendant Kanji.
- Fan-Preferred Couple: Protagonist/Aigis with Protagonist/Mitsuru and Protagonist/Elizabeth being close seconds. Protagonist/Fuuka is also rather popular.
- In the case of Persona 3 Portable, Female Protagonist/Shinjiro due to fact that completing his S.Link actually gives the player the ability to prevent his death.
- Game Breaker -
- The Lucifer/Helel Persona when abusing his instant-kill combination attack with the Satan Persona. It also learns Victory Cry at Lv.94, which restores your HP/MP to maximum after every battle and makes spamming Armageddon even easier. Fixed in FES - Helel no longer learns Victory Cry naturally - and then further nerfed in P3P, in which the combination abilities are items that must be bought with gemstones rather than skills used by having both of the relevant Personas.
- The Dreamfest combo skill (Succubus+Incubus) borders on this. It has a high-chance of charming (i.e. neutralizing) all enemies, and works on tough encounters and even some sub-bosses.
- In some instances, Thunder Reign. Anything that doesn't resist/block/absorb/reflect it is guaranteed to get the shocked status effect, and until their next turn, all physical attacks (that they don't block, absorb, or reflect) are guaranteed Critical Hits. So, if you're facing a single opponent whose turn comes after your entire party, you get three successive All-Out Attacks. In which fight can you benefit the most from this? Against The Reaper.
- Growing the Beard: Persona 1 and 2 were mostly standard JRPGs, with few unique features to separate them from the rest. Persona 3 is when the series found its own identity by introducing Social Links, creating the half RPG, half Dating Sim formula that made it famous. Nowadays, fans usually recommend that newbies start with Persona 3 or later due to the older games having aged poorly in comparison. It's gotten to the point that even Atlus themselves don't really acknowledge the first few games anymore.
- Hell Is That Noise: Five words: "Be careful! I sense Death!" Or, worse still, the quiet jingling of chains that signals the Reaper's approach.
- He's Just Sleeping: The Fanbase beleved this about the main character until the release of FES which revealed that he did in fact die, at least physically.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Chihiro's S-Link ending in FES is her outraging at the article against a Student Teacher Romance saying that love is important, no matter what age. Now what is the Justice S-Link in Portable again?
- Ho Yay: So much... it even has its own page!
- Internet Backdraft: The canonicity of the female main character and her path in Persona 3 Portable. You have fans that point to The Answer and The Reveal from Margaret in Persona 4 as proof that the FeMC route never happened, while other fans counter that since FES and P4 were written prior to P3P they can't be used as proof of anything related to the female PC. Then you have other fans using The Amala Network as a way to explain that she could exist, just not in the same universe as the Male Main Character. The debates were much larger in the weeks leading up to the release of the game, and still persist to this day.
- Jerkass Woobie:
- Ken. He lost his mother at a young age, resulting in him getting little besides pity from everyone else... and he plans on dealing with it by committing a Murder-Suicide against the person who was accidentally responsible. This ended up getting exaggerated in the American version, a bit too much.
- Yukari also qualifies in The Answer. Her tendency to grasp the Jerkass Ball through jealousy of Aigis and desire to bring the protagonist back from his Heroic Sacrifice ends up causing a rift in SEES. However, once you look back at what she has gone through in both her backstory and The Journey, it's easy to see why she's so bitter.
- Junpei's also one, prominently early in the story where his jealousy of the protagonist brings out his nastier side. But he has a deep-rooted Inferiority Superiority Complex, his jealousy stemming from the protagonist outclassing him in something that Junpei felt made him unique.
- Though they have often crossed the Moral Event Horizon, particularly Takaya, you can't help but feel pity for Strega once you discover their backstories. They were once children whose Personas were artificially implanted into them and were brutally experimented upon, and constantly have to take suppressants to control their personas even when those suppressants were slowly killing them.
- Memetic Mutation: BURN MY BREAD! (in reference to the improper english in vocal songs by Yumi Kawamura)
- Moe: The manga made the main character very adorable. Justlookat him.
- Fuuka so very much, she's the most gentle and sweet of the female characters. It's even lampshaded by Junpei at one point in which he states "She's the kind of girl you want to protect".
- Shinjiro. Social Awkwardness? Check. Quirkiness? Check. Hard on the outside but squishy inside? Check. His gruff appearance makes this shockingly more effective.
- Mondegreen: Burn my dread: Last battle.
Burrrrn rye Bread!
It's a man's man no-one's ever survived, invisible hands are behind you just that if you ever win that rage against race that you became now because it's no man's land.
Mask is in heavy rain now ultimately slain make shadows slave what we've done now is in vain make your voice seven twenty four seven but you gotta live it persecuted hot headed
comes from direction, indication you've got tutu Let it out Let it down Let it inside Let loose Letting letting damn depressed Let's get it up
Then whatcha gotta do is drop behind the town Drop rhyme drop hammer Digging like a labor You've got blood all volvo
Ash all Volvo Spit it out son game's over
buuurrrrn my bread!
- Moral Event Horizon - Strega (especially one particular, long-haired member) makes a habit of crossing this as, appearance by appearance, they make you hate them more and more.
- Most Annoying Sound: The Hermit's screams every time you land an attack on it.
- No Yay: Spending a long time with Ken Amada but subverted in that the scene is up to the player's imagination. A straighter version is the female protagonist and Takaya. Or the male protagonist and Takaya.
- Player Punch: So. Damn. Many.
- Paranoia Fuel: Normal people do not remember the Dark Hour... which means it could be really happening every night and you'd never know. Enjoy the next full moon!
- Rescued From the Scrappy Heap: Ken arguably, at least in the female path in the PSP game. He has a somewhat bigger role by being one of the female protagonists relationships, when in the original game, he stops being important after his storyline.
- The Scrappy: Nozomi is also disliked for being a creepy Gonk (though he does get some Hidden Depths) and one long Church of Happyology joke, while Mamoru is considered to be extremely dull. Their Portable counterparts are Shinjiro and Akihiko, respectively, and to go further, along with Saori (the FeMC's Hermit social link, and a completely new character, unlike Rio), Nozomi and Mamoru are the only Social Link characters who don't appear in any of the Drama CDs.
- Scrappy Mechanic: There are several:
- If the main character drops, it's an instant game over. Handwaved with a very late explanation.
- Random chance light and dark insta-kill abilities. Most of the time they'll miss. Sometimes they'll hit and knock other party members unconscious. If it hits you, you'd better have a Homunculus item (which is not obtainable by the time you first encounter it).
- In the original and FES update you didn't have direct control over the party. This is thankfully fixed in the PSP remake.
- In order to lock down the very powerful skills in the PSP remake, they converted them to Fetch Quests - you now have to grind on shadows to get enough of a certain type of gem to drop.
- The FES expansion basically forces Level Grinding upon the player if they want to finish it.
- Want to level up the Hermit Social Link? Have fun spending the entire day, including nighttime, doing so for one session!
- Sequel Displacement: Persona 3 and 4 are credited with singlehandedly popularizing the rest of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise outside of Japan. The PSP re-releases of Persona1 and Persona2 were generally well received, but neither had anything near the sales of the sequels.
- FES also did this to the original game, with its many improvements and additions to the original game and The Answer epilogue. The PSP remake might have done this to FES with the female main character's storyline.
- Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer - Many players forget to train their combat in an effort to do well on Exams.
- That One Attack - Night Queen, the final boss's most powerful attack, which it will only use once it has only a remaining third of HP of its fourteenth lifebar. It deals massive Almighty damage to the party, and has the capability of inflicting any status effect on the party. Worst case scenario, if one or more of your party members is killed, charmed, enraged or inflicted with fear, you have pretty much no hope of victory at this point. If just the protagonist is enraged or charmed, it can be just as bad if the protagonist had a persona that healed, since then YOU can end up FULLY healing (*6000* HP) the FinalBoss, or getting your team in a nearly hopeless position depending on the tactics you had on them when you got enraged and can't heal the team. That Nyx Avatar mix things up with Moonless Gown, which allows it to repel everything you throw at it for a few turns, you can potentially end up screwing yourself over depending on how everything goes.
- That One Boss - This being an Atlus game, most of the bosses are very tough, but Sleeping Table deserves a special mention. Megadolaon and Maragion (ma-spells hit all posible targets, and Megidola is a second-level spell), plus Evil Touch (inflicts Fear) and Ghastly Wail (unblockable, instantly kills any character with Fear.)
- That One Level - It's generally agreed upon that Harabah is the hardest portion of Tartarus, what with it being dark and the only light coming from moving rainbow circles, which is hard to look at and makes Shadows nigh-impossible to see. Empyrean is a possible contender in The Answer, what with pretty much every enemy having either Mahamaon or Mamudoon.
- Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Concerning October 4th, Ken. Granted, he did lose his mother, but his planning to kill Shinjiro and then himself isn't something that anyone, except maybe Takaya, wants. While Shinjiro is guilty of manslaughter, the fact that he's willing to accept being killed for what he's done, save for the fact that Ken will then have to live with the guilt Shinjiro bore for years (a lesson Ken ignores) makes him somewhat more sympathetic by comparison. The official English localization doesn't do Ken any favors either: in the original Japanese version Ken is understandably distraught that Shinjiro died because of him, but in the localization it's instead implied that Ken's angry that he didn't get to kill Shinjiro himself, souring Western audiences that aren't aware of the dialogue change. Though, some have argued that Ken is simply being dishonest, as he still cries over Shinjiro's death.
- Yukari in The Answer. While no-one can deny she's been through a lot, many feel that doesn't justify attempting to risk The End of the World as We Know It in an inevitably futile attempt to save the protagonist, which ends up driving the entire group against each other. What makes it even worse is that it's not a case of Didn't Think This Through; she knows full well that her actions could cause all of humanity to become lifeless husks, but she simply doesn't care and accuses the others of being too scared. She does end up having a Jerkass Realization and apologises, but the fact that she never gets so much as a stern lecture for attempting something this immature and self-centered on top of having the gall to accuse Akihiko and Ken of the latter makes her come off as a massive case of Easily Forgiven and Karma Houdini, which has left a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of players even to this day.
- Woolseyism - The original titles of The Journey and The Answer were Episode Yourself and Episode Aigis in Japan. It's generally agreed that altering them from the Engrish-happy Japanese names to names that have thematic importance to the content within them was an improvement.
- As mentioned above (see mythology gag) the Devil Busters/Innocent Sin Online is almost completely changed. Y-ko mearly speaks with an accent, the english version changed this to Maya using 1337 speak, offering a better contrast between her online persona and her real life composition teacher self.
- Aigis in Japanese uses a very generic and to the point speaking style when first introduced but as she becomes more humanized starts to drop this in favor of speaking regular Japanese. Since this can't be done with English, the US version has her speak in a robotic monotone at first and gradually start to talk like a normal girl as she becomes more human.
- In the Updated Rerelease, Persona 3 Portable, Ken, the Jail Bait Adorably Precocious Child, is a romance option with a "spend the night" event at S-Link level 10. This was heavily edited in the US version.
- World of Woobie: Just about everyone has something painful that endears the audience to them.