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In translating the game for a Western audience, Atlus USA's goal was to retain as much of the original content as possible in order to accurately portray the Japanese culture.Namba explains, "We did encounter a small number of sexually oriented instances which we decided to make more subtle, but the meaning of everything is still intact." For instance, keeping Shadow Kanji's over-the-top flamboyance was important.First introduced as a rough-and-tumble teen with antisocial leanings, Kanji is feared by the locals and maintains a confrontational machismo toward the other characters throughout the game.He is a loyal son and employee at his family's textile shop, and it's not until the debut of his alter-ego Shadow Kanji that we are made aware of his inner sexual turmoil.Once the alter-egos are defeated in The Midnight Channel, they are validated by the characters accepting them as necessary parts of their real personalities.Shadow Kanji's scanty attire, flamboyant lisp, and over-the-top homoerotic banter shed light upon Kanji's hidden identity, but it is his remarks stating sexual preference for the male gender that directly support the notion that is Kanji is gay.Shadow Kanji inhabits a steamy bathhouse dungeon inside The Midnight Channel, an alternate dimension inside the TV where the main characters must battle their alter-egos in order to save themselves and their friends.
Japanese attitudes toward sexuality and homosexuality are incredibly different than those of the West, even though the general assumption from Westerners is that the Japanese are a repressed people.
"That flamboyance was also what the viewers of the Midnight Channel wanted to see: a typical gay person on TV that people would laugh at.
The TV station broadcasts what the audience prefers to watch -- it's a stark portrayal of modern society." The response to Kanji's character has been generally neutral or positive among players of Persona 4. However, it would have been nice if they'd just gone ahead and made him gay." Whether more characters as complex and socially relevant as Kanji's will appear in more games available in America is really up to American developers.
Upholding respectable outward behavior would mean being married, having children and having a respectable job, but what ones does in their sexual lives is not harshly judged.
For Kanji, working at his family's textile shop was a very traditional and respectable job, one that could have been at risk had he made a lifestyle choice to have an openly gay relationship with another man. Mark Mc Lelland says, "Even though homosexual characters are very prevalent in the Japanese media, its visibility in comic books, women's magazines, TV dramas and talk-shows, movies and popular fiction has not created the space for individuals expressing lesbian or gay 'identities' to come out in actual life." "Yet, as recent research has shown, the notion of 'coming out' is seen as undesirable by many Japanese gay men and lesbians as it necessarily involves adopting a confrontational stance against mainstream lifestyles and values, which many still wish to endorse." In Kanji's case, remaining ambiguous and undeclared about his sexuality is not necessarily a rejection of its existence or the developers displaying homophobia, but rather as a comment on homosexuality in a greater Japanese social context.
Intentionally and perhaps tellingly, especially when we examine homosexuality within a greater social context in Japan, there is no concrete conclusion provided by the game regarding his true orientation.