Naoto, as she appears in BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle
|First appearance||Persona 4 (2008)|
|Voiced by||Anna Graves (Persona 4)|
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn(Persona 4 anime)
Valerie Arem (Persona 4 Arena Ultimax)
Romi Park (Japanese)
Concept and creationEdit
Naoto was created for Persona 4. She is a young detective who moves to Inaba, the setting of Persona 4, to solve a serial-murder case. Due to the gendered stereotypes of detectives and institutional misogyny in law enforcement, Naoto presents as a man in order to hide her gender. In the Japanese version, Naoto uses 'boku', a typically male pronoun, while interchangeably using he and she in the English version. Naoto's design in Persona 4 Arena was inspired by the character Raidou Kuzunoha. When designing Naoto for Persona 4: Dancing All Night, designer Kazuhisa Wada depicted her dancing style as more feminine to show Naoto embracing her feminine side more. Her dancing style comes from house music, with Wada noting that this dance style had a certain degree of sex appeal. Naoto is voiced by Romi Park in Japanese, Anna Graves in the English version of Persona 4 and by Valerie Arem in the English version of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.
Naoto appears in Persona 4 and is a detective trying to solve the murders in the game. Naoto uses herself as bait by appearing on TV and allowing herself to be kidnapped by the culprit. The group follows Naoto to the TV world, where Naoto is confronted by her Shadow, who expresses their frustration with her birth sex and at being treated like a child by the police. Naoto explains after Shadow Naoto has been defeated due to the male-oriented nature of the police department, which is why they had been presenting as male. Once Naoto has come to terms with her feelings, her Shadow turns into the Persona Sukuna-Hikona (スクナヒコナ), a robotic humanoid wearing a blue suit jacket that has an insect-like head and butterfly-like wings.
Following Naoto's recovery from her time in the TV world, she joins the protagonists in finding the culprit, having gained clues about his method thanks to her kidnapping. Throughout Yu's interactions with Naoto, she regains her passion for being a detective. Depending on the player's actions, Naoto can become intimate with Yu. Naoto also decides that she isn't a detective just to uphold her family tradition, but because she wants to be and thoroughly enjoy it no matter her gender or age. Her Persona then evolves into Yamato-Takeru (ヤマトタケル), a humanoid in a white and blue traditional armed forces dress uniform with a more bird-like appearance. In the game's ending, Naoto decides to stay in Inaba, unsure what to do now that the case is closed. In Persona 4 Golden, Naoto gets the new Persona Yamato Sumera Mikoto (ヤマトスメラミコト), whose outfit is red and blue, and has long, flowing blonde hair.
A novel that takes place one year after Persona 4 was released starring Naoto called Persona 4 x Detective Naoto, where she is investigating the disappearance of her old friend Touko Aoi. This novel was made by Dengeki Bunko.
Naoto has received mixed reception. Kimberley Wallace of Game Informer ranked her as one of the best Persona characters. Geoff Thew of Hardcore Gamer found Naoto to be attractive due in part to her detective work. Andrew Clouther of GameZone expressed skepticism with how Naoto was being designed for Persona 4: Dancing All Night, feeling that Naoto depicted in a sexual light felt unlike her and expressed concern that it would be used to justify "fan-service." A swimsuit costume that Naoto wears in Dancing All Night was described as "conservative" by Matt Sainsbury of Digitally Downloaded, who felt it fit her character. Mike Cosimano regarded her as a great character due to her pragmatism and quality detective work. Janine Hawkins of Paste Magazine praised her for her outfit, feeling that few could pull it off as well.
Naoto's gender identity and status as a queer character has been the subject of discussion from critics. She has been identified as both a cross-dressing woman and a trans man. Vrai Kaiser of The Mary Sue was initially hoping to find a "kindred spirit" with Naoto, but grew upset when they discovered that this was not the case. Michael Higham of GameSpot felt that certain choices players could make regarding her gender identity were insensitive. Carolyn Petit of GameSpot considered Naoto to be a trans man, but expressed disappointment that Persona 4 seemed to reject this idea. She criticized the reasoning for Naoto presenting male, feeling it "rang false" due to finding it unbelievable for someone to live as a different gender due to an attachment to fictional characters. She also took issue with characters changing their behavior towards Naoto, citing Yosuke flirting with her and characters explaining certain behaviors as being due to her gender as examples. Writer Mattie Brice found the depiction of Naoto to be transphobic, suggesting that the transgender character Erica Anderson from Catherine was indicative that the motives behind her depiction was questionable. Brice interpreted the scene between Naoto and her shadow as rejecting the need for sexual reassignment surgery in order to be a man. They criticized Naoto's Social Link, feeling it to be a wasted opportunity and that the choices you can make regarding her gender identity. Despite their issues with the character, they found her character enjoyable and appreciated being able to explore the idea of dating a trans man. Carol Grant of Vice criticized Naoto, suggesting that the romance scenes were demeaning to Naoto's identity and while expressing disappointment in how Naoto's gender identity is handled. Authors of the book Queerness in Play discuss how Naoto's gender expression and struggles with gender is used to teach players about the transgender experience.
- Atlus (December 9, 2008). Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. PlayStation 2. Atlus. Level/area: Secret Laboratory.
Naoto: Not everyone welcomes my collaboration when it comes to solving cases… My status as a "child" was sufficient to offend many of those whom I worked with. Were that the only issue, then it would have resolved itself with time… But though I will one day change from a child to an adult, I will never change from a woman to a man… / Yukiko: Do you not like being a girl…? Is that why you always dress like a boy? / Naoto: My sex doesn't fit my ideal image of a detective… Besides, the police department is a male-oriented society. If they had the slightest "concrete" reason to look down on me, no one would need me anymore…
- Petit, Carolyn (March 1, 2013). "Denial of the Self: Queer Characters in Persona 4". GameSpot. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- Cavalli, Earnest "Next" (October 24, 2011). "Atlus Adds Two Characters To Persona Fighter". The Escapist.
- Clouther, Andrew (March 6, 2015). "Persona 4: Dancing All Night character's dancing styles spotlighted". GameZone. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- "Naoto Shirogane Voice - Megami Tensei franchise | Behind The Voice Actors". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved October 21, 2019. Check mark indicates role has been confirmed using screenshots of closing credits and other reliable sources.
- "Behind The Scenes with Naoto in Persona 4: Dancing All Night". Atlus. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Spencer (April 4, 2012). "Persona 4: The Golden Has TV Shows To See". Retrieved April 5, 2012.
- Spencer (June 13, 2012). "In Persona 4: Arena, Teddie Is Labrys' "Knight" And Naoto Is Tailing Mitsuru". Siliconera. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Sato (April 27, 2015). "Naoto Will Overcome Her Lack Of Dance Confidence In Persona 4: Dancing All Night". Siliconera. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Spencer (May 21, 2012). "New Post Persona 4 Novel Focuses On Naoto". Siliconera. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Wallace, Kimberley (May 4, 2017). "The 10 Best Persona Characters". Game Informer. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Thew, Geoff (November 4, 2014). "Top 5 Waifus in Persona". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- Sainsbury, Matt (May 18, 2015). "The Persona 4 Dancing All Night swimsuit trailer is... mesmerising". Digitally Downloaded. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- Cosimano, Mike (March 19, 2017). "Imma let you finish, but Carmen Sandiego is the greatest female video game character of all time". Destructoid. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Hawkins, Janine (November 12, 2014). "The 13 Best Costumed Characters in Videogames". Paste Magazine. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Higham, Michael (April 21, 2019). "Persona 4 10 Years Later; A Celebration Of An All-Time Great RPG And Its Legacy". GameSpot. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- Shaw, Adrienne (August 27, 2015). "Naoto Shirogane from Persona 4". LGBTQ Game Archives. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Kaiser, Vrai (September 1, 2016). "Can We Cool It With The "Women Disguised as Men" Trope Already?". The Mary Sue. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- Brice, Mattie (August 30, 2011). "It's Time to Talk About it: Atlus, Naoto, and Transphobia". Retrieved October 1, 2019.
- Grant, Carol (December 24, 2017). "Atlus, We Haven't Forgotten Your Mishandling of LGBTQ Characters". Vice. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Harper, Todd; Adams, Megan Blythe; Taylor, Nicholas (2018). Queerness in Play. Springer. p. 45. ISBN 3319905422.