Heartbeat, Heartbreak: Persona 4, Reparative Reading, and Queer Identity in the Japanese Countryside

Date
2023
Authors
McIntyre, Lillian
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Haag, Andre
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East Asian Language & Literature
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This thesis weaves together approaches from queer studies, area studies, and game studies to analyze the 2008 game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 within a broader context of depictions of the Japanese countryside and representations of alternative gendered and sexual identities. While reception of the game’s attempts to explore sexuality have been fraught in both American and Japanese contexts, a survey of how the text is situated within broader histories of queer and rural depictions reveals that this juxtaposition in Persona 4 still belies a hopeful perspective. In contrast to theorizations of the myth of metronormativity, Persona 4 challenges standard teleological coming-out stories and situates the countryside as a place where queer youth can exist. Ultimately, this research suggests that games in broader culture and transnational contexts can encourage new considerations of queer identities beyond the typical identity categories suggested by the acronym LGBTQ+. This thesis also provides an overview of the game’s English and Japanese-language receptions on the fifteenth anniversary of Persona 4.
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Asian studies, LGBTQ studies, Asian literature, Game studies, JRPG, LGBTQ+, metronormativity, paranoid vs. reparative
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60 pages
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