In the Persona series, we’re always seeing heroes and heroines using another side of themselves as an ally in battles. This facet of themselves allows them to better face the world, hence the name. But in Persona 4: Dancing All Night, the concept is being used literally. When Persona 4’s investigation team heads to the Mayonaka Stage, they aren’t able to use their other sides to battle. Instead, it feels more like the term is used to describe the stage personalities the members of the newly introduced idol group, Kanamin Kitchen, adopt.
When Persona 4: Dancing All Night begins, we find that Rise is on the verge of a comeback. The former idol put life in the limelight aside for a time in the original game, but she’s going to make her first public performance since then at her agency’s Love Meets Bonds festival. As part of a gimmick for her performance, all of her friends from Inaba will be joining her on-stage as backup dancers.
She isn’t the only act at the event, of course. Kanamin Kitchen, a girl group starring Kanami Mashita and four other idols. Kanamin is the headliner and most popular girl in the group, and the other four girls, dubbed Tomomin, Sumomin, Tamamin, and Nozomin, tend to back her up. In fact, in Persona 4: Dancing All Night’s introduction, Rise introduces the four others to Yu and Naoto after a practice session.
Kanamin Kitchen and each of the characters have very defined identities, which Rise explains are fabricated in the hopes of increasing popularity. It seems to work, despite its strangeness. Each girl is referred to as a kind of animal meat, with stage personalities and catchphrases that play on the theme. For example, Kanamin is the “prized cow.” Nozomin is a stag and leader, Sumomin is a piglet, and so on. As the cow, Kanamin is supposed to be friendly and lazy. Nozomin is a faux bishonen and the group’s “prince.” Sumomin is the little sister type.
Shortly after the game begins, two strange events are revealed. The first is a rumor that those who visit the Love Meets Bonds festival website at midnight will see a video of a dead idol performing, with people who watch falling into comas. The second is that Kanamin’s backup mysteriously disappears. Just when Yu, Rise, and Naoto are discussing how strange everything seems to be, some strange force tries to drag Rise into the Shadow world. There, she finds her own place on the Mayonaka Stage, and the trio listen as a strange voice tries to force them to form bonds. All of the Shadows there are bound by yellow ribbons, and a haunting melody constantly plays and saps their will. Their Personas are ineffective, as the voice won’t allow anyone hurt in this realm.
It’s pure coincidence that Naoto’s music on her phone begins to play. It seems to have some effect on the Shadows and the three. Yu finds the strength to dance along as the song is broadcast by Rise via Himeko, the only Persona that still works. This breaks the mysterious foe’s hold on the Shadows and group. They disappear into some light, the spell is broken, and the unknown enemy forces the three out offstage.
I think you can see where Persona 4: Dancing All Night is going here.
The next day at the studios, there’s an attempt to drag Kanamin into that world. Her producer, Kyoka Ochimizu, and the Investigation Team from Persona 4 interfere and get pulled through in her place. There, Rise and Teddy find the signatures of the other four girls. They head off to rescue the girls with the power of dance and “Reach Out to the Truth.”
It’s a rather nostalgic affair. As I went through this adventure, I couldn’t help but feel people will appreciate it. Persona 4: Dancing All Night deals with identity in the same manner as the original game, but adds a whole new twist on the concept by also going over how our personas determine the sorts of bonds we can form with people around us.
Which also works well with all of the opportunities to see Yu, Yosuke, Yukiko, Chie, Rise, Naoto, Teddie, and Kanji interact with one another again. The personal moments between characters were highlights of Persona 4, Persona 4 Arena, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, and Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. We’re comfortable with these characters, and they’re comfortable with one another. Their unbreakable bonds and seeing their banter makes the story stronger.
Persona 4: Dancing All Night is coming to the PlayStation Vita on September 29. There are 26 songs in the base game, which can be played in the Story and Free Modes.