Akihiko is basically the ace of your group. Which is fitting. He is left-handed, after all, a member of that genetically superior race. Dude is good at nearly everything. He’s an excellent boxer, and is riding on a 16-match win streak as of the game’s start. He’s a great combatant against shadows as well, shown taking them on without backup in the game’s opening act and being one of two people you need available to be allowed to take on the tower of Tartarus in the early game. And he’s got a sharp mind and a stable core, to boot, coming up with great tactics on his own while also keeping S.E.E.S. emotionally grounded during its most difficult moments.
Unfortunately, Akihiko’s also the character most ruined by the sequels completely discarding a lot of what makes him special and the character growth he went through here in favor of over-emphasizing just a few strange moments from him. So let’s go over just who Akihiko is in Persona 3.
The big, central thing to Akihiko’s arc and personality is his constant drive for self-improvement. He’s incredibly competitive, although it often seems that he’s competing more with himself than others. He often drives others to do the same as well, taking on a sort of mentoring/managerial role. He’s the one who guides and protects you as you’re new to the art of shadow-fighting, introducing you to all the resources S.E.E.S. has mustered thus far and making sure you’re adequately prepared. He also takes a direct hand in helping the academically-challenged members of S.E.E.S. prep for big tests. When others are trying to temper your expectations of an upcoming athletic meet you’re competing in in the face of the stiff competition you’re set to face there, he’s the one to encourage you most whole-heartedly. His drive to improve does go too far at times, seeing him take risks alone that others are really uncomfortable with and leave him injured, refuse to rest to allow his injuries to heal, and do make him seem insensitive others when they think he’s focusing on the wrong things. It can also make him a bit single-minded. Shinjiro does remark at one point that he is so focused on the future that seeing him think about the past even a bit means that something is dearly wrong.
The game dances around this a bit, spending a lot of time hinting that Akihiko’s got some traumatic events in his past, before coming out that this drive for self-improvement comes from the death of his sister in a fire. It seems they were living at an orphanage at that point, but otherwise, there aren’t a whole lot of details to go around on it. He felt a whole lot of guilt for not being able to save her, and devoted everything to getting strong enough that he’d never lose someone like that again. That pursuit of improvement has its good and bad points throughout the story, as seen above, and continues up until the death of one of his closest friends, Shinjiro. At that point, he’s forced to come face-to-face with the fact that, as powerful and skilled in so many different ways as he has gotten, there are things in life that he will still be completely unable to prevent. His pursuit of improvement as a safety measure will never be absolute, and he won’t be able to save everyone important to him from everything arrayed against them. At that realization, he recommits himself to fighting against the dark hour, knowing that he’ll need to find a new way to live once its done.
And with that, maybe you can see a bit why I find the ‘Let’s eat protein! Train all the time! Fight fight fight!’ personality he adopts in Persona 4 Arena and Persona Q so disgusting.Continue reading