The Persona branch of the Shin Megami Tensei video game franchise is known for its strong personalities and quirky characters. More often than not, the group of main characters in a Persona game finds themselves having to investigate something, whether it be the Tartarus of Persona 3 or the Midnight Channel of Persona 4. The adults in Persona games tend not to be the most helpful, so it’s usually up to teenagers to save the day.
The story of Persona 4 is specifically focused on the investigation of a series of gruesome murders. Throughout the game, it becomes evident that the police are unequipped to deal with solving the murder, so it becomes the job of the Investigation Team formed by the protagonist and his friends to save the day. They get a big lift when a special detective joins the group around the middle of the game.
Naoto Shirogane is a verified genius and she uses her intellect to solve cases as a detective. Her natural-born gifts and learned abilities make her one of the most interesting characters in Persona 4, one that is in a constant struggle to be seen as legitimate in the face of ageism and sexism.
Naoto is a very serious person and one who carries out her duties as a detective with a high level of professionalism. After she confronts her Persona and can accept all of the various parts that make up her personality, she uses the powers of her Persona, Sukuna-Hikona, and its Dark and Light skills to help the Investigation Team.
If you’re looking to learn more about the Detective Prince, or Nao-chan as Teddie calls her, you’ve come to the right place. This Naoto Shirogane guide will cover the essential information you need to know about Naoto before rescuing her and recruiting her into your party, as well as her fighting style in Persona 4 Arena. It’s time to do our best sleuthing as we investigate Naoto Shirogane and her role in the Persona series.
Bottom Line Up Front
- Naoto Shirogane is a character and party member in Persona 4.
- Naoto is a young genius and a detective who is tapped by the Inaba Police Department to help in the investigation of the Midnight Channel murders.
- She comes from a long line of famous detectives.
- Though she is a romanceable option for the protagonist of Persona 4, she plays a big part in Kanji Tatsumi’s character development.
- Naoto’s Persona, Sukuna-Hikona, is of the Fortune Arcana and benefits from leveling up Naoto’s Social Link Rank.
Note: This Naoto Shirogane guide contains spoilers.
Naoto Shirogane is a character and core party member in Persona 4 and its expanded version, Persona 4 Golden. Naoto is also a playable character in Persona series spin-offs Persona 4 Arena, the Persona Q series, and Persona 4: Dancing All Night. Naoto’s personality and appearance remain much the same in every game, as well as in the Persona 4 anime and manga.
Naoto might be a younger member of the Investigation Team, but she’s the most mature by far. She’s been through a lot, having lost her parents when she was a kid. She’s also had to deal with the expectations that come with being the next in line of a prestigious clan of detectives.
Naoto’s serious nature leads to her being perceived as cold and uptight. She’s always focused on the mission, at least when you first meet her. After spending some time with the other members of the Investigation Team, she begins to loosen up around everyone and act more like a teenager. They fill Naoto’s need for friendship that has developed since she lost her parents.
The young detective has her reasons for acting the way she does. She fears that won’t she won’t be taken seriously as a detective due to her age and gender. In response, Naoto adopted her mature facade, along with dressing like a male and binding her chest to hide the fact that she’s a girl.
Upon meeting and defeating her Shadow, Naoto comes to understand that she desires to live as herself, not to pretend to be an adult or a male. Throughout the rest of the game, we see her become more comfortable with this fact, to the point where the epilogue of Persona 4 Golden shows that she has grown out her hair and dresses more feminine.
Naoto’s dungeon reflects her insecurities in the form of a secret laboratory. Her gender dysphoria is personified in Shadow Naoto, who looks like a robot that’s been patched together from various mismatched parts. Similarly, Naoto doesn’t recognize herself and the goodness that entails – she only recognizes the type of person she thinks she needs to be to become a successful detective.
Not just an investigative mastermind, Naoto contributes to the Investigation Team with her battle skill, too. In Persona 4 Golden, her Persona, Sukuna-Hikona, comes with some super powerful elemental spells, including Agidyne and Garudyne.
Naoto can also use Mudoon and Hamaon, Dark and Light moves that have a chance of instantly killing an enemy. Megidola is available to cast as well if you want a powerful move that does Almighty damage to every enemy.
Naoto usually has a business-like attitude and her appearance reinforces that. In most circumstances, she wears the male version of the full school uniform with the jacket buttoned nearly to the top. This is worn with a blue cap which is probably the most iconic part of Naoto’s look. Under her hat, she keeps her hair trimmed short until after the events of Persona 4.
Even the outfits that Naoto wears on holidays and in different seasons seem a little on the formal side. In summer, she’ll wear a light blue collared shirt with a yellow necktie. Her double-breasted cardigan jacket, blue bowtie, and blue plaid pants look just as professional and fit nicely with the detective vibe when she has a gun in Persona 4 Arena. Naoto also has a special outfit for the ski trip in Persona 4 Golden that consists of a white hood, purple gloves, a blue jacket with purple and white lines, dark blue pants, and ski goggles.
Persona 4: Dancing All Night gives Naoto a complete wardrobe of outfits. Many of them are taken from previous Persona games, but some are exclusive to Dancing All Night. My favorites are the Detective Costume and the Sogabe Design.
Key Moments Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden
Naoto wasn’t like the other victims that were thrown into the Midnight Channel – she acted as bait. To advance the investigation into the murders, Naoto offered herself up to be the killer’s next victim. Once she was in the twisted world of the Midnight Channel, her insecurities manifested themselves in the form of the Secret Laboratory, which can be discovered after a dialogue chain with different characters.
The “secret” portion of the Secret Laboratory’s name might refer to her gender hidden from the police force and her classmates. Shadow Naoto pretty much confirms this when she appears, revealing that she was preparing for surgery to alter Naoto’s gender to make her male. When Naoto denies this, her shadow attacks the party.
Defeating Shadow Naoto results in the revelation of more important parts of Naoto’s backstory. Her parents were also detectives but were unfortunately killed during an investigation. She wants to become worthy of the Shirogane name and follow in her parent’s footsteps, but she felt that her gender was holding her back.
Now realizing that she only wanted to be recognized for being herself, Naoto’s Shadow transforms into Sakuna-Hikona.
Social Link Rank 8
This Social Link event is an important one because it’s when you can choose to try to start a relationship between the protagonist and Naoto. It takes place at the shrine in Inaba as the two of you continue to investigate the whereabouts of the Phantom Thief. Out of nowhere, a man brings out a knife against Naoto.
There’s no great response to choose from, but fighting alongside her is probably your best bet. All options get a negative reaction, probably due to Naoto’s stubborn nature and desire to handle things on her own.
To start a relationship between Yu and Naoto, you’ll want to choose the option “Because I love you” in the next dialogue with her. The Social Link will advance to 8 and Naoto will run home, embarrassed by the protagonist’s words.
Social Link Rank 9
This event is the climax of the Phantom Thief story as you finally learn the true motive behind it. After answering a series of questions from Naoto, she and Yu will arrive at a hill and have to look into a trash can. In it, they find the Detective’s Pocketbook. It’s revealed that Naoto’s grandfather planned the whole thing, a fact that makes Naoto upset.
Funnily enough, her grandfather’s staged event makes Naoto realize why she wanted to become a detective in the first place: to help people by solving mysteries. She comes to understand that she has to believe in and accept herself. She accepts that she’s a woman and knows that she has work to do to be a better detective. After all of this, if you’ve pursued a relationship with her, she’ll confess her love for the protagonist.
Social Link MAX
To start this event, speak to Naoto at school and she’ll ask to go somewhere where she and Yu can be alone. That will take you to Yu’s room. She gives you a Detective Badge and mentions that she has a matching one. It’s a sign of how close she’s grown to the protagonist since they’ve met.
Naoto begins to explain how being a detective had become a burden because she could never turn it off. It consumed every aspect of her life until she learned to accept that she was a person outside of that life, too. Now, after getting to know the protagonist, she genuinely seems like she’s starting to grow comfortable in her skin.
Naoto’s Persona, Sukuna-Hikona, evolves into Yamato Takeru, and Naoto realizes that she’s much happier just being herself. The more powerful Yamato Takeru is similar to Sukuna-Hikona in that it has powerful Dark and Light moves that other Investigation Team members can’t access. After Naoto admits that she can focus on being herself from now on, the Social Link will reach its maximum level and Yamato Takeru will also learn Invigorate 3.
The scene ends with Naoto saying again that she loves the protagonist. She still seems nervous and embarrassed to admit to something like that, but the two finish the rest of the day together in a sign that she’s become comfortable with the prospect of being in a relationship – a turn from her earlier belief that these kinds of things were wastes of time.
Key Moments Persona 4 Arena
Naoto Battles Mitsuru
Naoto’s story in Persona 4 Arena takes a different path than the other members of the Investigation Team. Separated from them, she instead works mostly with the Shadow Operatives, who consist of members of Persona 3’s cast, specifically Mitsuru. Naoto’s quest begins when she receives a call to investigate Mitsuru Kirijo and her family company, the Kirijo Group.
During the tournament of Persona 4 Arena, Naoto has to fight Mitsuru. The battle between the two helps Naoto understand that Mitsuru acts only out of a hope to protect herself and others from the Shadows of the Tartarus.
This leads Naoto to be able to trust Mitsuru, and Mitsuru uses her Persona, Artemisia, to put her in contact with Rise and learn her location. It’s an important scene as Naoto’s entire story up until this point focused on investigating Mitsuru. This marks a turn towards rescuing Labrys, Teddie, Rise, and the others trapped by the P1 Grand Prix.
Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden
Naoto’s skillset in the original Persona 4 release is a little bit limited in comparison to that of Golden’s. That makes her role in battle slightly different in the two games. In the original Persona, Naoto is a source of Light, Dark, and Almighty attacks – all of the quirkier elements. She also has no elemental weaknesses, which takes away the stress of having to plan around potentially getting knocked down in battle.
Golden added other elements to Sukuna-Hikona’s repertoire, including Agidyne and Garudyne. When Naoto finally joins the Investigation Team, she’ll already know these skills. This allows you more flexibility when choosing how to implement Naoto in your party, as she can fill in for Yosuke and Yukiko and their elemental attacks if need be.
In Persona 4 Golden, Naoto and Sukuna-Hikona learn the following skills:
- Tempest Slash (Physical) – learned
- Agidyne (Fire) – learned
- Garudyne (Wind) – learned
- Mudoon (Dark) – learned
- Hamaon (Light) – learned
- Megidola (Almighty) – learned
- Deathbound (Physical) – learned
- Tetrakarn (Support) – level 56
- Blight (Physical) – level 58
- Mudo Boost (Support) – level 60
- Hama Boost (Support) – level 62
- Makarakarn (Support) – level 64
- Mamudoon (Dark) – level 68
- Mahamaon (Light) – Level 70
- Vorpal Blade (Physical) – level 73
- Megidolaon (Almighty) – level 75
By the time you’ve learned all of the possible abilities for Naoto and Sukuna-Hikona, you’ll have a character that’s able to inflict massive damage from multiple elements on enemies. Best of all, her Mamudoon and Mahamaon skills have the chance of wiping an entire party of enemies, making battles potentially much quicker affairs.
Not just one for magical abilities, Naoto’s physical attacks are also capable of doing big chunks of damage. She’s much less useful in boss fights since her Light and Dark attacks don’t affect the most powerful enemies in the game.
Persona 4 Arena
Similar to how her skillset in Persona 4 Golden opens her up to multiple roles within your party, Naoto is a capable fighter at short, medium, and long-range, making her rather malleable as a fighter. You’ll want to stay away from direct conflict as much as possible, as Naoto’s lower health means more aggressive characters can make short work of her.
In a nod to Naoto’s Mudoon and Hamaon skills, playing as her will cause a unique Fate meter to appear for your opponent. When the meter reaches zero, you can cast either Mudoon or Hamaon for a chance to instantly kill the enemy fighter. You can do this in any round of the fight.
Naoto carries a gun that she can use in battle in Persona 4 Arena. You can use this firearm to help keep your opponent away. This is good when you consider Naoto’s health again and her general strategy of playing keep away in most battles. Naoto can be one of the more difficult characters to master due to these characteristics.
Like the other female party members of Persona 4 (Chie, Yukiko, and Rise), Yu can potentially form a close, romantic relationship with Naoto that opens up different Social Link options for her. Naoto’s Persona, Sukuna-Hikona, follows the Fortune Arcana, and other Persona of the Fortune Arcana will benefit from leveling up her Social Link.
Naoto’s Social Link story focuses on finding the Phantom Thief, only to find that the entire thing was set up by her grandfather to teach her a lesson about being a detective. Bringing Yu and Naoto closer together causes her to become more comfortable with him and with her gender throughout their mini-investigation. She becomes nervous when she speaks to the protagonist about her love for him, often turning beet-red.
Kanji is another character in Persona 4 whose gender identity is doing a number on them. Kanji’s dungeon and encounter with his Shadow reveal that, while extremely masculine in most things, he has some hobbies that have been considered feminine in the past. This causes Kanji to wonder if he is fully straight or not, which causes a lot of stress and embarrassment for him, even though it shouldn’t.
Perhaps this is partly why Kanji gravitates towards Naoto. Both are characters dealing with issues surrounding gender and performative roles. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think there’s ever a scene where these two sit down and hash out those issues.
Their storylines are filled with missed opportunities for more nuanced representation of homosexual and transgender issues, but if the protagonist doesn’t end up in a relationship with Naoto it can be assumed that Kanji and her end up together.
These two geniuses cross paths in the story of Persona 4 Arena. Naoto is contracted by a man in the Japanese Self Defense Force to help investigate Mitsuru, suggesting that she’s gotten into something not so good. When they finally meet, Naoto helps Mitsuru by taking part in a very important escort mission that goes awry.
They don’t always see eye-to-eye, as Mitsuru feels compelled to ask Naoto to abandon the investigation in Persona 4 Arena. Naoto refuses, eventually reentering the Midnight Channel and joining the P1 Grand Prix. She eventually has to fight Mitsuru, but after successfully defeating her, she can locate Rise, Teddie, and Shadow Teddie.
Question: Who is Naoto Shirogane?
Answer: Naoto Shirogane is a character and party member in Persona 4, an RPG that is a part of the Shin Megami Tensei video game franchise. She comes from a long line of famous detectives and conducts herself with the utmost professionalism. Her business-first demeanor can lead to her seeming cold and robotic. She becomes a victim of the Midnight Channel after offering herself as bait to try to catch the killer.
Question: How old is Naoto Shirogane?
Answer: Naoto Shirogane is younger than the other members of the Investigation Team. Her age seems to be the same as Kanji’s, as he is also a freshman at Yasogami High School. In Persona 4, her age is either 15 or 16.
Question: Where can I find Naoto in Persona 4?
Answer: After you rescue Naoto and she becomes a part of the Investigation Team, you’ll need to complete a short quest and have your Knowledge and Courage maxed out to start her Social Link. Speak to a man in black in the North Shopping District to receive a card that can be shown to Naoto to trigger her Social Link. You can find Naoto at school once you’re ready to meet with her.
Question: Who voices Naoto Shirogane?
Answer: Naoto’s voice actor changes from Persona 4 to Persona 4 Arena. In Persona 4, she is voiced by Juria Kawakami, who is also a singer. In Persona 4 Arena, she is voiced by Yuki Asakura.
Naoto is a character that, while I enjoyed her plot, I didn’t know how to use in battle at first. I had never really gravitated towards using Light and Dark spells, instead opting for damage-dealing elements spells like Bufudyne and Agilao.
Now that I’ve had more time with Persona in general, I can appreciate Naoto and her skill set. She’s extremely useful for clearing out normal Shadows that you’ll encounter in battle, and she can make the numerous battles you’ll have while dungeon crawling much quicker if she can knock out a few enemies with one attack.
I think that Naoto’s Social Link with the protagonist offers a more special story than with Chie, Rise, or Yukiko. Naoto’s relationship with the protagonist brings her to a full realization of who she is as a person and she’s able to learn to love herself based on her own merits, not based on the person she thinks she needs to be to succeed.
Naoto is one of the most relatable characters in Persona 4 and her struggles are just as poignant today as they were when the game was initially released. If you’re looking for a deeper Persona 4 experience, make sure to learn more about Naoto and max out her Social Link to ensure you get the best story possible.
- Kanji Tatsumi Guide: Persona 4’s Tough Guy Explained - May 1, 2022
- Nanako Dojima Guide: Yu Narukami’s “Little Sister” - April 15, 2022
- Naoto Shirogane Guide – The Genius Detective - March 23, 2022