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In many games and anime, there is that character that I love who is not exactly the most heartwarming of personalities. One of the most prominent Persona character of this would be someone like Vegeta in Dragon Ball or, more relative to the Persona series, Goro Akechi in Persona 5.
Shinjiro Aragaki is, in many ways, that type of character for Persona 3. His story astounded me when I first played the game in high school many years ago and set the bar relatively high for what would come next. It makes this Shinjiro Aragaki guide all the more special for me.
At the time when I first played Persona 3, I was not super drawn to the Persona series. I tried the first three games before Persona 3 and was not sold yet. But Persona 3 drew me in, in a way I did not expect.
Shinjiro Aragaki was only one part of this, but his story, in particular, affected me in a way few games had up to that point. And, to be honest, there is almost no story that exists like his in the rest of the Persona series. Without further ado, it’s time to find out why that is the case in our Persona Shinjiro Aragaki guide.
Bottom Line Up Front
Full spoilers are a warning for this next section. Shinjiro Aragaki is the tragic party member of the Persona 3 SEES crew. He was one of the group’s original members dedicated to taking down Tartarus and the Dark Hour. In a twist for the series, he did not agree with everything and eventually left the team.
Throughout Persona 3, he is a looming presence in the background, rarely being a party member alongside the protagonist. His tragic twist within the story is gut-wrenching, unlike anything, Persona had done before or since.
While most players likely only know his story from how it ends, there is more to it than meets the eye. Over the years since its release, Shinjiro has become a fan favorite for many, including me, admiring the darker storyline for this high school kid.
Shinjiro Aragaki Overview
There is no party member in the history of the Persona series like Shinjiro Aragaki. He impressed me back in the day when I first played Persona 3 Portable, and no character has come close since to offering such a depressing storyline.
There is a ton of backstory to Shinjiro that is not immediately clear to the player when they first play the JRPG. He has an entire backstory of his own that involves his time with SEES before his eventual return in the middle of Persona 3.
You see, Shinjiro was originally one of the first members of SEES alongside his fellow seniors, Akihiko and Mitsuru. Unlike the latter two, though, he left the organization before the start of Persona 3. For much of the game, he plays this mysterious and shadowy character looming in the story’s background.
When he comes to the plot’s forefront, though, I think that Shinjiro steals the show with one of the best subplots in the JRPG. Though I would give the edge to my boy, Junpei, for the best storyline, Shinjiro is a close second with a tale that is unlike anything else in the Persona series.
He is not a villain but a tragic anti-hero who is misunderstood. In this way, he is one of my favorite characters in an already stacked lineup of outstanding Persona 3 party members. I know I am not alone in this regard, as Aragaki has built up a fanatical group of fans, including those who maybe see him as a bit of husbando. To be fair, I can’t blame them.
Appearances-wise, Shinjiro Aragaki is a strange Persona 3 party member. In my opinion, his looks harken back to the days of the first Persona game and the duology of Persona 2 titles. His outfit and general style are nothing like what we have seen from the games since Persona 3, especially in 4 and 5.
He is a third-year high school (senior in Japan) at Gekkoukan High School, but his clothing gives nothing away. This is partially due to the fact that he is a high school dropout, but also there to hint at the anti-hero and darker nature of the party member.
For pants, he wears dark skinny jeans that are paired with brown loafers. The star of the clothing that Shinjiro wears is the maroon-ish dark red trench coat that he wears. It has buttons that go up the middle of it, and he keeps it tightly buttoned up most of the time.
It has an edgy nature to this trench coat with all the cuffs around the wrists and the studded black collar. If that were not enough, he mixed this Panic at the Disco style with a little bit of skater punk in the early 2000s through the beanie on his head.
The beanie is put down low, covering almost his eyes and grim face. He has long grayish-brown hair that goes down to his shoulders, completing the dual nature of this fashionable delinquent. Overall, his appearance is an excellent indicator of his character and role in the story. Not to mention, he is the culmination of my fashion style in middle school, capturing the band geek and emo kid facets of me in one outfit.
Spoiler warning for much of the Persona 3 storyline. Shinjiro Aragaki is an orphan who grows up with Akihiko Sanada. While in school, they meet Mitsuru Kirijo and discover their abilities to enter the Dark Hour. As such, the trio forms the first iteration of the SEES team. However, disagreements happen, and Shinjiro, unfortunately, leaves the group. At the start of Persona 3, Shinjiro is on his own and not helping the team. He does, however, spend a lot of time with Koromaru, who later joins the party.
The regret he has for his Persona going out of control and killing Ken Amada‘s mother still haunts him to this day, leading to his eventual return. This return to the team does not last long, as Ken has the chance to get revenge on Shinjiro in October.
In the process, Takaya emerges from the Strega team and murders Shinjiro, who is trying to protect Ken. In the canonical version of the story, it seems that Shinjiro dies. However, there are expanded versions of his life in Persona 3 Portable that add to his character.
Would you believe it? A member of the SEES team — an initial member, in fact — is a Persona user. Novel idea, I know! Jokes aside, it should be no surprise to anyone that a Persona party member is able to wield, well, a Persona. That is the primary unique ability that Shinjiro Aragaki has.
His Persona is known as Castor, which you may know as one of the famous Argonauts. Unlike his twin brother, Castor was only a mortal person. Together, the two form the Gemini sign in the sky, which many people now owe as their astrological birth sign.
Unlike other party members, except for Koromaru, Shinjiro is one of the only characters with a single Persona. That said, he is pretty powerful and has many useful skills that he can wield in battle using Castor. Furthermore, he does not need Castor with such strong physical capabilities with his ax weapon.
Beyond the standard Persona skills and summoning that Shinjiro has, there is the fact that he is able to explore the Dark Hour. A common trait among the members of the SEES team in Persona 3, he is one of the few humans in the world who is conscious of the Dark Hour.
This mysterious hour that happens each night is only noticeable by a select group of people. While everyone else is frozen in time, Shinjiro is one of the chosen who can walk around, explore, and save people from the shadows of the night. This is one of the reasons why he is chosen to be a member of SEES in the first place.
How to Play as Shinjiro Aragaki
One of the biggest grievances I have against Atlus is that Shinjiro Aragaki has not gotten the love he deserves. Sure, he is a party member in Persona 3, but his few moments are. I would even argue that someone like Goro Akechi, who also got minor playable time in Persona 5, at least was redeemed with Persona 5 Royal. On the other hand, Shinjiro has few playable parts in Persona 3, which is only for Portable. Otherwise, he plays automatically in the turn-based battles. If you control him, you will find one of the game’s most powerful but limited party members.
Oddly enough, there is not a single magical or elemental skill that Shinjiro can use or learn. His entire moveset is based around physical attacks or the occasional status ailment. This makes a valuable team member, but only if you have three other characters who can make up for the lack of elemental coverage.
There is no greater physical combatant on the SEES team than Shinjiro, with his ability to cover both slash and strike damage styles. Furthermore, he can withstand attacks quite well in battle and recover his health easily, too. Not to mention that he is able to counter attacks quite well when he is hit.
Shinjiro is like a traditional tank in a way, but there is not much more utility to him other than that. Because of his unique style of only focusing on melee attacks, it would have been nice to see him in a fighting game alongside his companions in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.
Unfortunately, he is not there, which is a disgrace as he could have been the most traditional and possibly simple fighting game character there. Instead, though, the only other places that you can play as him are in Persona Q, which is not too special, and Persona 3 Dancing in Moonlight. Yes, you can take the brooding and ultra-serious Shinjiro, put some costumes on him, and have him dance the night away. Indeed, he is one of the playable characters in that game.
There is nothing special to his playstyle; being the same as everyone else. You match the button prompts to complete the song. Except, Shinjiro is once again given the shaft by only being a DLC character. So you will possibly have to shell out some extra cash if you want to play as the tragic anti-hero of the SEES team.
Shinjiro Aragaki might be a brooding anti-hero character, but Atlus made sure to nail the voice for his part. The Japanese voice actor is Kazuya Nakai, who is a legendary actor in the gaming and anime industries. He was intentionally chosen for the part of Shinjiro, as he has plenty of experience with this sort of character.
Nakai previously voiced some fantastic roles like Zoro from One Piece, Mondo Oradea in Danganronpa, and, more recently, Jin Sakai in Ghost of Tsushima. Seriously, if you are not playing the terrific Japanese dub of that game, you are missing out on the tremendous acting there. Of course, while I am a fan of Kazuya Nakai, admittedly, I originally played Persona 3 in the English dub. Thankfully, the series always has such exceptional English voice acting, and Shinjiro is no different.
He is voiced by Grant George, the voice of Shuichi from Danganronpa V3, the English voice of Keiichi in Higurashi, and Lancer in Fate/Zero. I’ve never told this story before so let me exclusively spill the tea here. I don’t think it was Grant George, but it is possible that it was him since I could not see his face since he had his back to me. However, it sounded like him.
I was inside the room for a Danganronpa V3 English voice actor panel I was covering. Before it started, one of the VAs appeared, wondering why they were not invited to participate, despite being one of the main characters. They were told to leave, and it was an embarrassing moment for the few who saw the fiasco happen. I still feel really bad for whoever that person was to this day.
Social Link Explained
If I were to list out the social links in Persona 3 and rank them in terms of importance (and greatness), Shinjiro would be right near the very top. What sucks, though, is that it is exclusive to both Persona 3 Portable and the female main character’s route. If you are playing the male main character or any version other than Portable, you’re going to be sore out of luck for this one. Shinjiro Aragaki represents the Moon Arcana, which is fascinating.
I’m not sure about the implications of that, but his character’s dark and moody nature fits this Arcana well, at least. If you’re playing as the female in P3P, the Shinjiro social link can begin on September 7. As for when you can talk with him and raise his social link levels, here is his availability:
- Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: Nighttime only
During those days at night, the player will be able to find and spend time with him by visiting him in the lounge of the school dorm where you live. There are some critical quirks to the social link for Shinjiro that you need to know about, though. For starters, we have the good news. The good news is that you do not have to worry about points when it comes to his relationship.
Unlike the others, where you have to choose your words carefully and possibly waste time to unlock the ability to raise ranks, his is straightforward. However, the bad news is that there is a little side quest of sorts that you must complete to max out his social link. At the ninth level of the relationship, you will have the quest to find his watch.
You can do this by visiting the police station near the mall. After that, you will be able to max out his social link. Finally, the worst news. Shinjiro is available on the aforementioned days but only for a concise period since he is only part of the team for a small amount of time. You must spend time with him on every single one of the days he is available, or you will not be able to max out his social link and receive the remarkable fusion.
On the topic of romance, Shinjiro is undoubtedly a mature and emo man who would, understandably, appeal to many players. If you are one of those people who wish to take a ride on the wild side, I am happy to tell you that you can romance him. Well, sort of. If you max out the social link with Shinjiro in time before October 4, you will be able to spend time with him again.
This takes place after the 10th rank. If you do so, you will hang out together in his room and have a chance to confess your feelings. It is not as clear-cut as other relationships in Persona 3, but it appears he does end up having feelings for the player character.
How to Help Shinjiro
I intentionally named this section weirdly and vaguely to avoid spoilers for those who have never played Persona 3 before. If you want to learn about this character, turn away now until you are ready to play the JRPG for the first time.
Still here? Okay, one of the biggest questions that some players have is how you can save Shinjiro Aragaki from his unfortunate fate in Persona 3. Thankfully, I have some positive news for you. Or, well, partially positive. Yes, it is possible to save his life.
The only way to do that is to max out his social link in time. This requires being the female MC and finishing his social link before the deadline. It is very tough since his ranks are only available on certain days you must spend time with him to complete. But if you complete his social link in time, when he is killed, he will survive and end up in the hospital in a coma. This allows him to live after the game’s ending instead of dying like in every other playthrough.
Unfortunately, it appears that Shinjiro canonically dies no matter what. Since the canonical story seems to follow the male MC until a new version of Persona 3 comes out, it seems that his fate is sealed in what you could consider the actual storyline. I hope we someday receive a remake or something that will blend elements to make his survival a permanent part of the story.
Question: Are Akihiko and Shinjiro related?
Answer: In a way, you could say that Akihiko and Shinjiro are related. They grew up as orphans together, so, in that way, they are likely the closest that one another has to family. I think they both would agree that they are brothers and, of course, best friends.
Question: Is Shinjiro a good party member?
Answer: This is a tricky question to answer. On the one hand, when Shinjiro Aragaki is part of the team, he is immensely powerful and useful. That said, those moments are far too few.
In this way, he is not a good party member overall. But he is a good, kind person with a heart of gold; it’s just hard to dig deep enough to find it.
Question: Is Shinjiro in Persona 3 Dancing in Moonlight?
Answer: Yes, he is one of the DLC characters that you can purchase to play as. He is not in the base game already for whatever reason. This is contrary to other games like Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, where most of the Persona 3 cast is featured, but he is not.
Shinjiro Aragaki is the lovable prodigal son of the Persona 3 SEES team. With his staunch supporters, including myself, I stand by that he is one of the most underrated characters in the last three games of the Persona series. He is worth spending time with to give a better light to his circumstances so that his story has a happier ending.
I also think it is a darn shame that Atlus has not shown more love to Shinjiro in the past, giving him the sort of attention that other Persona 3 characters have in games like Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. This specific attention has been given to similar characters like Goro Akechi in Persona 5. Undoubtedly, Goro is the better character overall, but that is only because Shinjiro did not get a chance. He spends so little time with the player protagonist in Persona 3.