We all have that part of ourselves that we don’t quite understand. That information about our hidden selves that we would like to keep secret from everyone around us. It could be due to fear of what others might think about us or that we don’t know what’s going on with ourselves yet. This difficult part of life is the very core behind the Persona series. And few characters embody this idea better than the one in this Shadow Kanji guide.
Before we go any further, it should be noted that Shadow Kanji and Kanji Tatsumi, in general, are the most controversial parts of the beloved Persona 4 Golden. I would like to make it clear from the start that this Shadow Kanji guide will dive into some complicated matters like someone who is still in the closet and an older game that was not as sensitive in its approach to dealing with a gay character.
It could be triggering for some, so I would like to note that ahead of time. With that in place, let’s look at this unique Persona 4 boss and how to defeat him.
Bottom Line Up Front
Shadow Kanji is the shadow form of Kanji Tatsumi, one of the prominent party members in Persona 4. Shadow Kanji is one of the major bosses in the Steamy Bathhouse dungeon that players visit in the first half of the game. He is also one of the most challenging bosses early on, troubling some players who are not yet ready.
But above all else, Shadow Kanji remains a symbol for some players and an element of controversy at the same time. The character is there to represent the still hidden sexuality that Kanji Tatsumi has. Still, it has garnered some controversy in the past due to the highly insensitive way that it approaches this subject matter.
Shadow Kanji Overview
Shadow Kanji is the other-self of Kanji Tatsumi. Typically, this would mean that he is the Persona of Kanji, but not quite yet. The boss character follows the trend of Persona 4, where the party members must first deal with their hidden feelings before they can awaken to their Persona.
In the case of Kanji Tatsumi, his is the Shadow Kanji form. The character is the third party member to get a boss and dungeon, and far from the last one, too. Shadow Kanji is a turning point for the JRPG in terms of difficulty, as the fight with this enemy is far more complex than every boss up until this point.
Though the section of Persona 4 featuring Shadow Kanji is one of the more controversial parts of the game, I enjoy this part. It hits close to home, and I can certainly understand how Kanji is feeling. It also helps that the dungeon involved is one of my favorites in the JRPG.
How Shadow Kanji looks is nothing too special. Atlus reused the regular characters in Persona 4 for their shadow versions, with only slight changes here and there. That said, I think Shadow Kanji is one of the unique examples of this kind due to certain choice decisions.
For starters, the appearance of Shadow Kanji is the base model for Kanji Tatsumi but with a little more skin showing. The hidden self of Kanji does not mind baring it all for everyone to see. We can see this in his, well, lack of clothing as he is only wearing a towel around his waist, and that’s it.
This is, of course, due to the fact that Shadow Kanji is the boss of the Steamy Bathhouse dungeon. To match the attire of that hot and heavy location, Shadow Kanji has stripped down to nothing but a towel to protect himself from showing everything to the world.
Though there is not much to say about the clothing choices for Shadow Kanji, Atlus found a way to inject some personality into the boss character in other ways. Shadow Kanji has the signature yellow eyes that indicate that he is a “villainous” version of the main character, as with the other shadows.
His hair is pulled back some, and much of the stereotypical macho nature of Kanji is removed from this version of him. This is intentional to give him a more laidback and feminine personality. Controversially, this version of Shadow Kanji has a changed voice style.
Though it is still the legendary Troy Baker voicing Shadow Kanji as before, he speaks more softly and slowly with a feminine touch. He uses a very cliche, a higher-pitched, drawn-out voice that is controversially used in media to depict gay guys, despite not all sounding like that. He is also red around his cheeks and constantly blushing, giving hints at some other notions that I’m not too comfortable going into for this guide.
While Shadow Kanji mostly looks like the above in cutscenes, the boss fight version of the character is slightly different. In this iteration, Shadow Kanji is surrounded by a very massive and buff gray man who looks like a statue. There are loads of roses that go up and down the neck of the statue man, also surrounding Shadow Kanji.
The muscle man boss is carrying around two Mars symbols that indicate the male gender, and he uses them as weapons to attack the player. The two of them are there to suggest that he is a man who likes men likely.
Lastly, some green vines go up and down the hulking boss, and some beautiful red swirls of rose petals are behind him. It is an interesting appearance that attempts to capture the fact that on the outside, Kanji is a muscular macho man, but he is hiding the more delicate version of him that lies underneath.
Shadow Kanji is a central boss character who only appears during a specific section of the game. In Persona 4, the general idea of the storyline is surrounding the murder mystery in the small town of Inaba. Someone is throwing people into the TV World where shadows massacre them.
With the nature of this storyline, keep in mind that there are some spoilers ahead for this section of the JRPG. The job of the main characters in the Investigation Team is to find and stop this killer. The next target on the list turns out to be Kanji Tatsumi, the local troublemaker freshman who picks fights with biker gangs and acts all tough.
Yu Narukami and the others turn on the television one night to watch the Midnight Channel and see Shadow Kanji appear there. Like other shadows before Kanji’s, the appearance and personality of this shadow betray the real feelings that Kanji keeps hidden inside.
Once the team realizes that Kanji is the next target for the killer, they enact a plan to rescue him from the TV World. They enter the Steamy Bathhouse dungeon where Shadow Kanji is the ruler and track him down over many floors. Eventually, they reach Shadow Kanji, where he is holding his real self captive.
Shadow Kanji is flirtatious and loose, making it clear that he is into men, which is something that Tatsumi is not ready to accept at this point. Kanji rejects his shadow self, which causes Shadow Kanji to transform into the boss version.
The Investigation Team fights against Shadow Kanji and his muscular minions before defeating him with a hard-earned victory. After the conclusion of the fight, Kanji accepts his shadow version and acknowledges, at the very least, that he is into hobbies and interests that other guys are not always intrigued by.
In turn, Shadow Kanji disappears, turning into the Persona that Tatsumi wields known as Take-Mikazuchi. With this change of heart, Kanji Tatsumi is saved, and his shadow rejoins him as part of his real self.
The Steamy Bathhouse is the alluring playroom that Shadow Kanji calls home. There is a lot of sensual stuff in Persona 4 for some reason, especially in the TV World, and the Steamy Bathhouse is no exception. This dungeon is literally what it sounds like: a hot and heavy bathhouse.
Modeled after the traditional public bathhouses that are still around even today in Japan, the Steamy Bathhouse dungeon is where Shadow Kanji feels like he can finally be himself. Surrounded by a men’s only bath and location, he is free to be around the gender that he is most comfortable with.
The Steamy Bathhouse is one of the main dungeons that you will encounter in Persona 4 and Golden. Like the other dungeons, this one is procedurally-generated. What this means is that every floor that you go on will look different from the last one that you did. This is even the case if you redo some of the floors. F
or instance, if you leave the dungeon and come back later, the fourth floor will not have the same layout as it did before. Enemy placement, various rooms, treasure chests, pathways, and even the staircase to the next floor will all be in different places.
There are 11 floors in total that players can go through in the Steamy Bathhouse with a single optional mini-boss as well. On the 11th floor, this is where players will find the smallest area where it is just the boss room with Shadow Kanji and the real Kanji Tatsumi, who has been kidnapped. Players simply need to reach this floor by the deadline to save Kanji.
Speaking of which, the deadline for saving Kanji Tatsumi and completing the Steamy Bathhouse is June 4. That is the final day on which players can rescue Kanji from the TV World to prevent another victim in the string of supernatural murders.
However, this is one of the shorter sections of the game, too, with the Steamy Bathhouse and Shadow Kanji becoming available on only May 19. That means that you only have a few weeks — not even an entire month — to rescue Kanji from his shadow self. That is why it is imperative that you try to save him as soon as possible. Thankfully, the entire process can be done in a single visit to the TV World if you’re prepared for the boss fight ahead.
Shadow Kanji Boss Fight Explained
I received my Steam Deck recently (which is an absolute game-changer system), and the first game I booted up was Persona 4 Golden. Literally a few weeks before writing this guide, I just defeated Shadow Kanji for the first time since my original playthrough of this game nearly ten years ago. Here are my fresh thoughts on how to beat this surprisingly formidable foe.
General Stats and Notes
First and foremost, this fight has three enemies in total. Shadow Kanji is in the middle, and the Tough Guy and Nice Guy are on the sides. Shadow Kanji has 2000 health while his minions have 800 each. When it comes to attacks that the enemies have, they are pretty straightforward.
The two minions use only physical attacks and some status ailments, while Shadow Kanji uses that plus electric attacks. If you are resistant to physical attacks or immune to electric (or, better, both), then this fight is going to be a breeze mainly.
If not, this will be the most brutal fight in the game so far. It has a sharp difficulty curve increase here if you are not ready for this boss fight. While Shadow Kanji has no weaknesses, he has no notable resistances, either, other than the usual light and dark.
On the other hand, the Tough Guy and Nice Guy are weak to fire and ice, respectively, but only in Persona 4 Golden. However, that is the much better version of the game, so you should be playing it.
How to Win This Difficult Fight
The general idea of this boss fight is to focus on the Nice Guy first. Not only does he have some skills that will render his weaknesses inept, but he will also heal his party. This is a massive problem as it will turn your hard work into waste if you are not too careful.
Focus on mowing down Nice Guy with ice when he is still weak to it, and try to take him out first. I like to use Mabufu and other area-of-effect skills like that to attack Nice Guy since it will damage Shadow Kanji, too, in the process.
Once Nice Guy is out, I recommend focusing on Tough Guy. Use Yukiko’s strongest fire moves to take him out (again, AOE ones are welcome), and then it will be more straightforward. Shadow Kanji is extremely powerful and will decimate your team with hefty attacks.
That said, it does not have to be too big of an issue here so long as you have the healing skills and items to recover quickly. Watch out for the rage and poison that he can inflict on the party members, and deal with it accordingly. Whenever he uses Power Charge, he is getting ready for a big attack, so that is the moment to put up your guard and prepare for the inevitably devastating damage.
Finally, the primary thing that you need to worry about is Tetrakarn. This will render your physical attacks useless, but I recommend using your best elemental skills against him anyways. Using your most powerful skills will mean that you can deal the most damage at all times. Having no blatant resistance means that everyone in the party can be firing on all cylinders the entire time without worry.
This fight is primarily a war of attrition as you have to worry less about your HP and more about the SP to keep using your skills. Items can help with this, but my best recommendation is to be overleveled. That is why I recommend doing this fight at level 24, if not 25, or much higher if you can.
I know some purists will not like this, but I like to turn on the increased XP. This eliminates the need for grinding without making the difficulty too much easier in the game.
Addressing the Controversy
I would like to address the controversy that surrounds Persona 4, Shadow Kanji, and the portrayal of someone in the closet. Let me be clear: the events that happen in this game happen in a problematic way, and I understand the issue with them. After all, I think it is a considerable problem that Kanji Tatsumi never truly accepts his attraction toward men. He still rejects it even after defeating his shadow self and accepting him. But, at the same time, he continues to hint throughout the game that he is more attracted to men than women.
The game never entirely goes where it needs to go in acknowledging the sexuality of Kanji Tatsumi. Not to mention, there is the fact of the matter that Yosuke and some of the others poke fun at the possible sexuality of Kanji, even calling it disgusting and other harmful descriptors. All that considered, though, I still appreciate the fact that Persona 4 went there in the first place. Even if it did not go all the way or handle it the right way, it is still a welcome change of pace. After all, this is coming from a Japanese developer where gay marriage is still not a common practice.
Even crazier is the fact that this happened in 2008 when the game first came out, and gay marriage was not even legal in the United States at the time. While I get the concern surrounding how Atlus handled this situation, I think it was progress nonetheless. Was it messy progress? Sure, but it was something. If anything, this gives me hope for the future of the Persona series, where we will get a more clear-cut and progressive take on someone’s sexuality in the series. I expect this will happen since there have been other gay characters in the game besides Kanji.
Fun Facts About Shadow Kanji
Here are some fun facts about Shadow Kanji, specifically, that you might not have known about before:
- Shadow Kanji is voiced by Troy Baker, who also voices the regular Kanji in Persona 4 and Golden. However, Matthew Mercer takes on the daunting task of replacing Baker in Persona 4 Arena Ultimate, where you can play as Shadow Kanji.
- The Nice Guy and Tough Guy’s additional enemies in the Shadow Kanji boss fight are likely to represent the two sides of Kanji that are constantly at war with one another.
- Shadow Kanji transforms into Take-Mikazuchi after the fight, which is Kanji’s Persona. This is a notable selection because Take-Mikazuchi is the god of thunder in the Japanese Shinto beliefs.
Question: What level should I be at to fight Shadow Kanji?
Answer: I always recommend for this fight that you should be at least level 24. You can certainly do it much lower than that — I’ve seen someone do it at level 18 — but the hits from Shadow Kanji and his men are brutal. It can take some grinding to get to that point, but it is worth it.
Question: What Persona should I use for Shadow Kanji?
Answer: The general recommendation is something that resists or is immune to electric attacks as that is what Shadow Kanji specializes in. To this point, I think a Persona like Xiezhai is excellent. You can find it as a shuffle time Persona in Shadow Kanji’s Steamy Bathhouse.
Question: How long do you have to save Kanji?
Answer: You only have a few weeks to save Kanji from the TV World and his shadow self. He is available for rescue from May 19-June 4.
Shadow Kanji might be one of the most controversial parts of Persona 4, but I also think it is one of the most welcome at the same time. We can both praise Atlus’s forward-thinking at the time while also lamenting the outdated and insensitive way it did so.
In my opinion, Shadow Kanji is representative of a developer who does not shy away from human rights and subjects that other Japanese developers and the country as a whole avoid. It is one of the many reasons I love Atlus and the Persona series so much, as I think it attempts to push the medium of JRPGs and human rights forward into the future. Speaking of the future, I fully expect this trend to continue with Persona 6, which is, hopefully, coming soon.
- Persona 5 Vinyl Guide: Where to Buy the Best Persona 5 Vinyls - March 21, 2023
- Zenkichi Persona Guide: Phantom Thieves’ Wolf Explained - March 16, 2023
- Persona 5 Cosplay Ideas - February 27, 2023