Welcome to DILF, a small tribute to Detective Ryotaro Dojima of the Inaba Police Force from the video game Persona 4.
This tribute will contain information and unmarked spoilers for the vanilla version of Persona 4, so read at your own risks.
If you accept that, then read on!
The Game Persona 4
Taking place in the very rural town of Inaba, Japan, Persona 4 is a murder mystery where the murder weapon is a TV. Not how you think, however: people who appear on the "Midnight Channel", a channel supposed to only be an urban legend, later turn up dead. Of course, the police is powerless to figure this one out, and it's up to a group of meddling teens and their pet bear mascot to stop the murderer before he gets away with it.
Somehow, this feels kind of familiar…
The Man Ryotaro
Ryotaro Dojima is a gruff, no-nonsense police detective and the maternal uncle of the protagonist. Smart, but a workaholic, he neglects his young daughter Nanako, who must take care of the house in his absence. With the strange string of murders occurring in Inaba, Ryotaro is busier than he's ever been in his life, and Nanako cruelly misses here father.
When not busy with the murders, Ryotaro is obsessed with the death of his beloved wife, Chisato Dojima, in a hit-and-run that remains unsolved to this day. Even though, as he tells the protagonist, the car that hit her was an oversea model sedan, and that the culprit has most likely left Japan entirely, his grief pushes him to solve the unsolvable.
Although suspiscious of his nephew's increasingly bizarre behaviour, and of his involvement with the murders and kidnappings of Inaba that coincidentally began around the time said nephew came into town, he does still trust him enough to put Nanako's life in his hands when he is incapacitated by a violent car accident. Better yet, he believes his nephew and his nephew's friends are the only ones who truly save the kidnapped Nanako.
Official guide information
- Ryotaro Dojima 「堂 島 ・遼 太 郎 」
- Date of Birth
- May 16th, 1969
- Age in-game
- 41 years old
- Blood Type
- 179 cm
- 66 kg
- Zodiac Sign
- The Hierophant
The gruffness and the excessive work are both masks worn by Dojima in society, in line with the theme of the Persona series. Ryotaro uses them to hide his pain of having lost his wife in an unsolved hit-and-run and having to raise, alone, a daughter who is the spitting image of his late beloved wife. I'm not saying that his hard-working attitude is not real. However, he stays late evenings trying to solve a killing where, he admits himself, the perpetrator will, in all likelihood, never be found, since they must have already left the country. Meanwhile, his daughter is home alone, waiting in vain for her daddy.
This clearly gives the impression that Ryotaro does not care about his daughter very much, and, given how much she reminds him of his wife, it could have been true. However, when Nanako is the latest victim of Inaba's string of kidnapping and murders via TV, blinded by rage, he recklessly gets into a high-speed car chase with the prime suspect, which ends in a violent car crash that severely injures them both. Stuck in a hospital bed, powerless, he tells his strange nephew he believes that, somehow, he's the only one who can bring Nanako back now.
When Nanako is taken back to the real world, her condition takes a sudden turn for the worst. Ryotaro can then be found at the door of his prime suspect's highly guarded hospital room, banging on the door, demanding “Give me back Nanako! She's...she's all I have!...”. Ryotaro does care about his daughter, painfully so. He's just unsure how to express his love for her or how to face her while dealing (poorly) with his feelings of guilt and failure for being unable to bring his wife's killer to justice, especially as Chisato was struck and killed while she was on her way to pick up Nanako from kindergarten.
Is Ryotaro Dojima an alcoholic?
I would like to dispell, somewhat, a myth that I have seen around in the Persona 4 fandom: the idea that Ryotaro is an alcoholic. It's featured a lot in parodies of Ryotaro and I think people have the wrong idea because he comes home drunk a few times during the course of the game, helped back home by Adachi.
In Japanese work culture, it is expected of coworkers to go out drinking together at the end of the work day (usually after a lot of mandatory/​voluntold overtime). Not only that, but it is the responsability of your coworkers to make sure your glass is never empty. Even if you have only drunk a little in your glass, they will top it right off all over again, and soon you're losing track of how much you've actually drunk and the others are encouraging you to drink more and suddenly it's midnight and you have trouble standing up.
If Dojima was doing this every night, or worse even doing it during the day, then yes, he would absolutely be an alcoholic. However, as it stands, this doesn't seem to be a common occurence for him, so I doubt he is an alcoholic. Should he stop drinking sooner in the evening and go home to his daughter? Absolutely. Is he an alcoholic? Absolutely not.
The Arcana V. Hierophant
The Hierophant, also called The Pope, is the sixth major arcana in tarot and bears the roman number V (5). It represents education, authority, conservatism, obedience to the rules, and relationship with the divine.
Difficult to find a more appropriate arcana to describe a police detective like Ryotaro, who is serious, dedicated to his work and to justice, all this while being a single parent.
Ryotaro, however, like all social links character, starts out in the game representing his arcana's reverse state: dubious advice, poor counsel, rejection of family values. The protagonist's extended family seems, indeed, to have some problems with family relationships: the protagonist's parents are always travelling for work (the game begins as they leave the protagonist in his uncle's care because they are going abroad for a whole year), and Ryotaro, while not travelling abroad, seems to value his work over his young daughter.
Throughout the course of this finicky Social Link (Ryotaro is only available once the current kidnapee is safely rescued; when he is available, Nanako is not; the protagonist's Expression stat, at some point, needs to be nearly maxed for the Social Link to continue), it is the protagonist's task to help Ryotaro realise how his behaviour affects Nanako negatively, how lonely Nanako is without him, and how he must let go of the past to form a family with his daughter, right here, right now, while he still can.
When Ryotaro finally realises all this, the Social Link is maxed, and Ryotaro gives the protagonist his very own coffee mug to drink coffee with his uncle, as a family. Ryotaro is then the upright Hierophant: mature, powerful, worthy of respect, invested in his family.
The Social Links Relationships
Ryotaro's beloved wife. She was killed in a hit-and-run while on her way to pick Nanako up from kindergarten. After all these years, Ryotaro is still trying to find the culprit, even though she was hit by an oversea sedan and the culprit is most likely long gone, never to face justice.
Ryotaro's beloved daughter. She attends elementary school and takes care of the house when Ryotaro is working, which is nearly always. She also does all the cooking. She is lonely without her dad at home, but she tries not to let it show. She is the spitting image of Chisato and she reminds Ryotaro of her every time he looks at Nanako.
Ryotaro appears to not care very much about his daughter, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is painfully demonstrated when Nanako is kidnapped: he engages the kidnapper in a high speed car chase, and even more so when Nanako, upon her return, appears to die in the hospital. Ryotaro is abolutely destroyed even before she breathes her last, screaming at the suspect, Namatame, to bring his daughter back, because she's the only thing he has in the whole world.
Ryotaro's nephew, his sister's son. At first, he is happy to welcome him in his home, but as the murder and kidnapping case progresses, he gets more and more suspscious of his strange nephew and his friends. Things get to a head when the protagonist receives a threatening letter warning him to stop or someone close to him would die. That is too much for Dojima and he take the protagonist in for questionning. Unfortunately, even if the protagonist tells Ryotaro the truth, Ryotaro doesn't believe him (who would have?) and keeps him locked up for the night as punishment, wounded that the protagonist doesn't trust him as he trusted the protagonist. Yet, once Nanako is kidnapped and Dojima gets seriously hurt chasing after the kidnapper, he still trusts that the protagonist will somehow bring Nanako back. Perhaps Ryotaro is beginning to believe...
His trust is rewarded when Naoto is indeed brought back, though she is in a very bad condition. After a heartbreaking scene where Nanako appears to die, if the protagonist picks the right choice to achieve the True End, she is revived and begins getting better, to Ryotaro's absolute relief, as he was absolutely devastated when she died. Ryotaro doesn't know how, but ultimately, the protagonist and his friends bring an end to the case, the fog, everything: the culprit is locked up for execution, and Ryotaro can finally live as a real family with his daughter.
Ryotaro is, at first glance, not very nice to Adachi. He yells at him a lot, and sometimes even hits him when he's been particularly stupid. However, I believe it's because he thinks the bumbling blabbermouth that is Adachi could do so much better at his work. Perhaps he seems him a bit as a protégé in need of some good discipline to shape up? Whatever the reason, he is harsh on Adachi, who doesn't seem to get much better with time. Still, he trusts him enough to work with him, share his ideas on the case with him, let him take him home after an evening out drinking, put Adachi in charge of the murder investigation after Nanako has been kidnapped, and seems genuinely upset when the reveal happens in the True Ending.
If Ryotaro doesn't seem to get through Adachi and correct his bad habits, however, it's because Adachi is a hateful, misogynist sociopath who doesn't actually give a shit about anything and has no redeeming quality. The bumbling, inoffensive persona is Adachi's mask in society, and he's not going to correct it just to please his partner, who he most likely has nothing but contempt for. Adachi probably goes to bed at night patting himself on the back for having fooled Ryotaro one more day.
The Fandom fannish things
When I was playing the game at first, I was shipping Ryotaro Dojima and Tohru Adachi, in part because “buddy cops” is a dynamic I enjoy in my ships, and in part because they were the two only sympathetic adults around. That pretty much sank once Adachi was revealed as the murderer, however. Not because I'm not one to ship fucked up pairings, but because I loathe Adachi's real self and I love Ryotaro too much to inflict Adachi on him as a “romantic” partner. Ryotaro's going through more than enough in the game.
I did use to RP Ryotaro with a friend who plays Kanji, but that is definitely not a realistic ship (crack is fun!). Since Ryotaro Dojima and Kanji Tastumi were the only characters I ended up really liking in Persona 4, however, it sort of happened.
I think that Ryotaro, giving his level of obsession with Chisato, fueled by Nanako reminding him of her, is realistically not ready for a relationship of that level yet. It would feel too much like betraying Chisato to him, not to mention Nanako's possible reaction to having a mother-in-law.
So, what if Ryotaro did end up believing the protagonist's tale about the TV and joining the Investigation Team? I love the very idea of this AU, so I have played with it a lot, even going so far as to create Personas for Ryotaro. Below is the one I made for Ryotaro in a situation where he joins the protagonist and his friends to search for Nanako, because given the opportunity, he'd say fuck the doctors and go for it.
|Mediarama||12 SP||Recovers a moderate amount of HP of all allies|
|Mabufu||16 SP||Inflicts a moderate amount of Ice damage on all enemies|
|Growth 3||Passive||Persona gains full experience even while inactive|
|Poison Skewer||9% HP||Inflicts a small amount of Physical damage with a chance of Poison on one enemy|
|Posumudi||3 SP||Recover from Poison (1 ally)|
|Auto-Sukukaja||Passive||Begin the battle with Sukukaja cast on yourself|
|Poison Boost||Passive||Poison-based attacks are 1.5 times more effective|
|Rebellion||5 SP||Increases Critical Rate (1 ally)|
Why I love Ryotaro Dojima
I'm going to be totally honest here, as if the name of the site was not a big clue: I love Ryotaro Dojima because he is smoking hot. I'm becoming closer in age to Ryotaro (who is 41) than, say, Kanji Tatsumi (who is 15), so I've started noticing the older characters in these RPGs a lot more!
Plus, you gotta love a single dad who's trying his best, even if his best needs some serious improvement (which is why I love his Social Link).