Kanji and the Emperor ArcanaKanji's social link falls under the Emperor Arcana, a card symbolizing growth, structure, strength and leadership. Now, if you've been through Kanji's spankerrific bath house or know anything about his escapades as Kanji Monroe, then you're probably thinking he should actually be the Empress, but what the card actually symbolizes has little to do with being the men of all men. The Emperor is a card that explores the bravery and control one must have in order to govern a fulfilling life. He is a symbol of power: something that can bring comfort and stability, but also corruption.
It is said that when the Emperor appears in a tarot spread, it is often some form of thinking or outer force that the individual needs to overcome. Kanji's troubles are not unlike that of any other awkward teenager his age: he simply wants to be accepted for the person he truly is. Aware of the fact that his hobbies are a little bit higher on the estrogen scale than most guys, he compensates for this part of his personality with a tough-guy exterior. He becomes someone he's not: seeking out gangs, getting into fights and skipping school. Much to Kanji's dismay however, his behavior inadvertently brings trouble to himself, but even more importantly: to his family and his friends as well, the people Kanji desperately wants to protect. Before he knows it, his empire has been thrown into disarray and his life full of confusion.
Kanji struggles with the idea of "strength". What does it mean to be strong, and how are we as human beings be strong outside of the physical sense? Great rulers are ones who are able to bring stability into their kingdom, something that Kanji is only able to achieve when he learns that strength is more than throwing punches, but being able to have the courage and bravery to stand up for who he is as a person. Once he's able to admit his wrongdoings, and also stay true to who he is and the hobbies he likes to do, he's able to find peace within himself as well as protect those who are surrounding him, just as a good emperor should.
MasculinityPerhaps it's a bit ironic that Kanji of all people is The Emperor in Persona 4, as in tarot the emperor represents masculinity and the "ultimate male ego". While Kanji can certainly open up a can of whoop-ass in battle, outside of battle he's knitting elaborate plushies for grade-schoolers and cooking croquettes for the neighbors. While I don't necessarily believe that by pairing Kanji with this arcana, the game is trying to tell us that Kanji is the epitome of "manliness", I find it interesting that what it really makes us do is question what Kanji struggles with himself: what exactly does it mean to "be a man"?
What's nice about Kanji is that his character seems to take a modern-day look at the issue of masculinity and question whether or not it's all about muslces and brawn. After all, is a man not a "man" simply because he likes to sew? Kanji's growth as a character really goes into the topic of strength, and perhaps in that sense singlehandedly crushes the idea that someone "manly" is someone who can "beat the shit out of shadows". (Though, that is pretty damn manly and there's no doubt that Kanji is capable of that.) Strength in the mental sense however, deals with Kanji's bravery to be able to accept himself and his more feminine side, to be strong enough to stand up for oneself and for others. Perhaps it's as it's said: real men wear pink. Kanji may have some girly hobbies, but he's not afraid to show it, and to be honest with oneself is becoming a "man" in the sense that he's mature enough to be who he is and not worry about the labels and stereotypes society may place on him because of it.