"The second you put it in your mouth, you sense that something is wrong... You can tell after one bite that this isn't edible... There's no way you can swallow it..."
Mystery Food X (物体X, Buttai ekusu)? is a substance featured in the Persona series, specifically in the Persona 4 series of games. It refers to incredibly poor-quality "food" cooked by the female members of the Investigation Team, used in several scenes for comedic value.
- Persona 4 / Golden
- Persona 4 Arena
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
- Persona 5 Anthology
In all its incarnations, Mystery Food X is an attempt at making food gone wrong. All forms of Mystery Food X are noted for their generally unpleasant taste, though the potency of the flavor ranges from mildly discomforting to nearly toxic. Particularly potent iterations of Mystery Food X give off a purple miasma and have a particularly foul-smelling aroma accompanying them. The term was originally used as a label for the curry meal that Yukiko and Chie prepared for Yosuke Hanamura and the protagonist. Later, the term is used to refer to any meal prepared by Yukiko Amagi, Chie Satonaka and/or Rise Kujikawa. Though the three girls cook with good intentions, their meals are botched by a lack of knowledge of ingredient usage and misguided creative use of "special" ingredient additions.
All three of the girls give unique aspects to their versions of Mystery Food X. Chie tends to create generally unpleasant meals, though she uses fairly normal ingredients, albeit improperly. Yukiko's has the widest range of flavors from completely tasteless to bizarre, thanks to her insistence on using unusual ingredients like sea cucumber or squid ink to give it a sense of "uniqueness." Rise's tendency to use hot peppers like habanero in her cooking results in her meals being alarmingly spicy; in fact, when Yukiko tasted an omelette Rise had prepared, she instantly keeled over. The girls for the most part are unaware of their poor cooking skills as they have never taste test their dishes while cooking nor the finished product itself. However, both Yukiko and Chie showed some apprehension prior to serving their first incarnation to the protagonist and Yosuke and promptly apologized after their disastrous results were made apparent. Still, none have shown particular signs of improvements since then.
In Persona Q, Fuuka Yamagishi is classified as another Mystery Food X maker, though unlike the P4 girls, she acknowledges her poor cooking skills. Her Mystery Food X seems to have even more bizarre qualities than the P4 girls' do: Aigis notes that the temperature of the stroganoff rice ball Fuuka creates increases dramatically with time. When mixed together, Yukiko, Chie, Rise and Fuuka's meals are toxic enough to kill an F.O.E. in a single shot.
During Fuuka Yamagishi's Social Link events, both the male and female protagonist will receive a bento lunch from Fuuka that will taste "as bad as it looks." Although unlike the girls in Persona 4, she acknowledges that her food tastes so terrible that she can't even eat it. In Persona 3 Portable, she is the club leader of the cooking club of which the female protagonist and Fuuka are the only members. During cooking club activities, the female protagonist helps her improve her cooking skills. She often confuses ingredients while cooking, such as mistaking sugar for flour. During her rank 10 Social Link, she makes a cake all by herself which tasted really good.
Shinjiro Aragaki also helps her cook sometimes during his Social Link events with the female protagonist.
"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!? I mean, what kinda - *cough cough* Curry's supposed to be like "really spicy" or "kinda mild"... This just stinks! And it's gritty too! It's somehow both gritty and slimy... And it's got squishy parts in it... It's so frickin' nasty I can't even swallow it!"
When the protagonist, Yosuke Hanamura, Yukiko and Chie go with the rest of the Yasogami High students on the school camping trip, Yukiko and Chie take it upon themselves to make curry for their end-of-day meal. The protagonist sees them by chance getting ingredients, and begins to dread having to eat it because their picks are either inappropriate substitutions for proper ingredients (radishes in place of turnips, mint chocolate in place of dark cooking chocolate, mocha on the basis that it's the only sort of coffee Chie likes), clueless overkill (several types of pepper for spiciness, potato starch and whole wheat flour to thicken the curry), or simply nonsensical in any curry, Japanese or otherwise (kimchi for its spiciness, seafood not as a protein but as a misguided attempt to improve the sauce).
When at camp, despite its unpleasant appearance, the two cooks feel unable to taste it themselves, so give it to the boys. When Yosuke tastes it, he almost immediately spits it out and momentarily keels over, and then berates the girls for the curry's foul taste and odd texture. The girls, convinced that Yosuke is exaggerating, insist that the protagonist try it. If his courage is not high enough, he will not be able to willingly, but must because the girls are staring at him. A single bite is enough to convince the protagonist that Yosuke wasn't exaggerating and, like Yosuke, he almost immediately spits the failed curry out and momentarily keels over. This leaves them as the only group of students without food.
A similar experience is felt in August after the party defeat Mitsuo Kubo: as part of the celebrations for apparently solving the case, the protagonist, Yukiko, Chie and Rise prepare omelets for Nanako at the Dojima residence. Though Yosuke is excited to try Rise's, his excitement turns quickly to shock as her omelet is alarmingly spicy, so much so that the protagonist feels that his mouth is filled with lava. Yukiko's inexplicably ends up being completely tasteless despite the large number of ingredients she used, which Kanji describes as "boneless" and like eating plain oatmeal.
Finally, Chie's one is outright terrible in taste. Despite all this, Nanako tries each of their omelets and tells them that she thinks that they taste good, despite some slight grimacing. After trying to figure out which one was the worst, Yukiko tries Rise's omelet, which promptly knocks her out. In the end, the protagonist's omelet is the only one that actually tastes good and wins Nanako's overall approval as the best of the four.
The boys also fear another repeat of events at the Christmas party to celebrate Nanako's recovery after being kidnapped and forced into the Midnight Channel. The girls insist on making a cake for her, much to the boys dread of possibly sending Nanako back to the hospital in worse condition. However, despite some reluctance, the boys are shocked to find out that the cake is not only in presentable fashion, but also delicious. Thanks in part to Naoto Shirogane, who insisted on following the recipe, the cake managed to come out normally. However, Naoto reveals that it took them three tries to get the result. Yosuke attributes the entire success to Naoto.
During the bonus Valentine's Day event, should the protagonist go on a date with Rise, before the protagonist even opens her chocolate, he can sense that something about it is off by the aroma of it. She reveals that she added durian and habanero to it to make it extra special. The protagonist manages to convince her that he will eat it later, promising to tell her later how it tastes. If the protagonist's date is with Yukiko, she gives him a large box of gourmet chocolates made by the staff of the Amagi Inn; she explains that she originally tried making chocolate her own way by adding squid ink, but the inn staff members intervened. If Chie is the protagonist's date, she hands him a box of misshapen heart chocolates; the chocolate does not taste delicious, but the protagonist manages to eat it all, with Chie explaining that she could not get it to temper no matter how much water she added.
If the protagonist decides to meet up with Marie for Valentine's day, she presents him with chocolate that she made in the Velvet Room, doing the best she could without having any access to "eclectic loutwits." The chocolate gives off an unpleasant smell, and, more importantly, seems to move inside the box. The protagonist is alarmed when Marie tells him that "If you don't hurry, it'll melt" and "If it melts, it'll run away." Despite feeling a sense of danger, the protagonist tries the chocolate, only to discover that it tastes quite normal and soon eats it all, much to Marie's shock. However, he is left with the unsettling feeling that something is moving within his stomach.
Later that day, Nanako decides to make chocolate for the protagonist and enlists the help of the Investigation Team girls for advice on how to make it. She added iced coffee and bacon from Chie's suggestions; bell peppers, wheatgrass juice, vinegar, and ponzu sauce from Rise's; and fish sausage and fermented squid from Yukiko's. Nanako's combination of the girls' advice results in Slime shaped "chocolate," causing the protagonist to be very alarmed. Naoto also contacted Nanako, but she had already completed her chocolate by then. Naoto simply assured Nanako that the protagonist would appreciate it in the end. Although he nearly backs out of eating it, Nanako's innocent comment declaring that she loves him forces him to eat it to keep her happy. Unfortunately, the "chocolate" causes him to black out.
"WHAT THE HELL!?!?! What were you thinking putting that on a plate and calling it- *dry heaves*"
"Normally curry is supposed to smell really spicy or really mild, but that just SMELLS!!!"
"It's gritty and slimy and mushy all at the same time! No matter what you do to it, it'll still be totally gross!"
The events of the Camping Trip plays out exactly the same in the anime as it did the game. However, an additional scene occurs where Hanako Ohtani tries Chie and Yukiko's curry. Much to everyone's surprise, not only does she manage to stomach the food, she finds it delicious. In the dub, Yosuke calls it "Concoction X" instead of its usual nomenclature.
Persona 4 Arena
Mystery Food X makes a minor appearance as part of Teddie's moveset in both P4A and Ultimax. When the D button is pressed, Teddie will throw out a random item, one of which may be Mystery Food X. Contact with it will inflict Poison (Silence or Fear in Ultimax) on Teddie or his opponent. Teddie retains this item in his appearance in BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle.
There is also a trophy/achievement in the game named after Mystery Food X. To get it, the player must spam Teddie's crouch or jump button until he throws some curry onto the field, then pick it up before the enemy. Doing so will earn the trophy, but also poison Teddie.
In the story mode in P4A, it appears in Yukiko's gag ending, where she has Teddie eat her boxed lunch, thinking it had healing properties (it actually made him sick), and after running into Yu, she violently force-feeds Yu the same boxed lunch, hoping it would help with healing him. When the rest of the Investigation Team runs in, claiming the case was over, as a celebratory gesture, she attempts to get them to eat her food. It is implied that she succeeded, since everyone ended up getting sick (though she thinks it was possibly swine flu) and couldn't see each other for the rest of Golden Week.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
"I had a dream... I was being held down while sand was poured into my mouth..."
During the "Arrest the Food Bandit!" request (available on both sides), Chie gives the group a sampling of her "meat jelly" as an apology. Shinji, Kanji, Fuuka and even Koromaru find it disgusting. Chie, however, thinks it's delicious due to all of the meat in it.
During the Persona 3 side of events, during their exploration of the Evil Spirit Club, Yukiko offers some cookies to Zen and Rei. Rei eats them and initially seems fine, but when Zen tries them, he freezes in shock and seems to faint on his feet; Rei then faints herself immediately afterward. When the two regain consciousness, the former says she dreamed she was being held down with sand being poured into her mouth. This provokes the P4 protagonist and Yosuke to wonder how much more Mystery Food X can "evolve" now that it has become a "delayed-action hallucinogenic." Mitsuru Kirijo expresses an interest in Yukiko's cookies, finding military value in their effects. Owing to later revelations about Zen and Rei's true nature, the cookies likely would have killed any mortal party members.
A subsequent request (available on both sides), "S.O.S.: Save Our Stomachs!", involves Yosuke inadvertently prompting Yukiko, Chie, Rise and Fuuka to cook him hot pot. Knowing their hot pot would be inedible, he asks the protagonist of the route to intervene. The protagonist finds the girls suggesting additions that would turn the hot pot into an overly sweet and spicy mess with a bizarre flavor and texture, but manages to remind them that the pot only holds a limited amount and seeks help from Shinji, who give him tips about appropriate ingredients. The protagonist will create edible hot pot regardless of choices, and will create amazing hot pot if he follows Shinji's tips, but the girls create horrible dipping sauces in lieu of control of the hot pot and force Yosuke to taste them one at a time. Yukiko creates a pungent sauce out of fish guts which neither Yosuke nor the protagonist can bear the smell of; Chie creates a beef fat sauce so greasy it would make a better mirror than a foodstuff; Rise creates an extremely spicy sauce that may or may not be fit for human consumption; and Fuuka creates jam sauce with the inexplicable purpose of sweetening savory dishes to make them count as dessert, which Yosuke finds far too sweet. Yosuke is frustrated that he couldn't fully escape their cooking, but is still grateful to the protagonist for salvaging the hot pot.
"I call this "Mystery Food X: The Final Edition"... It's a weapon that's surpassed all my expectations..."
In the Persona 4 side, when the group enter the final Culture Festival labyrinth, the group are confronted by the Macho Man F.O.E, forcing the group to flee. While the boys take one route and Kanji is captured by the F.O.E, the girls go another way, finding temporary safety. If the protagonist goes with them, they see in full detail what happens. As the F.O.E approaches, Naoto has the idea of using the girls' food to create a powerful weapon against the F.O.E. They use the contents of a lunchbox prepared by Yukiko, a blue muffin baked by Chie, red cookies made by Rise that she gave to Chie, and molten beef stroganoff rice balls prepared by Fuuka which were being carried by Aigis. Either at the protagonist's suggestion or on her own, Naoto mixes them all up, creating what she dubs "Mystery Food X: The Final Edition". The concoction is so potent that it stings Rei's eyes, with Zen describing it as "a chemical weapon." When the F.O.E appears with Kanji, Zen fires arrows dipped in the substance at it. The first shot accidentally hits and incapacitates Kanji, but the second strikes the F.O.E and kills it outright. Kanji, in a haze, manages to steady himself only to collapse, but still miraculously makes a full recovery. Mitsuru is so impressed that she voices her desire to take it for examination and replication at the Kirijo Group's R&D labs, much to the other girls' chagrin. Naoto says such an attack was the only choice available at the time, and cannot be reproduced again.
Persona 4: Dancing All Night
Mystery Food X is brought up at the end of the story when Kanami makes the Investigation Team a boxed lunch as thanks for rescuing her and solving the case of the game. Most of the guys fear that Kanami's food will be like the other girls. In the end, she cooks normal and delicious food, much to their relief.
During the bonus prologue, Yukiko mentions during her interview that she has continued to practice how to cook. When Minoru Inoue expresses a desire to try her cooking someday as a visitor at the Amagi Inn, the boys quickly try their best to deter him, stating amongst themselves that they will not allow anyone else be a victim to the girls' cooking like they were to their curry. Later, the Investigation Team and Inoue are invited to the Dojima residence where the girls quickly offer to help cook the meal. While Inoue is excited to get a sample of "Amagi cooking," the boys are less than excited to hear that they will help.
In the manga anthology, after a curry fixing mishap, Akira Kurusu requests aid from his fellow Phantom Thieves and heads into Mementos, robbing money from the Shadows to buy ingredients. Yusuke Kitagawa creates his own variation of Mystery Food X while trying to implement his own artistic style into the curry.
In Persona 5 Royal, during the Rank 3 Faith confidant scene with Sumire Yoshizawa, the protagonist is given a bento prepared by her which is a gym food version of curry made out of whole grains and chicken breasts. While the bento appears to be inedible, it tastes surprisingly good and the protagonist eats all of it. This is a side effect of Takuto Maruki causing Sumire to believe she is her sister Kasumi, as Kasumi was a genuinely horrible cook, unlike Sumire, who can actually prepare dishes well.
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
"If not for the meat, this would just be eggy, grassy slime."
The P4 and P5 cast prepare dinosaur meat in a clearing at the movie reality Junessic Land. They manage to cook the meat to the point that it is fine and edible, but Chie splatters a green, slimy sauce that is consisted of dinosaur egg whites and carnivorous plant sap on it. Believing it to be another Mystery Food X that ruins the would-be good cooking, Yosuke berates the girls. Surprisingly, the sauce tastes good and thus a hunger crisis in the movie world is averted.
After the F.O.E. devours the food and wanders off, Chie and Yukiko mention still having some sauce left and Yosuke questions if they're intending to make a 'jungle Mystery Food X'. The P3P heroine asks what Yosuke is talking about, to which the P4 hero tells her she doesn't want to know.
"Matter X" (物体X) in Japanese popular culture is a broad definition of any unknown or extraterrestrial substance such as alien lifeform or technology, particularly things that ordinary human being would find them gross.
- Among Japanese fans, Mystery Food X is also addressed as "Mudoon Curry" (ムドオンカレー, Mudoon Karee)? or less commonly "Poison Curry."