"I can't let her end up like Mayumi and the other girl...this time, I'm gonna do something..."
- Persona 4 / Golden: Major Character
Taro Namatame is a man with short black hair, brown eyes and a mole on his forehead. He wears a white collar long sleeved shirt and black pants. When he works at his family business, he wears an emerald delivery uniform. During his previous job, he used to wear a black suit with a white collar and black tie, white gloves and a white band of city council secretary on his right arm.
Taro Namatame can be best described as a man who has good intentions but does more harm than good due to his overall ignorance. Before people found out about his affair, Namatame was thought of as an outgoing man with a fun personality (though this side of him is never seen in the game).
Despite expressing regret for cheating on his wife, Namatame felt that Mayumi Yamano understood him far better than Misuzu Hiiragi did, and truly loved her in return, extremely heartbroken upon discovering her death. Because of his scandal (and the subsequent loss of his job) and the loss of his new lover, when the protagonist interacts with him on an open day, he is timid, distraught and frightened. He speaks few words, and when the Investigation Team confronts him as a hostile encounter later on, he was also in a mix of fervor and fear, further arousing suspicions that he is the killer.
Thanks partly to Tohru Adachi, he believed what he was doing was the right thing when he discovered he could throw people into the Midnight Channel. He hoped that it would keep next victims safe, not knowing what kind of place it actually was. When faced with the world he thought was a safe haven, Namatame described it as an abomination. Unlike Adachi or the protagonist, his understanding of the Midnight Channel appears to be extremely poor, which he uses as a premise for his actions and allowing him to be easily tricked by Adachi. Once he learns about the truth, he offers accountability for his actions and deeply resents himself for ignorantly leading to the potential deaths of many teenagers. By the end of the game, Namatame is in a much better state than he was before at the hospital, and returns the best way he knows how to engage in politics, motivated to do the right thing and help his fellow peers as he always wanted to do in the first place.
"One had not the eyes to see things as they were, and failed to awaken to his power..."
Being a city council secretary, Namatame was married to renowned enka singer Misuzu Hiiragi. However, her popularity caused her to distance from Namatame, leading him to believe that she didn't care for him at all and put a strain in their relationship. Seeking solace, he met with TV announcer Mayumi Yamano while the announcer was doing interviews with candidates for the next election.
Namatame found out that they both had come from the town of Inaba. Both understood their passion for work, and eventually began an intimate relationship. However, the affair was exposed and a scandal erupted, which led to the end of his marriage. Both he and his wife Hiiragi affirmed that the enka singer chose to nullify their marriage. Namatame then fled to his hometown, where he stayed at his parents' home for the time being.
Seeing that the affair had caused a great deal of grief for Yamano, who was getting bad publicity during afternoon shows and had her shows and appearances canceled. Namatame wanted to contact to and apologize to her with no avail. On that night, he begun to drink heavily to wash away his guilt. It was implied that on the next day, a gas station attendant taught him a rumor about the Midnight Channel and gave him a handshake. (In other words, the attendant granted him the ability to enter the TV World)
Recalling a rumor of the bizarre channel that showed one's soulmate, Namatame sat one night in front of the television and finally saw Yamano. In the channel, Yamano appeared to be in pain. In his disbelief and anxiety, Namatame touched the screen, and discovered that he could reach literally into the television.
Dismissing it as fatigue, Namatame rested and went to the city to work the next day. He was fired on the spot, just as he had expected. He went back to Inaba, where his father offered him work with the family's delivery service to alleviate his grief. However, his grief worsens when Yamano's dead body was discovered hanging among television antennas.
Grieving Yamano's death, he sat in front of the television again to see a Yasogami High School student appearing in the Midnight Channel. As he had been following the news on Yamano, he realized she was Saki Konishi, the student who found Yamano's dead body. Convinced that the channel was a portent of imminent death, he tried to warn Konishi, to no avail. The next day, he learned that Konishi had died, the same way as Yamano.
Being grief-struck by the collapsing of his personal life and terrified of the bizarre homicides in his hometown, Namatame witnesses another person in the Midnight Channel (Yukiko Amagi, heiress of the Amagi Inn). Out of fear that the person might die, he contacted the police, only for Detective Adachi to take the call due to him being the sole officer on duty within the station that night (the other officers were busy investigating the murders), not knowing that Adachi was the killer himself. Adachi suggested that Namatame keep whoever was shown on the channel safe somewhere. When he was trying to figure out where a safe place could be, Namatame thought Yukiko was smiling in the channel and deducted that he should place her inside the television, where he believes that she will be safe. Namatame realizes that Yukiko will be in danger very soon and throws her into a TV, believing that this will save her from the killer in the real world. In reality, he was unwittingly and exactly putting her into the killer's device, playing himself into Adachi's killing spree out of sheer ignorance.
Days later, Yukiko apparently survived the killings, so Namatame was convinced that he should repeat the process every time a person appears in the channel. His job as a deliveryman was a perfect front for his "mission" to save people since he could approach any house in his delivery truck and covertly throw them into a TV in the truck without raising suspicion. Having realized Namatame will impulsively throw anyone who was displayed on the Midnight Channel (which were actually largely unrelated images displaying people who were recently media spotlights) into the TV, Adachi would later indirectly attempt to kill Kanji Tatsumi, Rise Kujikawa and Naoto Shirogane using Namatame as a front, all three whom the latter had seen on TV and later on the Midnight Channel. His last mission went slightly differently, as for the first time, his victim was not shown on TV. After seeing his next victim's blurred image on the Midnight Channel, he took to the newspapers where he found the picture of the girl on the TV: Nanako Dojima. However, while he was successful in kidnapping Nanako, he was immediately chased by her father who had been suspecting him for months. After a horrific car crash resulting in Dojima being severely injured, Namatame flees into the TV world with Nanako, hoping to find safety in the world he deemed a safe haven for his kidnapped victims.
This, however, was the turning point for him. Namatame had never realized that the place inside the television was grotesque and abominable. He could not find his way out, and discovered that a bunch of teenagers, including the people he had previously "saved," were now after him. When they finally cornered him, he seems to be in a mix of anxiety and fervor and was fully committed to "saving" Nanako. When the party tried to negotiate with him, he was suddenly merged with several Shadows and became Kunino-sagiri. Nanako was also successfully secured in the middle of the transformation. However, the Investigation Team proved to be more than a match for Kunino-Sagiri and managed to defeat it. Both Namatame and Nanako fell unconscious and were sent to the hospital, with him being under police custody. Nanako quickly succumbs to the Midnight Channel's harsh climate afterwards, but she seemingly recovers on her own after a while.
However, at the beginning of the next month (3rd of December) when the party were buying items to celebrate Nanako's recovery, her condition takes a turn for the worse and she seemingly dies. The party barges into Namatame's room angry at him for causing her death. Finding Namatame on the ground near a giant TV, they believe that he was trying to escape. Namatame feebly attempts to express his innocence. However, an image taking the form of his Shadow appears on the TV, lashing out at the team for preventing him from "saving" Nanako, saying he doesn't care if he lives or dies and they wouldn't dare to stop him, and declaring that he will continue to "save" people once he escapes.
The protagonist's choices afterwards become a deciding point for the mystery of Inaba, as the protagonist chooses how to deal with Namatame based on what has been revealed thus far.
If the protagonist fails to assert the group to calm down, they will be too riled up to believe in Namatame's words and will instead believe the image on the TV to be the truth. They then decide that Namatame is guilty despite his attempts to deny it and impulsively push Namatame into the TV world. He turns up dead a few days later and the Investigation Team had no idea that that the person they killed was not the real killer, with the mystery remaining unsolved. Nanako remains dead and the fog that hangs over Inaba remains.
The protagonist calms everyone down, stating that there is something about the situation and Namatame that does not sit well with him, yet merely makes ambiguous statements or fails to find out who the true killer was (or if the protagonist becomes his accomplice but refuses to completely cover up the evidence in Golden). This ultimately allows Namatame to live and Nanako is revived, but the latter was still in critical condition. Namatame is left to the police to be dealt with. He confesses to the kidnappings but continues to deny any involvment in the murders as he prepares to stand trial, but the mystery of Inaba remains unsolved.
If the protagonist successfully convinces everyone that they're missing something, the team is calmed and Nanako is revived, although not fully recovered. They also realize that if Namatame's references to "saving" people really meant killing them as they had assumed, it would not make sense that he viewed the survival of the team members he previously kidnapped as a success, and Naoto notes that the image of Namatame who appeared on the television claimed that he failed to save Nanako while she was assumed deceased. Furthermore, the threatening letters sent to the Dojima household stating "don't rescue anymore" and "if you don't stop this time, someone close will be put in and killed" points to a different person as the culprit. They decide it is best to learn his side of the story to paint the full picture. Detective Adachi decided to transport Namatame out in a couple of days, apparently without Dojima's authority. With Namatame rested, the team decided to visit him to pull information from him.
Here, the Team managed to convince Namatame that they too could enter the television, and had reason to believe that he was not the real culprit. Namatame believed them and reveals his entire role, up to the point of Nanako's "rescue attempt." He also convinces the Team that he loved Yamano with all his heart and would not think of murdering her or hurt her in any way, not withstanding all the other three students he had kidnapped. He finds out from the Team that all this while his mission to "save people from the killer of Inaba" merely put them exactly into the killer's devices, and apologizes profusely, asking the Team to capture the real culprit, the one who had murdered Yamano and Konishi. He also reveals that Mitsuo Kubo was not kidnapped by him and was done by someone else. After his testimony, the Team manages to deduce that the culprit was Adachi due to their various confrontations with him during their investigation.
As later on it was revealed that the images of people of public interest are going to be displayed anyway regardless if people are thrown in or not, this also means that Namatame's efforts to "save" people from the mysterious deaths are all for nothing and merely causes the trapped to be killed by Shadows as well as encouraging Adachi to murder more people using him as a medium. Furthermore, as explained by Ameno-sagiri, due to the Midnight Channel being a reflection of humanity's subconscious desires, the image of Namatame aired in the hospital TV was not his true intentions, but a misdirection manifested by the Midnight Channel to trick the Investigation Team into deluding themselves from the truth when they wanted to believe he was guilty.
He was transported out of the hospital the next day, and his immediate fate is left unknown. However, in the epilogue of the extended true ending to Persona 4 Golden, Ryotaro Dojima tells the Team that Namatame turned to the police and asked himself to be arrested but to no avail after a brief interrogation, rendering him the innocent while Adachi gets locked behind bars. Dojima also tells them that Namatame was running for public office, determined to do good in Inaba as a way of penance for his actions.
Correct Dialogue options to good ending
Hospital event, 3rd of December
The protagonist is not given a chance to reconsider their choices should they choose the wrong responses. All decisions in this event are considered final.
Guessing the killer's identity, 5th of December
Failure to guess the killer twice will result in the Neutral ending.
- In Persona 4 Golden, the following event will only trigger if the protagonist's Social Link with Tohru Adachi is at Rank 8 prior, after the protagonist figures out the identity of the killer.
If Adachi's Social Link is at Rank 8 prior
He is mentioned by name on television on December 7th as running for public office as an independent newcomer, having worked his way up from a politician's secretary in Inaba.
- Persona 4
- Persona 4: The Animation
- Persona 4 Visualive the Evolution
- The protagonist can actually interact with Namatame on certain days (particularly around May) even prior to his debut in the actual game events, although he will merely say a few words. He can be found on the Samegawa Riverbed (he is seen sitting on one of the tree trunks) and/or the Central Shopping District (near the Shiroku Store). His dialogues include:
- "Who in the world could've done such a.... [pause] It's horrible... too horrible..."
- "Why...? I just had an affair, and look what it turned into... [pause] Mayumi... forgive me..."
- "I was fired from work in spring... But I'm helping with the family business now. The life here is nice too..."
- "The incidents... are they really over...? Everything was really that boy's fault?"
- "If the police can't gather the evidence... Mayumi... won't be able to rest in peace... I hope... that justice will be served..."
- In Golden, Namatame can be seen during the Junes Concert event wandering around the background around the Investigation Team, probably to confirm his doubts about the "targets" being safe or keeping them safe from harm due to their concert gig being most likely shown on TV. Only Yosuke notices him leaving in both occasions, though by that time, he doesn't make any other connections other than recognizing Namatame being close to them behind the stage the second time he sees him leave from the concert area.
- It's implied that just like Adachi and the protagonist, Izanami gave Namatame "a handshake." (Which is instrumental to access of the TV World) This indicates that Namatame has the power of Persona, although he was unable to utilize this power due to his ignorance.
- In the English release of the game, when confronting Namatame on December 4th, he states once "I knew that the three of you who I 'saved' went back to your normal lives," when, in fact, he "saved" four of the people in the room with him: Yukiko, Naoto, Kanji, and Rise.