As someone who's been on the SMT train long before Persona had weird spinoff dancing games and movies, Persona 3 in particular is really near and dear to my heart because it's one of the games back in the day that made me remember what I love so much about Japanese RPGs. I'll always remember this game being introduced to me by my brother as the game where you "go to school/help townspeople during the day and fight monsters at night by shooting yourself in the head". I picked it up immediately out of curiosity, but I stayed for the social links. And probably just like every girl that ever turned on Persona 3... I don't care what the other girls at Gekkoukan High said, I was the motherfucking President of the Akihiko Senpai Fan Club.
"In battle, there's always a chance of dying... I knew that! But... I was so focused on fighting that I didn't notice anything else! It didn't matter how tough I was! Look what happened!"
I fell in love with Akihiko immediately—the cool, stoic upperclassman that cared more about SEES, muscles and meat bowls than any of the girls that the likes of Junpei flirted with. A teenager who is so serious and wears sweater vests can only be hiding something tragic beneath his calm and collected exterior; I made it my mission upon my first playthrough to get to know Akihiko as quickly as possible... (If only my future self could've told past self that I'd one day be able to play as a chick and go on a date with him). Needless to say, Akihiko doesn't disappoint as there is certainly much more to him than meets the eye—as per usual with SMT games. Aside from kicking shadow ass and taking names, his relationship with Shinji & Ken is probably one of the more interesting and touching relationships to unfold in Persona 3.
Without getting too spoilery, what unfolds between him and his fellow comrades opens up Akihiko in a way that he isn't at the beginning of the game—makes him seem much younger, much more human, but also even moreso determined to become stronger. He's a character that you admire for his willpower and ability to stand tall and remain cool, even when all the odds are stacked against you. Truly a young leader, the kind you're proud to call your senpai! With the introduction of Persona 3: Portable, you're really able to dig deeper into his character more emotionally (cuz, you know, girlfriend privileges) and find that he's just a big ol' jock who loves beef bowls and has a much softer and more vulnerable side to him than you'd expect.
Akihiko's actual story and personality aside, I just think it's hilarious that someone who looks so preppy, prim and proper is a member of the fucking boxing club and beats up slimy Shin Megami Tensei demons in a dress shirt after dark. He's one of those characters I'd normally feel guilty about feeling so strongly towards (because you know... all girls love Akihiko, blah blah, clichés, blah blah), but he's such an unusual badass that I can't help but just laugh and adore the irony of it all. (He really does kick ass, too... Akihiko barely ever left my party simply because I loved watching the way he manhandles everything.)