Kanji is my favorite type of character, personified: token tough guy with a heart of gold. I'm grossly predictable: if you can find "that guy" in any manga or video game, 90% of the time you've found my favorite character. T^T I seriously can't help myself when it comes to this soft spot of mine. I have a gap moe. All my favorite characters have receding hairlines because they're supposed to be the "angry" guy when actually inside they are just full of cotton candy and stuffed animals and totally not-tough things. Kanji is definitely no exception because his fluffiness goes to an all new level of extreme: he literally makes fluffy things. (If you haven't played Persona 4 yet and explored Kanji's social link, the following essay might be a bit of a spoiler--sorry I just can't avoid it here!!)
"That button's falling off! I'll sew it back on, y'hear!?"
LET ME TELL YOU WHY KANJI IS GREAT: Kanji looks like the guy who would kick your ass and steal your lunch money, when he is actually the guy who will share his animal crackers with you, knit you a beautiful scarf and hope you notice him, senpai! (Seriously, everytime he greets you with "senpai!" in the school hallways I die a little inside, too cute and respectful!) That doesn't mean however that Kanji can't take a chair and beat the shit out of a shadow with it, he's not NOT a tough guy. He's tough with a much quieter, gentler side, and that's what's so wonderful about him. He's not just a video game stereotype, he's flawed and multifaceted and more than meets the eye, just like all human beings, and that's really what Persona 4 is all about. I don't think I'd consider Persona 4 my favorite SMT game (they turned it into a dancing game for god's sake), but Kanji is most definitely one of my favorite SMT characters. (He probably seriously breaks it down on that dance floor, too.) I think his character really breaks down the problem of gender roles that we often see in video games, and it's really refreshing to see that being addressed in the ever-growing fanbase that is Persona.
And if you have to know: yes, I always knew Kanji would be my favorite, even when I thought he was just gonna be the "tough guy that beats people with stop signs". However, the animal cracker scene is what really won me over. :( Kanji, how precious of a child are you? Did your mother pack those for you?! Even though he's so afraid of being judged by society because of his feminine hobbies, he comes out of his shell and learns to be himself by going out of his way and helping others. And knitting them stuffed animals and cute little phone charms. That is literally more than my heart can take.
Kanji reminds me a lot of a pitbull: although he stands like a giant in the hallways of Inaba High School, terrifying because of what you see and assume, all he wants is love and acceptance just like any other cute pup.