Persona 5 is the sixth installment in the Persona series, a part of a bigger Shin Megami Tensei franchise. It is developed by Atlus and released for the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 in Japan in September 2016, and worldwide in April 2017. Just recently, Persona 5:Royal, an improved and refurbished version of the game with lots of added content was introduced for PlayStation 4. It was released in Japan in October 2019 and worldwide in March 2020. Persona 5 achieved The Game Awards for Best Role-Playing Game in 2017.
As you follow the story of a teenage boy who got into probation from the actions he did not commit, you will be set into involving yourself into the depths of conflicts brought by a corrupted society. Along with meeting friends who shared the same goals as yours, you will fight against the rotten adults whose desires are distorted. With the help of a ‘Persona”, a manifestation of power referred to as a “mask” for an individual to use to overcome hardship, you will assign to hold on into your sense of justice and set society in its rightful tracks. The core of the game set upon you is to balance the life of being a high school student and “phantom thieves” who steal distorted hearts of individuals. Persona 5 did a great job of setting a whole different atmosphere compared to its predecessors plus a new theme to capture the hearts of JRPG lovers out there.
The Mutiny Against Oppression
The game tackles a lot of common issues that are a reflection of what is happening in reality. The highlights of the theme of social reform move around abuse, plagiarism, extortion, slavery, corruption, and other illegal exploits. The upbringing of such actions and its effects on those of its victims will become clear as you reach some point of your endeavor. The challenges are not easy to overcome yet this undying feeling of rebellion must put an end to the growing malevolence. Henceforth, they chose to emerge from being the victims themselves into heroes of the masses, the Phantom Thieves.
The Art Behind Evil
The adults are represented significantly through their Shadow selves. It refers to their suppressed personality which they tried to hide to the public eye. For instance, Kamoshida, a teacher with great dignity of being a former Olympic champion. His huge achievement drove him to view himself as a superior individual. He used it as an excuse to get away with the abuse and harassment of his students. In his boss fight, his Shadow perfectly described his motives and his undoing. A demon with multiple arms holding a knife, a cup filled with wine, and a whip. His long and huge tongue signifies his everlasting lust as well as his trophy with naked girls as its content. His indulgence in his malicious desire manifested into the fearsome resemblance of himself.
However, after he lost to the Phantom Thieves, he finally said his side of the story. Kamoshida lost himself due to too much pressure and burden the others pushed upon him. He became distorted because he felt like the reward he was supposed to get after all he had been through was not enough compensation. In conclusion, he succumbed to his desires and let loose his selfishness just to feel satisfaction. Most of the adults that you will encounter were just a by-product of harsh treatment just like him. Kaneshiro and Okumura, the product of greedy community; Madarame, the product of the industry who always mind their advantages; and Sae, the product of horrendous acts of wrongdoers, they were all victims of their fate.
Unfortunately, it never justifies their misconduct so atonement is inevitable. But with the help of your confidants, you must ensure the change of heart of adults like Kamoshida into fruition. As a result, you can save them from their corrupt views. Also, they especially can take responsibility for their false actions and save the victims to form further harm.
Persona Beneath the Mask
Persona 5’s stylish form of supernatural thievery to achieve societal reform is a cherry on the cake. The well-developed characters have their unique yet captivating awakening. The courage to face the ideals they used to follow bring forth their Persona. A power that reflects their wielders and helps them to overcome hardship. My favorites are Joker’s and Makoto’s
The Gentleman Thief, Arsene
Despite possessing the power to wield many personas, Joker’s main Persona is Arsene. Arsene Lupin was depicted as a witty and suave burglar in literature written by a French writer Maurice Leblanc. The rich and the powerful must beware since he set his eyes for a grandeur heist. The aura of mystery and swag of Arsene perfectly resembles Joker. As the leader of the Phantom Thieves, he is the master of execution in mischief and foolery as well. A trickster who is destined to save the world and on par with another player of the game, Goro Akechi. The bonds of Joker and the prince detective Akechi is similar to Arsene and Sherlock’s dispute. Of course, why would we doubt the charm of Joker? In my opinion, it makes him identical to his counterpart, our debonair thief Arsene Lupin.
The Female Pope, Joan
Another favorite resemblance of mine is Makoto’s Johanna as her Persona. Pope Joan was a female pope who hid her true gender to enter the position she was in. Similar to the view of her Makoto’s sister struggling to top herself in a male-dominated industry, it made her waver and worry about her future. She began to doubt herself to do something on her own accord so she decided to keep herself in line as an obedient girl obeying the adults no matter the consequences. And finally, on her awakening, she fought against oppression for the sake of her sister’s welfare. She broke free from the clutches of her old self. Similar to her Persona, she found herself fighting against the odds with the company of phantom thieves.
The Heart of the Theme
Rebelling against the norms established by the society is never an easy feat to pull off. You need a lot of charm, knowledge, proficiency, guts, and kindness. You need to strengthen your bonds with your friends and the people you will meet along the way. To increase the chances of winning in an unfair game, you must refrain from fighting alone. I know the “power of friendship” trope is bland these days but I must commend how good Atlus executed it. The effort and time you spend with your confidants will eventually repay you in the end. It is heartwarming when the confidants you shared ideals with go all their way to get Joker away from trouble. Makes you wonder… What makes them do that such thing to the extent of going against the tide with Joker? Because Joker gave them the COURAGE to face their demons. As of the issue being talked about by the phantom thieves of why does everyone turn blind from the truth instead of facing it, it is because they lack the courage to do so.
The heart of social reform is to have the courage to stand up for your beliefs. No matter if the situation is dire and unfair, everyone can make a difference.