Following the release of my long touted final Persona 5analysis and predictions, I fielded questions on Twitter. Before we get to answering these, I first want to go over some additional things I’ve reviewed in P5‘s pre-release information that I couldn’t properly write about in the full-length piece.
THE SHIP LOCATION
In multiple videos, we’ve seen shots of an explosion occurring somewhere. My best guess is that this is happening on some sort of large ship.
You can see what looks like an engine room. The second shot is at a dutch angle as people have trouble keeping their balance. It looks like a ship on water to me. Director Katsura Hashino mentioned there maybe being a luxury cruise ship in a recent interview. In the video of Persona summonings that Atlus posted a little while ago, one of the battles seems to be occurring at a location that fits this setting.
In this battle behind the UI of Morgana’s navigation is a swinging chandelier. That simply does not match the battle footage of any of the well known Palaces. Furthermore, it should be taken into consideration that Morgana is the navi for this time period. That places this Palace prior to Futaba joining the team but after Makoto has.
There’s also shots of Ryuji in PV#03 and his commercial in what looks like the same explosion.
My best guess is that whatever happens with this Palace, it must be very important to growing the Phantom Thieves of Hearts’ public notoriety. Certainly a massive explosion on a luxury liner is going to cause some headlines.
But what’s strange is that we know that the bank Palace – Makoto’s first – is the very beginning of July and the pyramid Palace (where Futaba awakens) is at the beginning of August. That’s a really small window of time to fit in an important event like this. Compared to the other Palaces from April-September, Atlus has been very reluctant to show anything pertaining to this location. There must be a good reason why.
WHO IS THIS GUY AND HOW DOES MAKOTO KNOW HIM?
Here’s a curiosity I chose to leave out of the piece. In Makoto’s commercial, we see her speaking with this man.
There are a few things here to keep in mind. First, remember what his computer screen looks like.
Next you should note the time frame of this shot. Makoto is introduced in the summer, but here she’s wearing her winter uniform. This is from the second half of the game. The time of day also suggests that it may be part of the big animated scene (believed to be after the MC’s arrest) I went over in the piece that has Haru and Futaba looking at birds and Yusuke painting one.
Next up is just how suspicious this guy is. Compare his computer screen to a few of the screens in this shot from the prologue.
The screen in the dead center in front of the standing man with his hand on the desk is identical to the screen in the scene with Makoto. Now, granted, P5‘s animation creators – Production I.G. – are not inhuman. It could just be that they reused the same concept for generic, ‘tech mumbo-jumbo’ screens in these shots. However, the man Makoto is with does have a resemblance to the man that’s on the phone in the prologue.
Is it the same person? I can’t say for sure. I also don’t know what it means even if it is. We know Makoto has a relation to Sae Niijima in some way and Sae is a public prosecutor. Could this man be another family member in the criminal justice system?
It’s also hard to say who these people work for. They’re set off in their own room in the casino, so the most obvious answer would be that they’re security. But we don’t even know if the casino is a real world location or a place that’s been warped into a Palace that’s part of the real world. For all we know, the casino could even be a police headquarters.
I never imagined when I made a video about importing P5 that it would turn out to be such a touchy subject. There are a few things I left out of that video as I didn’t want to bog it down and make it longer than it already is. Instead, I’ll throw it in here.
On the subject of whether or not playing the JP game is in any way hindering or tarnishing my first experience of P5, I say that it’s all a matter of perspective. I choose to stay optimistic about it. The way I see it, I’m essentially going to get the experience of playing Persona 5 for the very first time twice.
Yes, that doesn’t entirely make sense. You cannot feasibly do something for the first time again. Just ask Catherine‘s Toby.
What I mean is, the two experiences are going to be so vastly different than one another that I may as well be playing an entirely new game come February. This fall I get to experience the joy of becoming familiar with P5’s art direction, music, dungeon gameplay, battle system, and core plot. In February I’ll take that a step further and get to more intimately know the characters, a completely new voice cast, the day-to-day calendar, and the best way to master the game. I will also get to talk about it with a whole new group of people. I’ll be just as excited to play Atlus USA’s game then as I am to play the JP game right now.
Also please do not spoil the game, importers.
ATLUS SHUTTING DOWN STREAMING AND YOUTUBE UPLOADS
This news came down the pipe last Friday. P5 will not support the PS4’s built-in share feature, so if you want to capture footage from the game, you’re going to need your own dedicated capture card. Even if you have one, Atlus is warning you to not use it. There are already reports of P5 videos being hit with strikes on YouTube before the game even releases.
None of this shocks me. This exact same thing was happening last year with Persona 4 Dancing All Night. The issue of Atlus Japan striking down tiny YouTube channels even made it all the way to Kotaku. As far as I know, this issue was eventually cleared up in time and there are plenty of videos of P4D on YouTube now.
On one hand, I think I understand why Atlus JP is doing what it’s doing. Being stringent about YouTube uploads doesn’t seem to have anything to do with them being overly greedy or protecting their copyrights aggressively, like what Nintendo does on YouTube. It seems to be more in line with trying to limit the extensive evidence of their game’s story details.
Atlus primarily sells games that are story based. Full video of these game’s stories hurts them. But I also think, given that they eventually eased up on their hunt against P4D videos (and I heard similar stories regarding Persona Q), that this has something to do with preventing spoilers as well. Though early P5 adopters may hate this policy Atlus has taken on, it is in fact helping those that are worried about being spoiled on the game before next February.
My advice to you if this concerns you is to first read the Kotaku piece I linked. Second, if you do plan to capture or stream the game in someway, please be careful and considerate. As far as I know, there’s nothing stopping people with capture cards from streaming on Twitch or other similar services. YouTube is a different animal. I may be uploading P5 footage to YouTube, but not for LP purposes and it would be unlisted and removed of any metadata that would connect it to P5. Still, if Atlus begins dumping hours worth of Persona 5 footage into the content ID system (which I actually doubt they take the time to do outside of animated scenes), you may still get busted even if you have nothing linking the video to P5.
Note: Atlus’ posted policy about videos from Monday stated pre-release uploads being prohibited. We’ll have to wait to see if they loosen up in the next week.
@KillScottKill Do we know for sure if P5 has Party switching mid battle like TMS? Also is Negotiations the only way to get new Personas?
This info comes from Famitsu #1443. The description of the Star Co-op mentioned gaining the ability to switch characters in battle. This was aside from the “Baton Touch” skill, which was also mentioned. No footage of this function exists yet, but it may be identical to what was in ♯FE.
In addition to negotiation, Personas are still acquired through fusion in the Velvet Room. A Twitter follower of mine who was fortunate enough to play the demo also told me that in battles, should you kill all but one Shadow within the first one or two turns, the final Shadow remaining will panic and surrender itself to you without negotiation. The player can choose to turn it into a Persona, get money or items from it, or decline and kill it.
The full-length Persona 5 soundtrack has still yet to be announced. I suspect we’ll see Atlus say something about that this week at the Tokyo Gaming Show. Its absence has actually been very confusing to me. Atlus was quick to publish the full soundtrack to Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final when that launched early this year in Japan. It could be that P5‘s track titles are considered to spoil the game itself or perhaps by having no separate OST for sale, Atlus is trying to incentivize people into purchasing the 20th Anniversary Edition that comes with one CD for P5.
As for that CD set specifically (which leaked on Monday), it comes with five discs – one for each Persona game. The final track on each disc is a remix of a song from that game, but with a P5 twist on it. P5‘s remix combines the game’s title theme, “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There,” with the title track “Persona” from the original game.
The P1 disc uses only tracks from the original PlayStation game. The P2 disc has tracks from both original versions of Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment (as such, it has the most tracks).
The P3 disc has tracks from all three iterations of P3 including four tracks only on the female side of Portable and three tracks only heard in The Answer.
The P4 disc likewise has the big P4 tracks in addition to tracks that were added in with Persona 4 Golden. It does not include any tracks from the spin-off games.
The P5 disc is relatively limited. It consists primarily of tracks that have already been heard in some form via Atlus’s pre-release footage. The notable tracks are “Phantom” (title screen), “Life Will Change” (PV#04/prologue), and “Last Surprise” (battle theme). Many tracks are also not regular in-game music, but short songs that accompany animated scenes; like for example, the song that plays when the hero is arrested. In my opinion, the P5 disc doesn’t have a single track that can’t be heard in the first 2-3 hours of the game.
@KillScottKill More of a personal preference question, who are your favorites so far judging from their backgrounds?
Besides the hero (who I think will be the best Persona protagonist yet), my favorite characters are Anne and Goro. Anne is definitely the girl I’m looking to turn into my sweetheart, as I’m usually biased in favor of the Lovers arcana. I also like that she has a bit more edge to her than the other girls and seems to be more like P3‘s Yukari, but with a more likable personality. Plus she’s cute as hell.
Goro is the guy I look forward to spending the most time with. Ryuji and Yusuke each have their pluses, but I think haven’t shown enough character yet. Though I do know more about Ryuji from the demo notes and that information made me sympathize with him.
Goro on the other hand, he fascinates me because he’ll be spending the first half of the game as the hero’s rival. I don’t think the franchise has really had a character like him since maybe Jun Kuroso in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. I can’t wait to see how he changes as a detective once he puts on a mask of his own and joins the team. I’m really looking forward to doing his Co-op and seeing him go from the hero’s rival to one of his best friends.
Note: This post has gone through multiple versions over the course of weeks. In the last twelve hours before publication, the full game essentially was leaked by way of PlayStation 3 PKG files. I promise you that I know nothing about what is in the leaked files and everything that is here came from fair estimation of material Atlus has willingly disseminated to the public.
Read at your own risk. The following is a breakdown of Persona 5‘s known events and an analysis at what could be its driving inspirations and conflicts. These are guesses, but naturally any guess that could turn out correct can be construed as a spoiler.
However right or wrong it may be, here’s my final guesses as to what P5 is about. 95% of this comes from just slaving over pre-release info that’s been publicly available if you look hard enough. The remaining 5% comes from knowing a little bit more about the beginning of the game from reading notes of people’s experience playing the demo.
This also does not include anything that can be gleaned from footage in the trailer or stream playing at the 2016 Tokyo Gaming Show (presumably PV#05). The launch stream will begin about an hour and half before midnight release of P5, but that obviously isn’t enough time digest everything and change what I have written here.
You start the game in the prologue, which is actually taking place in November. The main character (MC) is arrested after a casino heist and brought in for interrogation. After being roughed up by police, the prosecutor in charge of the case, Sae Niijima, speaks with him privately and asks the MC to divulge the details of his unknown methods. The MC is greeted by Philemon and hears the voices of Caroline and Justine, the Velvet Room twins. It sets up the game’s theme of stealing back your future. He recalls where it all began.
Back in April, the MC transfers to Shujin High School (shujin being the word for “prisoner”). He was recently arrested and sued for assaulting a man who was sexually harassing a woman. His parents send him off to live with Sojiro Sakura, an acquaintance of a friend of theirs. Sojiro runs a back alley shop called Cafe Leblanc in the neighborhood of Yongenjaya (based on real world location, Sangenjaya) where the MC will be living for one year.
On his first day of school, the MC runs into Ryuji Sakamoto. As they walk towards Shujin’s entrance, they’re suddenly transported into P5‘s other world – a “Palace.” The school has reshaped into a castle that represents the Palace of the school’s volleyball coach, Kamoshida. Their lives in danger, the MC awakens to his Persona and they meet Morgana.
Persona 5‘s bosses seem to be based around the seven deadly sins, or at least some incarnation of it. Kamoshida represents the sin of lust. His Palace is littered with statues of girls in gym uniforms. In one trailer, a translation was given of him being a demon that “desires relations.” He has a weird fascination with Anne Takamaki.
Anne is seen being courted by Kamoshida on the first day of school with Ryuji calling him a pervert. It’s likely that the Anne in the picture above is not the real her, but an extension of Kamoshida’s Shadow. The same model of Anne in a bikini is a part of Kamoshida’s boss fight despite the real Anne being shown in footage as a participant in the very same battle.
Much like Yukiko’s castle in Persona 4, the player will be making multiple trips to Kamoshida’s Palace with multiple Persona awakenings taking place there – the MC’s on the first day and Ryuji’s and Anne’s at a later time.
The threat behind Kamoshida’s Palace has to do with expulsion. In PV#04, Kamoshida threatens to have the MC expelled. Whether the expulsion deadline that is seen in the UI refers to the MC, Anne, or perhaps multiple characters is unknown.
Sometime in the first month, the MC is put in charge of the group and is sort of taken under Morgana’s wing. Morgana clearly has a mysterious past, but is not necessarily the same type of character that Teddie/Kuma is in Persona 4. Director Katsura Hashino stated in March’s Persona Official Magazine that Morgana has a specific goal in mind that predates meeting the others. When out of the other world, she appears as a normal cat and lives with the MC. She mentors him to being the best he can be and a true Phantom Thief.
The first four Phantom Thieves of Hearts in place, the group storms Kamoshida’s Palace and steal his heart. What exactly happens to the targets in the real world after you’ve successfully completed their Palace isn’t fully known. If Day Breakers (the animation that aired on September 3rd) is to be believed, the target has an emotional breakdown to mark their reformation, but knows nothing of what the Phantom Thieves actually did to them. Remember, these are the targets’ Shadows the Thieves are tackling inside of the other world. The target shouldn’t have any awareness that they’ve met the Thieves.
Also revealed in the early game is some sort of epidemic in Tokyo of people ‘going mad.’ An example of this is the subway accident that is seen in PV#01 and takes place on the second day of the game. Here’s another Persona game where a supernatural event is effecting the public. Given how badly the Thieves are pursued by law enforcement come November, it’s likely that they’re somehow blamed for this.
After all the Kamoshida business is wrapped up, the group runs into another peculiar character.
From all I’ve seen of him prior to release, Yusuke Kitagawa is in a word, weird. He attends Kosei High School and is an artist. His personality seems quirky, to say the least. Sometimes he appears to be the quiet, solemn type that keeps his cool. At other times he looks like he has more rage in him than anyone else in the Thieves.
The second Palace centers around a painter named Madarame. Yusuke, having been orphaned at a young age, attends Kosei on an art scholarship and was taken in by Madarame.
From the UI seen on footage of this Palace, the threat this month has to do with plagiarism charges being filed. In the Day Breakers there are a couple of passing mentions to this time in the game, as it is set between this Palace and the next. There’s a shot of a newspaper headline covering the dark side of the art world. Two of the crooks in the animation mention having lost their jobs at a security firm recently due to an old painter everyone’s raving about.
It could be that Madarame has stolen Yusuke’s work and claimed it as his own. The UI however can be confusing. It may be that, despite himself being the plagiarist, Madarame is threatening to have Yusuke and others charged with plagiarism to keep them quiet. Obviously, being his landlord, Madarame holds a lot of power over Yusuke regardless.
Having Yusuke be the one threatened with plagiarism would fit into the game’s theme of how corrupt and twisted adults can be and would likely make Yusuke a sympathetic character towards the MC, as the MC was also charged when he had done nothing wrong. How this would ultimately affect the crooks in Day Breakers is something I can’t account for.
It may not be obvious from the trailers, but in my opinion, Madarame represents gluttony. I’ll give further evidence below when I go into the more overarching themes of Persona 5. However, here’s a good hint as to why this may be. This is Yusuke referring to Madarame in his TV commercial. (Thanks to Domi for the translation)
What do gluttonous people do? They devour their meals.
JUNE – JULY
This is clearly when Makoto Niijima is introduced and recruited to the Phantom Thieves. I find Makoto to be a rather interesting character. A third-year student, she comes off as very upstanding and studious. She clearly has a strong sense of justice which comes as no surprise given she is related in some way to Sae Niijima – the woman that speaks to the MC in the prologue after he is taken into custody. The specifics of Makoto’s and Sae’s relation are unknown.
This time period’s Palace appears to be a bank at first glance. The name of this month’s target is Kaneshiro. He has been seen in PV#04 as a fly – described in one translation as “money grubbing.” No question he represents the sin of greed.
It’s difficult to pin down what exactly this month is about. The Day Breakers also had a passing mention of Kaneshiro and teased his Palace at the very end. The gang of crooks from the animation made it sound as though Kaneshiro controls some sort of group that more or less runs Shibuya, criminally. Ryuji mentioned that Shibuya had been dangerous lately due to there be cases of beat downs tied to extortion.
In analyzing this Palace, I came to the realization that it has a lot of similarities to a church.
Looking closely at shots of this location in PV#04, it can be seen that much of the decoration here is very ornate. In the above picture, the rows of seats resemble church pews. Mystic explained to me that much of the language used in this location’s UI is of uncommon words not often used in modern Japanese. I can’t guarantee that it’s a actually church, however. Similar church-like designs can be found in Kamoshida’s Palace as well as the casino.
Sitting in the pews are ATMs with limbs. These same figures are seen roaming the streets at the end of Day Breakers. Palaces take the form of how their owners truly see the location. Kamoshida saw Shujin as his castle where he could rule and do whatever he wanted. If this location is in fact a bank, which seems likely given that it’s located in central Shibuya, then perhaps its church-like qualities as a Palace are a result of Kaneshiro being so greedy that money is essentially a religion to him.
The UI of this month’s Palace mentions something about a set number of days before photos leak. The nature of these photos are unknown. The nature of how this Palace relates to Makoto is also unclear. This may be, just as was mentioned in Day Breakers, a case of extortion.
This month will fully introduce Futaba Sakura to the plot. All that is clear is that this month’s Palace will be available as early as the first week of August. The theme of this Palace is ancient Egypt.
In gameplay footage of this Palace, there have been traps and parts of the environment that have a green and black aesthetic. It looks similar to a computer chip.
The style is just like that of Futaba’s eventual Persona, Necronomicon.
This same design can be seen on the ground beneath the team’s feet when they’re fighting a boss during this Palace. This may even be Futaba’s own Shadow.
When Necronomicon first appears, you can see the same spire in the background as you see during the boss fight.
It’s also worth noting that this Palace seems to have two very different parts. In addition to the pyramid area, there’s also the surrounding town. Unfortunately, there’s no footage of this area and only screenshots. This may just be the beginning of the Palace with the inner pyramid area comprising of the second area.
As you can see below, this city-like area seems to lead up to the pyramid.
Above I said that August would “fully introduce” Futaba. That’s because she appears to be present in July. The UI below gives the goal of stealing Futaba’s heart, but is obviously still the bank Palace.
This is a discrepancy I have been unable to account for. It may be that as a hacker, Futaba is involved with multiple incidents but the Phantom Thieves are unable to fully track her down until August. There’s also the issue of what her relation is to Sojiro Sakura, the MC’s caretaker. These are questions that can likely only be answered by playing the game.
Sometime after the Egypt Palace will also be when the team visits Hawaii. This is probably the origin of the footage of the team in their swimsuits, though I’m not sure how Yusuke and Futaba get there seeing as they’re not Shujin students.
The next character to join the Phantom Thieves is Haru Okumura. What’s been said of Haru in magazines is that she’s very elegant and refined, coming from a well-to-do family, but is also naive to the ways of the world and has avoided forming bonds with people. Her father is said to be the president of a fast food company. Undoubtedly, that would be the restaurant known as Big Bang.
Allow me to explain how I know that. September’s Palace is what fans often refer to as the “space station” dungeon.
While it does have the look of a space station, if you look very closely at certain shots you can see that it’s actually a part of Big Bang. The platforms bear the title “Big Bang” on them and on the wall behind Haru is a sign for french fries.
“Big Bang” of course refers to the theory of the creation of the universe and ties in with the Palace’s space theme, but it may also be a double entendre. In Japan, the term “Big Bang” can refer to the deregulation of foreign exchange that took place in the late 1990’s. You can read further on how this ‘big bang’ affected Japan’s economy here.
UI from gameplay of this Palace mentions stealing the heart of “Okumura” – presumably the company’s president. From the text behind Haru, I’m going to venture a guess and say the employees of Big Bang are being overworked and mistreated. If the fast food industry in Japan is anything like it is in America, then there’s a lot of material to work with regarding bad business practices and employees being exploited.
Virtually nothing is known about this month. Any screenshots that have had an October date attached to them have been of events with little consequence to the game’s central plot. Why is that? To me it seems quite obvious why there’s nothing shown of it. October centers around Goro Akechi joining the Phantom Thieves of Hearts.
Let’s not mince words. Goro is a party member in Persona 5. That has been obvious since May 5th when he showed up on the cover of the game and as part of the advertised costume DLC.
There’s also the fact that his voice can be heard on two separate occasions in the prologue and he’s pictured with the team at the end of PV#04 as they seemingly walk towards the casino.
And here he is on the image that appears when hovering over Persona 5 on the PS3’s XrossMediaBar.
His code name will be “Crow” (gleaned from the PS4 home theme DLC) and some demo players compared the outline of Goro’s mask on the title screen to look like a plague doctor’s mask. From what I saw in last week’s Famitsu stream, I think it could be more comparable to a long-nosed Carnival mask.
Ever since E3, Atlus has backpedaled and tried its hardest to paint Goro as an antagonist character. He’s a high school-aged detective in pursuit of the Phantom Thieves. In screenshots (which Atlus conveniently censored the UI elements from), the second-year Shujin students are seen on a field trip where Goro speaks on a television set.
In case you didn’t know, Goro isn’t a fan of what it is the Thieves are supposedly doing. How he goes from ‘detective prince reincarnate’ to Crow is a complete mystery. It may be, like Naoto in Persona 4, that he learns the real nature of the case after awakening to his Persona and comes around to the group. Or perhaps he’s already a Persona-user and it’s something else.
The casino Palace is available from the very first week of the month if this screenshot is to be believed.
Other than this, nothing is truly known of the casino. We know when it is. We know what happens to the MC upon its completion. Who the target may be is anyone’s guess. As for what sin that target may represent, I would take care to remember that pride comes before the fall.
Up to this point in the game, it’s likely that the player will be occasionally flash forwarded back to the MC’s interrogation with Sae Niijima during the prologue. I have read of one such instance from people who played the demo. This may be what structures Persona 5‘s supposed omnibus format. Each part of the game is a retelling of its events from the MC to Sae.
It should be noted that the animated scene from the end of PV#03 and the beginning of PV#04 is never shown in the opening prologue. It will likely play after the player has played all the way through the game to the point where the prologue occurs.
Here we see MC much differently than in the prologue. He’s composed – confident even. This may be a result of the player having successfully stolen back his future. Of course, the game doesn’t end in early November. Getting out of this situation and going back to living his normal daily life seems impossible to me. But still, there’s a good chance it will happen one way or another.
Through shots from PV#04 and various commercials, we get a look of a time that is likely after the MC’s arrest.
The second shot is from Futaba looking at her screen in PV#04. Each features the same news broadcast.
Notice something? The Yusuke, Haru, Futaba, and sunset shots all feature birds flying. Yusuke’s canvas has a lone, painted bird. Haru sees a pair from the car. Futaba sees one out the window. The final shot (seen in PV#03) has a flock in the sunset. Maybe it’s just there for effect, but it could be symbolic. It may have something to do with Goro’s code name; Crow.
Then comes the footage in Haru’s commercial from just a couple of weeks ago. Here we get a glimpse of the Phantom Thieves, or perhaps just the MC in particular, taking over a news broadcast. This has been something Atlus has been recreating in its promotional events for some time.
This may be in conjunction with this rather notable shot from the end of PV#03.
This shot from PV#03 is from the same scene. On the screen to the right is a report about the case regarding the Phantom Thieves coming to an end.
In Futaba’s and Haru’s commercials, we seem to also get a glimpse at the Thieves meeting in response to the MC’s arrest. Here in Futaba’s commercial, we see them gathered at the meeting place featured in multiple videos, screenshots, and the Day Breakers. Note they’re all in their winter casual clothes and of course, the MC is not present.
In Haru’s commercial, we see what is likely an extension of this at a later time in the day. The background of glass windows and the fact that Haru and Yusuke are reacting to something screen-right leads me to believe they’re in Shibuya and what’s happening is the beginning of the MC hijacking the broadcast.
I do find it odd that considering the casino is playable in early November, the people seen in the streets of these shots are bundled up. They seem to be more appropriately dressed for December. It could be that, like Persona 4‘s killer dungeon, you have multiple weeks to complete the casino but should you do it as early as possible, you’re simply fast forwarded to the next scripted plot point. So depending on how quickly you beat this Palace, the MC could spend a few weeks in jail or just a day. If you’re looking to do as many optional events as possible, it may be in your best interest to complete the casino at the last possible opportunity.
How in the world the MC gets out and how he hijacks a broadcast is beyond me. Maybe it has something to do with his relationship with Goro or maybe even Sae. I look forward to finding out.
What happens after the casino Palace is anyone’s guess. Clearly, this is where the ‘real’ game begins. From what is said at the end of PV#04, there appears to be some sort of larger organization lurking in the shadows. This probably has something to do with whatever is happening in Tokyo where people go mad.
This is all purely speculation, but I would hazard a guess that there’s corruption high up on the chain of command in the justice system. The man who calls Sae in the prologue sounds not only menacing, but more privy to what the Thieves were doing than Sae could ever be – given that these heists largely take place inside of another world. Whatever this mysterious group is, it may have pull and influence over official government bodies as well.
My instincts tell me that the antagonist entity is also active inside of the other world. However, unlike the Thieves who are stealing the parts of people that corrupt them and make them twisted, this unknown entity is taking everything that makes someone human. This leaves people out of control, leading to incidents like the subway wreck.
In the end, I expect the game’s true antagonist and final boss to once again be more bizarre and otherworldly than we can currently predict. It just wouldn’t be Persona otherwise.
The Community/Social Link system has been revised and relabeled as Cooperation. In addition to bonuses granted when fusing new Personas, Cooperations have other benefits to the core game.
The Fool: believed to be Igor. This comes from the demo notes, though not confirmed by Atlus. It would be a major change from the standard team Social Link in P3 and P4. This Co-op gives the player key abilities such as negotiation, increased Persona limit, and Third Eye. Unlike previous games, Igor’s relationship with the MC is more informal this time around. Igor acts as the warden of P5‘s Velvet Room and the MC is his prisoner. Igor’s goal is to rehabilitate him. These changes reflect Igor’s voice actor change, as Igor’s original actor has passed away since Persona 4.
Magician: Morgana. Morgana’s Co-op will affect the types of items the MC can make at the desk in his room and how efficiently he makes them.
Priestess: Makoto Niijima. Unknown effects.
Empress: Haru Okumura. Unknown effects.
Emperor: Yusuke Kitagawa. Unknown effects.
Hierophant: Sojiro Sakura. The MC’s caretaker and owner of Cafe Leblanc. Said to come off as a ladies’ man. Unknown effects.
Lovers: Anne Takamaki. According to one demo player, Anne is said to be able to give the player advice if they’re having trouble negotiating with the Shadows. This may be an effect of her Co-op.
Chariot: Ryuji Sakamoto. Unknown effects.
Hermit: Futaba Sakura. Unknown effects.
Fortune: Chihaya Mifune. A fortune teller that sets up shop on the streets of Shinjuku. Unknown effects.
Hanged Man: Munehisa Iwai, weapons shop owner. One benefit from this Co-op is that party members not actively in battle still passively receive experience. It will also lower the prices at his shop and make new items available for purchase.
Death: Tae Takami, doctor and clinic owner. Will reduce prices at her clinic and make new drugs available. Other potential effects unknown.
Temperance: Sadayo Kawakami. The MC’s homeroom teacher who holds a side job as a maid. Allows the player to cut class to do other activities.
Devil: Kazuko Oya. A crafty journalist the MC meets while working at a bar. Her specialty is gossip media and has a keen interest in the Phantom Thieves. Her Co-op allows the player to better control the public opinion of the Thieves.
Tower: Shinya Oda. An elementary school student and ace shooter at an arcade in Akihabara. Holds some sort of reverie for the Phantom Thieves. This young man’s Co-op improves the player’s shooting skills.
Star: Hifumi Togo. An advanced shogi player from Kosei. Her Co-op improves the MC’s battle strategy. This includes learning the Baton Touch function and how to effectively escape. One translation made it sound like the player may even get the ability to switch party members in the heat of battle – similar to Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE.
Moon: Yuki Mishima. A classmate to the MC and fan of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. He learns of the MC’s true identity and creates an online network called “KaitouCh” – a place where people can make requests of the Theives. His Co-op provides the player with information of potential targets that can be pursued in Mementos, the game’s secondary Palace area outlined below. As the Co-op ranks up, public support of the Thieves increases. This is the percentage that appears on the bottom right corner of the calendar as the game transitions towards a new day.
Sun: Toranosuke Yoshida. A failed local politician that the MC meets while working at a restaurant. He makes public speeches in Shibuya that the MC can help with. Improves negotiation skills.
The World or Aeon: ???
The final two arcana will likely be reserved for ones relevant to the plot of the game. It could even be – given the themes of the game – that the initial team link, which was previously the Fool, is now Judgment and the secondary team link, previously Judgment, is now something like The World. The World was not a Social Link in Persona 3 and Persona 4. In Persona 3 FES/Portable and Persona 4 Golden, Aigis and Marie were the Aeon links, respectively.
This also leaves the Justice and Strength Co-ops unaccounted for. Undoubtedly, one of these will belong to Goro. The only remaining characters that make sense for Co-op are Sae Niijima and Caroline and Justine, the Velvet Room twins. It is possible, though unlikely, that an unseen character could belong to one of these Co-ops.
Personally, I think Sae will be Justice and Goro will be Strength. If not, I can foresee Caroline and Justine having a Co-op focused on Persona fusion and/or optional quests like Elizabeth in P3 and Margaret in P4.
Mementos is the free-roam dungeon area of P5 and is described as being the “Palace for everyone” – the one that represents society at large. Unlike the proper Palaces, Mementos appears to be randomly generated and quite expansive. Think of it like Persona 3‘s Tartarus.
Here the player will take on side missions that allow them to gain experience while also expanding the Phantom Thieves of Hearts’ reputation. As you can see from Yuki’s Co-op, the Thieves’ public support is actually a measurable function in the game.
Players were greeted to a preview of how Mementos works in The Day Breakers. Essentially, from information gathered via KaitouCh, the Thieves will target people in need of reformation by defeating their Shadow in Mementos. In the Day Breakers, the target came from a request at the behest of his own victim.
And, yes, Morgana turns into a bus and you drive her around in Mementos.
DO THE THIEVES ACTUALLY STEAL THINGS?
When P5 was first getting promotional material, I was expecting a game where the protagonist lived a life of crime and used his Persona as a thief. Instead, we’ve seen very little to suggest that the Thieves commit any real crimes outside of reforming society’s degenerates. Is stealing someone’s ‘heart’ a real crime?
There are, however, some suggestions that the Thieves do loot Palaces for actual treasure.
Atlus’ own press release on P5 stated the treasures are actually manifestations of the desires of the Palace owner. So the crown is the manifestation of Kamoshida’s desire to be king of Shujin. This should mean that defeating their Shadows and stealing these symbolic treasures is how a target is officially ‘reformed.’
There’s also this shot in the prologue of the MC lifting a briefcase. Given how important we know the casino is, I can only wonder what’s inside it. Somehow I doubt it’s cash.
WHEN DOES P5 TAKE PLACE?
You may be as interested in this as I am. One of my favorite things about Persona is tying together all the separate games into one story world. While each numbered game is its own story with its own characters and you don’t necessarily need to have played the games that came before it, I quite enjoy the loose threads that have connected all the games and created the sense that it’s all one world and we’re experiencing it from different perspectives throughout the years.
I’ve said it many times and it’s been repeated by many sources: Persona 5 shares an identical calendar with the year 2016. Granted, because the game starts in the spring we don’t know whether P5 is technically in a leap year, but you get the point. Yet, unlike P3 and P4 which concretely took place in 2009 and 2011, P5 gives no exact year. On the calendar, it has remained “20xx” even in the final game. However, there is one sign of actual steadfast years in P5‘s promotional material.
That appears on Futaba’s computer screen in PV#04. It’s not much. In fact, given the technology present in P5, it only makes sense that it’s set in the present day and no earlier than this.
I hold that Persona 5 takes place in 2016 and that’s simply how it is. Why Hashino and P-Studio have elected to not simply state that is unclear. It may have something to do with the very beginning of the game when the player is told to accept that Persona 5 is a work of fiction. Could that mean P5 is technically non-canon to the Persona story world that has been written up to late summer 2012? I doubt it, personally.
It could just be that the fictional nature of the game is stressed and the year left ambiguous so that Atlus can absolve itself from Japanese players taking the game too seriously. After all, the content in P5 – given its use of guns, drugs and overall theme of being a political commentary on modern Japan – is seen as a more adult game than each of its base entry predecessors.
In Hashino’s recent interview with 4Gamer, he did clarify that P5 shares a setting with previous titles (presumably meaning the same story world). He also said that while the story is new, there will be things that make veteran players smile. Whether that means any cameos remains to be seen. Certainly, if that were to happen, it would confirm P5 being in the same story world. Even just releasing full birth dates for the party members would render making the game’s year ambiguous moot.
WHO IS MORGANA?
There’s no doubt in my mind that Morgana is going to be very important in the endgame’s focus. What her past is or what she hopes to accomplish is elusive. Has she been pursued by the mysterious organization before? Morgana also has a high interest in the treasures that are pulled out of Palaces. Seeing as they’re symbolic and not exactly the kind of thing that turn into real world spending money, I don’t understand why it is she wants the treasure so badly.
Demo players reported that under Morgana’s Co-op screen, the description of her states that she’s lost part of her memory and whatever her true form is. So though Morgana may have been in the Phantom Thief game prior to meeting the MC, she doesn’t know who or what she was before that.
This also fuels the Japanese audience’s suspicion that Morgana may not be female and perhaps may even be human. Morgana’s gender has been somewhat ambiguous according to Atlus sources, but I and most fans have referred to her as female knowing that her Japanese and English voice actors are both women, and her English voice (played by Casandra Lee Morris) is very feminine. Regarding whether or not she’s human, this suspicion comes from Morgana’s continued objection to simply being called a cat. There’s also the fact that her Persona, Zorro, is nothing like her physical form. There’s a good chance that Zorro is very reflective of whatever Morgana’s real identity is.
What’s also interesting is that there is no evidence of Morgana being present immediately after the casino Palace. If the shots I gathered are correctly aligned and the team is truly meeting in Shibuya after the MC has been arrested, then why isn’t Morgana there too?
IT RAINS A LOT
Have you noticed this? Persona 5‘s pre-release footage is full of rain. It rains throughout most of the game’s opening video.
According to demo reports, Sojiro advises the MC to carry an umbrella at the beginning of the game. His first day at school it rains. The scenes of the MC first seeing Anne, meeting Ryuji, and being transported to Kamoshida’s Palace happen in the rain.
This shot near the end of PV#04 and Ryuji’s commercial features red rain.
A shot from Morgana’s commercial also features red rain.
This shot from PV#03 has what looks like blood seeping through a subway door, but it also seems very thin. In the subsequent shot of Yuki reacting to it, you can see red rain falling outside the subway window – though it’s tougher to notice in a still image. There’s also heavy amounts of red tinted lens flare in all of these shots.
We’ve also seen plenty of gameplay footage of rainy days as well as other examples of it raining in animated scenes. The cute picture of Morgana in the MC’s bag way above is from her being hit on the nose by a rain drop in her commercial. There is an animated scene of it raining during the summer when Anne, Makoto, and Haru are wearing yukatas. It was also confirmed in a recent PlayStation Dengeki that rain will have an effect on what you can expect inside of Mementos.
There’s also a very interesting visual effect that is present inside of all Palaces. When the party members run, they leave behind a peculiar red-ish pink splashing effect on the ground. It’s similar to the shot above of the MC and Ryuji walking through the alleyway to what ends up being Kamoshida’s Palace. It also bears the same shade of color that the sky has above the castle.
At first I thought this was nothing; just a visual effect to make exploring Palaces look cool. But then I saw the shot of the MC and Ryuji in the alleyway and thought back to this shot at the very end of PV#04.
This shot of someone walking up these gold statues appears very menacing. Combined with the voice work in PV#04, which is talking about the mysterious organization at the end, it makes this shot look like it’s of an important antagonist. Here, the splashing effecting is not slightly tinted or even pink. It’s dark, blood-red and black.
Just what is happening in Tokyo? Is the city headed for some sort of major biblical event like that of the flood in the story of Noah’s Arc? There is a record of red or ‘blood rain‘ being a phenomenon throughout history. Generally, it’s viewed as a bad omen. It can also be scientifically explained on the rare occurrence red rain water does fall. Perhaps, just like the fog in Persona 4, the red rain will be a weather event that the general public and media tries to find a logical answer for.
Again, this is all purely speculation. Perhaps the further you get in the game, the thicker the red rain becomes. What was normal rain water with only a slight tint in April becomes translucent red by summer and blood-red by the end game. Notice that the shot at the end of PV#04 has the MC in his casual winter clothes. That shot is very likely from the endgame.
Perhaps after clearing a Palace, the rain temporarily returns to normal for a time before getting worse again; just like defeating a Shadow every full moon in Persona 3 temporarily brings down the number of people suffering from Apathy Syndrome. Or maybe, like in late November of P4 when the fog permanently sets in, there comes a time late in the game where red rain just continuously falls and signals an ‘end of days’ of sorts.
Whatever the case is, I feel confident that the weather is significant in Persona 5 to some extent. It hasn’t been so prevalent in the pre-release footage just for show. There’s something there. In fact, if the rain really is important throughout the entire game, then I think it ties into another theory I’d like to present.
HOW DOES THE OTHER WORLD WORK?
This is something I’ve come to wonder the more I’ve seen of Persona 5. The first time I saw Kamoshida’s Palace, I simply wrote it off as a complete other world – just like entering the TV World in Persona 4. The MC gets a mysterious app installed on his phone (the ‘Isekai Navi’) that allows for transportation into Palaces and Mementos.
But there are still things that make me question just how separate from the real world Palaces may be. In Kamoshida’s Palace, demo players reported other students being stuck there and being tortured – though that may just be their own hearts, etc. At the start of Madarame’s Palace, you can see a line of people waiting to get inside the art gallery.
Perhaps those aren’t real people, but just Shadows. Then again, there’s a shot of the bank Palace in PV#03 of people running by the MC as money falls to the ground.
Then of course, there’s the entire nature of the casino Palace. At the end of PV#04, we see the completed team walking towards it as if it’s a real life location. In the prologue, the casino has actual real life patrons that can see the MC.
The MC is pursued by the men in black suits and then they transform into Shadows. The MC has the game’s tutorial battle right there – just a story above the busy casino floor.
To even further show how bizarre the casino’s existence is in Tokyo, I should tell you that in real life there are no casinos in Japan. Gambling is illegal. So what we have here is a highly fictional location that is baked into the real world. Just like Kamoshida’s Palace which clearly isn’t the real Shujin, the MC can summon his Persona here and fight Shadows. It would seem that the casino is a Palace that has materialized in the real world.
But how is that possible? Why would the early game set up rules of how to access Palaces (the navigation app), only to have a Palace be placed in reality later in the game?
It should also be considered how it is the Phantom Thieves of Hearts even become publicly notorious. In Persona 3 and Persona 4, the actions of SEES and the Investigation Team are completely unbeknownst to the public. Only Persona-users can function in P3‘s Dark Hour and, while the public does get a glimpse of the TV World through the Midnight Channel, the rest of Inaba has no idea that the Investigation Team solves the murder case.
What is it that tips the public off to the Thieves existence? What prompts Yuki Mishima – just a month into the game mind you – to set up the KaitouCh? Is it the work done in Mementos? Is this what Morgana had in mind when forming the group?
To venture a guess and tie it into the rain theory, my thought is that as the game progresses, the real world and Palaces become more intertwined. The heavier the rain, the worse it gets. The end result is a Palace that is in reality. Keep in mind that Palaces are heavily exaggerated locations: a castle which is actually a school and a space station that is actually a burger joint. So if this logic holds true, the ‘casino’ may in fact be something else. It may be symbolic that whatever the casino is based around has citizens essentially gambling their lives away at it. To credit Mystic, it could be a metaphor of how people are staking their lives on a government they think they can trust.
THEMES AND INSPIRATIONS
As I said, the bosses of P5 from April to November are inspired by the seven deadly sins. Not only that, but there may be a particular order to them as well. They seem to go in order of the lightest sin to the heaviest sin, according to Dante Alighieri’s Purgatorio.
Hence, my further evidence that Madarame is actually gluttony. Futaba, the described social hermit and introvert, may be sloth. The overworking fast food tycoon may be wrath. Our final two unknown bosses in October and November would be envy and pride.
However, this does not come without a potential contradiction. There are multiple ways to classify the mythological demons that are associated with these sins. There’s reason to believe P5 follows some sort of classification as Asmodeus, the demon of lust, is known to be the name of Kamoshida’s boss form. There is, however, no classification I could find that associates Beelzebub, which seems to be what Kaneshiro is modeled after, with greed. Rather, Beelzebub is more often associated with gluttony.
If I had to pick between a demon classification model and the Purgatorio theory, I feel more confident that P5 follows the Purgatorio theory because it’s difficult to deny that Kaneshiro is representative of greed. It may just be that P5 cherry picks which demons to associate with which sins while ignoring some conventional wisdom.
P5 seems to have an underlying inspiration in Christianity. In Catholicism in particular, the seven deadly sins carry weight and are countered by seven virtues (chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility, respectively). Catholicism can also be noted for practicing confession. Persona 5 actually has a confessional function. It’s used to relearn forgotten Persona skills.
There’s also a copious amount of blood in Persona 5. The game’s theme color is red. We seem to have events of blood rain. When masks are pulled off of Shadows, they explode into blood effects. The same happened to the target in Day Breakers. The train conductor who loses his mind has blood seeping from his mouth. When a character first awakens to their Persona and rips their own mask off, they bleed profusely.
Not surprisingly, there are connections between Christianity and blood. It could be any number of things. The blood may represent martyrdom. In Catholicism, there’s of course respect to the Blood of Christ. What the angle Hashino has in mind is, I don’t know. I’m sure he found something to take inspiration from.
Continuing on, not only does the bank Palace seem similar to a church, but the casino has some resemblance to a cathedral as well. There are several stained glass windows there, including the one the MC dramatically jumps through.
Also in the casino are these monitors with flashing images.
It can be difficult to read, but the image on the bottom left of the monitor reads “final gathering.”
Does P5 have a Judas? That’s a good question. In the prologue, the MC is told that someone close to him sold him out when he’s apprehended. Also in PV#04, there’s dialogue concerning one of the Thieves’ plans being leaked.
There are two obvious suspects. Too obvious, in fact. The first is Goro. What his relationship is with the Thieves in November is unknown. But we do know he’s wants to arrest the Thieves and then joins them. Naturally people are currently suspicious of him. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about on this front. It would be too obvious and the player would see it coming before it happened. I think once Goro joins, he’s in for good.
However, what’s worrisome is that there is evidence of footage from after the MC’s arrest where the team is present, but Goro isn’t there. If the shot from Futaba’s commercial at the meeting place really is after the MC is in custody, why wouldn’t Goro be with the team? Then there’s the shots of the black birds on the evening of the newscasts. Instead of making me suspect Goro, this all makes me fear that something bad happens to him around this point in the game. It could be that the news broadcast with two people on the screen isn’t about the MC, but about Goro.
The next popular choice for a potential traitor is Makoto. Her having an unknown relationship with Sae makes her suspicious to a lot of people. Again, I don’t agree with this suspicion. I also don’t think Sae is truly an antagonist. She seems to be a woman looking for truth and justice but doesn’t realize how corrupt the very system she’s a part of is. I think the MC’s relationship with Makoto will pay huge dividends on this front, rather than come back to hurt him.
Personally, I have two suspects; the first of which is Yuki Mishima. Yuki’s Co-op appears incredibly relevant to the core plot of the game. He’s also the only confirmed character outside of the main cast to know the identities of the Thieves. He’s just important enough yet held at arm’s length from the player to fit this kind of role. Why Yuki, who seemingly idolizes the Thieves, would betray them is unknown. However, he’s one of few characters that could do so if he desired to.
My other and most prime suspect at the moment is Haru. Haru’s Persona is based on Milady de Winter. Milady was an antagonist in The Three Musketeers – a spy to be specific. Her goal was to blackmail the Duke of Buckingham who was the secret lover of France’s Queen Anne. Not only does P5 have an Anne, but it also has a Queen – it’s Makoto’s code name. Of all of the cast’s Personas, Haru’s is the only one that doesn’t originate from some sort of real life or fictional anti-hero, vigilante, or famous thief. Milady was simply an antagonist.
How Haru, a sheltered girl who just a couple of months earlier was the center of a fast food Palace, ends up betraying the MC, I do not know. There also isn’t any known motive. However, she is introduced just late enough into the game where the Thieves will be notorious and pursued enough in order for someone to aim to become a mole.
This theory also doesn’t account for the picture above, which should be after the casino, if the screenshot of the casino being playable in early November is to be believed. Is this a Co-op event or is it a scripted event? It’s difficult to tell out of context.
There’s another interesting thing I noticed in Haru’s commercial. The shots of her dawning the golden eyes seem to be out of order compared to what’s been seen of the other party members.
In what little we’ve seen of the awakenings of the MC, Ryuji, Anne, and Yusuke, the order seems to be:
The mask forms on their face
Their eyes turn gold
They rip the mask off
They summon their Persona and dawn their Phantom costume for the first time – their eyes having returned to normal. In fact, you can see the change back to normal eyes in PV#02 as the MC is summoning Arsène for the first time.
Yet here we see the order differently for Haru. Her eyes are gold having already summoned Milady. Is this scene really her awakening in September, or is it from a later time? It’s difficult to tell from the scenery. The background does bear some resemblance to the Big Bang Palace, but no dead giveaways.
In Domi’s translation of this commercial, Haru talks about the Phantom Thieves being wrong and not following orders anymore (those lines being from two different scenes). The juxtaposition of the camera also makes it seem like Haru is facing the Thieves as she says this. It has made me question whether what we’re seeing is her awakening in September or a standoff later in the game. Moreover, if this is after the MC’s arrest, then why would Goro not be with the group? Unless of course, something has happened to him after the MC’s arrest like I suggested.
I also find some of the details about Haru that were published in Japanese magazines (later translated) to be a little suspicious. Unlike Futaba who lacks communication skills as an introvert, Haru possesses them but sees little value in human relationships. Adults have warped her views of the world, according to Hashino. He also confirmed that Haru would have a ‘key role’ in the story.
It should also be taken into consideration that if one of the party members is in fact responsible for the MC’s arrest at the casino, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship with that character is permanently severed. That could explain there being a screenshot of meeting with Haru in late November, should she actually be the traitor. If there is a traitor in the midst, then who is to say how that fact is revealed and resolved?
Is there concrete proof to pin down Haru or anyone else? Of course not. Nor should there be before the game releases. I do, however, firmly believe there’s no mistake that we, the players, are largely discussing whether or not there is a traitor in P5. This whole concept was not arisen by accident. Hashino and his team want us to suspect the people around us as we play the game. That’s why the MC is told he’s been sold out in the prologue.
Hashino’s Persona games are a lot like what’s been said of the Velvet Room. Nothing that happens there happens without meaning. When it comes to his games, Hashino doesn’t do or show anything that doesn’t have a purpose.
I’m not a prophet. If there’s anything I can guarantee here, it’s that I guarantee some of the things I’ve written will be wrong or, at least, incomplete. Persona games have always surpassed my expectations anyway. So whatever is truly the plot, inspirations, or outcomes of things I suspect will probably be even better than what I believe them to be.
Whether you’re playing tomorrow or in February, I hope you enjoy and I look forward to uncovering Persona 5‘s mysteries with you.
Last month when I rounded up news regarding Persona 5, I made sure to include my own frustration with Atlus (JP) and Atlus USA failing to get the game out in English before the end of the calendar year. Recently, a new development has arisen that has renewed those sentiments:
In a world that is smaller than ever due to the Internet and globalization, English speakers will now have to survive five months avoiding spoilers to P5 with the game out in two major regions this September.
That certainly stings. Given the size of the English speaking gaming world and the growing sentiment amongst players to not have Atlus dub their localized games, seeing China get a subtitled version five months sooner than our localization feels like a knife in the back. Worse yet, the debate over whether or not P5‘s localization window is ‘acceptable’ is causing a rift amongst players in the west. I would like to address some sentiments that are commonly stated regarding this topic.
‘ATLUS GAMES ARE WORTH IT’
Atlus gets a lot of leeway from fans regarding these localization times because the games rarely ever disappoint. When you’re chugging out quality game after quality game, there will be people there to defend some of the less popular business decisions. Persona specifically has had two masterpiece-quality games from its last pair of numbered entries – even if it has been eight years since the original Persona 4. P5 is shaping up to follow in those games’ footsteps, which creates the narrative that the game will ultimately be worth the wait.
‘OTHER PUBLISHERS DO SIMULTANEOUS RELEASES’
This is true. Persona 5‘s greatest rival in terms of sales this fall will be Final Fantasy XV. The latest entry in Square Enix’s iconic RPG series will see a simultaneous worldwide release on September 30th, whereas P5 will only be out in Japan (and now China) this September.
What’s important to remember is that as much as I and many others vastly favor Persona, Square Enix and Final Fantasy are behemoths in the industry compared to Atlus. It comes as no shock that they have the resources to do such a release.
Another title like this for comparison would be 2015’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The Hideo Kojima game released worldwide last September and had an infamously large budget much to Konami’s dismay.
However, the reality is that a lot of Japanese made games that have extensive amounts of text and dialog do have localization windows – especially when it comes to smaller companies. As much I like Atlus and deeply revere the Persona franchise in particular as being the pinnacle of the medium, the truth is Atlus is more of a ‘AA’ developer and publisher than they are a AAA one.
Then again, the counter argument to this would be a game like Zero Time Dilemma which launched worldwide last week.
It saddens me that the localization window can have such a negative impact on people to the point where they’re turned off to the idea of even buying the game because they don’t want to seemingly ‘support’ the way Atlus is doing business with localizations. To me, taking this sort of stance would imply that Atlus is intentionally choosing to have the game come out later in the west when it could feasibly have it out worldwide this September. And you know what? There may be some small truth to it being able to come out sooner (I will explain below), but I certainly don’t think that it’s done with any sort of bias or ill-intent.
Again, perhaps if Atlus were a larger company and its western branch were more than simply a localization office then, yes, Atlus could be like Square Enix or Konami and do a simultaneous release. However, in its current state, that is not the case. Atlus, as many know, doesn’t even have proper procedures in place for European publishing right now, and that’s despite being under Sega’s umbrella.
As much as it may pain someone with this stance to hear, I think the truth is that boycotting the games Atlus makes will only make it worse. The best thing that could happen to shrink these windows or possibly make them disappear is for a game like Persona 5 to be a massive success financially. If the company can keep growing by way of international demand, then we may see a larger focus and allocation of resources towards getting games out in a timely fashion overseas.
‘YEAH BUT CHINA’
I completely agree. I get it. Like I said, when I heard that China was getting the game fully subbed on September 15th, it felt like someone had put a knife through my back. Well actually, at first I got my hopes up that it would include the option for English subtitles like some Asian region games sold on Play Asia do, but that was quickly dashed.
My understanding is that Japanese to Chinese is a far simpler job than Japanese to English – in more ways than one. Yes, the language is easier translate (and it’s being done by a Taiwan based team, no less). However in addition, I believe the Asian region game will simply be a subbed game and in no way “localized” as we’ve come to know the term in the west.
Comparatively, the product Atlus USA ships next February will have English dialog, collector’s editions at retails, and whatever else they see fit to do with the game. I would also say given how stringent the Chinese government has been with gaming until very recently, that despite China’s massive population, the American market is likely larger for a retail console game like this than the Chinese one. The reality is Atlus USA has a much tougher task localizing, marketing, and getting Persona 5 on shelves in the U.S. than the Taiwan team does making the Asian region game.
‘BUT I DON’T EVEN WANT THE ENGLISH DUB ANYWAY’
I hear you. Personally, I would prefer to play P5 with English voices because that’s what I’ve been conditioned to enjoy from Persona 3 and Persona 4. I also think the way Atlus USA casted and directed the speaking roles in those games was fantastic, so they have my trust in dubbing Japanese content unlike some other companies in gaming, anime, etcetera.
I would argue that most people that Atlus USA is marketing towards would prefer to play the game with English voices, however you wouldn’t necessarily see that reflected in the chatter on social media and message boards. This may be cliché, but I do think that those in favor of dual audio or just subtitles are the vocal minority.
However, I do agree that the game should have dual audio. Comparatively, Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax each shipped with dual audio – though obviously with much shorter stories than a full-length numbered entry. One thing that’s been cited as a barrier to dual audio is that due to licensing, it may be more difficult or costly to get the rights to the original actors than it is to simply re-record. I have no idea whether or not that’s true or how – from the public’s perspective – it can be proven or debunked. Nevertheless, that brings us to this:
So, once again: All we are confirming at P5 launch is English dub. I'm looking into the possibility of JPN vo as DLC, but no news there.
What shouldn’t happen is Atlus USA taking advantage of the vocal minority to make more money off of DLC. Not that it bothered me too much, but the amount of nickel-and-dime DLC in Persona 4 Arena, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Persona Q Shadow of the Labyrinth, and Persona 4 Dancing All Night bordered on ridiculous. Thankfully, Persona 4 Golden avoided that plague despite releasing in the same year as Arena. We already know P5 will have DLC that comes with the 20th Anniversary edition in Japan in the form of in-game costumes.
If you’re willing to pay an extra God-knows-how-much to hear the Japanese voices, then that is fine by me. I think dual audio should be in the game up front based on principle. I’m not willing to pay extra for it, however.
MARKETING PLAYS A ROLE
I pondered this the morning that Atlus USA announced the February 14th, 2017 release date. I think, genuinely, an argument can be made that Atlus USA can feasibly release Persona 5 prior to the date they’ve chosen. Simultaneous release may not be possible, but it doesn’t mean that the game will be hitting western shelves as early as it possibly could next February.
Part of me wonders how much Final Fantasy XV plays a role in this. Some months ago, Square Enix sent out a survey to Japanese players on their mailing list gauging their interest in FFXV compared to P5. It was likely clear to both SE and Atlus that they would be releasing their games within days of each other and would potentially be cannibalizing each others’ sales by doing so. It’s even been speculated that SE was eyeing the week of September 15th themselves.
Now imagine from Atlus’s perspective the prospect of releasing an English version of P5 only a month or two after FFXV releases in America. Here in the west, far more people know of and play Final Fantasy compared to Persona. It’s possible that there’s been no hurry to get P5 out in the west as soon as possible if it couldn’t be out prior to FFXV. Atlus USA will also be putting the rest of its focus this year on selling Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse out on September 20th.
Then again, I may be overthinking the Final Fantasy angle. While the game can theoretically be released prior to February, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be ready to go in October or November. I always thought that early December would be a good target for P5 just as it was for P4 (December 9th, 2008). It also isn’t uncommon to see games of the relative weight of P5 release at that time to still be available before the holidays. See for example Xenoblade Chronicles X and Just Cause 3 last year.
Even if early December was still too soon, I remain skeptical that the localization wouldn’t be ready for shipment somewhere between the middle of December and the end of January. The problem, however, is that in terms of selling video games, that timeframe may as well be a desert where nothing of significance ever releases. This past year, the only notable release in that window was Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam on 3DS – if you count even that.
In my opinion, Atlus USA tipped their hand at not getting the game to us as quickly as possible when they chose the date of February 14th. It’s very blatant that it was done to promote the idea of selling Persona 5 and its ‘Phantom Thieves of Hearts’ coming out on Valentine’s Day. I mean, come on. One of the catchphrases of the game is “Take Your Heart,” and that’s even the name attributed to the premium edition being sold in America.
It’s good business and makes perfect sense from a marketing and public relations perspective. But for those of us who have been waiting patiently for a very long time, it’s actually incredibly annoying to see that we may be getting an English P5 even a little later than we could otherwise just so Atlus USA can tie the game in with Valentine’s Day. Had the game somehow met its original, utterly ridiculous window of Winter 2014 in Japan (which would have meant December), a February date wouldn’t be so bad. But as it stands, we’re getting a game the world has waited eight years for a full two seasons later than the native region.
It’s annoying, yes, but again, Atlus USA isn’t doing anything that isn’t a norm in the industry. If Atlus USA couldn’t get the game out before the annual drought of releases that starts right before Christmas and extends through January, then it makes perfect sense to drop the game in early February and Valentine’s Day falling on Tuesday was a happy coincidence for them.
‘BUT DON’T YOU THINK ATLUS SHOULD HAVE IT OUT EARLIER?’
I do. At the end of all this pontification and playing of devil’s advocate, my honest and wholehearted opinion is that Atlus (JP) has failed the west. Even considering Atlus’s size and resources, I remain of the opinion that the English game should be getting released before the end of the calendar year.
From what we saw at E3 and seemingly how unprepared Atlus USA was, it would seem that the localization process for the game didn’t begin until recently; perhaps after the release date was announced in Japan. There still isn’t a trailer with English dubbing. The only dubbing that’s been seen has been offscreen footage of Morgana greeting floor-goers at E3. The game is out in just over two months in Japan, but we only know of one potential voice actor for the English game.
Persona 5 likely went into development shortly after Catherine released in 2011. It wasn’t confirmed to the public until the fall of 2013. That is five years of formal development and nearly three years of marketing. You would think that with how long this game has been in the works and it being arguably the biggest release in Atlus’s 30-year history that there would have been a bigger concentration on getting the game out worldwide in the second-most spoken language globally before the end of 2016. The priority seemed to not be there.
I do not know why that is. I am admittedly ignorant and naive to how Atlus USA does its business. It would seem that P5 did not receive any sort of special treatment in being localized alongside games like SMTIV:A and Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE. Rather, from the outside looking in, they got their hands on the game and its content late in the development process and handled it the same as they always have – resulting in a five month localization window.
That’s why, even considering Atlus USA (potentially) purposefully avoiding releasing the game somewhere between late December and the first week of February, I’m not pointing the finger at them. I think everyone there wants the game out in our homeland quickly just like the rest of us.
Rather, I think the reason we’re not seeing an English game before 2017 falls squarely on those high on the chain of command in Japan. Atlus is still a relatively small developer. I don’t want to paint an image of some massive, ambiguous corporate entity that simply doesn’t care about the west.
But still, I think the philosophy of exactly when the localization process begins and how far into development Atlus USA is allowed to begin working on games feels outdated compared to a lot of other developers. Atlus may not be the heavyweight champion in the gaming sphere like companies such as Nintendo, EA, Bethesda, et al. However, I would say they’re still on the card.
Bottom line is with how long this game has been in development and how far along it seemed to be when it was showcased at the Tokyo Gaming Show last September, I think the localization process should have begun earlier than it has and we shouldn’t be waiting until 2017 to get the game. I understand being unable to navigate a simultaneous release. That still leaves three and a half months before the end of the year. America should be getting Persona 5 in that timeframe, but it’s not.
BUY THE GAME ANYWAY
Just as it’s my opinion that we should be getting the game before 2017, it’s also my opinion that if you love Persona games – if you love playing good games in general – you should buy Persona 5 the day it releases. (I promise I’m not a paid spokesman.)
Ultimately, Persona 5 is not defined by business or politics. I cannot fathom having enjoyed the last two games but not buying this one because you’re upset about the business side of things. Over the course of next several months and between the Japanese and American releases, I am going to be spending hundreds of dollars on this one video game. Why?
Because that’s how much respect and faith I have in Director Katsura Hashino, Shigenori Soejima, Shoji Meguro, and everyone connected to creative development at P-Studio. Regardless of how I feel about the corporate decisions being made by those at the top of Atlus and Sega, I have too much respect for these creators.
Playing games isn’t about business or politics. It’s about having fun and experiencing unique, engaging works. I regard Hashino as the most underrated director in the industry, and it’s been a joy to see Atlus be more proactive at putting him front and center with Persona 5‘s publicity. Without him, the franchise wouldn’t be what it’s become in the last ten years and we wouldn’t be waiting anxiously for P5. I’m not going to let business interfere with enjoying what he has in store next, and neither should you. After all, there’s no way of knowing how many more games like this we may ever see.
It’s been quite a while since I posted something solely about Persona 5. Unless of course you follow me on Twitter, where I literally cannot shut up about it. And while it has only been about a month and a half, in the world of P5, it feels like ages since the Tokyo Tower event given just how much more we’ve learned about the game. Be prepared to read a small novel below.
The most important thing to come out is that the English version of the game will release on February 14th, 2017 in North America as Atlus USA looks to ‘take the hearts’ of the western audience on Valentine’s Day. There are still no concrete plans for European publishing and it isn’t looking good. I know this is frustrating to our European friends, but I must once again remind you that the PlayStations 3 and 4 are not region locked and urge you to import the game from America if you want a physical copy. If you’re fine with a digital copy, you can easily set up a North American PSN account, buy NA PSN credit through a third party, and download the game on launch. Either route is costly, yes, but this is Persona 5. It is worth it for not having to wait who knows how long to see the game get a proper PAL release.
Honestly speaking, a 2017 release date is gut wrenching to me. Again, if you follow me on Twitter, you know I did not have kind words for this announcement. Atlus is a frustrating company. Its problems with getting its games on shelves in Europe are well known, but beyond that it still seems as though the parent company keeps its western branch in the dark. Atlus is a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
The localization window for P5 is the same as it was for P4 back in 2008, which is painful to see because of how much the Persona franchise has grown and the fact that Atlus is now married at the hip with Sega – a major developer and publisher in the industry. Surely, I thought, this would mean a quick localization turnaround for the largest release in the history of the company. I was hopeful for an October release with the first week in December being the absolute latest. February is soul crushing.
In Atlus USA’s defense, they have been rather busy. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir released recently and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is out this week. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse will be out in September. And finally, much to their credit, Atlus USA will also be localizing and publishing Caligula for next year. That alone bought them a lot of forgiveness from me.
Speaking of P5 being worth it, I should say that I will not be waiting until February to begin my journey with the Phantom Thieves. I will be one of several American players importing the Japanese version in September and the plan right now is to stream at least the opening hours of the game live on Twitch. I plan to do so with a digital copy of the game, meaning I should be able to play it once it’s September 15th in Japan.
If I streamed Persona 5 JP at launch (morning of September 14th US), would you be interested?
Keep in mind that I don’t know the language, so this may not be the best idea. I do have at least some experience in this. The last time I played the Japanese version of a game prior to its American release was Mega Man Battle Network 5 all the way back in 2005. With the help of some external guidance and my knowledge on the series, I was able to finish the game and not feel like I had missed on any part of the experience. The hope here is that will also be true for Persona 5.
If you’re interested in importing the game, then here’s a guide from Persona Central with all the available retailers. Keep in mind many of the retailers also have exclusive pre-order goodies as well. TRADUKO Soft will also provide a guide for helping us blind players learn the basics and finding our way through the game’s standard features.
For those who will be importing P5, a special guide is coming prior to the game's release by TRADUKO Soft in September 2016! #P5#Persona5
And of course, while I and others won’t be posting spoilers, the Persona Twitter community will certainly be talking a lot about the game on the down low, so you don’t have to be alone in trying to figure the Japanese game out.
Now let’s really get into the game by talking about our cast of characters. The three new young ladies from May were revealed to be Makoto Niijima, Futaba Sakura, and Haru Okumura.
Their Personas? Johanna, Necronomicon, and Milady, respectively.
Makoto and Haru are each third-year students; making them your Senpai. Futaba is the age of a first-year, but it still isn’t clear whether she attends Syujin High like most of the other Phantom Thieves as she’s never been depicted wearing anything resembling the school’s uniform.
Then there’s the ninth and final party member revealed on June 15th as part of Atlus’ presence at E3: Goro Akechi.
Goro, who I stupidly thought might be Ken Amada, is a high school aged detective (real original there, Atlus). His name is either inspired by or a play on the name Kogoro Akechi – the Japanese Sherlock Holmes if you will who has appeared across Japanese fiction for years (including Lupin III). His codename amongst the Phantom Thieves is “Crow.” That’s all we know so far. I still have suspicions about Goro and what could possibly be so special about him that details about him are so scarce, but we’ll save that for another time.
Also revealed on June 15th was the name of the new social system: Cooperation. “Cooperation” had been part of the main menu UI seen all the way back in PV01, but my prevailing thought at the time was that it had to do with online play similar to Persona 4 Golden and Persona Q. Instead, it replaces the Social Link system (at least in name). From Hashino’s interview back in February, we learned that a lot of research had been done in improving the social system, so I’m sure the name change coincides with whatever functional changes that have been made as well.
Three ‘links’ or whatever you’d like to call them were also revealed: Munehisa Iwai (Hanged Man), Sojiro Sakura (Hierophant), and Tae Takemi (Death).
Tae and Munehisa were also each in PV01 as vendors. Munehisa runs a weapons shop and Tae runs a medical clinic. Sojiro is the main character’s caretaker and a friend to his parents. Of course, he also has the same surname as Futaba. As far as I know, there’s no concrete evidence as to what the relation is, if there’s one at all. However, it is interesting to me that one of the recent screenshots of what appears to be a Cooperation event with Futaba shows her in the MC’s room (with Morgana still present) and there doesn’t appear to be a romantic context. Could Futaba be moving into the home in the middle of the game? Or perhaps she’s there from the beginning and there’s ultimately more than meets the eye about the young hacker.
One quirky thing about the design of the new arcana is that Tae’s card appears to be drawn with the Roman numeral XIV even though Death’s numeral is XIII. Mystic explained to me this is likely an allusion to the significance the number four and the association with death it carries in Japanese culture due to the words for each sounding similar. It may be that the numeral was drawn to look like both numbers, even though it is in actuality still XIII.
In addition to Cooperation, another big gameplay mechanic was revealed during E3. The traditional Megami Tensei demon negotiation system is back in Persona.
Given P5 returns to the old way of fighting demons/Personas rather than the Shadows seen in P3 and P4, this was a logical step. Now when the player successfully knocks down all enemies on the field, they will enter what’s called a “Hold Up” (a phrase used for robberies) and have the option of going for an All Out Attack or beginning negotiations with a demon to earn either items, money, or convincing the demon to become a Persona for the main character. This in all likelihood means there is no variant of ‘shuffle time’ (seen in P3/P4) in the game.
Here are some quick-hitter notes about the game that have been revealed over the last month:
Romance is definitely still part of the social system.
The stylish screens we’ve seen for each character (Haru’s “Adieu” animation, the MC’s “The Show’s Over” screen, etc.) happen when a battle ends on an AOA.
When a battle ends normally, you get the result screen where the MC congratulates the team and runs off (seen in Hashino’s 5/5 interview).
The game has four difficulty settings at the start of a New Game: Safety, Easy, Normal, and Hard.
P5 has been given a C rating in Japan by Cero which is for ages 15 and up. It joins P4G as the only Persona games with that rating. Other games had ratings for younger audiences and up, which differs with how the ESRB has typically rated Persona in America.
There is online functionality. It will likely work similar to P4G’s. You can also see how other players answered questions you are asked in class.
Ann has been going back and forth between spelling variants of her name (Ann vs. Anne). The material at E3 had it spelled minus the ‘e’ which is what it was a couple months back prior to it being spelled Anne at the time of the Tokyo Tower event.
Through the Amazon Japan pre-order bonuses, it’s been revealed that Ryuji’s arcana is the Chariot.
The team’s melee weapons are as follows. MC: daggers, Ryuji: blunt objects, Ann: whips, Morgana: short swords, Yusuke: long swords, Makoto: fists/gauntlets, Haru: axes, and Goro is unknown.
Nuclear and telekinetic skills have been added to combat which do extra damage to enemies in a negative status.
Shigenori Soejima said at E3 that character designs for P5 have been in development since P4 was still being worked on.
A video at Atlus’ E3 booth had Morgana greeting guests with an English voice. The suspected actress is Cassandra Lee Morris.
The song featured in PV02 is a battle theme in the game and features vocals by Lyn. It may or may not play for every standard battle or only during ‘Chance’ states (player advantage). For example, in P4G the original P4 battle theme, “Reach Out to the Truth,” became the player advantage battle song whereas “Time to Make History” took over as the standard battle theme.
A woman appearing in magazine screenshots shortly after 5/5 shares the same surname as Makoto and appears to be a law/authority figure of some kind. Her role is unknown.
Maps can be found in Palace dungeons and Third Eye is used in P5 to aid the player in solving dungeon puzzles.
Finally, we have another big Persona 5 event to look forward to on July 19th. The event is called “Take the Treasure” and will emanate from the Tokyo National Museum. Playable demos will be made for the first time and attendance is by invitation only through a signup in Japan. There will also be a live stream for it taking place at 6:30 am eastern time in the United States.
That’s all for now. At a future time, I’ll have another post with further speculations about the game and its story that can be made from analyzing the trailers we have so far.
Thanks to TRADUKO Soft for the translation of Hashino’s new interview.
Reaction: I covered a little bit regarding PV#04’s translation in my crazy P5 theory post (read at your own discretion). Reading it all verbatim, nothing immediately stands out in the script. There are some interesting texts on the screen, like the dungeons apparently having side objectives that reward the player. Anything else is just speculation, such as what kind of trouble our Phantom Thieves have run into during this trailer and what the powerful organization that is referred to could be.
Hashino had a lot to say about the user interface. This has been one of the most striking things of the battle gameplay we’ve seen thus far. The old system of scrolling through menus and commands seems to be gone in favor of a highly stylized quick-menu meant to add to the overall experience of the game.
Not surprisingly, Hashino again alluded to how much more content has been put into P5 than originally expected. With the game originally going into to development for PlayStation 3 and then making the jump to PlayStation 4, there were likely expectations to make use of the new hardware and capacity, so it’s easy to see why this game has taken so long, even if the delays are still disappointing to some.
This is also the first I can recall from Hashino or anyone directly linked to the game talking about the moral dilemma of the Phantom Thieves’ actions. We know in some way that the cast will be ‘stealing the hearts’ of the evildoers in the story, but how much traditional thievery there will actually be is something I’ve been unsure of ever since the plot has become much clearer. It will be interesting to see how Hashino and his team allow the player to reconcile the actions taken in the game.
DISCLAIMER: Do not read this if you don’t want to be spoiled on P5. Not because it’s going to be right for sure, but on the off chance it is, then I can’t be held accountable.
After PV#04 dropped on 5/5/16, the search began for reliable translations. The Persona community is extremely passionate, so it’s no surprise it was done. That allowed me to make my own high quality cut of the trailer.
A lot of good stuff is in there and some interesting lines. However, the beginning of the crazy theory doesn’t start with the trailer, but rather, the DLC that’s been announced. You see, during the May 5th stream, the DLC for the Gekkoukan and Yasogami uniforms was shown on screen, but the final party member – a male with brown hair – had his face intentionally obscured because he hadn’t made his formal debut yet. However, on the following day, detailed images of the DLC were released online allowing us to get a better look at him.
Why? Why did Atlus choose to show off three new ladies in PV#04 but intentionally keep one male character from the public? Why keep one character hidden this long at all? Unless of course, there was something special about him.
THEORY: That’s Ken Amada. Yes, Ken Amada formerly of Persona 3’s SEES and the Shadow Operatives of the Persona 4 Arena arc. There is a strong resemblance between that character and Ken’s last appearance in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax set in 2012.
Ken’s official birthday is in June of 1998. It should be noted that at this time, Persona 5 does not have an official year in which it takes place. In fact, in PV#04, the calendar shows the year as “20XX” to intentionally obscure that detail. However, if Persona 5 is set in 2016, which would make sense due to its clear theme of being a commentary on modern society as well as the dates matching up to the days (like April 20th being a Wednesday this year as well as in P5), then Ken Amada would turn 18 during the course of the game.
Other than a passing resemblance, what leads me to believe this? Well in PV#04, we learned an interesting role about Morgana in that she seems to act as a recruiter for the Phantom Thieves. From Hashino’s interview with the Persona Magazine in February, we heard that Morgana is the one that reaches out to the protagonist. In this new trailer, she also is directly responsible for introducing the group to the third new girl; the “Beautiful Thief.” So say, in accordance with expanding the group and finding valuable assets, Morgana finds this nice 18-year-old boy who happens to have already awoken to the power of Persona. Ken, fitting with the age and demographic of the group, joins the Phantom Thieves as the final party member. However… He does so with ulterior motives.
In the ‘Episode P3′ epilogue of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Ken turns in his Shadow Operatives badge to Mitsuru Kirijo saying that he’ll get it back some day, but wants to live the rest of his youth normally. Let’s speculate and say by 2016, whether Ken is technically out of high school by now or not, that he’s since returned to the organization.
At the end of PV#03 and start of PV#04, we see the protagonist in an interrogation room. He’s being questioned about the Phantom Thieves’ activities. What’s interesting is the nature of the questions. These are not normal crimes he’s facing, but rather he’s being asked directly about the existence of another world. Meaning, whoever is asking likely knows full well that what the protagonist is doing involves Personas/Shadows/demons or however you want to put it.
Towards the end of PV#04, there are lines that say a plan of the Phantom Thieves’ was “leaked” and now they’re in danger. If the leak came from within the group, who would be responsible? Well, perhaps the covert Shadow Operative.
THEORY: Ken Amada is the final member of the Phantom Thieves and infiltrates the group leading to the arrest of the protagonist.
That feminine voice at the start of PV#04? It sounds a lot like Mitsuru Kirijo.
What other organization could possibly bring someone in on such a bizarre case? An organization that knows of Personas and other worlds, a mysterious male party member that looks strikingly like Ken Amada, and an authoritative woman leading an interrogation that sounds like Mitsuru?
Persona 5 is a sequel to Persona 3. And that… Is… Awesome!
I’M ABOUT TO SPOIL PERSONA 3, IF YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED THAT FOR SOME REASON
THEORY: Persona 5’s theme of societal change is a tie-in to the dilemma set at the end of Persona 3 FES The Answer.
At the end of The Answer, the former members of SEES defeat Erebus; the being born of mankind’s apathy towards living which calls out to Nyx to bring about “The Fall.” As anyone who’s finished Persona 3 knows, the protagonist of that game gives his life to become the Great Seal to prevent The Fall and man’s calling out to Nyx. However, the threat of Erebus persists, leading to the climatic battle of The Answer. Though SEES is victorious, it is speculated that Erebus, because it is the embodiment of mankind’s collective will, can only truly be defeated by all of humanity changing and no longer being apathetic towards living.
In Persona 4 Arena, that speculation is confirmed. It is revealed that the reason Elizabeth left the Velvet Room following the events of Persona 3 is to gain power that would defeat Erebus permanently so that she could save her former guest, the hero of P3, from the fate of being the Great Seal. Ever since, she has been periodically destroying Erebus just as SEES did in the The Answer only for it to return again and again.
That brings us to Persona 5. P5’s setting of being in a real city, Tokyo, and (likely) being set during the present year, unlike its previous two predecessors had been, all seem to fit into the theme of commenting on the state of real life society. This also brings us back to the opening theme of the game:
“Can we make a difference?” “Why does nobody want change?” “If you hold on life won’t change.”
Societal change would seem to be the purveying theme of Persona 5.
THEORY: The grand events of Persona 5 are meant to lead to a world where Erebus no longer exists and the Great Seal is no longer necessary.
Now, I admit, this is one of the craziest things I’ve ever written. I’m basically suggesting that at the end of Persona 5, be it blatantly or to be interpreted by the player, the protagonist of Persona 3 will be freed of being the Great Seal. Whether that means coming back to life or resting peacefully, I have no idea. I’m also willing to admit that of all the things I’m theorizing this is the most farfetched and downright fan-fictional of them all. I’m not writing this because I want this, but simply because these are the crazy connections my brain has pieced together.
How would we even get from point A to point B? Again, I’m not sure. Though, to be quite honest, I’ve been suspicious of whatever Morgana’s motives are since Hashino’s interview in February. According to translations, Hashino states that Morgana has a specific goal she looking to accomplish – one that predates the formation of the Phantom Thieves. That sounds similar to Elizabeth’s journey, though it’s a stretch to say the two are one in the same.
CONCLUSION: There you have it. That’s my crazy P5 theory. Granted, I feel a lot less confident about the second half of all of that than I do the first. Perhaps I’m right, but instead of P3 connections being the focus of the end game, they’ll instead be a side story or something that only appears in new game plus, which is similar to how the nature of Elizabeth’s absence was revealed in the original Persona 4.
Or maybe PV05 will come out at E3 next month, we learn the mystery guy’s name, and all have a good laugh about this.
For two and a half hours, that’s all we saw. A shot of Tokyo Tower in the skyline… and it was amazing. Why? The music, my friend. Two and half hours of Persona 5 background music as composed by the one and only Shoji Meguro. Granted it was a three song loop, but it was still incredible.
Then at 7:30 things began to pick up. We were greeted with reports from Tokyo Tower of the Phantom Thieves taking over. At 8, the lights went out and came back on to a bright glowing red. We heard the voice of Jun Fukuyama, the man behind the P5 protagonist and his Persona, and then PV04 began.
Three new characters, tons of music, and most importantly a release date for Japan: September 15th, 2016 – five days before the franchise’s 20th birthday (are you sensing a theme?).
Here’s what we know from the fourth trailer thus far. All three of the detailed new party members are ladies. The first, still unnamed, has dark short hair and is a combatant. She likely fights with her fists and her Persona would appear to be a motor bike. Yes, a motorcycle, for all of you Tatsuya Suou fanboys and fangirls.
I don’t agree with the theory that she’s from another school (her skirt resembles the Syujin High School uniform), but that’s a good guess that she is the Priestess arcana. One translation I’ve heard is that she is student council president, meaning the emblem would likely be a symbol of status. If she is student council or class president, that makes me wonder if she’s a 3rd year student, which would make her the first cast member to hold that distinction since Akihiko and Mitsuru in Persona 3. What is apparent is she seems to be hyper aggressive and a total badass. Already she has a lot of fans.
Speaking of making a lot of fans…
Our new navigator would appear to be named Sakura Futaba and is the Hermit arcana (according to observant Japanese viewers). She’s likely a hacker by trade, her Persona is a shaped like a UFO and seems to draw its influence from Eldritch/Lovecraftian horror given its name is “Necronamicon.” That is the coolest thing I have ever seen and the Internet is already head over heels for this girl. Also of note is that nowhere in the trailer does she appear to be wearing the Syujin uniform which may mean, like Yusuke, she doesn’t attend our protagonist’s high school.
Finally there’s the girl – also nameless – that refers to herself as the beautiful theif.
Note: I wouldn’t think her name is actually “Adieu.” (French for “goodbye”)
What an entrance. With these three ladies, alongside Ann, we now know our P5 main cast girls, so allow the waifu wars to begin anew. It would seem Katsura Hashino and his team have crafted four strong, unique female characters for us to get to know and welcome to the Persona family.
After PV04 came yet another director’s interview with Hashino. There isn’t an English subtitled version yet, but I’ll make another post when translated versions of this and the trailer are inevitably made by dedicated fans. Regardless, you can still check out all the awesome gameplay that’s shown during the interview. Dungeon crawling looks to be based on tearing the masks off of Shadows or whatever the monsters will be called, which frees the Personas inside and allows the real battle to begin.
The user-interface looks spectacular and commands/attacks are now mapped to buttons on the controller, allowing for a faster and more streamlined combat experience. As I’ve said before, it’s clear that when it comes to dungeon gameplay and combat, Persona 5 is going to simply crush its predecessors and make this aspect of the game something to be cherished and savored.
After this, the stream shifted gear to focusing on release information. Box art was finally revealed, which is in line with the covers of the original Persona 3 and Persona 4 in terms of style.
Not surprisingly, a special edition was also announced. It will come with an art book, a special CD set featuring arrangements from Persona 1-5 to commemorate the series’ 20th anniversary, and bonus DLC. The DLC includes special P5 themed versions of Orpheus and Izanagi – the Personas of the P3 and P4 protagonists respectively -, Persona 3’s Gekkoukan High School uniform costumes, and Persona 4’s Yasogami High School uniform costumes alongside background music from each game to go with the costumes.
You may also have noticed from the trailer and definitely from the cover art that there is also one more party member that has yet to be showcased. Nothing is known about the young man at the top right of the cover, but given his appearance with the rest of the Phantom Thieves as well as being included with the DLC previews, it’s safe to say he’s a party member and another combatant. That brings our party up to nine members: four guys, four girls, and Morgana. It also means that the Phantom Thieves are a larger group than P4’s Investigation Team and on equal footing with P3’s SEES (in its final incarnation, anyway).
Atlus also confirmed that the previously announced Persona 5 anime would be airing sometime in September. It will act as a prologue to the game and is called “Persona 5 the Animation: The Day Breakers.” Whether this is a one-off episode or will develop into a fully animated series further down the line, just like Persona 4 the Animation, remains to be seen. Personally, I’m greatly looking forward to this. Depending on the focus of this animated special, we may be getting a canonical (or close to it) name for the protagonist prior to playing the game.
Before the stream ended it was confirmed that we won’t have to wait long to hear from Atlus and P5 again. Persona 5 has been confirmed to be appearing in Los Angeles next month for E3.
Cross your fingers that this may mean P5 is apart of Sony’s keynote press conference and that we may be getting release information for the west next month.
Finally, after the stream’s close, news was reported that P5 will be featured in next week’s issue of Famitsu with details on the new ladies and their Personas. Persona Central also reports that there will be another interview with Hashino that will cover the inhabitants of the Velvet Room and Igor’s “double life” – whatever that means.
Reaction: It’s hard to put into words. I loved it. All of it. Atlus clearly sat on this information and release date for a very long time just so that they could have the flair of announcing all of this on 5/5. That doesn’t surprise me, because that’s simply how Atlus rolls.
I love the girls. The three new ones as well as Ann. The main character aside, the ladies feel like the life of the team compared to what I’ve seen of Ryuji, Yusuke, and to a lesser extent Morgana (though Morgana is female too). The three girls that debuted today all seem unique but intimidating and awe-inspiring in their own way. All my Twitter timeline could do this morning was meltdown over how awesome they were and which one was each of their favorites. That may seem like dumb, ‘waifu’ culture, but it really was a reflection of just how good of a job Hashino and the P-Studio team did making appealing characters that I can’t wait to meet and get to know like I did with P4’s Investigation Team.
The release date was no surprise, as many had speculated that it would be exactly September 15th (which fell in line with the rumor/leak from last month). I would have preferred a larger buffer between Persona 5 and Final Fantasy XV, which releases on September 30th, but it’s clear why Atlus wanted this date. The question now is, when are Atlus USA and SEGA going to follow through with localization? The seven month window it will take for Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse to reach the United States doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence right now, but Atlus USA is still teasing something big for E3 and now we know for sure P5 will be in L.A. in some capacity. I wouldn’t hold my breath for simultaneous release or anything close to it, but I’m hopeful that the game will be out here in the fall with early December at the latest. It would be painful to see Persona 5’s localization to slip into 2017.
I am also very curious to read a translation of Hashino’s interview in Famitsu next week as it pertains to Igor.
Those familiar with Igor’s Japanese voice will know he sounded much different at the end of PV04. The reason for that is actually outside of Atlus’ control, as sadly his original voice actor passed away in 2010. Atlus had been using recycled recordings of him from Persona 3 and Persona 4 ever since to fill out content in Persona 4 the Animation and the Persona 3 the Movie series in Japan. What’s interesting is that the new casting could not sound more unlike the original Igor. I’m curious if this somehow plays into the supposed “double life” of Igor we’re just now hearing of. Igor has always been a mysterious character in the Persona story world and his relationship with the new protagonist may be much different than the ones he held with previous heroes. You know, seeing as the Velvet Room is now a jail and the main character has been depicted as a prisoner there.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for fan-subtitled versions of PV04 and Hashino’s interview and hopefully more translated updates next week from Famitsu.
Correction: It’s the first girl that is said to be a student president of some kind. Not much is known about the third girl, except that she seems to be recruited by Morgana directly and refers to herself as the Beautiful Thief.
Another note: On May 6th, publications state the proper spelling to be “Anne.” The first official releases have it spelled to be “Ann.”