Follow-up: P5 Q&A and Other Musings

Following the release of my long touted final Persona 5 analysis 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.

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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.

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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.

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There’s also a little bit of blood in this shot

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

IMPORTING

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

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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.

Q&A

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.

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.

Final Persona 5 Analysis, Predictions

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.

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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.

PROLOGUE

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.

APRIL

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

MAY

After all the Kamoshida business is wrapped up, the group runs into another peculiar character.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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What do gluttonous people do? They devour their meals.

JUNE – JULY

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

AUGUST

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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.

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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.

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The style is just like that of Futaba’s eventual Persona, Necronomicon.

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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.

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When Necronomicon first appears, you can see the same spire in the background as you see during the boss fight.

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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.

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As you can see below, this city-like area seems to lead up to the pyramid.

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The city to the top right and the pyramid on the left

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.

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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.

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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.

SEPTEMBER

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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.

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Allow me to explain how I know that. September’s Palace is what fans often refer to as the “space station” dungeon.

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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.

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“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.

OCTOBER

Virtually nothing is known about this month. Any screenshots that have char_imghad 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.

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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.

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He’s between Makoto and Futaba

And here he is on the image that appears when hovering over Persona 5 on the PS3’s XrossMediaBar.

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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.

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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.

Note that the students are still in their summer uniforms, so this is likely before October
Note that the students are still in their summer uniforms, so this is likely before October

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.

NOVEMBER

The casino Palace is available from the very first week of the month if this screenshot is to be believed.

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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.

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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.

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The second shot is from Futaba looking at her screen in PV#04. Each features the same news broadcast.

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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.

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This may be in conjunction with this rather notable shot from the end of PV#03.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DECEMBER ONWARD

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.

COOPERATION

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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

 

  • Pri9rOfQ1RlLiMwAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==estess: Makoto Niijima. Unknown effects.

 

 

  • Empress: Haru Okumura. Unknown effects.gCsEfJX9yToAAAAASUVORK5CYII=

 

 

  • ZMgZlycAAAAAElFTkSuQmCCEmperor: Yusuke Kitagawa. Unknown effects.

 

 

  • Hierophant: Sojiro Sakura. The MC’s caretakwcLrgkm1F53AAAAAElFTkSuQmCCer and owner of Cafe Leblanc. Said to come off as a ladies’ man. Unknown effects.

 

 

  • QlQAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==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.weLTCnQGEtLmQAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==

 

 

Mj+GM2BeI9h5B+8oMq3QwW8uUUxbbAD+BV61NM5AU+TMAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC

  • Justice: ???

 

 

 

  • Hermit: Futaba Sakura. Unknown effectzgbgAAAAAElFTkSuQmCCs.

 

 

 

  • wNmd1BWneqQwgAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==Fortune: Chihaya Mifune. A fortune teller that sets up shop on the streets of Shinjuku. Unknown effects.

 

 

  • Strength: ???rc38+qN5+o0AAAAASUVORK5CYII=

 

 

 

  • Hanged Man: Munehisa Iwai, weapons shop ownZ7oCIiUjgKSKQUrcc2yD6Kzaj8B7DP70GJiEjhKCCRUvQ5rBbKsvTXs8Cw34MSEZHC+TP8WydOhWHKCwAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==er. 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.

 

  • GiUbUJNnfxAAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==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 htc_14 (1)omeroom teacher who holds a side job as a maid. Allows the player to cut class to do other activities.

 

 

  • 7sB7gAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==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 studencF20Uio7aCAq1xYjCwOsBwqQgFyJDKLZ4Lo4pVT2yHFdgMp6Z+LH35Gu1eeQQOxxXZhSKrv8H0rdfQ1mwkuQAAAAAElFTkSuQmCCt 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.

 

 

  • 6fFjiGhqNNATVJm7qA4MKioqvuIU8AAibTwK+Int8RZUIVJxgxoZqaio+JNwhFXRcKAnojK3+f8BCOAbWlu7fw4AAAAASUVORK5CYII=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.

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  • Moon: Yuki Mishima. A classmate to the MC and fan of the Phantom BcDLQFPIzxUBPXwHb6JjRcEYc7zXgBFAKvAI8EEr8+c2z2uShHVzYYxpzTeB7+LOIlqSj3V1kTTsTMEY05qncE9LXwjMaOH9030HaKJjRcEYE9afgFuAQbjuvLc2v36+78BMdOzykTEmXnm41ksPApt9B2Oi8f8QulPLr19ZfwAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==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.
  • wf7Fp67BlxYVAAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==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.

 

 

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  • Judgment: ???

 

 

  • wM2LNl+aDNCZAAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==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

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.

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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.

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Discussing a target guilty of domestic violence

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.

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Persona V Theft Auto

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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This shot near the end of PV#04 and Ryuji’s commercial features red rain.

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A shot from Morgana’s commercial also features red rain.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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See the guy near the center pointing up at 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Also in the casino are these monitors with flashing images.

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It can be difficult to read, but the image on the bottom left of the monitor reads “final gathering.”

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The phrase made me think of the Last Supper.

IS THERE A TRAITOR?

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.

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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.

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In what little we’ve seen of the awakenings of the MC, Ryuji, Anne, and Yusuke, the order seems to be:

  1. The mask forms on their face
  2. Their eyes turn gold
  3. They rip the mask off
  4. 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.

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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.

CONCLUSION

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.


Special thanks to:

Mystic: Twitter/TRADUKO Soft

Domi: Tumblr/YouTube

Persona Central

Famitsu

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Persona 5 Director Katsura Hashino Interview in March’s Official Persona Magazine, Reaction

Pmag-9-724x1024Translations of Katsura Hashino’s latest interview featured in the March 2016 edition of the Official Persona Magazine are beginning to surface and were they ever worth the wait.

First of all, I cannot take credit for the paraphrasing I’m about to do. This is all secondhand from very dedicated translators whom you should go pay respect to immediately. Shoutout to @MysticDistance on Twitter and to Siliconcera’s Sato.

The biggest thing to address regarding new info is that Hashino reaffirms and is adamant that P5 will release in 2016 and will do so prior to Persona celebrating its 20th birthday on 9/20/16. This falls in line with the game releasing in the summer, though it may still come as late as August.

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Regarding the game’s story, Hashino states that P5’s cast has been wrongfully labeled by society as “useless.” The game’s central theme seems to be rising up and changing society as the story progresses. The setting in Tokyo differs greatly from Persona 3’s and Persona 4’s fictional settings of Tatsumi Port Island and Inaba. Hashino says having the setting in a world we know will allow for a thrilling ‘Phantom Thief’ drama.

New details are given on the cast members. Ryuji Sakamoto is unsurprisingly the main character’s right hand man and enthusiastic about the prospect of the Phantom Thieves changing the world. Though he may be a bit rough around the edges and defiant, he’s described as being a good guy.

Yusuke Kitagawa, the eccentric artist of the group and most recent character revealed, is described as being more than meets the eye. He is gifted and bright, but also has a certain charm to his personality, apparently.

Most interesting are comments about Morgana and Ann Takamaki. Ann is said to stand out among peers and be popular, but lacks any true friends and feels isolated. Once she joins the team, she’ll be the life of the party and will ultimately play a large role in the ultimate fate of the main characters.

Morgana, the game’s mascot character akin to Persona 4’s Teddie, is said to have been in the ‘phantom thief business’ prior to having met the main character and Ryuji. Her experience allows her to act as a mentor to the team. Hashino also states there is a reason why Morgana appears as an average cat in the real world as opposed to her more cartoonish appearance in the other world (“Palace”). Also stated is that Morgana has a specific goal she’s looking to accomplish – one she’s had since prior to meeting the other characters.

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P5’s cast, minus the main character

News regarding gameplay is that the Social Link system, or at least something very similar, will be making a return, however, it is said to be far more in-depth than what was in Persona 3 and Persona 4. The goal in Persona 5 is to improve the human relation component to this part of the game and ATLUS did significant research in how to do so. Additionally, dungeon gameplay will be very different than what has been seen in the past.

Finally, Hashino states that come the 20th Anniversary Festival in September, ATLUS will be making an announcement that he hopes will please fans. However, keep in mind, this would be after P5’s release and Hashino says that he wants fans to enjoy P5 first, before the announcement.

Reaction:

As far as gameplay goes, I was certainly unsurprised about comments regarding the dungeons. Given that P4’s initial release was on PS2 and this game is coming to PS4, plus what we’ve already seen in the first three preview videos, it’s always been clear that Persona 5’s biggest advantage over its predecessors is just how in-depth and unique its dungeons will be. Dungeon gameplay in P3 and P4 was somewhat monotonous, though that was more a symptom of the era they were made and not bad game design. As time has gone on, it’s those parts of the games that have aged poorest whereas P3’s and P4’s story writing and combat systems have held up splendidly.

News regarding the social aspect of the game leaves me a little bit weary. I’m a big fan of the Social Link system from Persona 3 and Persona 4 – particularly from P4 where it was seemingly perfected. Part of me says “Why fix what isn’t broken?” Then again, this is Katsura Hashino and his team we’re talking about and they’ve certainly earned my trust. Ultimately, what I want to see is that whatever this new system is, whether it is still called “Social Link” or not, is something that takes no more or less in-game time as the previous system, but simply reimagines the way each event occurs. In P3 and P4, each Social Link rank-up was sort of on rails. You were always going to get the same dialogue and same response options in every play-through. It’d be interesting to see the system be more alive where responses in earlier events shape the dialogue and response options in later events. We’ve already seen something like this with Marie’s Social Link in Persona 4 Golden.

Comments on Ryuji’s and Yusuke’s characters were also about what I expected. It’s hard not to compare P5’s cast to Hashino’s past characters, so I must say that Ryuji does come across as a mix of Persona 4’s Yosuke and Kanji.

What was surprising was to hear that Ann will play a role in the fate of the main characters. Some of the things said about her were reiteration of what we already knew: she’s part caucasian and feels a disconnect with her peers. Hearing that she becomes the life of the group once joining the team is also expected, given some of what we’ve seen of her in the first three previews.

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Ryuji, Ann, and Morgana

Comments on Morgana leave me intrigued. As was the case with Teddie in P4, it’s expected that she know more about the other world than the main character and other team members. In fact, that sort of mentor relationship was made clear enough in PV03. What has my interest is whatever her “goal” is. I have my own idea, but it may be too outlandish for now. I am eager to learn the nature of her existence, which undoubtedly ties in with why her appearance changes in the real world versus what it is in Palace. Much like how players discovered Teddie’s origins towards the end game of P4, the truth behind Morgana will likely be hidden to the main character throughout much of the game.

As time goes by, the more I question my initial reaction to P5’s first impressions. Hashino’s previous two games had two very clear themes. Persona 3’s theme was death and its corresponding color was blue. Persona 4’s theme was truth and its corresponding color was yellow. At first glance, the theme of P5 seemed to be “freedom” and unquestionably its corresponding color red. But with last September’s debut of PV03 and the first look of new vocalist Lyn singing the opening theme of the game, I’ve thought the overarching theme of this game may not be freedom, but rather “change.” This interview has reaffirmed that idea.

For as much comparing as I and many others are doing with P5’s known details to Persona 3 and Persona 4, I must say that a lot of what is known about this game thus far reminds me of the earliest entries in the franchise: Megami Ibunroku Persona and Persona 2 Innocent Sin. For starters, in each preview, we’ve seen the Phantom Thieves doing battle not against the Shadows we’ve become familiar with from P3 and P4, but instead actual Personas – the same Personas that have their roots in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise’s signature demons. Prior to Persona 3, the player would battle demons and negotiate with them to earn cards in order to fuse into new Personas in the Velvet Room. It isn’t yet known how new Personas will be acquired in P5, but the sheer fact that the player is battling proper Personas and not Shadows is a drastic change from P3/P4 and is a callback to the franchise’s roots.

The most recent thing that makes me think of P1 and P2 are these new comments about Ann. The idea that Ann will not just be another cast member no different from Ryuji or Yusuke is surprising. Stopping to think about it, there wasn’t really a character like that in P3 or P4. The closest anyone comes would be Aigis from P3, though her uniqueness was more so tied to the game’s background than the ultimate fate of the rest of the cast. There are, however, young women that fit this description in the original two games: Maki Sonomura from P1 and Maya Amano from P2. Each character was extremely central to their respective game’s story and ultimate outcome. It remains to be seen if Ann will play such a pivotal role in P5, but it would be interesting. Keep in mind that unlike the original games, P5’s social system will undoubtedly include romance, just like P3 and P4. So if Ann does hold some sort of heightened significance, one can only imagine how the perception of the story may change if the player pursues an intimate relationship with her.

Persona fans often joke that P1 and P2 never existed, largely due to ATLUS’s treatment of those games and the way they’re essentially ignored compared to everything P3 and later. At the corporate level, there may be some truth to that. In the recent past, ATLUS hasn’t been quick to acknowledge those games, but 2016 marking the 2o-year anniversary may be an exception. All of that said, I’ve never gotten the sense that Persona’s creative directors have ever meant to bury the legacy of the original games; especially when you remember that the series’ composer, Shoji Meguro, worked on Megami Ibunroku Persona and directed the re-releases on PlayStation Portable. P3 in particular had several allusions to P2 and even some of P4’s art design and naming choices can be seen as a callback to P1. Persona 5 releasing close to the franchise’s 20th birthday and having design callbacks to Persona’s roots would hardly be surprising.

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Finally, Hashino stating that they hope to make a big announcement after P5 releases was a huge takeaway from this interview. I can only imagine what it could be because it’s truly anyone’s guess. ATLUS making a big Persona related announcement after launch could be anything from another new game going into development, an older game getting a re-release/remake, or possibly even downloadable content for P5. DLC has made its way into the Persona franchise recently, but only in the spinoff games. P5 could mark the first main entry to receive DLC. Whatever it is, more Persona after P5’s launch can only be good.

There are some things I’m still disappointed we didn’t hear about, even though it was probably unreasonable to expect that we would. We will unquestionably have to play through the game to learn more about P5’s two new Velvet Room attendants, Caroline and Justine. On that note, we also don’t know what year P5 is set in, thus we don’t know how much time has passed since P4 and how that relates to why Margaret is no longer the attendant. Along those lines, I’m incredibly eager to see if Margaret’s absence, and perhaps the absence of Theodore as well, will somehow relate to the ongoing story that ties back to P3 and that game’s attendant, Elizabeth. You know what story I’m talking about, Persona fans.

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I’m also anxious about the size of the cast. I’m expecting more characters to be shown and would prefer to see a larger cast like what was in the last two games. I didn’t expect for a new character to be revealed via an interview. That would have been impractical. I was, however, hopeful that Hashino would comment about there being more party members in the future. We’ll have to wait for a likely PV04 for this to change.

And of course, as an American, the most frustrating thing about the slow trickle of P5 news is just how little we know about the game’s localization process. Did I expect to hear anything about that in this interview? Of course not. It’s just a tough reminder that while Hashino is opening up more about the game in Japan, ATLUS USA’s last comment about P5 was five months ago and incredibly vague. In this digital age, months between P5 launching in Japan and seeing English localization would be painful, because that is a lot of opportunities for this game to be spoiled by the Internet’s endless supply of cretins. It’s such a large concern that I’m considering taking a class in Japanese over the summer so that I may be able to take advantage of the PS4 being region-free and try to stumble my way through this game’s story. That’s crazy, I know, but that’s how much I value having an untainted experience of this game. I pray everyday that P5’s American release is as close to the Japanese release date as reasonably possible. As much as Hashino is keying on the story of P5 being a Phantom Thief drama that “surprises” the player, I hope the decision makers on that side of ATLUS are aware of just how much a delayed localization process could hurt the game outside of Japan. Ideally, something on the U.S. front will be said at E3 in June.

For now, this is all we have, but I will be happy to update if more detailed translations add any new pertinent info. The final thing to report is that another issue of the magazine is slated for “sometime within Summer 2016,” but we should get more info before then (hopefully). Until the next stop on the 2016 Persona 5 Hype Train…

2016 Persona 5 Hype Train

If you have read, seen, or listened to anything I’ve made in 2016 prior to this, you know exactly what it is I’m living everyday of my life for this year:

Persona 5.

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Credit: ATLUS and Famitsu

It’s hard to believe for many, but Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is approaching 8 years old. It’ll be learning long division and cursive any day now. Since 2008, the Persona franchise has exploded. I’m talking multiple animations, movies, re-releases, and multiple spinoffs starring the casts of P3 and P4. What the world hasn’t gotten, however, is a new mainline, numbered entry in the series. That changes this summer. (Hopefully.)

To say I’m excited for Persona 5 would be like saying the surface of the sun is kinda warm or that Bryan Danielson was a solid wrestler. It doesn’t even begin to describe the levels of hype that are so high, a full powered locomotive can barely contain them.

Hype Train!
Credit: Some1CP on YouTube

To commemorate this year, I’m doing two things. For one, I’m spreading the word about this game as much as I can. I love Persona, but as much as it’s grown recently, P5 is still taking a backseat in the industry compared to other titles releasing this year such as Uncharted 4, The Legend of Zelda, and P5’s greatest rival, Final Fantasy XV. Every PlayStation 3 and 4 owner would be doing themselves a disservice to not try the next entry from one of the most brilliant directors I’ve ever encountered: Katsura Hashino.

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Katsura Hashino. Credit: Persona Central

The next thing I’m doing is playing through every title dating back to Persona 3 on YouTube; including spinoffs. Well, except for Persona Q, because that would be too expensive to get the equipment to record. As of now, P3 is entering its final stages and P4 will begin on April 11th – the exact date Yu Narukami arrived in Inaba in 2011. P4 Arena, Arena Ultimax, and Dancing All Night will follow shortly after.

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From January’s Game Informer. It hangs above my desk, taunting me.

As things currently stand, we still don’t know anything more about P5 since the Tokyo Gaming Show in September. Tentatively, release is slated as “Summer 2016” in Japan with ATLUS USA last commenting that we will see localization simply in “2016.”  However, February 23rd will mark the next issue of the Persona Official Magazine and a new interview with Hashino. Another trailer and release information may be just around the corner.

Until then, all we can do is sit back and wait in anticipation.