Hey! Hallie here!
Persona 5 is widely, and correctly, considered one of the best video games released in the last few years. Most of the appeal comes from balancing gameplay that consists of spending time with friends and honing personal charms with turning into a supernatural thief and fighting monsters. But the main charm of this game comes from the characters. This is one of those games where the main character is largely silent. You can’t even figure out his real name unless you look up the anime. Instead, this game relies on a large amount of side characters to connect the audience to it’s story. You spend a lot of your time developing relationships with characters and leveling up your confidant rankings. You can’t really get through the game without it. Some character relationships naturally progress as you beat the game, and others are important to pursue in order to become more powerful as you play. With these characters, or confidants, playing such an important role in this game, I decided to rank my personal favorites. Let’s get into it! SPOILERS ahead!
- Judge. The Judge arcana is given to Sae Niijima, a prosecutor who interrogates the player throughout the entirety of the game. Sae Niijima is the older sister to Makoto, but she’s not the best role model for her sister. She obsesses over her work, snaps at Makoto for not being able to take care of herself (Makoto is still a teenager), and is openly against the Phantom Thieves. Which, you know, Makoto’s secretly a part of. Sae Niijima becomes so corrupted by success that she begins to rig prosecutions to uphold her reputation, resulting in her developing a Palace, which can only be developed by those with corrupt hearts. Despite all of this, Sae proves to be a decent person. When she catches the main character to interrogate him about the Phantom Thieves, she’s willing to listen to him and believe his version of events. She takes the interrogation so seriously that she begins to question those she works for and ultimately helps the Phantom Thieves receive justice. She also does care for and support her sister, despite some of her actions. Best of all, Sae is one of the confidants that levels up naturally as the game goes along, so there’s no need to worry about sectioning off time to spend with her.
- Heirophant. Sojiro Sakura is represented by the Heirophant arcana. He’s the guardian of the main character while the main character is under probation. Sojiro is initially cold to the protagonist because of his probation and makes it clear that the main character is only living with him as a favor to a friend. As the protagonist continues to live with Sojiro, however, he becomes a much softer individual. He becomes even closer to the protagonist once his adopted daughter, Futaba, joins the Phantom Thieves. At that point you get to learn about his past history with Futaba’s mother, Wakaba. He was smitten with Wakaba, but she only ever desired to be his friend. Still, they were close friends, and because of that he feels guilty over her premature death. Wakaba had told him that she might die because of the research she was doing, but he hadn’t taken her seriously. Because of this guilt, he left his job as a government official and opened a small coffee shop so he could raise Futaba and hide her from the people who killed her mother. Sojiro is a good guy and he cares about all of the Phantom Thieves safety. All he wants is to see you succeed.
- Faith. The Faith arcana is used for Sumire “Kasumi” Yoshizawa. To the ‘Persona 5 Royal’ fans, I know. This is blasphemy. How could Sumire be so low? Sumire is low on this list for two reasons. One is the questionable twin representation. Sumire, being both jealous of her twin sister’s success and guilty over her premature death, takes on her sister’s personality after her death. To be fair, Sumire doesn’t know that she took on this personality and the game does establish that Sumire’s true personality is different to her sister, Kasumi’s. But having one twin take on the personality of the other after their death is both disturbing, and does no favors to twins attempting to escape twin tropes. The other reason Sumire is down here is because she’s a liability in the climax of her own story. That isn’t to say that characters having weak moments is a bad thing. This entire game is about Personas coming to people when they’re at their lowest. The issue here is that she initially sides with Dr. Maruki, her antagonist, in order to keep her sister’s personality, gets manipulated into attacking the protagonist and Akechi, and ultimately doesn’t make the decision to embrace her own personality. The player gets to do that. Still, Sumire is an interesting character with a loveable personality. She’s also one of the most badass fighters in the entire game. If only her story was handled a bit better.
- Chariot. The Chariot arcana represents the first character you befriend in the game, Ryuji Sakamoto. Ryuji has his issues. He’s a bit of a ladies man without much, or really any, respect for women. He’s quick to anger and not so great at thinking things through. But he’s also extremely loyal. He’s provides a shoulder to lean on throughout the entire game. He’s also the easiest to befriend of all of the characters. In every playthrough I’ve done of this game, he’s always been the first confidant I max out. Ryuji also has an interesting past. He’s tied specifically to the gym teacher, Kamoshida, who is the first corrupt adult the Phantom Thieves have to take down. Kamoshida was known for bullying and abusing the members of the track team, the volleyball team, and really any team he was put in charge of. Ryuji was the star of the tack team before the events of the game, but a dispute with Kamoshida over his abusive behavior caused Kamoshida to break Ryuji’s leg. Instead of this leading to any change, Kamoshida proved his power over the parents and teachers of the school by completely disbanding the track team. Ryuji is depressed and friendless at the beginning of the game. He needs you as much as you need him.
- Lovers. Ann Takamaki is represented by the Lovers arcana. Ann is the second character you befriend, and she’s just as victimized by Kamoshida as Ryuji is. Her friend, Shiho, was on the volleyball team that Kamoshida was in charge of. While Ann attempted to play friendly with Kamoshida in order to keep Shiho on his good side, Kamoshida attempted to blackmail Ann into sleeping with him by threatening to take Shiho off the team. When Ann refused, he sexually assaulted Shiho, causing Shiho to attempt suicide. Yeah guys. This game isn’t for kids. Ann feels guilty for causing Shiho pain, but she’s not one to sit around and mope. She joins the Phantom Thieves almost immediately afterwards. She’s all too eager to make Kamoshida regret everything he’s ever done. In fact, she plays a larger role in his defeat than Ryuji. On top of all that, Ann is a very kind character. She believes the protagonist is innocent of the crimes he’s accused of before she even learns of his entire story. She’s quick to forgive characters who make mistakes and she doesn’t take insults to heart. She can be a bit of a ditz, but that never takes away from her charm.
- Magician. The Magician arcana is given to your cat, Morgana. Or rather, your monster thing that looks like a cat. Morgana is your guide throughout the entire he game. He sticks with you so much that there’s no need to build up his confidant ranks. That happens automatically as the story progresses. While Morgana appears as a normal black-and-white cat outside of Palaces, inside Palaces he becomes an anthropomorphic cat who’s head is far too large for his body. In either form Morgana can talk, and he definitely has a lot to say. Morgana doesn’t remember his past when you meet him in the game. What he does remember is an extensive knowledge about how Palaces work and a great admiration for humans. He likes them so much that he believes he is one, which really can’t be disputed since he doesn’t have any memory of what he was before he became a cat. Morgana can be blunt and a bit rude. He has no patience for those who don’t think things through as well as he does, which causes him to have a major rivalry with Ryuji. Regardless of that, there’s no doubt that you wouldn’t survive without Morgana’s help.
- Hermit. The Hermit arcana represents Futaba Sakura. It takes quite a while to finally meet Futaba in the game, but her entrance is definitely worthwhile. Futaba is the adopted daughter of Sojiro, but just because you meet Sojiro early on doesn’t mean you know Futaba exists. You don’t even hear her name until halfway through the game. That’s because Futaba has purposely shut herself away. After her mother’s mysterious death, several government officials visited Futaba with a suicide note from her mother that accused Futaba of being the reason for the suicide. This guilt caused Futaba to become depressed, shut herself in, and develop her own Palace. In her isolation, she created an online persona for the purpose of hacktivism and planted a bug inside Sojiro’s coffee shop to keep an eye on him. Through the bug she discovered the protagonist and his friends were the Phantom Thieves. As the game progresses Futaba discovers that she wasn’t actually responsible for her mothers death and joins the Phantom Thieves to discover the truth. She’s a genius, but she’s also an introvert that relies heavily on the protagonist to help her get used to life outside her room. Luckily, it never feels like a burden to spend more time with her.
- Emperor. The Emperor arcana is used to represent Yusuke Kitagawa. Yusuke is an art student who doesn’t initially trust the protagonist at first. While the Phantom Thieves have heard that Yusuke’s mentor, Madarame, has used pupils in the past for money and fame, Yusuke refuses to believe these claims. He believes Madarame to be a father-figure to himself. He also knows Madarame to be the artist of the painting that influenced Yusuke to be a painter. That is, until he discovers that Madarame has several copies of said painting in a hidden closet in his home. Yusuke quickly realizes that Madarame has been using his pupils to create art he can duplicate and sell. Yusuke’s mother was one of these artists Madarame manipulated, and the art piece Yusuke had been drawn to his entire life was actually a self-portrait that was painted by his mother. After this realization, Yusuke joins the Phantom Thieves as one of their much needed voices of reason. He can be a bit strange at times and is shown to be willing to do questionable things for art, but you know you can always trust his opinion in the end.
- Justice. The Justice arcana is given to represent Goro Akechi. Akechi is one of the main antagonists of the game, but that’s precisely what makes him such an interesting character. He is instantly drawn to the protagonist and his opinions, and he blatantly tells the protagonist a few times that be believes they were fated to meet. Akechi is also one of the major public voices that speaks out against the Phantom Thieves, but his reasonings are much more understandable than most. He simply believes that the Phantom Thieves should be working according to the law, rather than according to their own sense of justice. His apparent pure-heartedness is just a ruse, though. Akechi is actually working for the main villain, Shido. Akechi is Shido’s illegitimate child, however, Akechi’s mother raised him for most of his life. For that reason, Akechi does as his father plans with the ultimate goal of betraying him. Even with his final goal being against the main antagonist, his true view of justice is skewed. He openly tells the protagonist that he envies his simple life and his friends, and for that reason attempts to murder him. After all this, however, Akechi sacrifices his life to help the Phantom Thieves defeat his father. In ‘Persona 5 Royal’ Akechi reveals that he’s alive and officially joins the Phantom Thieves. His loyalties are questionable, but his redemption is certainly memorable.
- Priestess. Makoto Niijima is represented by the Priestess arcana. Makoto is the student council president. She’s initially manipulated by the school principal into spying on the protagonist and his friends in the hopes of confirming that they are the Phantom Thieves. After several students become wrapped up in some illegal activity in the city, Makoto drops her spying and does all she can to take down the mafia leader who is manipulating the students. She joins up with the Phantom Thieves, jumps into resolving the issue without having any knowledge of Palaces at all, and ends up summoning a Persona that’s a motorcycle. After the issue is resolved, Makoto becomes the strategist for the Phantom Thieves. Makoto is sensible and has learned to take care of herself, but it has caused her to separate herself from those her age. Her father, a police officer, died in the line of duty, and her sister since that time has harshly pushed her to take care of herself. Makoto tries her best to get to know the students she’s supposed to represent even without this knowledge, and she often takes it upon herself to help her friends through their hardships. She’s quick to offer comfort to those who need it, and even quicker to come up with a plan to cheer someone up. Makoto is kind but commanding and she steals every scene she’s in. Queen indeed.
That’s my list! There are so many characters and so many crazy plot lines in ‘Persona 5’, there’s no way I can talk about them all. This is both one of my favorite games and one of the longest games I’ve ever played. There’s so much content and there’s even more content in ‘Persona 5 Royal’. This game makes me excited to see what characters and plots the next Persona game will give us. But in the meantime, I’ll sit back and enjoy these characters I spent so many hours getting to know.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!