In the Persona series, the protagonist’s relationships with party members and important NPCs appear in the form of Arcanas, represented as Tarot cards, with the protagonist often taking the Fool card, number 0 in the Tarot. This is the wild card, representing innocence, creativity and inexperience.
A way to understand the Tarot is the Fool’s Journey, which takes you from Zero to the last card, from the Fool to The World, in a narrative about that card’s journey to find itself and overcome its own weaknesses. In Persona 5, you even hear this explanation and how each confidant, each NPC holding an Arcana, contributes to the protagonist’s personal Journey.
On Wednesday, I spoke of the first seven Persona 5 characters, let’s do another seven today! Note: Below you’ll find minor spoilers on character story arcs. You have been warned.
8 – Justice – Goro: This is the strangest of Arcana, and it’s one of the few that increases automatically as you progress through the main story, dealing with your relationships with the Teenage Detective Nancy Drew…I mean Goro Akechi. He’s after the characters’ group and wants them in prison, yet his sense of justice seemingly aligns with theirs.
He’s a complex character and I would’ve liked to see more of him, learn more of him through an optional story and not the one we see during the main storyline, as this is one of those Arcana you develop just by progressing through the main story.
I can’t say much about him without spoiling a lot of the story but I can say this about his characterisation: His is the jealous archetype, the one who doesn’t comprehend how some people get to have friends and loved ones and others don’t, something I can sadly relate to, as I was there at some point in my life.
9 – Hermit – Futaba: Remember when I said Ann would have been the girl to take home to meet the parents? Well, that’s before Futaba came in.
She’s the only character in the series that geeks out harder than I do. She’s a gamer, a nerd and isn’t afraid of dropping Dungeons & Dragons and MMO references in every conversation. Basically, she’s all I want in a woman.
But Futaba starts out, much like the others, in a very bad place. When her mother died, men in suits came to the funeral and read a suicide note out loud, in which she blamed her daughter for everything, how having her and raising her on her own had ruined her life and drove her to this.
The trauma turned Futaba into a hikikomori, a shut-in, isolated from the world and wanting nothing from it. Futaba doesn’t leave her home—Sojiro’s house, as he’s her legal guardian—and lives with the torment of her memories, even having auditory hallucinations of people telling her how she failed and killed her mother.
To her, her room is a tomb. But in her desperation, she reaches out to the main character’s group and asks them to steal her heart, to change her from within, to help heal her broken heart and psyche.
In doing so, they help her come out from isolation and see the world, a task that is the focus of her Arcana storyline as much as wanting payback against those that killed her mom and blamed her for it is part of the main quest.
Futaba is a wonderful character and the first to bring a tear to my eye, just the raw emotion she pours out.
Oh, and she’s the team hacker, in fact a legendary hacker called Medjed, though she discarded the name when others began using it and even formed an organisation around it. Now she’s just Ali Baba, playing games and seeing the world through the screen, until you help her see daylight on her own.
10 – Fortune – Mifune: I didn’t get this Arcana on this playthrough, as it had a steep requirement of 100.000 yen, an amount I only now have reached, at a point where it’s too late to work on social links and confidants.
11 – Strength – Caroline/Justine: The twins are your wardens in the prison of the Velvet Room, serving their master Igor in your rehabilitation. Caroline is hard and abusive, the bad cop, while Justine is calm and nurturing, the good cop. Caroline has a baton and Justine has a list—no, not the List of Jericho.
Their story arc and Arcana questline revolves around this list, one they don’t remember writing, Igor didn’t write it and yet feels familiar to them. They have locked memories it seems and completing the list of Persona fusions breaks those seals, and allows them to remember who they are and what Persona 5’s plot is all about, though they don’t reveal it, as it would be dangerous to speak out—in other words, no spoilers to the main story.
I kinda liked them, not so much for their good cop and bad cop routine but because of their banter with one another, each pointing out flaws and emotions in the other, sometimes in surprise and other times just to embarrass in front of their prisoner. There’s also that quest for identity in them, that need to find out what things really mean for you even if you’re afraid of what the answers might bring.
12 – Hanged Man – Iwai: The owner of the airsoft gun shop and the guy you buy all your gear from and even sell things you find in the palaces. He’s your weapons dealer and fence but as shady as he might seem, he’s really just an honest guy trying to make ends meet for his son…while desperately trying to keep him from finding out his actually shady past with the Yakuza.
His story arc is pretty good, and it’s about him trying to get rid of an old Yakuza rival who’s blackmailing him into making extremely realistic-looking models, undoubtedly to hide some real gun smuggling. The blackmail is all about his son, a baby that was dropped in his lap by a junkie trying to score, a fact he obviously hid from the boy, telling him instead his parents died in an accident and he took him in, a friend of the family.
He acts shadily, he can’t avoid it, he’s very private and keeps things close to the vest, but he’s a good guy, a really good guy.
13 – Death – Dr. Takemi: My second favourite character in the game!
Dr. Takemi takes care of the local clinic, a small practice. She doesn’t seem to have any patients or even care about that, her head focused on making a new medicine to cure a particularly nasty illness.
She has a bad rep in the medical community, after a botched medicine hurt a patient, resulting in her exile to the little clinic and everyone calling her The Plague. But, in desperation for some kickass healing items to use in their extracurricular activities, the main character forms a pact with her. He’ll be her guinea pig for medical research but she’ll sell some of her custom medicines, apparently more powerful and effective than anything in the market.
I liked Dr. Takemi a lot because she almost matches Futaba on how much someone else broke her. The Plague stuff is all a lie, used by a senior doctor to hide his own mistakes, pushing all the fault on her. Yet, the entire thing made her form a big shell around her heart, not letting anyone in and focusing all her time on finishing the medicine that the senior doctor messed with and heal that one patient. But with our prodding and encouragement, she starts seeing patients and actually enjoy their presence, finding that joy of helping others again.
Of all the characters, she’s the one who comes closest to a complete breakdown when she hears some dubious yet horrible news and it takes a lot to bring her out of it again. It’s pretty good stuff.
14 – Temperance – Kawakami: Your homeroom teacher and one of the first people to be hostile to you based on your bad reputation from your criminal record. She’s not the best teacher, always looking bored and tired of her students, yet she keeps at it.
But then you discover she works part-time as a maid and…you can’t help but feel sorry for her. She’s an earnest character, someone who just wants to teach, but her situation is just because she wanted to teach. She took a student, much like you, in a bad place and with bad grades and tutored him privately, as he had to work several part-time jobs, drawing the ire of her superiors.
She cancelled his tutoring sessions and then he died. Kawakami already felt responsible but then the boy’s family came knocking, blaming her for the accident and extorting money out of her, forcing her to do the same he did, take a part-time job, one she’s told she’s too old for and which she finds humiliating and tiring.
In her Arcana questline, you discover all of this and even see how much she’s sacrificing to keep paying them, putting even her health in jeopardy.
She’s a good character and I felt sorry for her. I only wish I had managed to finish her story and see her come out victorious on the other end.
Persona 5 has some amazing characters. I liked some of them, some I wasn’t a fan of and most I didn’t complete their questlines, though I’m planning to on the New Game+ run. But I have to say that it’s a very well written game, at least when it comes to its characters, both main and secondary. Hell, it might make more of an effort with the secondary characters than it does with the main, and that’s impressive.
Are you playing Persona 5? What do you think of the characters?
On the next edition, we’ll look at the last 6 Arcanas 15 to 20, from Devil to Judgement!