I would like to begin this blog by stating my intentions. The entire piece you are about to read was for the enjoyment of my friends and those who know me. I may or may not have been drunk, high, angry, horny, sleepy or hungry while writing it. If you happen to be a fan or critic of Persona 5, it's a bonus.
This is not a review of the game at all, but a observation of the confidants within the game to some degree. Nothing is absolute truth; everything is certain opinion. If your approach it as random rambling you will be for the better; this I promise.
That said, anyone who wishes to talk about the finer points are more than welcome to. I spent 113 hours in Persona 5 from start to finish, and I have a lot to say about it in regards to the confidants. So sit back and relax, it's going be a long read and I hope you enjoy it.
It goes without saying that there are going to be major spoilers ahead. Anyone who has not finished the game are not encouraged to read the entire article. This is your final warning! I will refer to the protagonist of the game from this point forward as MC (Main Character)
Igor has been a running staple in the Persona series, but I liked how in this game he's a bit different. For starters, Igor seems more hands off than ever with the MC and his struggle. The helper(s) he employs are more animated while not being as dogmatic as previous ones. Igor serves as an observer for the vast majority of the game until the very end where the plot twist happens. So in reality, the Igor you meet (and grants you your powers) is actually the game's antagonist - Yaldabaoth.
So it would be correct for us to say that Yaldabaoth is a part of the Fool confidant as much as Igor is. If you wrap your mind around it, it kinda ties up the fate of MC from start to finish. So as the MC goes on a journey, it stays true to the theme of The Fool tarot going on a journey.
I have little criticism for this confidant other than on a technical nature. By the time you gain its stronger abilities, your need to use them is more of a quality of life luxury than a necessity.
So the cat's out of the bag (no pun intended) that Morgana is Igor's will. It would explain the lengthy role he has to play in the entire story, and his relationship with the MC. His struggle to understand himself acts as a driving point to keep interest in him. Without it, he's regulated to the trope of being the game's mascot and token comic relief.
To that end I did enjoy him as a strong support character to the story, but I felt he got shafted in the end. I found his sense of self at odds with Igor's personality. The hypothesis I came up with is that Igor (like Morgana) doesn't know if he's human and what his purpose is. Morgana understanding his purpose at the end of the game is akin to Igor understanding this as well. When Morgana (in the real world) lives, this is akin to Igor being alive as well in the memory of the MC. The Velvet room may no longer exist, but it is alive of sorts as Morgana.
I can be blowing Morgana's character way out of scope here, but I can't help feel there was more to him than face value. His canon story could be a talking cat and nothing more in the end.
Makoto Nijima (Priestess)
I would assume this is social commentary on those who know about injustice, but are not able to do much about it. Makoto's anger about inaction to incite change is what she's all about. It's likely referring to police or authority figures as a whole. When she herself wishes to join the police at the end of the game, it may complete the theory.
Her everyday struggle encompasses someone understanding human eccentricity for the first time. She plays well as a romantic interest for those looking for the self confidant yet very naive. If you ever admired someone for being strong in one aspect of their life but a novice in another, this is who Makoto is. Her saving grace (no pun intended) is that she isn't religious or overbearing. She's always there to remind you about the "right" thing to do, whatever she feels that is.
It seems every Persona needs someone bound by tradition, and Makoto is the one in this iteration. Short hair, straight laced and a no nonsense type of girl is best what sums her up. I found her entire confidant line a bit predictable yet needed to anchor the MC and his friends to the real world. She is someone I have a hard time putting more words to because she explains herself with every action. If someone told you to explain a pretty cardboard shipping box, there is only so much you can say I would imagine.
Haru Okamura (Empress)
I present a question to you dear reader; would you be able to describe someone you met an hour ago in detail? That's the problem I have when talking about Haru; and it seems I'm not alone in this.
Haru has the "unfortunate" problem of being rich. Because she is rich, she has daddy issues. Since daddy doesn't treat her as a daughter but rather a bargaining chip, then problems arise. She may not like taking orders all the time on how to live; but that's everyone's problem in life.
I may sound indifferent to the plight of Haru in a cold fashion, but her issues seem quite pale in comparison. Her rebellion awakening stems from a lifetime of personal injustice. I stress the word "personal" and nothing more. Once her conflict has resolved, it is strange to even wonder why she continues to be a phantom thief.
Criticism aside, Haru is great in every other sense of the word. Her main damage source is psychic, she grows useful vegetables for the MC, and she's pleasant on the eyes and ears. As a romance candidate she's the perfect package due to her wealth, charm and demeanor. She's every overbearing parent's dream daughter in law. It's a shame we (the players) hardly got to know her.
Yusuke Kitagawa (Emperor)
I thought I would hate Yusuke when I first met him, but I ended up loving him moreso than Ryuji at the end. He may be a struggling artist, but he's the cool one that you want to share fart jokes with cause he's not a prude. He would make a sculpture of a nude butt to celebrate the occasion. The humor he presents is always inadvertent and related to food. References to the starving artist trope poke their head out once in a while too.
Yusuke's problems (at first) seems self centered. Struggling to chase his artistic muse he can't seem to find the inspiration needed to "ascend" in his craft. As he resolves the conflict with his master and pseudo father Madarame, he opens up to world a bit more. He becomes a loyal friend to the MC and a defender of inequality through art. He even forgives Mararame at the end when he realizes he himself was as flawed.
I don't know if others enjoyed Yusuke as much as I did, but I find his confidant to be well written and thought out. My only complaint is that I benched him for combat unfortunately the moment I got him. He's not remarkable in any technical sense.
If the MC was female, I would put Yusuke on the top of the list.
Sojiro Sakura (Hierophant)
There's a lot to say about Sojiro because the game's writers decided to integrate him into a lot of things. He's a coffee shop owner, guardian of MC, ex government employee, Futaba's step-father and aging playboy. With quite a bit on his resume, it's not surprising that to understand the man we have to dig deep.
A recurring theme with Sojiro is that he has a hidden kindness within him he doesn't like to show. He cares for the MC to take him in when no else would dare. He took Futaba in after she lost her mother cause he thought no one would. He cares about Morganna as a cat even though he knows he's a stray. He also allows the MC and his friends to hideout in his coffee shop after he knows they're the phantom thieves. All these things are at expense of his own self; yet somehow he gets fulfillment from the exchange. Sojiro's reconciliation with Futaba cements the idea that he finally did something right.
I get a vibe from Sojiro that he never felt accomplished in life yet capable to incite change. There's a degree of nihilism about his attitude yet his actions are the opposite. He acts as the calm 3rd party observer in a ever growing maddening public. He interjects when he can when it has weight and backs off when he knows it won't do a damn thing.
From a personal perspective I enjoyed his confidant as refuge from the modern world. Akin to the lives most people live nowadays behind a computer, Sojiro reminds us there is more out there. As someone living a colored life and still alive and kicking, it acts as a reminder to the MC that change is possible.
Ann Takamaki (Lovers)
It's easy to dismiss Ann as a simple character in the game and a confidant without depth. To some degree this is true, but in others it could not be more incorrect.
What I loved about Ann's confidant (and story in general) was that she resembled an actual teen. She cares about her appearance, social reputation and friend(s) in a zealous like state. She's quick to anger, quick to please and is full of energy. All the building blocks of a young teenager working through life's problems as they arise. She's complex in her representation alone - in that it's accurate.
Tempering her praise of accurate representation is the fact that's there's nothing exciting. We've all read a story like her's before. Dare I say anyone with a daughter knows her story.
As a love interest Ann treats the MC as an equal and someone to confide in with her problems. Unlike the "look up to" vibe we get with some other romance options, this adds a degree of genuine partnership. It's warm, but at the same time there's room for a lot of work to be had. It's almost like... an actual relationship! Who would of thought?
It might be the blonde pigtails, the daring bikini, and the sexy outfits; but Ann is a bit more touch and go as a person. I'm glad for it.
Ryuji Sakamoto (Chariot)
This confidant was a terrific character combined with an atrocious backstory. Oh how hard I feigned to keep interest with Ryuji's problems and the track team. Oh how I didn't care a damn about what would happen to his former track mates. In the end, like a bro, I did it for Ryuji and hope it ended out well for him.
Ryuji represents the hot headiness needed in some social circles. If you get a group of meek ne'er-do-well people who do nothing in life, then you get why his character stands out. I found Ryuji a fresh breath of air not in Persona 5 (where most characters are headstrong) but in general as tropes. To some extent my limited knowledge of Japanese culture shows Ryuji as a delinquent. Yet his virtues are what people strive for on an "internal" level in said same society. I leave this up to interpretation.
If you have a problem with Ryuji you have a problem with the comic relief. That's not a bad thing, but understand he is there for that reason. Morganna made me smile at parts in the game, Ryuji made me laugh.
Goro Akechi (Justice)
The immediate reaction is that Goro is nothing more than a tragic villain. He's also a tool used by his father Shido, and a backstabber to his temporary partner Sae. Either way Goro doesn't make decisions for himself, and ends up in the crossfire of the MC as well as his own self later on.
As I kept reanalyzing Goro's script within the game, I couldn't tell if he was simple by design. Yes, he does have the same powers as the MC using up to 3 different personas. Yes, he is able to incite the shadows within people to become berserk. Yet we discover this when he dies and nothing more explained later on in the story. It's as if his powers were there for granted, and even Shido doesn't have any real explanation why his own son can.
So we end up with a character that is able to do amazing things, but no real reason to do so other than... cause he can? Goro has no knowledge of any Velvet room. Goro is not a secret experiment born in a lab. It isn't even mentioned if Goro had anything to do with the research into the metaverse by Wakaba Isshiki. Goro does kill Isshiki by crashing a car into her, but their relationship ends there.
Goro's a bad ass no doubt, but why he is the way he is will remain a mystery. To that end, I place Goro in the "plot devices" category where he so remains until someone gives me more than the wiki.
Futaba Sakura (Hermit)
Futaba in my eyes is like Ann, in that she seems more simple on the outside but is more complex when analyzed. This is because there are 2 struggles Futuba has to overcome. Her first personal struggle comes from false guilt of her mother's death. When she finds out she is not responsible, her guilt then moves onto the 2nd struggle being a burden to Sojiro.
Even after all is well, she then has to learn to live life like a "normal" person and not an introvert. This is where the MC comes along and plays as either a romantic interest or a big brother. And this is where I find ironic one of the more touching interactions is with an unlikely candidate.
A pretty girl who loves computers, technology and pop culture references. Did the entire population of Twitch TV make up a girlfriend? Hell, did the entirety of Japan's "hikikomori" community make up a girlfriend? Yes and no. Yes in the life that Futaba lives, no in the person she turns out to be. I wouldn't consider Futaba a suitable romance candidate by any stretch of imagination. It could be a byproduct of my old age or sanity. She brings out too many paternal feelings to make it seem normal. Let's all wish this "kid" the best.
Chiaya Mifune (Fortune)
As a confidant Chiaya is quite useful to the MC for most of the game. As for her story... there isn't much to talk about. Believe me when I say I would want nothing more than to flesh out Chiaya and her interests. But the way she designed was quite simple, and she herself a simple person. She sells fake stones for some con artists that help her into Shinjuku, but after that there's nothing. It would be nice to know where she got her powers to read tarot.
Other than that she may become an "adorable" romantic interest to the MC. It's a shallow one though. Her infatuation level is a bit peculiar considering her exposure to the MC, but we have to take it for granted.
I love her voice actor as she did a good job portraying a naive country girl. A fitting tribute to Mieko Matsuki in her final professional role. May she rest in peace.
Caroline and Justine (Strength)
The game does a good job in making Caroline and Justine seem more mysterious than they end up being. This doesn't take away from the fact that they are quite likable though. As with everything in the Velvet room there's always a twist.
As wardens in charge of keeping the MC in line, they do have a chance to test his ability to form fusions. During those successful attempts they show a little more of their personality. This accumulates to reveal that they never invented the trial list. Later on it's shown that Lavenza made the list for her split self to test the MC. So it could be that Caroline, Justine and Lavenza are all the same person. Dissociative identity disorder in a nutshell.
Lavenza is a bit preachy, but she did call out to the MC at the beginning of the game as a butterfly. She's also the game's pseudo narrator next to the MC, more so than Morganna. To this end her script is dry, but necessary for continuity from start to finish.
So two little girls are one of the hardest boss battles in the game. Pretty straight forward Japan stuff in my eyes. Nothing philosophical to talk about, nothing interesting to discuss. I want Margaret from P4 back. This confidant was not very interesting to me.
Munehisa Iwai (Hanged Man)
Iwai's a real likable character, and a believable one at that. So it troubled me quite a bit when I finished his confidant to no satisfaction.
Random act of kindness is the best way of describing Iwai's story line in a nutshell. It's a completely self contained conflict that has nothing to do with the phantom thieves. Iwai has a problem connecting his adopted son Kaoru. He has issue with the Yakuza he left. Once these issues are gone, he can focus on running the air shop store in peace. Cool beans.
I guess this confidant was suppose to symbolize Yakuza with guts and the struggles of being a man. Sojiro did that one well enough already. He also did the fatherhood struggle in more detail.
Gecko tattoos are cool and I love Yakuza culture. Not in this game though.
Tae Takemi (Death)
I start off this confidant with a full disclosure of unreasonable bias. Tae was my romantic option from start to finish, and I felt no other choice for the MC came close other than Kawakami. It is not a choice I made because of her looks (although she's pretty), but a choice I made because she's a strong character. Let us discuss why.
Tae is an intelligent woman (a doctor no less) who can take care of herself. She was a scapegoat for a crime she didn't commit. Her daily struggle is to come up with a medicine to cure a child who has an unknown sickness. To reach these goals she sells experimental drugs and does research on the MC as a "guinea pig". She does whatever she needs to do to achieve her ends. That's a whole lot of "I don't give a fuck to do the right thing" in a nutshell in itself. Does this at all sound familiar to you?
There are strong parallels to Tae's problems as there are to the MC. Doing the right thing in front of public adversity is exactly the struggle the thieves have. This alone is too good to pass up (in my eyes) why she could have been as close to the thieves as Sojiro was.
Icing on the cake? It's implied she fucks the MC on their first official date at the coffee shop. She wears high heels tall enough to kill people with one kick. She dresses like a full blown lady of the night, and knows more about drugs than anyone in the entire game. She likes to party. Tae is bae.
Sadayo Kawakami (Temperance)
Saying Sadayo is not a likable character would be a sin worthy of death. Her confidant is as complex as it is hilarious, and she put more smiles on my face than any other confidant in the game. There are many reasons to this, so let's explain them in detail.
Her unorthodox lifestyle immediately deserves attention. Sadayo's jobs as both teacher and erotic house maid are at ends in societal norms. She needs money to pay off a debt of her own cognitive creation. Her genuine (if at times creepy) maternal concern for the MC makes it even more odd that she's romance able. She's everyone's crazy single aunt story.
Sadyo's self imposed hell is a result of her staunch romanticism and also a bit of her eccentricity. She seems to go with the flow of doing what is necessary to achieve the favorable outcome. Because of this, her and the MC make a reasonable if at times odd couple. Even when romanced she still looks out for the MC as an elder figure.
Wife material? You bet your sweet ass. She cooks, she cleans, she messages, and she can make tools for you to rob that bank. All while wearing a caricature french maid outfit? You know where to call.
Ichiko Ohya (Devil)
There's a good story (no pun I swear) to be had here with Ichiko if it weren't for her technicalities. If she weren't a romance able candidate for the MC, I would assume the response to her would be less hostile. The rationale behind her lack of popularity may be from her alcoholic nature. The fact that she works an unpopular job as a paparazzi doesn't further her cause. She even has one of the worst confidant abilities in the game.
With all that out of the way, she's someone still trying to do the right thing for a friend of hers at the end of the day. Still there's no silver lining with Ichiko though, and I won't spend a lot of words defending her.
A good partner to have around for the MC, but an odd choice all around as a romance interest. Let alone not enjoying drinks, there's not much synergy going on between the two. Ichiko is a lesser evil, and if the game allowed it her heart might need changing if it were possible.
Shinya Oda (Tower)
I felt a strong social commentary injection to this confidant like Makoto's. Shinya is a troubled young boy dealing with an overbearing helicopter parent. The outcome of this is that he looses himself into video games where winning is all that matters. It's an ego problem with himself and his mother.
The "tail wags the dog" when the MC resolves the issue between Shinya and his mom. It no longer becomes about his addiction to winning in video games as it does him being a better person. Ego is the core component of his strife, and once it's dealt with he can mature like his mom can. He can do this via games, the core of his escapism in the first place.
It's a morality story hidden within a game aesthetic. I got the message loud and clear, and I would assume it's intended target were also children.
Hifumi Togo (Star)
It's rough going for Hifumi from start to finish. I'm not talking about the story of this particular confidant either. It's the actual technicalities of her design not being complete.
To clarify Hifumi was a rushed confidant that was suppose to be a member of the phantom thieves. Since she didn't make the cut they regulated her to a horrid backstory of being a Shogi savant. I don't know how many people in the world even heard of Shogi, yet alone how many people in Japan know of it or care. Apparently it's big there, but that could be conjecture.
So here is where the mess ends up. We get a weird "Ann" vibe of Hifumi being a model, alongside a "Futuba" air of being a genius. You get a splattering of "Haru" grace without the backstory. Topping this all off is a similar struggle to Shinya's overbearing parent with an ego problem.
This confidant is a salad of concepts already present in the game. Looking at the technical reason why explains things. She's also romance able to boot? Why not add more confusion to why anyone would date her other than looks? Hifumi could have been DLC content, cause in her current state she might as well been not finished. I had no joy in finishing her confidant whatsoever cause I felt she didn't get a fair shake to begin with.
Yuuki Mishima (Moon)
There's a stark line drawn between the MC and Yuuki in this game to the point of obviousness. Yuuki's story is the confidant about how "not" to be. Everything written about him is in some way unflattering, and goes up against any idea of heroics.
The meek and at times petty nature of Yuuki is what makes him as tragic as Goro without death in the end. There are clear reasons why Yuuki thinks the way he does. It is up to the MC to spur whatever motivation he can muster to break his cycle of self pity.
Yuuki keeps himself busy with the "Phan-site" as a way of escapism. It's a very half ass attempt to be relevant in world he feels has ignored him. To some extent, Yuuki is the social neglected child, and the person yearning for attention.
There's a happy ending to Yuuki though and it's a bit touching. He saves the phantom thieves by making everyone believe in them during the final battle. He gets a boost of confidence he needs to make a documentary / book about the phantom thieves. In this regard, he archives his own heroics and reconciles the futility of action. In other words, it's not what matters of what people think, but what one does for themselves.
You can make the parallel that Goro who never befriends the MC ends up twisted. Yuuki is in contrast saved by looking at the brighter side of things. Goro with incredible power, charm and strength succumbs to it. Yuuki in his passive but determined way ends up alive and happy.
I got a lot more out of the Moon confidant than I did with the Strength. Surprising.
Toranosuke Yoshida (Sun)
A man haunted by his past who wants to purge previous sins. Sounds like the plot of a horrible B rated movie, but it is the overarching story for Toranosuke.
This confidant was very wordy, but full of nonsense. Not that the morale or the struggle was nonsense, but a lot of the political speech and jargon was non sense. It appears much, much more complex than it is. It ends up being a simple frame job where Toranosuke was the victim. Once this clears out, it becomes more of a lecture on morality of the greater good.
If there's a hint of a message to be had here, it's the idea of sticking to one's beliefs if they are in for the greater good. It's fitting for the Sun tarot and the MC does learn a lot of speech skills in the process.
Sae Niijima (Judgement)
If there's one thing we can say about Sae, is that she got a lot of love in Persona 5. She's such an integral part of the story it's hard to even pin down where to begin to talk about her.
To highlight her importance, let us list her connections and roles within the story. She's Makoto's sister, which means she has an intimate relationship with the thieves. She's a narrative device used to recall the memories of the MC. She's a temporary enemy to the thieves by having her own palace to conquer. She's an ally in the end of the game to help free the MC when he becomes incarcerated. And on a personal note she's 10 times hotter than Makoto both in her suit and 20 times hotter in her shadow form.
It should noted that Sae's character is the personification of the rational adult. Sae does everything in her power within the confides of laws and social standards. It is the tragic reality of corruption in society which causes her heart to become dark. This spawns her own palace in which her despair rules over. When the MC is able to free her mind, she then believes in the phantom thieves inciting meaningful change. She echoes this idea by changing her profession at the end of the game from prosecutor to attorney.
I enjoyed Sae throughout the game and thought her confidant was well written. Her tie in with the main characters allowed her to have a perspective from all sides of the conflict. Among a cast of eccentric characters, she felt as someone with a lot of common sense.
My Worthless Opinions
Let us finish this lengthy blog post with ranking lists no one asked for! Thanks for reading by the way, you should pat yourself on the back if you made it this far. You're part of the cool people club, handed out to anyone willing to put up with my rambling.
My Best To Worst Confidant Ranking
- Sadayo Kawakami
- Sae Niijima
- Sojiro Sakura
- Makoto Niijima
- Yusuke Kitagawa
- Ryuji Sakamoto
- Futaba Sakura
- Ann Takamaki
- Haru Okumura
- Tae Takemi
- Goro Akechi
- Yuuki Mishima
- Shinya Oda
- Toranosuke Yoshida
- Munehisa Iwai
- Caroline and Justine
- Ichiko Ohya
- Hifumi Togo
My Best To Worse Waifu Ranking
- Tae Takemi
- Sadayo Kawakami
- Ann Takamaki
- Makoto Niijima
- Haru Okumura
- Futaba Sakura
- Hifumi Togo
- Ichiko Ohya