Persona 5 is one of those games that had me stuck to my chair for longer than I care to admit, in a good way. It’s design hooked me and the lore is fascinating. I’m currently about 1/3 through my 2nd New Game + play through (in an effort to get the remaining trophies) and I keep discovering new things that I missed the first couple times around. One of these was the lore of each of the characters Persona’s. Below I will be listing where the Persona’s themselves originated from and how they relate to the characters they are tied to within the game. Enjoy!

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Arsene – Akira Kurusu

Persona Background

Akira has the ability to host numerous persona at once, but his original is named Arsene. Arsene is based off of the gentleman thief Arsene Lupin, an anti-hero who would target criminals he deemed worse than himself. This is where the base for the Phantom Thieves came from since Akira is set as their leader almost immediately. This also ties into the group stealing the hearts of people they consider bad despite technically being criminals themselves.

*A cool little tidbit of info – Arsene Lupin was created by a man named Maurice Leblanc. Leblanc is also the name of Sojiro Sakura’s Coffee and Curry shop in game.*

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Physical Similarities and Connections

Lupin was also known as a master of disguise. Now this plays into our main character in a couple different ways. Akira himself is pretty plain looking, making him blend easily into a crowd. This is typical for the Persona game franchise, but it also matches up Lupin’s lore.

Akira has the ability to host numerous persona’s within himself at one time, solidifying the idea that he can change ‘appearance’, at least as far as persona’s are concerned, on the fly.

This reflects even in his costume.  He wears all black which allows him to quickly sink into the shadows and hide, effectively disappearing. The only bold color on him are his red gloves. These stand out as the most important part of him, his ability to snag treasure.

 

 

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Captain Kidd – Ryuji Sakamoto

Persona Background

Ryuji’s persona takes the form of Captain Kidd (William Kidd). William Kidd was a real man who lived from 1645 – 1701. He was a Scottish sailor who was tried and executed as a pirate.

There are two striking similarities between the captain and Ryuji:

#1) Both are/were fatherless. We don’t really know what happened to Ryuji’s dad, but it is mentioned that he lives only with his mom. Captain Kidd’s father was lost at sea before he was even born. Despite the tragedy, William chose to follow in his dad’s footsteps by becoming a sailor.

#2) Both are branded by a title that isn’t necessarily true. Throughout the game, we learn that Ryuji is branded as a ‘punk’. While he takes up this mantle with the way he dresses and speaks, he’s really a caring dude who’s super protective of his friends.

Kidd was in a similar boat. During his travels he was branded as a pirate based off of rumors from prisoners he held onboard. In reality, he chased down pirates (or attempted to). This is very similar to Arsene Lupin’s backstory as well. He was eventually captured and executed as a pirate without it ever truly being proven.

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Physical Similarities and Connections

Most of the physical connections are only skin deep in this case. Ryuji’s outfit while in a palace seems to be loosely based off a pirate’s attire, especially when looking at his tie. His gloves are a much brighter color (yellow) than the rest of his outfit, similar to Akira’s mentioned above and probably for the same reasons.

*Cool tidbit of info #2 – Ryuji’s mask is in the shape of a skull which could be referring to one of two things: 1) The symbol of a pirate, which is to be expected, or 2) William Kidd murdered a member of his crew by hitting him over the head with an iron bound bucket and fracturing his skull.*

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Carmen – Ann Takamaki

Carmen the persona is based off a character of the same name written by Prosper Mérimée in 1845. In the story, Carmen is a gypsy (of the Romani people) who uses her charms to help her band of outlaws survive. She meets José Lizarrabengoa as he guards the cigar factory she is forced to work in (hence the cigar in her mouth). After an affair between the two (Carmen was married at the time), José kills her husband out of jealousy and she becomes his bride instead. He eventually murders her before turning himself in to the police.

Carmen’s appearance in Persona 5 is based off of the flamenco dresses worn in Spain (where her story takes place). The humanoid men she has on ‘leashes’ represents her view of men in general, beings that only see woman as objects. This fits into Ann’s mindset as well because of her conflict with Kamoshida.

*Cool tidbit of info #3 – Prosper Mérimée’s mother was also named Anne.*

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Physical Similarities and Connections

Ann’s outfit differs from everyone’s primarily because it is a warm tone (red) rather then cooler toned (black or blue). The skintight bodysuit mixed with the whip and kitty mask gives her more of a vixen (borderline dominatrix) feel, something that reflects strongly with both Carmen’s backstory as well as her own.

Being used as a sexual symbol via Kamoshida is what awakened her persona in the first place and had a strong impact on Ann as a result. She no longer allows herself to be used (especially by men) and is extremely confidant about it.

The gloves, once again, are a different color than the rest of her outfit. As stated above, this gives off the impression of her hands being important, which makes sense since she’s a thief.

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Goemon – Yusuke Kitagawa

Ishikawa Goemon was essentially an ancient Japanese Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. The road that got him to that point changes depending on the story you hear, since no one really knows his true origins. The game chose to go with a combination of two common stories. He came from a samurai family that served feudal lords of the Miyoshi clan. His mother and father were murdered by the Ashikaga shogunate and he swore revenge. After training in the art of Iga ninjutsu, he fled from an angry master and formed a band of thieves and bandits that stole from the wealthy and gave back to the oppressed. He used the moniker Ishikawa Goemon after his late father, Ishikawa Akashi. He was eventually captured and executed by being boiled alive, though accounts differ.

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Physical Similarities and Connections

Yusuke’s outfit is a direct representation of Goemon’s background as a samurai. The kitsune mask and tail he wears could elude to his work as a thief as well as Goemon’s robin hood – esque nature

While Goemon’s history tends to revolve around revenge for his father, Yusuke’s is focused on his mom. As we learn during his story arc, Madarame is a famous artist who took Yusuke in as a child. He’s greatest work is dubbed Sayuri, the painting of a woman that was allegedly stolen.

We later learn that the creator of Sayuri was actually Yusuke’s mother. Madarame made a deal with her after she painted it: He would take her and her 3 year old son in if she let him take credit as creator. She agrees but dies shortly there after. She was prone to seizures and had one in front of the painter. Instead of calling for medical aid he allowed her to die, taking Yusuke and the painting for himself.

Upon learning the truth, Yusuke takes a page out of Goemon’s book and seeks revenge on the man he had seen as a father for years. Once Madarame was defeated he officially joins the Phantom Thieves.

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Johanna – Makoto Nijima

Johanna is based off of the story of Pope Joan, a woman who supposedly claimed the title of Pope for a couple of years before she was murdered. Her existence is highly debated among common historians due to a lack of recorded evidence.

Joan is said to have been alive in the 13th century where she reigned as pope. She was an incredibly smart woman, something that was looked down upon in the age she lived in. This is believed to be one of the reasons she was murdered. She fought against what was expected of women in her time.

Another version claims that she disguised herself as a man at the request of her lover. She slowly rose up within the church’s hierarchy until she was elected Pope. Her gender was revealed when she gave birth during a procession. She later died, though it was unknown whether it was caused from childbirth or murder.

Johanna’s form as a motorcycle is a good representation of rebellion, especially when it comes to how the modern woman is perceived.

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Physical Similarities and Connections

When it comes to how Makoto’s been designed, her outfit doesn’t reflect anything that directly connects her to Johanna. The black leather and spikes are meant to be in direct opposition to her real life, softer style of clothing. As mentioned above, Johanna taking the form of a motorcycle is what really connects the two as far as a physical aesthetic is concerned.

It’s in their stories that the two come together. Both are women who have risen within their respective stations, Joan in the church and Makoto within her school. Much was expected of them whether they agreed or not, and when they said no they were threatened. Like Joan, Makoto chose her own direction in life despite what was expected from her and eventually joins with the Phantom Thieves.

There are some people who believe that Makoto is the default love interest for the player character which can also tie into Joan’s background. While Makoto wasn’t required or asked to dress as a man, she does put her life on the line while following Joker.

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Necronomicon – Futaba Sakura

Necronomicon (I will be calling it Necro from here on out) is a book of magic first talked about in H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Hound’.
The origins of the book are unknown, but it is said to be one of evil that reveals the secrets behind many ancient and cosmic beings that influence people on Earth for its own needs. These beings are thought to be either demons or aliens, both of which are referenced throughout Lovecraft’s works.

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Physical Similarities and Connections

The biggest physical connecting factor between Futaba and her persona is the color palette they share. Necro takes the form of a UFO, alluding more towards the alien side of its origins. Futaba’s thief outfit mimics the neon greens and black of the ship. Her goggles can also be described as extraterrestrial looking as well.

When Necro first appears we see squid – like tentacles emerge and grab onto Futaba, pulling her into the ship. This is a reference to Lovecraft’s story ‘The Call of Cthulu’ where the Necro is mentioned. The alien theme fits perfectly with Futaba herself as she is more of a shut in who spends her time focusing on things of that nature.

Another way the connection works is when we look at what the Necro contains in its book form, the truth behind ancient beings that use people for their own desires. Futaba is your guide through the Metaverse as soon as she awakens to her persona’s power. This requires vast amounts of knowledge about not only the Metaverse, but Persona’s themselves. This would be easily obtained from within Necro every time they are together.

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Milady – Haru Okumura

Milady was originally known as Milady de Winter from The Three Musketeers. As a French spy, she lived her life on the run and under cover. It is revealed in the novel that she is the wife of Athos, one of the musketeers.

She used her good looks as a weapon from a young age. A tryst with a priest was ended by her shoulder being branded with a fleur-de-lis, marking her a criminal. This brand played a large role in her life, eventually leading to her death by beheading.

*Cool tidbit of info #4 – One of Milady’s aliases was Anne de Breuil*

*Cool tidbit of info #5 – Haru’s persona is lacking a head. This is a cool callback to Milady’s death in the novel.*

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Physical Similarities and Connections

Haru’s coloring is a major factor in linking the two. Milady was said to be fair haired with a voice that can bewitch. Haru herself is very soft spoken in a way that makes you feel comfortable around her instantly. Something that really stood out to me was that despite her sweet exterior, she was intense in battle. When you see a sweet girl swinging an axe at you, you should be afraid!

A lot of Milady’s life was centered around her romantic partners. Most of them weren’t necessarily chosen out of love, but rather out of what she could get out of them. This is very similar to Haru’s arranged marriage with Sugimura.

French components come into play with Haru’s outfit as well as her ‘All Out’ attack screen. She is seen sitting at a table drinking tea with the word Adieu written in the back.

 

That’s it! The depth that has been put into these characters is amazing and really helps flesh out the narrative as a whole. Persona 5 is definitely my favorite game from this year!

 

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