Russ Chizek
Persona Director Talks About The Philosophy Behind Persona 5
It's deep stuff, and also pretty inspirational.
02.08.14 - 12:59 PM

Katsura Hashino, Persona series director, recently spoke to the official Persona magazine regarding the overarching concept behind the game. Translator Pepsiman took the liberty of uploading his recreated pages of the magazine, complete with a full English translation.

In the interview, Hashino explains that the game will focus on the idea that there are many people today that are not happy with the lives that they currently lead and feel as though they are stuck. Throughout the game, he wants players to feel as though they have "the power to take on the world around them and keep going in life."

Unfortunately, Hashino doesn't reveal anything about what the characters or story will be like, but he does say that fans of the series will feel right at home with the game play in Persona 5. Regardless, the topics he does discuss are fascinating.

Here's the full translated interview courtesy of Pepsiman, which is well worth a read:

First things first, I think the biggest thing thatís on fansí mind right now is that teaser image for Persona 5. Whatís up with it?

Katsura Hashino: Itís going to be a while yet before weíre ready to put out the game proper, but I think that image at least reassures people that there is something definitely coming along. To answer your question more directly, I feel that in todayís world, thereís no shortage of people that are bored and discontent with their lives. Theyíre at a dead end, chained down to a world of which they resent being a part. Persona 5, in that sense, is a game about freedom, the kind that those sorts people havenít had living in the real world. I want them to be able to attain that sensation by playing through the game. Looking at it from that angle, Iíd say that the image depicts the way that must be endured for that moment of freedom to arrive.

So itís essentially depicting the underlying theme of the game?

Exactly. Thereís a lot of meaning imbued within it. I worked with our designer to make sure it really conveyed and embraced the gameís visual motifs and greater overall worldview. The shackles you see in it are especially important. They naturally represent the idea of a personís immobility, of being unable to move ahead from their current position in life, but for us they also simultaneously represent our intent to make a game where the players can feel that they actually can, in fact, take that next step and move forward. That image is as much about the gameís theme as it is our creative philosophies in approaching its development.

Itís not just the chair and chains that leave a strong impression, but also the presence of the red coloring it all. Would you say that red is going to be this gameís defining color?

Indeed it is. For Persona 3, we went with blue, and then with Persona 4, we opted for yellow, so this time weíre painting the world red in Persona 5. That being said, red can be a pretty hard color on the eyes, so itís not without some trouble in making things such as the interface visually palatable when people play the game. (Laughs.)

It goes without saying that fans are also interested in the actual meat and substance of Persona 5, too, and what sort of game itís going to turn out to be when itís finally out.

People that have played Persona 3 and 4 should feel right at home with Persona 5, as well. I really want them to be at ease when they play this new entry. Still, Iíd lie to make it a little more thematically approachable than what weíve previously attempted with our other games. The characters in this game, trough sheer force of will,are out to destroy that which suffocates people in todayís society and, again, keeps them chained down in place. I want players to come away from the game feeling like they have that power to take on the world around them and keep going in life. Thatís what Iím hoping comes across once people get the play our game.

Sow what youíre saying is that Persona 5 effectively treads similarly complex ground as the previous games, but in a more straightforward manner?

Yes and no. Earlier in my career, I came to the conclusion that they key to making a game that really reaches out and grabs a lot of people is to keep the core theme simple. For instance, with Persona 3 and 4, the basic idea of those games was that by banding together and forming a community with other people, you can get a sort of freedom that you couldnít just by being completely on your own. That idea came from contemplating how people conceptualize and approach what they see in their lives. When youíre a kid, you tend to have beliefs that arenít really founded in any rational thought, but feel absolute, right? And then as you grow up, they shift and change under the influence of what other people have to say. The freedom from those sorts of dynamics and to just be yourself was basically what Persona 3 and 4 depicted.

But for Persona 5, weíre talking about a different sort of freedom thatís set aside from what those previous games have discussed and operates under its own set of thematic principles. What weíre doing is a team is taking all of these sentiments on various things that weíve accumulated over the years making these games and portraying them in a new light. The part thatís straightforward about all of this, then, is less the raw theme itself so much as how we go about portraying it in the game. We live in a time here in Japan where both teenagers and adults, regardless of who they are, canít just be idling their way through their lives. The world isnít a place that lets you be all that passive if you want to get things done and make something of your life. People have to be on their toes, thinking about and engaging with whatís happening around them.

We want them to play our game and come away feeling like theyíve found a renewed sense of self and understanding that they canít be apathetic towards whatís going on in society. But when youíre playing the game itself, you donít have to sweat the big philosophical stuff quite so dramatically. Persona 5 is first and foremost a work of entertainment and we want it to just simply be enjoyable on its own terms, as well. Itís my hope that people will look forward to playing it without getting too anxious and worked up about how all of these sorts of things are going to pan out in the end.

You can check out Pepsiman's blog to read some insight into his translation work as well as his attempt at graphic design. As someone who can't read a single Japanese character, I'm so thankful that there are people out there like him.

Persona 5 is slated to launch in Japan in Winter 2014.


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