Persona 5 Developers Talk Cast and Themes
Also, is Morgana male or female? Nobody knows! Except Atlus.
12.11.15 - 3:48 AM
Now that I've been able to spend some quality time on the planet Mira in Xenoblade X, I think it's safe to say that Persona 5 is my most-anticipated upcoming RPG, so any new information about it is always welcome. Game Informer magazine recently conducted an interview with Katsura Hashino that sheds some light on what awaits RPG fans when the game is finally released. Fun fact, this interview was conducted by Kimberly Wallace, an RPGFan alumn. She's rad and so is this interview, which you can read in its entirety on Game Informer's website. For now, let's look at some of the highlights of their conversation with Hashino.
First off, Hashino talks about the themes we can expect to see explored in Persona 5, which were hinted at in the game's very first teaser trailer with the ball-and-chains attached to school desks. According to Hashino, each character has somehow come into the mindset that they no longer belong in society. This sense of disillusionment is what leads to them becoming the "Phantom Thieves" and finding new meaning in their lives, with adults and other authority figures standing in their way. "Rather than getting drawn into a strange case, the team throws themselves into the fray. Through their actions, they draw the attention of an even greater enemy... That's how the game sets in motion," says Hashino.
When it comes to character specifics, the protagonist of Persona 5 will be akin to previous ones, as in he's "silent and cool", yet will also have a touch of "brash audacity" as the leader of the Phantom Thieves, making him somewhat of an antihero. He and Ryuji, whom the protagonist meets on the first day of school, make for good partners in crime, thanks in no small part to Ryuji's mischievous personality. His goal is to "reform society and make their names infamous around the world." Ann, having lived abroad, has an aloof air to her that makes her attractive to people, yet also causes them to keep their distance, while recently revealed Yusuke is an artistic type with a unique way of looking at people. Morgana is sounding more and more like the Teddy of the group— being a resident of the other world who is uncertain about its origins— but Hashino was quick to point out that Morgana is not just the "mascot character" of Persona 5 and actually takes on a mentor role for the Phantom Thieves. Also, Atlus has refused to clarify Morgana's gender. Intriguing!
Since these characters actively pursue the supernatural happenings that pop up in their lives, rather than merely being drawn into them, they are distinct from past Persona casts. Hashino reiterated that these are "picaresque" characters, whom the audience may not necessarily want to emulate, but will enjoy their exploits. He explains it like this: "A group of high school kids, dreaming of becoming masked vigilantes, try to cause a big stir in society. It's quite different from the previous games' protagonists who had no choice but to solve the mysteries they were confronted with. We think that sense of agency is one of the charms of this title, and as developers, it's one of the aspects we're most excited to bring to you." As for how the characters are connected to their Personae, Hashino explains that the "other world", known as the Palace, manifests within people's hearts, and the general public's love for these kind of vigilante heroes is what causes the character's mischievous sides to form their Phantom Thief guises and their respective Persona.
Finally, Hashino wanted to give a message to fans regarding the game's themes. He says that the team put a great deal of effort and thought into making sure the underlying themes and messages of Persona 5 were cohesive with the crime fiction motif, blending a mix of familiarity and the supernatural. He also states that, while the game is set in Japan, its themes are universal. "We hope you look forward to this title's gameplay, entering the world of warped human desires and casting judgment on the targets you find there." As do I, Hashino-san, when Persona 5 hits PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 sometime in 2016.