'Persona 5' Character Guide: Personas, Arcana, Code Names & Everything We Know So Far About The Phantom Thieves

10
  • Playstation 3
  • Playstation 4
  • RPG
2017-04-04
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Persona 5 release date characters persona arcana social link phantom thief thieves goro atlus jrpg FFXV Atlus

With Persona 5’s Japanese release drawing near, we’re breaking down everything we know about the Phantom Thieves, the heroes of Atlus’ feverishly anticipated JRPG.

Warning: this guide will contain some spoilers and speculation about the plot of Persona 5, as revealed by Atlus and various publications prior to the game's release. It does not contain story information obtained after the official Japanese release (so no major, fun-ruining spoilers for those who won't get the game until Feb. 14, 2017).

Who are the Phantom Thieves, anyway?

In an interview with Persona magazine (yep, the series is popular enough in Japan to warrant its own magazine), director Katsura Hashino broadly discussed the game’s theme, claiming that a familiar story structure will allow for “plot schemes so imaginative they’ll surprise the player beyond what they could even imagine.” Innovative storylines with dark twists have been a hallmark of the series so far, and hopefully Persona 5 will continue that tradition.

Hashino added that many of the characters are misfits, looked down upon by their peers or by society as a whole. Aided by his friends, the protagonist forms the Phantom Thieves in order to “steal the hearts” of corrupt adults in order to make the world a better place.

So far, we know of nine characters in Persona 5 that become members of your party. Here’s the lowdown on all of them.

Protagonist – Code Name: Joker / Persona: Arsene / Arcana: Fool

The leader of the Phantom Thieves has recently transferred to Shujin High School in Tokyo, where he’s a second-year student. It’s not clear what brought him to the big city. He seems quiet and well-mannered, but takes on the attitude of a cunning trickster once he has assumed the role of The Phantom. He’s the first protagonist in the Persona series to be a criminal.

Persona 5’s main character lives above Cafe Le Blanc, run by Sojiro Sakura, a family friend. (The protagonist can form the Hierophant Cooperation / Social Link with Sakura.)

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The protagonist - code name: Joker Photo: Atlus

The protagonist is able to wield multiple personas and swap between them at will, setting him apart other members of the party. He’s a wild card in this respect, so Joker is an appropriate code name. In keeping with this, personas of the Fool arcana can inherit all skills in fusion, without preference for any type. Though Fool personas tend to be powerful, the levelling up of this arcana will likely be dependent on plot developments rather than Social Links / Coop. In other words, don’t expect to max this arcana until endgame.

Arsene is the protagonist’s initial persona, named for Arsène Lupin, a legendary fictional thief and master of disguise created by French writer Maurice Leblanc. Lupin is a good guy at heart who operates on the wrong side of the law, targeting criminals he sees as immoral and cruel, making him an anti-hero of sorts. Persona 5 character designer Shigenori Soejima explained Arsene’s wings are meant to appear like a cape, evoking the idea that a thief lurks around places other people don’t belong. This also ties into the stealth element of dungeon crawling in Persona 5 that we’ve seen in previous screenshots and trailers.

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Arsene, the protagonist's persona Photo: Atlus

Ryuji – Code Name: Skull / Persona: Captain Kidd / Arcana: Chariot

Like the protagonist, Ryuji Sakamoto is 16 and a second-year transfer student at Shujin High. He’s earned a reputation as a troublemaker at school after an injury put an end to his aspirations as a star athlete. According to the Megami Tensei Wiki, Ryuji has something in common with Anna from Persona 2: both are former athletes turned delinquents.

Based on information and gameplay footage Atlus has revealed so far, it seems Ryuji will take on the wisecracking best friend role in Persona 5, akin to past characters like Yosuke in Persona 4 and Junpei in Persona 3. Ryuji wields a pipe in his code name reveal picture, suggesting he could have a combat style similar to Kanji in P4 or Shinji in P3, namely a strong physical attack alongside limited magic capabilities and one major elemental weakness. His code name, Skull, suggests he has a dark, punk rock streak and perhaps a fascination with death.

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Ryuji in phantom thief attire Photo: Atlus

Ryuji’s persona, Captain Kidd, is a skeleton pirate standing astride a ship with a demonic grin painted across the stern. Captain Kidd is based on a notorious real-life seafarer, the Scotsman William Kidd, executed for piracy (perhaps unjustly) in 1701. Again hearkening back to Kanji in Persona 4, Ryuji’s persona’s skills focus on lightning-based Zio attacks and status buffs.

Personas in the Chariot arcana are typically strong physical attackers, appearing as warrior figures or mythological war deities. In Persona 3 and Persona 4, the Chariot arcana was represented by Aigis and Chie.

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Ryuji's persona, Captain Kidd Photo: Atlus

Anne – Code Name: Panther / Persona: Carmen / Arcana: Lovers

Like the protagonist and Ryuji, Anne Takamaki is a newcomer to Shujin High and a bit of an outcast. She’s of mixed heritage (hence the blonde hair), and lived abroad in America before coming to Tokyo. Despite her cheerful personality, she has few close friends when Persona 5 begins, and her schoolmates gossip about her behind her back. According to Gematsu, Anne’s “involvement in a certain incident” propels her into a central role with the Phantom themes, and she is “type of girl who influences the destiny of the party.” Despite her girlish pigtails, Anne’s bold red thief ensemble and code name of Panther suggests she’s a dangerous predator, not to be trifled with.

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Anne, code name Panther Photo: Atlus

Anne’s persona, Carmen, has roots in European literature. The fictional gypsy seductress was the subject of numerous works of fiction, most famously Bizet’s opera, Carmen. In Persona 5, Carmen wears a red flamenco dress and a cat-shaped mask. On a leash of rose thorns, she drags two men with what appear to be heart-shaped boxes covering their heads.

Carmen will dish out Fire / Agi elemental damage, though is weak to Ice / Bufu. Anne’s persona will also learn a number of healing and enemy debuff spells, including the ever-helpful Dekaja, which decreases all an enemy’s stats and can be a game-changer in boss fights. Characters linked to the Lovers arcana are often popular and cheerful (Yukari and Rise in P3 and P4), and personas of this arcana often emphasize healing and support skills. 

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Anne's persona, Carmen Photo: Atlus

Morgana – Code Name: Mona / Persona: Zorro / Arcana: Magician

She is the mascot character, who you’ll presumably desperately love or passionately hate. Morgana is a shapeshifting cat-like creature who accompanies the protagonist in typical feline form during the day, and in a two-footed anthropomorphic form by night in the dungeons. Like Teddie in Persona 4, Morgana is the Phantom Thieves’ guide to the world of shadows. At this point, it’s not clear what significance Morgana’s code name, Mona, will have in the context of the story; it appears to simply be a shortening of her name.

At some point in the game, Morgana gains the ability to transform into a bus in order to transport the party through optional Momento dungeons. Gameplay footage suggests this is likely a reference to the Catbus in Hayao Miyazaki’s classic animated film My Neighbor Totoro.

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Morgana in thief mode, code name Mona Photo: Atlus

In contrast to Morgana’s diminutive stature, her persona, Zorro, is a broad-shouldered and imposing swordsman clad in black armor. Based on the popular character that inspired novels, comics, films and tv shows, Zorro is an outlaw who protects common people from the greedy and power-hungry, much like Arsene Lupin (the inspiration for the protagonist’s persona).

In Persona 3 and 4, the Magician arcana belonged to the protagonist’s best friend (Junpei and Yosuke respectively), and was among the first Social Links players accessed. . Magician personas typically excel in magic abilities (surprise, surprise!), often in the Fire / Agi element. Zorro is an exception, instead possessing Garu / Wind elemental magic and healing spells. It’s worth noting that Morgana is a common alternative name for Morgan le Fay, the enchantress of Arthurian legend, so it’s possible this feline ally could be the Phantom Thieves’ magic powerhouse.   

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Zorro, Morgana's persona Photo: Atlus

Yusuke – Code Name: Fox / Persona: Goemon / Arcana: Emperor

Yusuke Kitagawa is an art student at another high school from most of the cast of Persona 5. He’s a painter who attends Kosei Public High school, and is the adopted son of a famous painter named Madarame. Yusuke works as Madarame’s apprentice, but their relationship gets more complicated as the game progresses. With his blue, front-combed hair, he somewhat resembles the male protagonist of Persona 3, but it’s not clear if this is intentional.

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Yusuke, code name Fox Photo: Atlus

Yusuke’s persona is based on a real-life outlaw from the sixteenth century, Goemon Ishikawa. Like Arsene Lupin and Zorro, Goemon is a Robin Hood type, stealing from the rich and sharing his spoils with the poor. Over hundreds of years, he has become a legendary figure in Japanese culture though few firm facts are known about his life. Fictional reimaginings of Goemon often give him greatly exaggerated ninja skills; it’s likely Yusuke will draw upon those kinds of stealth skills as a member of the Phantom Thieves.

In Persona 5, we know that Goemon will wield Ice / Bufu magic and the agility buff Sukukaja. Let’s hope Yusuke’s code name, Fox, doesn’t have anything in common with the money-hungry, fetch-quest-loving fox from Persona 4. Foxes are associated with keen intellect and a connection to the spiritual realm in Japanese culture, which is underscored by Goemon’s link to the Emperor arcana. This arcana is known for personas with both strong attack and magic, such as Odin and King Frost.

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Yusuke's persona, Goemon Photo: Atlus

Makoto – Code Name: Queen / Persona: Johanna / Arcana: Priestess

Makoto Niijima is a third-year student at Syujin High and president of the student council, reminiscent of Mitsuru in Persona 3. She can wield brass knuckles at close proximity and revolvers for distanced attacks. At first, Makoto seems an unlikely member of the Phantom Thieves, given her righteous, do-gooder nature, though she joins the group after a dramatic incident occurs at Syujin High.

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Makoto, code name Queen Photo: Atlus

Makoto’s persona, Johanna, appears as a sleek silver and blue motorcycle. Oddly, this persona is based on Pope Joan, a medieval woman who briefly reigned as pope in defiance of Catholic tradition. Joan disguised herself as a man to progress through the church hierarchy; it’s unclear if this will tie into Makoto’s storyline. Anyway, this “lady pope in a motorcycle” boasts some formidable attacks, including Frei / Nuclear element magic (which haven’t been seen since Persona 2), healing and defensive buffs.

According to the Megami Tensei Wiki, Makoto/Queen is also referred to as “Heist’s Tactician,” which implies she will play a key role in hatching the thieves’ schemes. This may also hint that she is not a playable character right away, and may serve as the team’s first navigator for a dungeon or two, like Teddie in P4 and Mitsuru in P3.

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Johanna, Makoto's persona Photo: Atlus

Futaba – Code Name: Navi / Persona: Necronomicon / Arcana: Hermit

Futaba Sakura is Persona 5’s Rise / Fuuka navigator character. An antisocial genius, she excels at computing, programming and hacking. In the aftermath of a traumatic incident, she became a shut-in, and has not attended classes since middle school. She is a year younger than the protagonist, and develops a close bond with him soon after they meet. It is not yet clear if Futaba is related to the man the protagonist lives with, Sojiro Sakura.

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Futaba, code name Navi Photo: Atlus

The significance of Futaba’s code name seems obvious enough; her role is to help the party navigate dungeons and provide informational support during battle. She’s not a playable character. The reason behind her association with the Hermit arcana is also quite clear; Futaba’s interest in computers seems to parallel Maya’s social link (via an online game) in Persona 3. Her persona’s name, Necronomicon, derives from a fictional magic textbook (or grimoire) featured in the works of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, which details how ancient aliens manipulate humans for their own ends. Is Futaba secretly a nefarious alien? Probably not. But her persona is a badass green UFO with a gargoyle on top!

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Futaba's persona, Necronomicon Photo: Atlus

Haru – Code Name: Noir / Persona: Milady / Arcana: Empress

Haru Okamura is a third-year student at Syujin High, like Makoto. She’s well-mannered and articulate, but keeps herself at a distance from people. She comes from a wealthy and influential family, who own a major restaurant company. In an interview with Famitsu, the game’s creative producer and director, Katsura Hashino, claimed that Haru’s “relationships with adults have been warped by past experiences.”

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Haru, code name Noir Photo: Atlus

Haru’s code name (Noir) and persona (Milady) hint at her darker side. Unlike many of the other party members’ personas, Milady is a straight-up, evil villain. No outlaw with a heart of gold here. Milady is inspired by Milady de Winter, an antagonist in Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers who adopts numerous aliases. She is a cunning, bewitching and ruthless spy who will stop at nothing to quench her thirst for power, including seduction and murder. In Persona 5, Milady wields Psy skills, which do greater damage on enemies afflicted with mind-related status ailments. The Empress arcana is associated with wise, elegant, but aloof female authority figures, such as Mitsuru in Persona 3 and the Velvet Room attendant Margaret in Persona 4.

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Haru's persona, Milady Photo: Atlus

Goro – Code Name: Crow / Persona: ? / Arcana: ?

Goro Akechi, the last playable character announced by Atlus, is also the one we know least about. Like Naoto in Persona 4, Goro is both a detective and a high school student. He’s investigating the Phantom Thieves, so he might start out suspicious of the group’s motives and be the last to join. His name is a reference to a famous detective in Japanese literature, Kogoro Akechi, widely acknowledged to be influenced by Sherlock Holmes. In the stories, Akechi is a master of disguise and a skilled practitioner of judo.

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Goro Akechi in 'Persona 5' Photo: Atlus

We don’t yet know Goro’s persona, or which arcana he’ll be linked with, which suggests he could have a major role to play in the overall plot of Persona 5. We can, however, make some guesses based on his code name, Crow. The birds hold a particular symbolism in Japanese culture, associated with divine intervention in human affairs. There’s also a crow persona / demon that has appeared in nearly every Persona and Megami Tensei game: Yatagarasu. In Persona 3 and 4, this Sun-arcana persona focused on healing and support.

It’s very possible that Goro is associated with Sun: there’s no information about a Co-op / Social Link for this arcana yet. Sun hasn’t been associated with playable characters in the past (Akinari / the dying young man in P3; Yumi / Ayane in P4), though the S-Link often focuses on maintaining a cheerful, optimistic attitude in terrible circumstances. Sun persona tend to be strong in Light / Hama and Fire / Garu spells, and take the form of mythological figures directly related to the sun, light or fire.

Persona 5 Release Date, Preorder Info and Special Editions

Persona 5 debuts in Japan Sept. 15, and in the U.S. and Europe on Feb. 14, 2017.

Atlus has three Persona 5 special edition bundles available for preorder, including a steelbook launch edition with a unique cover priced at $59.99 and a "Take Your Heart" premium edition for $89.99, which includes all sorts of bonus goodies: a soundtrack CD, a hardcover book of the game's art, a collector's box, a school bag, a 4-inch Morgana plush and the PS4 edition of the game. The PS3 edition, which releases the same day, will set you back $49.99.

Which characters in Persona 5 are you most excited about? Who do you think will be your most-used party members? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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