Persona 6 Won’t Be as Good as Persona 5, But It Can Fix What’s Wrong with Persona.
It probably goes without saying, but there are spoilers about Person 5 up ahead. This probably means nothing, since everyone and their mom has played the game, but — in the name of human decency — you have been warned.
Persona 5 and P5 Royal are lightning in a bottle. A blend of style and substance that, when combined, became a cultural phenomenon. It is not putting it lightly that P5 and P5R changed what people could expect from RPG’s, and JRPG’s in particular. So it should go without saying that P6 will inevitably fall short as a follow up.
After all, you only get lightning in a bottle once. Unless you’re Peter Jackson making the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
But, where P5/P5R succeeded, it also had its failing. Some long standing issues with the series prevailed, even while it reached a mechanical and stylistic zenith. It is here where P6 can come out on top.
Social and Sexual Dynamics: QED Let Us Date the Boys.
You don’t need a female silent protagonist to make the boys dateable. Dragon Quest: Origins proved this way back in 2010, or whenever it came out on the PS3. If the Persona silent protagonist is supposed to be a cipher for us to see the Persona world through, then let that protag truly resonate with everyone. If I’m gay, let me make my protag gay, too. If I’m bi, let me be bi. Hell, you already let me be poly-amorous with ever damn girl I meet, even if it does result in a royal ass kicking.
And I’m not saying that all the characters have to be date-able to all genders. That’s not real life. But let’s be honest here — if Yusuke turned out to have a thing for Akira/Ren/whatever you named him, would anyone have been surprised? Sure, Ryuji probably would not go that way, even if he has feelings. But Yusuke? The guy understands hetero-normative relationships about as well as I understand Math, which is to say, not at all.
Also, stop it with the harmful stereotypes of gay men. To be gay is NOT to be a sexual deviant, or sexual predator. Just Google Woody Allen, Roman Polanski or Matt Gaetz for more on that.
And while we’re talking about the silent Protag…
Stop it with the silent protagonist already.
It is a dated concept based on how games used to be played. If anyone played P5 — or P4 Golden for that matter — to the final bosses, you would have surely noticed just how ridiculous it is that all the characters say their piece before battle, but your protag can only point mutely, looking like a grim puppet. It’s ridiculous. Give the protag some real dialogue. Sakura Wars did it to great effect — literally, there were like three different characters worth of dialogue to choose from — as did Dragon Age and Mass Effect back in the day.
Let us choose the gender of our protag.
We got a girl protag for the first time in Persona 3 Portable, which added new layers of depth to the story, as well as some new characters. To leave this feature out of the games that followed is an offense punishable by a stern talking to.
But think about it: Imagine that your Akira/Ren/whatever was actually a girl, coming to the aid of another girl during the Shido assault in P5. Think of the implications, and how much subtext could be gleaned from the story if it was a tale about overcoming socially enforced gender norms. Maybe that doesn’t mean much to you. But I’ll bet there’s more than a few Persona fans out there that this kind of offering would mean the world.
And those creepy mascots…
Teddy and Mona are fucking creeps. And so is Ryuji for that matter.
Stop it with the “fan service.” This isn’t an anime, even though it is very Anime. I can overlook a character being weird once in a thirteen episode run, but I have to spend the better part of four or five hours before I get the chance to swap Mona out of the party, if only so I don’t have to hear, “You’re so gorgeous Panther,” for the trillionth time in his simping simp voice.
And don’t get me started on the “Peek up Ann’s Skirt” scene. This is the kind of shit that makes people think anime and anime adjacent properties are strictly for creeps.
Show me your true form.
I love P5. I love it so much, I’m playing through it again, even after 100+ hours of game time, and a backlog of other games I need to finish. I love the revenge plot between Shido and the protag. I love Sojiro and Futaba. I think the first palace and Kamoshida are some of the most gut-wrenching scenes to ever hit a videogame. And — I’ll probably get hate for this — I think Kawakami and Ohya are Best-Girls.
But just because I love it doesn’t mean that I think it’s perfect. While P6 will probably never replace P5 in my heart, it can move me in different ways, and move the Persona franchise into a more equitable, socially just, and egalitarian space where P5 kind of languished in the boy-centered, insert male power fantasy here, swamp.