Is it weird to consider how 2019 could be the year of Persona 5? Between Joker being in Smash Ultimate, the announcement of a Dynasty Warriors-style spin-off, and Persona 5 Royal releasing in Japan later this year, one could say the Phantom Thieves have stolen our hearts all over again.
Persona 5 Royal especially has been quite the discussion point among fans, since it will be the first time many gamers will get to experience a “Persona Expansion,” myself included. For those who might not know, Persona 3 and Persona 4 also had expansions: Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden. The expansions offered an extended story featuring new characters, new locations to explore, and new challenges to fight. Plenty of good times to be had, and with Persona 5 getting the same treatment soon, one can hardly wait to see what we’re going to get.
While it will be exciting to play through the game once more, I came to a realization that I did not consider previously. Many players are excited about the newest character, Kasumi, joining the game and the possibility of “Human Morgana.”
The thing I’m rather fascinated in finding out is how exactly they will handle the “Third semester.” For those not familiar with the Japanese School System, the third semester over there falls between January and March, which is a period of time that usually doesn’t get explored in the Persona series very often.
While it should go without saying, from here going forward…
OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING
Persona 3 FES had “The Answer” which took place after the original game’s conclusion when our main lead sacrificed himself. Meanwhile, Persona 4 Golden covered the time between Christmas and March 20 before you would have one final fight against the gas station attendant. One game’s story came to an end, thus an epilogue was nice for Aigis while the other gave a fun way for Yu and company to hang out snowboarding.
For Persona 5 however, the story doesn’t go smoothly for our main lead (Joker). Much like our protagonist of Persona 3, Joker did not get to celebrate his victory for long and chooses to surrender himself to the authorities in order to bring Shido down for good. Thankfully, through the connections and social links he made during the game, he would find himself a free man two months after, acquitted of his previous assault charge. After that (and getting beaten by the entire female cast on Valentine’s Day), he would leave one month later and the game ends.
Now, did you notice something there? Why would the developers give us a third semester specifically if, during this time, Joker isn’t really attending school? Unlike Yu, Joker’s ability to run around the city is fairly limited considering he is behind bars and isn’t going to be making bail anytime soon. I find myself very curious as to how they will handle the story and if they actually plan on changing the way the story ends. I see three possible ways for them to change the story. Let’s explore our options.
Possibility One: Joker’s Christmas Present is an Early Release
The first possible outcome is one I’m actually hoping does happen (although this one feels like a long shot). While the Phantom Thieves did their best to help get Joker out of prison, it’s thanks to one person that assisted in clearing Joker’s name. While she doesn’t have a name, she did play a significant role in the game: being the person who put the assault charge against him. It wasn’t like she had much of a choice since she was put in a bad position by Shido, and she eventually steps forward to help clear Joker’s record.
Still, that did take two months and it would have been nice if someone had found her sooner. So what if they did? Our new girl Kasumi might have some involvement with this woman. Or perhaps during the time they were looking for a means to clear Joker, she happens to find her in a shorter period of time? It would be a bit of a retcon, but it could be interesting if she were the one to find the Assault Woman and at a much earlier time. This way, you not only get Joker out of jail sooner but perhaps this would then tie in with Kasumi and the whole reason why she is with the Thieves since we do not know her actual motives.
Supposedly, she will join the Thieves for her own reasons rather than wanting to change the hearts of the corrupt, so this could serve as her means to get Joker and the others to help her. No matter what route she will take, it will likely serve as her reason why she joins the Phantom Thieves in the first place.
Possibility Two: The Final Fight Against the Cup is Delayed? Or is There a Greater Evil?
This possibility is a touch harder to explain and I’m fairly certain this isn’t going to happen, but it’s worth pointing out if Persona 5 Royal changes how the final stretch of the game plays out. Many who got to this endgame did not hesitate to point out how the pacing on Shido’s ship and in Mementos felt like it came to a grinding halt.
The developers might make readjustments to the end, but consider this: what if the fight on Christmas isn’t going to be our “Last Fight?” If Yaldabaoth was still going to be our true main antagonist, would we fight his final form at a later date? Or could there be one final evil that emerges after Yaldabaoth, one who will destroy the world in January or February? This could drastically change the ending of Persona 5.
This change would lead to the other complication of changing the overall theme of the story if we replace Yaldabaoth with someone else. As such, unless we have a puppet master to the puppet master, I have my doubts this will happen. Still, you can’t just add on two-three more months and not have one more significant threat to deal with. But who would that someone be if the final boss gets shot at Christmas by Satan? Hmm…
Possibility Three: Joker Remains Behind Bars
So let’s say for the hell of it that nothing happens to make things better for Joker. He turns himself in and for everything he did, he sits in jail until February. Sucks to be you Joker.
So what are we going to do for the two months between Christmas and Valentine’s Day if Joker can’t really go anywhere? Well… perhaps, we don’t need him. As I said earlier, Persona 3’s “The Answer” didn’t really have their protagonist available during that time because of his new role as “Door.” It wouldn’t be as drastic, but perhaps we may change our focus from Joker and allow one of the other Phantom Thieves become the new leader and in turn, become the newest “Fool.” So then the question becomes: Who will then lead the Phantom Thieves? Honestly, it’s hard to say who specifically since all characters are great secondary characters, but none of them really feel like they can strike the “main character” role; even for a two month period.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure someone like Queen or maybe even Oracle could call the shots, but I like to think we have two options.
A Rhythmic Gymnast? Or a (Not) Cat?
So to briefly humor the thought, let’s look at our choices.
The first is our new female member, Kasumi Yoshizawa. Ever since we first saw her, many thought she is our new “Female Protagonist.” It was a possibility considering her design and how she looks like a certain Persona 3 Female Protagonist, but the idea would later be shot down when we found out she was indeed another member of the PT Crew. However, it’s possible that she suddenly finds herself taking over the leadership role in Joker’s absence (or at least having the power of multiple personas after Joker turns himself in). It would be a fun thing to consider since this will finally give us a playable female protagonist since Persona 3 Portable, but we’ll see what happens there.
Now on the other side of this argument, we have someone less likely to consider: Morgana. Now it might be hard to say how exactly having Morgana as the leader would work, but let’s take a few things into account. Morgana was the one to first show Joker and company how things work in the cognitive world. Not only that but besides being able to turn into a van, Morgana knows how to repair vans as a cat. But most importantly of all is that character that many continue to observe closely. Who knows if this could be Morgana finally becoming a real boy or not, but this could be his reward for helping Joker, while a means to enable Morgana to lead the thieves to prove Joker’s innocence.
So What Do You Think?
Will Royal change Persona 5’s ending? How significant will Kasumi’s role in the story be? And why exactly are they highlighting Takuto, the part-time school counselor?
One can’t help but question the role Takuto is going to play, especially in the last quest, given his mixed view of the Thieves. Apparently he wants to help everyone in the school, even though Kasumi doesn’t really like him (or the Phantom Thieves). There are a lot of fun mysteries to unfold and hopefully, we aren’t going to have to wait long to get some story teasers. The game is less than six months out from a Japan release, so expect more story details soon.
Until then, stay tuned to Culture of Gaming for more fun editorials on Persona 5 and other things in the gaming world.