Persona, 10 things to know for his first 25 years

Persona, 10 things to know for his first 25 years


I remember Revelations: Persona didn't make a good impression on me. It had to be 1997 or thereabouts: at the time a little bit of everything that came out on PlayStation was played. Especially JRPG, which have become my passion and my profession. Despite this, the Internet was not what it is today and information was less widespread or concentrated. I did not know Shin Megami Tensei and I played the first Persona a year late, after Final Fantasy VII, Tales of Destiny and Arc the Lad II: as you can imagine, it came out of the comparison with the fairly broken bones. At that time the publication of the third series of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was ending in Italy, so the similarities between the Personae's evocations and Hirohiko Araki's Stands intrigued me terribly, but not enough to overcome my indisposition towards all the rest. In short, I archived it after a few hours and didn't think about it anymore.

As you will have understood from the tone of these first lines - we rarely write in the first ... singular person - you are reading a special article. Today we are celebrating the first 25 years of Persona, a series that until a few years ago practically did not know anyone apart from the lovers of the genre, and which is now on everyone's lips.

I had a strange relationship with Persona. I got my hands on it only a few years later, around 2001. In a five-year period a lot of things had changed, so I tried again with Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, not knowing that it was the second part of a story that began exclusively in Japan. Only this time I was blown away: since then, I've never missed an exit, starting with Persona 3. Today I can't say it's my favorite brand, but Persona is a series that taught me a lot, especially about how to make role-playing video games, how to write them and some aspects of life that I rarely paused to reflect on. And for a simple JRPG I'd say it's remarkable.

So what about a hundred of these days, Person. While waiting to find out when we will play the highly anticipated Persona 6, it was worth celebrating you with an anecdote of real life and telling 10 curiosities of Persona that you may not know. Happy reading!

It is the spin-off of a spin-off

Persona 5, a school lesson Everyone knows that Persona is a spin-off of Shin Megami Tensei. But how many know that its true origins date back to another spin-off? This is Shin Megami Tensei if ..., a title that Atlus released in 1994 for Super Famicom. Like so many games characterized by the "if" particle - think of Fire Emblem - it was an adventure set in a kind of parallel universe, in this case the Shin Megami Tensei series: the idea was to restrict the spaces of the story and of gameplay at a single location, Karukozaka High School. The success of Shin Megami Tensei if ... prompted Atlus to reuse the development team to launch a new spin-off series on PlayStation, taking advantage of the installed base to embrace an even wider and more savvy audience. Shin Megami Tensei if ... laid the foundations of Persona in its own right: in the game we find a high school, protagonists afflicted by social problems such as bullying, even a prototype of the Personae - the Guardians - which would have led its creator, Katsura Hashino, to direct the work on Persona 3.

Urban legends

Persona 5, a fighting scene The various games of the Persona series draw inspiration from the most disparate urban legends known all over the world . Revelations: Persona, for example, begins with a ritual inspired by a Japanese horror story in which five climbers are suddenly hit by a storm. Only four survive and, having reached an abandoned hut, not having a fire to light to warm up, they decide to settle each in a corner of the room and take turns moving in turn from one corner to another to stay awake. At a certain point, however, they realize that the four corners are always occupied even when one of them is moving, a sign that the ghost of their deceased friend is with them.

But it is certainly not there. only folkloric inspiration that emerges between the lines of the Persona. The second, then, is a real riot of quotes: the crystal skull, the doppelgänger, the Mayan myth of Xibalba and others. If we then begin to mention all the mythological figures who lend their features to the Personae, the list becomes even longer.

The influence of Carl Jung

Persona 5, walking around the city ​​The greatest source of inspiration for Persona, as a whole series, however, is the philosophy of Carl Jung. The founder of analytical psychology, who lived between 1875 and 1961, believed that each individual has a "person", a mask - this means in Greek - that he wears to hide his authentic self from the rest of society. Likewise, each individual also casts a shadow that represents the darkest and most hidden corners of his subconscious, so the human being can only improve by accepting his own shadow or flaws, if you prefer. Persona takes Jung's studies practically literally. In the series, the protagonists' willpower manifests itself in the form of Persona, guardian spirits who possess supernatural powers. Similarly, the Shadows - the shadows - embody the negative aspects of the various characters who in almost all the episodes have to deal with themselves, face their fears and their defects, growing independently but also in the eyes of their fellow adventurers .

A troubled localization

Persona 5, meeting of Phantom Thieves Today we consider Persona one of the best localized games on the market. Just think of the efforts that have been made for Persona 5 in English first and then in Italian at the release of Persona 5 Royal: the translators have made real leaps and bounds to remain faithful to the original spirit of the work. In reality, however, the first titles in the series received a catastrophic treatment. Revelations: Persona, for instance, had been profoundly changed for the US release, to the point that the city of Mikage-cho had become Lunarval and one of the protagonists, Masao Inaba, had become a black boy named Mark. Localization had even gone so far as to modify the sprites of the characters and completely remove almost any reference to Japanese culture. Person 2 hadn't fared much better either. Atlus had split the story into two parts, Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment, but in the 1990s only localized the second part for PlayStation. And when it came to PSP remakes, he only located the first but not the second!

Forerunner of his time

Persona 5, inside a Palace One of the most distinctive features of Persona is the mechanics of the Social Link, also called Confidants in the more recent Persona 5: they are basically the bonds that the protagonist has with the various supporting actors through long subplots; in addition to delineating each character better, if deepened, they confer various bonuses. Well, the Social Link system does not exist in Persona and Persona 2: it begins in Persona 3, when the series buys the mechanics from a social simulator complete with a calendar, daily activities and so on. Already in Persona 2: Innocent Sin, however, it was possible to choose a sentimental interest between Maya Amano, Lisa Silverman and Jun Kurosu. In the latter case, however, it was a gay relationship. It would not have been the last time that Atlus would have addressed the topic, focusing for example the whole subplot of Kanji Tatsumi in Persona 4. Today, LGBTQ + issues are heavily cleared in video games, but at the time it was a narrative choice of nature. strongly progressive.

The links between the games

Persona 5, a fight The various Personas are standalone games and to play one you don't need to complete the others first, but it is not it is true that they are not connected. Some playable characters in the very first Persona, such as Yukino Mayuzumi, reappear in Persona 2 as active members of the main party or in major roles. Person 2, then, is literally divided into two parts, Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment, which form a single story and offer more or less the same cast in both games. Persona 3, Persona 4 and Persona 5 are instead characterized by subtle reciprocal references, but Atlus has done even more in the crossover brawler Persona 4 Arena, developed by Arc System Works, which acts as a real sequel to the events narrated in the first two games. , bringing characters together and introducing new ones.

There are also some fun easter eggs such as the clashes with Yu Narukami and Minato Arisato in Persona 5, or the spin-offs Persona Dancing and Persona Q that exist outside the so-called canon and represent a gigantic fanservice of quality, while having no relevance to the overall narrative framework.

Spin-off extravaganza

Persona 5, a cartoon scene Yo dawg, we hear you like spin-offs. You know the meme? There. In summary, Revelations: Persona is a spin-off of Shin Megami Tensei if ... which itself was a spin-off of Shin Megami Tensei. Do you know what it takes? But a Persona spin-off, of course! And in fact it exists and is called Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: initially released for Wii U and then also ported to Switch, it is a sort of weird JRPG crossover with Fire Emblem by Nintendo and Intelligent Systems, but which actually shares much more. with Persona in terms of gameplay, narrative and combat system. It is literally a Persona set in the world of idols and J-Pop music: not surprisingly, the original Japanese title was Genei Ibunroku #FE ... which sounds a lot like Megami Ibunroku Persona, the Japanese title of Revelations: Persona. The first Persona, in fact, was called Revelations because, theoretically, it should have started a series of spin-offs so called, but in reality in the end only one was made, Revelations: The Demon Slayer, which in Japan was called Megami Tensei: Last Bible.

The names of the protagonists

Persona 5, the screen of a Persona In each Persona the player can choose the name of the protagonist at the beginning of the game, but Atlus has taken bothered to suggest a default one (Tatsuya Suou) only in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. To know the official names of the other protagonists of the series, we had to wait for the endless transpositions in other media ... only they weren't always coordinated. The protagonist of the first Persona, for example, has three different names - one in the manga, one in the drama CD and one in the novel - while that of Persona 3 has even more! In the end, it was the strongest transpositions in terms of marketing that dictated the official names of these characters, and so we discovered that the protagonist of Persona 3 is called Minato Arisato, the female alternative in the PSP edition is Kotone Shiomi, that of Persona 4 is Yu Narukami while that of Persona 5 is called Ren Amamiya. But you, if you want, can call him Pinco Palla or Pierpaolo Pianesani.

A continuous transformation

Persona 5, Ann and her Persona Although only five main episodes have been released in twenty-five years, Persona is a series that has gone through profound transformations from one release to the next. Revelations: Persona, so to speak, you explored yourself as Shin Megami Tensei and dungeon crawlers à la Eye of the Beholder. Person 2 instead had a more traditional JRPG setting - at least, as we imagine them today - with third-person exploration and random encounters. Persona 3, originally, should have had the same structure, but the fights should have been isometric and in continuity with the exploration as in Chrono Trigger: then, in an attempt to renew the series using the PlayStation hardware, yes he preferred total 3D and the structure we all know. In a way, Persona 3 was a clean break from the past. It is the chapter that introduced Social Links and social simulator dynamics, concretizing the idea of ​​Persona, as a brand, that we have today. But the road was not straight, but full of twists and turns.

On the edge of Japan

Persona 5, a Confidant In an interview with a Japanese outlet, director Katsura Hashino revealed that Persona 5 should have taken place around the world: the team, in fact, felt ready to disconnect with the past, since the previous games had all taken place within the narrow confines of schools, towns or cities. Development began in 2008 and continued in that perspective until an earthquake devastated the Tohoku region and brought Japan to its knees: at which point Atlus had discarded any decision made to respectfully focus on its nation. Persona 5, in fact, betrays a purpose greater than itself in certain passages, just think that in the original idea the protagonist should have stayed at Sae Nijima's house, instead of in the attic of Sojiro Sakura's Café Leblanc, triggering a sort of game of "guard and robbers" on an international scale. The plans have since changed and we certainly can't complain, but we can't help but wonder if Persona 6 will finally be that journey beyond the borders of Japan that Atlus has been promising for years.

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