Liberation. Apathy. Red. Forward.
These are some keywords used by Persona director Katsura Hashino in his last interview to describe what Persona 5 will be all about. We didn’t get very much in terms of details, but there is practically a 4-course feast of reading between the lines. We gamers are pretty good at that, for better or worse. The proverbial gears have been turning quite some time now in the craniums of faithful Persona followers worldwide to make sense of it all. We’ve grown in number quite exponentially over the years, so believe me when I tell you that’s a lot of grinding. So what could these words possibly be spelling out for what has arguably become the most anticipated JRPG of the last few years? The possibilities are just teeming with potential.
What is it you dream of doing? What degree of motivation do you need to get up and truly chase after your dream? Fight through the tarred chains of apathy and come to the realization that nothing can be accomplished by simply wondering and hoping. Perhaps this message is more or less what the image of the ball and chain attached to chairs is meant to convey. Hashino states, “I feel that in today’s world there’s no shortage of people that are bored and discontent with their lives. They’re at a dead end, chained down to a world of which they resent being a part.”
Inaction in the wake of an otherwise willing mind is like drowning in a sea with no surface in sight. That first gasp of air after frantically searching for sunlight instills a feeling of appreciation for life that is rarely experienced in our society these days. It’s that kind of relief and renewed zest that Persona 5 will potentially try to bring out in us. While ultimately a work of entertainment, as recognized by Hashino himself, he undoubtedly means for we as gamers to be inspired by the journey of the protagonists as they themselves swim through a pool of their own mental and emotional demons to attain that renewed zest for life and the sensation of accomplishment that accompanies it. Anyone who has overcome seemingly insurmountable hardship and disaster in their life can surely relate to that feeling of self-empowerment that comes from rising above and moving forward against the odds.
He also recognizes that themes tackled in past Persona titles appeal to very specific issues faced by the demographic that the cast themselves represent; teenagers and students. The cryptic chained chairs image has been confirmed to be a high school setting, but it seems as if the issues and ideas we can expect to face in Persona 5 as it pertains to moving forward with life will be of a more mature nature. As Hashino puts it he wants to make Persona 5 “…thematically more approachable”. This can be construed as an aspiration toward the mainstream and appealing to teenagers and adults alike; after all there are many problems that people can face that are bereft of age restrictions.
The game’s color identity is also quite appropriate for such deep themes. As Persona 3 identified with the color blue, and 4 with yellow, 5 will embrace our world in red. Red can be simultaneously tumultuous and empowering. It often represents burning passion and of course, love. Red is also used to showcase emotions of a more vehement nature. Such is the process of breaking through that proverbial glass wall separating all of us from our current position in life and the next step forward. When we are dissatisfied with our situation in life we are angry and frustrated at first, regardless of whether or not we are aware that it is due to our own psychological restraints. Then when we are determined to reach for the sky and pull ourselves up we become impassioned and burn with resolution. There will surely be a fair share of both sides in Persona 5.
Atlus isn’t new to thought provoking stories and relatable conflicts. Not only is the Persona series well known for this, but Catherine took realistic depictions of common human problems to a new level with a well written tale sending its protagonist through the typhoon of emotions and decisions made while under the spell of love and lust. Playing the game as honestly as possible in accordance with whom you are in real life will likely reveal some surprisingly accurate revelations. Knowing what kind of trips Atlus has offered in the past makes anticipation for Persona 5 near unbearable. Alas we must wait, and rest assured we will paint our living rooms red when the time comes.