Persona 5 Royal has finally come westward after being out in Japan since October, and the enhanced re-release of Persona 5 captured our hearts all over again. The game adds a lot of content to the vanilla title, both big and subtle. One change that you may not have even noticed is small tweaks to the character designs and portraits. Well, interestingly enough, one of those changes came from what happened with the previous game’s protagonist.
In the latest issue of Persona Magazine, Designers Shigenori Soejima and Azusa Shimada talked in length about the art direction for the re-release. They mentioned the subtle changes, such as making the character portraits slightly different. When it came to the main character, however, they tried to tone back any of his material from being too expressive. Why? Well, because they felt like the Persona 4 spinoff titles and other media, such as the anime adaptations, influenced how its also silent protagonist was depicted and moved too much away from the ‘stand in’ the character is meant to be. Basically, they didn’t want the character to feel like it was moving too close to one interpretation in his expressions, design or art (thanks to Persona Central for transcribing and translating the interview).
“We put particular care into the protagonist, since he’s a representation of the player. There are as many protagonists as there are players. When that goes through other forms of media, the players’ so-called “collective unconscious” form a commonly accepted interpretation of the character. In P5R, we follow that and draw him in a more adventurous way. However, the P5 protagonist is probably still only 50% of the way there compared to the P4 protagonist. We went a bit too far with the P4 protagonist.”
It’s interesting to think about how a multimedia franchise like Persona can have so many weaving threads that intersect with one another. It seems the aim is to keep 5‘s protagnist as close to that silent stand in as possible going forward. We’ll see how that works out. For now, Persona 5 Royal is available on PlayStation 4.