Atlus wastes Persona 5 Royal’s most compelling character

The internet has been busy lately for the newly announced Personas 5 spin-off game, Phantom of the Night (P5X). Fans were intrigued by the new characters, but they were also excited to meet their old favorites again. But when I looked at the screenshots, I noticed that one person was missing: Goro Akechi. What gives, Atlus? You can’t just pretend like that Persona 5 Royal‘s main antagonist wasn’t also the show’s most compelling character. He was a true member of the Phantom Thieves group and his haters can die mad about it.

Goro Akechi is a high school student who acts as a rival for the main character in Personas 5. In the original game, he is known to betray the party after pretending to be their friend. He also does that in the improved one Royal release, but this 2019 update to the game adds additional scenes for him. These social interactions make Akechi feel more like a deeply troubled friend, rather than a crappy cop who had a last-second change of heart.

Like most RPG antagonists, Akechi has a tragic background. His mother died when he was young and he grew up as an orphan (which generally faces significant social stigmatization in Japan). Akechi wanted revenge on his neglectful and cruel father, so he conspired with him to get close enough to murder him. Unfortunately, his father was also planning to murder his son all along. Akechi eventually recognized that the protagonist is a similar person to him and chose to sacrifice himself to ensure the heroic Phantom Thieves’ escape.

That helped too Royal, players got to spend more time with him in a brand new arc. After the game added a new semester, where the reality has been completely changed. In this changed Tokyo, each character has their personal tragedy undone and each person lives a happy life. This is the only scenario where Akechi can be saved. However, he rejects the artificial world and the false happiness that comes with it. Since he is implied to be dead in the original plotline, defeating this world’s owner means that he will cease to exist. He does not care. For him, dying is preferable to living under the thumb of a higher power.

But I wanted him to live! As you pursue the ending where the artificial world is destroyed, Royal teasing the possibility that Akechi could have survived. And so I held my breath for the possibility of seeing Akechi again in the sequel game Scramble. I never ended up finishing that musou game despite completing so many others. Akechi wasn’t into it and that was definitely part of the reason. I wasn’t terribly invested in one P5 where he did not exist.

I was hoping it was a fluke. Akechi is good and he deserves to appear in other spinoff games. Now it seems P5X maybe failed me too and I’m starting to lose hope that Atlus remembers who he is. It is homophobia and I will not stand for it. Atlus, give us my wild bird son or give me death.

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