Okay, we all know by now that I love Persona 5, especially if you follow me on social media. Persona 5 Royal came out on March 31st, and I have been working on some research regarding a perfect playthrough since January. That, however, did not turn out well because I was very absorbed in my personal playthrough of Persona 5, and I wanted to finish that before Royal came out because someone (my fiancé, who is actually pretty great) is very clear on the fact that we cannot have both Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal downloaded on the PS4. So, that put me in the situation of having done a lot of research, no way to test it in time, and feeling pretty disappointed in myself. I desperately wanted to finish my research, and more importantly, I wanted you guys to be able to see my research and maybe learn something from it. So I looked everything over and decided that there is something I can publish, something that I actually spent a lot of time on and had about five mental breakdowns over. Confidant analysis.
Since this post is going to be so long, it will be split up into three separate parts. There will be a new part every Sunday until it is all fully posted.
So, confidants are what I consider to be the most important thing in Persona 5 (apart from the whole metaverse thing, that is). They help Joker in his rehabilitation, and they make the story significantly more enjoyable. So, this post will discuss the importance of the confidants in Persona 5, how helpful they are to Joker’s rehabilitation, and it will go a little bit into the plot lines of confidants. Major spoilers ahead.
So, this is an overview of my research. It seems like not a lot once you understand it, but I am going to be using my highly trained university-level analysis skills (because this is the only way my degree is helping me right now) to add a bit of life to the numbers and colours and everything else. So, let’s go.
First, let me explain how I generated the numbers on the end. Please bear in mind that I have dyscalculia, so if I mess up with the numbers, that is why (but I do proofread so that should not be an issue). Same with dyslexia.
There are certain things that needed to be considered when ‘rating’ a confidant ability, and this is what initially drove me insane. The usefulness of the ability to Joker’s ultimate goal of rehabilitation (so basically how useful it is in regards to fighting and metaverse shenanigans). That meant I had to work out what was ‘useful’, and then surely by that standard, the members of the Phantom Thieves would surely have an advantage, right? Right. That is why you will see on the overview, I’ve put each confidant into a group: Phantom Thieves, Adult Help or Friend. I believe it to be fair for the confidants to only be assessed in their groups, as it gives them more of a chance to be evaluated fairly against similar strengths and weaknesses. In terms of answering the question of what is useful, more useful or less useful, this differs from how each person plays the game, and what each person prioritises. However, some confidant abilities are just plain better than others, and that is undeniable. If anyone disagrees or would like further explanation after reading this post, I will be happy to answer any comments.
So, going back to the overview, we notice that three people ultimately came out on top: Haru Okumura for the Phantom Thieves, Tae Takemi for the Adult Help, and Shinya Oda for Friends. First, let me explain why I categorised them the way I did.
The Phantom Thieves Confidants
Going into this, I highly anticipated Futaba to come out on top. She has an amazing confidant storyline, great abilities (although sometimes frustrating), and fans are overall very fond of her. So, I expect this list to go Futaba, Makoto, Ryuji, Haru, Ann and then Yusuke. As you can see clearly by looking at the overall sheet below (the Phantom Thieves are highlighted), the list goes: Haru, Futaba, Makoto, Yusuke, Ann, Ryuji. This may seem a little confusing at first, especially if you have not completed all of the Phantom Thieves’ confidants to rank 10. Despite being first on the team, Ryuji gets pretty basic skills, whereas Haru for example, can be used to make SP replenishers that are more stable than Takemi’s medicine and increase SP more than Sojiro’s coffee or curry.
The Phantom Thieves all have similar skills that aid Joker in his rehabilitation. For example, abilities such as Follow Up, Baton Pass, and Endure that directly help whilst battling shadows. All of these abilities are rated the same. Whilst rating these abilities, it because clear to me that it was unfair to compare the Phantom Thieves to the other confidants, as they all had a clear advantage as they had battle skills as well as their own individual thing.
Let’s look at each of the Phantom Thieves in more depth.
The thing with Ryuji, as I have mentioned before, his skills are pretty basic. At the start of the game, he seems to be the most available as Ann requires Kindness and Takemia requires Guts. Ryuji is arguably one of the easiest confidants to get up to rank 10, as his story does not require Joker actually doing much. Ryuji’s story is decent. It goes through the process of healing after him falling out with his prior teammates on the track team, who refer to him as ‘track traitor’ due to losing control of his anger when Kamoshida told the team about his father, who was abusive. Ryuji makes it clear multiple times throughout the confidant that he has no intention of rejoining the track team. It is clear that Ryuji just loves running and being active. The most important thing that Ryuji’s confidant has taught us about his character is that he needs two things in life to be successful. One is a place to belong, which ends up being the Phantom Thieves, and the second is a clear goal/motive, which seems to be (overall) justice, although it could be argued that taking down the palace owners is also a clear goal that keeps Ryuji going. This leads to ask the question of what happens after the game? The protagonist leaves, and the metaverse is no more. He essentially has nowhere to belong and no achievable goal. But, that is not completely true. At the end of the confidant, when you go to say goodbye to Ryuji before the protagonist goes home, he expresses that he has no clear goal apart from running and going to see the protagonist when he can. At the beginning of the game, it is made clear that Ryuji didn’t run for a while after the incident with Kamoshida; he is stiff and feels weak in the metaverse. During the confidant, he learns that he does not need the track team to do the things that he loves. He has people supporting him, and that is what matters. It is clear when saying goodbye to him that this is not the end. He still has a place to belong because even though the Phantom Thieves are not an active group anymore, they are still there and their friendship is still strong. Just because it is over does not mean that what they went through together is just over. This is relevant in regards to Ryuji’s confidant because he had no one before the game. Overall, his confidant abilities are very basic if you keep in mind the skills of the other Phantom Thieves. Insta-Kill is a skill that seems good but really is not so great. In your first playthrough, it is fine to get you through palaces; however, when you are playing New Game Plus and are trying to get as much experience as possible to be able to comfortably use the better personas you acquired in your first playthrough, it can get a bit annoying. Granted, it can be avoided by holding off your attack for a second, but that puts you in a worse position in terms of battle than a successful ambush would.
Ann, like Ryuji, is pretty basic. Her storyline could be better, and her abilities are fine when they get used. The main problem with Ann is that there was so much potential for her, but it seems like it slipped through our fingers. Ann’s confidant is focussed around Shiho, her best friend, who was sexually abused by PE teacher Kamoshida and attempted to commit suicide. Shiho’s story was compelling enough to probably make her a confidant in herself, and therefore make Ann’s confidant slightly stronger. Her arc is a little all over the place, but it always ends up tying back to her either wanting to improve for Shiho’s sake or wanting to improve for the Phantom Thieves’ sakes. Her aim is to strengthen her heart and to become a better person, as she felt like she was too weak to help Shiho when it was needed. She goes from wanting to focus on training, to acting (and I think we all know how bad Ann is at acting), to becoming the best model. It’s a journey, but not in the same sense of Ryuji’s journey. In the end, it is easy to feel unsatisfied from the story. It is entertaining, but that is not enough in this game. The best part of this confidant is when you get to see Shiho again, at Rank 9. This is a heartwarming scene when you see how far Ann has come. However, it makes you wonder if she is going to continue to improve now that Shiho is no longer in the hospital, and the protagonist moves away. The goodbye indicates that Ann has the intention of going to see the protagonist (and, of course, trying all the foods from his hometown) and that she still aims to be the best model. Throughout the arc, Ann learnt that being a model (a good one, at least) takes hard work, and whilst it is good to see that this pays off in the goodbye, it would have been nice if she learnt something more.
In terms of confidant abilities, she seems to be not so useful. This is only worse when you think about 1) the confidant abilities of the other Phantom Thieves and 2) how often things such as hostage situations happen. Another thing is that when you are in a hostage situation, you can usually use the Thieves Guild to easily get you out of the sticky situation. This makes Ann’s unique ability unused in many cases, which is not good because if you have ever seen it happen, you’d know that it is pretty funny to watch, as well as effective.
Yusuke is special. Special in a lot of ways, in fact. He is probably the most unique of the Phantom Thieves. His confidant arc is about art, which sounds uninteresting but turned out to be relatable and insightful. Yusuke has several traits that suggest that he has Autistic Spectrum Disorder, although it has never been confirmed by the creators. This is relevant because his confidant shows this more than the main story. For example, at Rank 4, the protagonist ends up in a boat with Yusuke, who wants to capture love in his artwork. He finds who he assumes is a couple, but it happens to be a brother and sister. Yusuke is defeated after finding this out. He also does not seem to understand that he cannot just draw random people and expect them to stay still. At the end of the game, when the protagonist goes away to juvie, he asks why the group had to meet up, and why the meeting could not just be over their phones. He does not seem to understand that friends want to hang out together and do things in person. Moving on, Yusuke’s passion is art. This is undeniable, even in the main story (although lobsters are also probably pretty high up on the list). What you find in the confidant is a boy who was once so sure about who he was and his abilities, suddenly the complete opposite of that. He seems to have trouble capturing what he wants to because he does not understand the thing that he is trying to capture in his art. He is not confident in his abilities anymore. Since Madarame turned out to be something completely different to what Yusuke thought he was, he seems to be second-guessing everything. After going to Mementos with the protagonist, Yusuke paints ‘Desires’ which he believes to be a raw insight into the human psyche, and he immediately submits it to be put on display at an art exhibit. It gets put on display there, but it is met with very harsh criticism for being seemingly emotionless. This obviously does not do good for Yusuke’s slump. During the confidant, you see that Yusuke knows that he is capable of doing better. However, he has an almost romanticised view of being an artist. He wants to paint art for the sake of art, not for fame or money. This is even more evident than it would have been before because Madarane’s distorted desires stemmed from wanting fame and money from being an artist. At the forefront of this confidant arc, Yusuke does not want to be like his former mentor. He struggles heavily with this, especially due to the slump he was in (as a slump was what caused Madarame to abuse his pupils).
The thing is Madarame is a lot of people believe that the Phantom Thieves could have and should have gone after a bigger target. They believe that art fraud was nothing compared to what Kamoshida was doing to his pupils. However, a lot of people also fail to remember that it was not just art fraud. Madarame was abusing his pupils. Yusuke has a clear case of Stockholm Syndrome the first few times that you meet him, being incredibly defensive over allegations that were true. Madarame’s real crime was manipulating a young boy – and many others – into thinking that this was their only option. That life with Madarame, being abused and used, was the only way they were ever going to be successful artists. This is so evident when Yusuke’s confidant plays out because he is broken throughout most of it. Even towards the end, Yusuke has not healed from this. That is why this confidant is probably the most realistic. Healing from trauma takes time. Sometimes, part of that healing is realising that the thing you went through was actually trauma and that you did not deserve that. This can take years, and it probably will take years in Yusuke’s case. However, the great thing about the confidant, the thing that really makes the narrative worth sitting through, is the progression that Yusuke makes during the small amount of time. At the end of the confidant, a former classmate of Madarame offers Yusuke help, to stop him from going down the same path as Madarame. However, Yusuke declines this. He states that between his inspiration and the bonds he has created with his friends, he will not go down the same path as Madarame. This is such a big moment, as he was offered help by someone who seemingly understands his greatest fear – becoming like Madarame – to stop that from happening, yet Yusuke says that he already has it covered. That moment in itself is special.
As for abilities, this heavily depends on how you play the game. However, most people will use skill cards at some point in their game, which makes Yusuke’s abilities very useful. They are not the best for the time. For example, it would have probably been best to skip Novice Duplication from a gameplay standpoint (although it does make sense from a narrative standpoint). He has all the basic skills of a Phantom Thief, as well as that added glitch of him just smacking his teammates with his hand when his Harisen Recovery kicks in (it’s my personal favourite). Yusuke’s ability is similar to Haru’s (we will discuss that later) in terms of you have to prepare for it. If you know you want a certain Persona to have a certain skill, then make sure you find a skill card and have Yusuke duplicate it, preferably before the next palace infiltration. You don’t have to hang out with Yusuke in order to do this, although it is always good to try and hang out with your confidants as much as possible. Yusuke does need proficiency 4 to complete his confidant, which is not particularly difficult to get as you can do things such as go to the batting cages and craft infiltration tools. It’s not the hardest stat to increase. Again, it is always a good idea to get stats up as soon as possible, especially when you want to do confidants such as Makoto, Futaba and Sojiro. I recommend trying to do one thing to increase your stats a day, and then one confidant too. Yusuke’s abilities are significantly better than Ann’s and Ryuji’s, and it is a good indication of what to expect from further Phantom Thieves.
Makoto is the character that my past self relates to (as you’ll see soon, my life has not improved as much as Makoto’s). Her arc, again, could have and should have been so much more. She falls into the same hole as Ann- helping out a friend. Makoto suffers from not understanding her peers, and as student council president, that is clearly a big issue. However, it is clear that she cares very deeply about the students of Shujin Academy. She is very upset (and defensive, at times) over Shiho (see Ann’s arc) attempting to commit suicide. Before her arc, all she seemed to want was to take the pressure off of her sister by being a good student, getting into a good college and somehow helping out. She never wanted to be a burden for Sae. Clearly, you are all thinking about the whole “useless” situation. Was the flashback unnecessary? No. Absolutely not. Why? Just because we, as the audience, had only just seen it, that doesn’t mean time has not continued on in Makoto’s life. She probably had a boatload of studying in between being called useless by Sae and being called useless by Ann. It was needed from a narrative standpoint. And for the memes. Makoto’s arc is technically about her finding herself, who she wants to be, after spending years trying to be someone that everyone else wanted her to be. However, in between the whole Eiko storyline, that does not show strongly. Similarly to Ann’s confidant, Makoto’s arc lacks because it focuses on someone else. The whole arc would be so much better if it just focused on Makoto. From a narrative perspective, it makes sense to include students like Eiko. Makoto is student council president after all. However, I felt like this was more Eiko’s arc than Makoto’s at times. It is made even harder by the fact that you need charm to be 5 to pretend to be Makoto’s boyfriend. This is not an easy feat. Makoto working out that she wants to follow her father’s footsteps and be police commissioner is worth it, however, and ties into the main story, which heavily implies that the policing system in Japan is not good. It feels like Makoto is going to put the world right again, and the protagonist gave her the strength to do it. This, overall, is a very rewarding narrative. Also, it is pretty funny to see Makoto slap Eiko.
Makoto’s abilities are useful. Definitely more useful in a first playthrough than in New Game +, but useful nonetheless. Shadow Calculus is especially useful when searching for rare items such as liquid mercury (because we all want that shiny, shiny Eternal Lockpick). Finding out if a shadow will potentially drop a rare item will make the difference in how you attack it, especially due to Morgana’s pickpocket ability (automatically earned after the third palace). For the record, my favourite Follow Up is Makoto’s, because she just looks so cool when doing it.
And now we get to the character I really relate to because of severe anxiety. Futaba’s arc is a fan favourite for a good reason. It is beautifully written. I have said it a million times, and I will say it again- Futaba Sakura is meant for this game. Okay, that seems obvious because she is a fictional character, she was obviously made for this game, but she could possibly be the reason this game is so great. She is top-level for everything. There was no mistake made with her. I really do not have a negative thing to say about Futaba’s arc. Yes, it is focussed on a friend at certain parts, but not as heavily as Makoto’s and Ann’s. It’s Futaba’s arc that makes players realise that they could have done so much better with Ann’s and Makoto’s arcs, because they did it here. Okay, I’ll put my hands up, kindness 4 is not the easiest to get. Kindness is probably one of the hardest stats to increase, that you have to work on constantly. Thank goodness for that plant, am I right? Although Kindness 4 is not easy to get, it makes sense from a narrative perspective. Futaba is scared. She has been hiding from the world, stuck in her room for around a year. She does not go to school, barely interacted with Sojiro. She needs help. Obviously, she will need someone to be kind to her. She needs her faith in humanity to be restored, which is hard because all of humanity seems to suck in this game. This arc is so well written; it makes you wonder why the other character arcs are lacking. Having this arc be so good lifts the expectation bar, because the other confidants at this point are not that great. They are good. They are just not this good.
As for abilities, when I started this research, I 100% thought that Futaba was going to come out on top. I had no doubts. Her abilities, like her arc, are top class. Futaba does not have all the same abilities as the other Phantom Thieves because she does not fight in battle in the same way that the others do. Futaba has a special persona, which makes her role as Navi more obvious. Before Futaba, Morgana was Navi. However, Morgana’s persona can fight in battle and is fairly well kitted out in terms of healing too. Futaba’s Navi abilities help with battle in different ways. Emergency Shift can easily be thought of as one of the best abilities, and from personal experience, is a literal lifesaver in the final battle.
Yep. I did not expect this either. Haru is sweet, and her character is likeable. The issue? There is around one month to do her confidant. It’s hard, and when you still have other confidants to complete, it is forgivable if you just skip over Haru. Her arc shows her dealing with the loss of her father, but not in the way normal people do. She has to deal with it in terms of the company, her arranged marriage and managerial problems. These should not be an issue for a teenage girl who’s father has just died. Many people try to manipulate Haru, and because she is so kindhearted, she is almost weak in comparison to the business people surrounding her. However, as Haru’s confidant goes on, her confidence grows. It is definitely worth doing the whole confidant just to see Haru’s confidence at the end.
In terms of abilities, Haru’s are great, to put it bluntly. The hardest thing with Persona 5 is conserving SP. Haru helps massively with that. I want to make it clear here: this is not just a little tiny SP increase, it is 100 and 200 SP increases, which is insanely helpful. This can easily make the difference when going through palaces. It means that you are able to stay in the palaces for longer, and therefore you have more free time in the real world to increase stats and get through confidants. Palaces are the main part of Persona 5, and the quicker you do them, the better. Sure, it is nice to take your time. However, Persona 5 is also a game in which time is very limited. Spending 5+ days going through a palace is not needed, especially when you have Haru’s abilities. This comes more useful when you have Personas that are slightly above your ranking, and therefore require more SP than you would usually be comfortable using. Haru’s ability lets you freely use your SP to your hearts contents and then refill when you need to. Like I mentioned before, you do have to plan when you are going to use the thing. If you have planted vegetables with Haru in preparation, remember to go get them before going to the palace. It does not advance the time when you plant them, or when you go to pick them up.
This is part 1 of 3. The biggest take away from researching this is that although certain narratives might be compelling, there are better ways to spend your time. The later on the confidant appears the more useful the skills are. I have not mentioned it in this post, but I recommend getting Chihaya put enough so she can help increase your bond with your confidants. Doing that with Haru and Futaba will be your best bet to get rank 10 since they both come along pretty late in the game (and the whole kindness thing). The confidants that you have to put the most work into are usually worth it. Overall, it is worth having all of the Phantom Thieves up to rank 10, so that you unlock their second awakening to make your team stronger overall. Even if you do not plan on using that person much, they will come in handy during the last battle.
Please come back next week, when we look into Adult Help! If anyone would like to see my spreadsheet, feel free to get in contact and I will send it right over! It’s not completed but it is something.
P.S: yes, I know I spelt Akechi’s name wrong in my research. I just only realised just as I was uploading.