Hello and welcome to part two of our Persona 5 confidant analysis. I feel the need (more so in the last post) to specify that this is for the original Persona 5 game. Persona 5 Royal obviously have different confidants, different abilities and I have yet to play enough of the game to feel comfortable with analysing any of the confidants. In case you missed the last post, we covered the Phantom Thieves. You can check it out here:
In the last post, we established that confidants that we believe to be most useful are often not the ones who are actually useful. We found that this analysis is focused on the usefulness to Joker’s rehabilitation. Skills that directly help him in battle and in the metaverse are going to come in more useful to him than skills that passively help. For example, one that we will look at in this post is Takemi being more valuable than Kawakami as the medicine provided by Takemi provides direct aid to Joker during his metaverse adventures.
For a little reminder for those who did not have time to read the Phantom Thieves confidant analysis, Haru Okumura surprised us all with her fantastic gardening skills, followed closely by Futaba Sakura and Makoto Niijima. We are going to be using the same rating system I had in place, focused around the usefulness to Joker’s rehabilitation (I know I am repeating myself, but this is vital, especially when it comes to this post in particular). I have not changed the spelling of Akechi, but he is not relevant in this analysis due to being an automatic progression. Speaking of automatic progression, I would like to remind everyone before we dive into this that Igor and Sae Niijima will be excluded (just like Morgana was last week) as you get those automatically.
Here is the overview again:
Here you can see the date in which the confidant becomes available, whether or not it is player-initiated, which arcana the confidant is linked to, the group I assigned them, and lastly the ratings that they received.
I know I went into this briefly last week, but I wanted to further explain why I separated the Adult Help and the Friends. It would have been easier to just have Non-Phantom Thieves and Phantom Thieves (because like I said last week, there is a ridiculous difference between them and that makes sense because they are fighting alongside the protagonist). However, this would not make sense from a narrative perspective. The entire game is about how adults have power over kids, and lumping them all together seemed unfair. Although they do have similar numbers, from a narrative perspective, it just made sense to separate them.
Something that I realised while writing the last post – and the reason I stress that we are analysing the usefulness of the confidant to Joker’s rehabilitation – is that there is a difference between the confidant arc and the confidant abilities. I know this seems obvious, but if you think about it, everyone is going to have different opinions on someone’s story. People have different morals, and they find different things relatable. Although I discussed the confidant arcs briefly (apart from Yusuke… I opened a bag of worms there, I know) in the last post, it is essential to remember that just because I took something from that arc, it does not mean you were meant to take the same thing. As I also mentioned last week, this is hard because everyone plays the game differently. Some people focus on Skill Cards; some people concentrate on Physical Skills; some people cannot wait to get their hands on things that increase SP. However, somethings are undeniably useful. For example, you can get Personas that have certain skills, but when your SP is gone, you sometimes have to just run to a safe room and go home.
That being said, let’s look more closely at the adults who helped Joker.
This reporter is one that definitely deserved better confidant abilities. She is introduced early on, around the start of Madarame’s palace. She is directly useful for Kaneshiro’s palace. Her abilities are directly useful, but also have pretty much the same effect that an item you can create has. The main difference? Making the thing increases Proficiency. And that does not do this character justice.
Ohya is a journalist who writes about the Phantom Thieves. That is the basis for the confidant. You give her information; the Phantom Thieves get positive publicity. The protagonist can even work at the bar, Crossroads, that she goes to regularly. She is not the most likeable person, especially at the start of her confidant arc, but she is one of the most interesting characters in Persona 5.
Ohya wants an easy story and has it when Joker comes to her with as much information as she wants about the glorious Phantom Thieves. She does not have to dig deeper, does not have to ask around- Joker even sets her up with an interview with Mishima. But this leads you to ask why she wants an easy story. She does not seem to hate her job, the first time you meet her, she seemed interested in writing a good story for the public. Her arc reveals that her job is no longer her number one priority. Something happened to her work partner; she knows something is wrong, and she wants easy stories so that she has spare time to find out more about the truth of what happened to her friend. Ohya’s instinct that her friend is not dead is honourable- she knows it in her heart, and she’s prepared to scream it to the world if it meant that she could prove it to be true. It is clear that Ohya would do anything. The newspaper that she works for puts pressure on her when they realise what she is doing, trying to make sure that her work is her main focus and that she has no time to look for her partner. After the Phantom Thieves intervene, she finally finds her friend at a hospital for the mentally ill. This obviously throws her back, but it is clear that she has no regrets for all the hard work that she put in.
Compared to her confidant arc, Ohya’s confidant abilities are mediocre. They are easily replaced by items that you can make, and the security level does not tend to be a problem in the first place. Ohya is the one character that I truly believed deserved better confidant abilities because quite frankly, in a game where time is limited, and the big thing is to get the best use out of your time, she is not worth it. Her confidant abilities are not worth spending several full evenings on. Her arc? Totally. 100%. However, her story is not what contributes to Joker’s rehabilitation, and that is what is important here. Ohya has a disadvantage because she has the least useful confidant abilities, yet one of the most interesting and well thought out narratives.
You meet Iwai early on in the game. However, you need guts to be high (4) and therefore, I would not blame you if you just left him out until New Game +. However, he is more beneficial (slightly) if you get him in your first playthrough. However, getting a social stat up to 4 and getting all the way to rank 10 with a confidant after that is hard.
Iwai’s confidant abilities focus on guns. If you are going to make an effort to get to rank 10 with Iwai, I also recommend working hard to get to rank 10 with Shinya too, in order to get maximum effectiveness out of both of the confidant abilities (we will talk more about Shinya in next week’s post). Iwai’s confidant abilities are particularly useful for those who do non-persona/ physical runs. If you are, like me, more of a Persona user, then it is understandable if you wish to skip out on Iwai’s confidant. His abilities solely focus on gun power, and this shows off something that Persona 5 does really well. If you are consistent with how you play the game, this confidant can be very beneficial to you. I have said this tons of times, but Persona 5 is a game in which time is so limited that sometimes you do have to focus on particular skills or confidants to get better and to get the most out of that game. Iwai is one of the confidants that this applies to most. It is an added bonus that sometimes you get Proficiency from hanging out with him, but the best thing to do overall is work out how you are going to play the game, and then work out which confidants are going to be most beneficial to you.
In terms of Iwai’s confidant arc, he suffers from the same thing Ann and Makoto suffered from, only he did not suffer from it due to a friend, and the conclusion of his arc is actually significantly better. Iwai suffers from a pretty stale arc until around rank 6/7. There always feels like there is something missing. However, when you get past rank 7, things start to speed up and get more intense. There is nothing missing from the end of his arc. Actually, the end of Iwai’s arc has – in my opinion – the best conclusion out of all of the confidants.
Iwai’s confidant arc involves the Yakuza, which does add to the layer of intensity in the narrative. The player knows that this guy is dangerous, that this story is dangerous. To add to the level of danger, remember the fact that the protagonist is on probation. Being involved in the Yakuza is something that he probably should not be doing.
Regardless of whether or not you want to use gun skills, like Ohya, Iwai’s story is worth sitting through. Especially the ending.
Iwai also increase Proficiency, so that is a bonus!
“No good Tora” is next on our list. Yoshida is one confidant, like Chihaya, that takes quite a bit of work to start the actual confidant. For one, you have to work at the Beef Bowl shop a few times, which is stressful and sometimes feels like a waste of time.
In terms of abilities, his are okay. They are significantly more beneficial to have in the first playthrough because that is when you want to be aiming to get the most Personas. If you have the full Persona compendium, achieved throughout your first playthrough, then there is not really much of a point to shadow negotiations as it is much more beneficial to gain the XP from an All-Out Attack than getting money or an item from the shadow (unless that shadow is proving difficult to beat).
As for the narrative, this is where it gets weird. This game is fantastic at giving the characters great arcs or backgrounds. However, it failed when it comes to Yoshida. Yoshida did not learn much through his arc. He just kept going. The game had a great opportunity at the end when Shido was not able to be prime minister. They could have used Yoshida to show (after the change of heart) that the public had changed. This obviously would not have been part of his arc, but part of the main story. I think it would make more sense if this was unlocked if the player reached rank 10 with Yoshida because you learn his backstory (which is not as deep as you expected, and a bit of a let down to be honest) and know what he is aiming for at this point. Yoshida is a good guy, and having a good guy become Prime Minister due to the bad guy not being able to; with the change of heart of the public, them realising that Yoshida would be a good Prime Minister- that is the kind of ending for Yoshida that we deserved. But we do not get that. Yoshida’s arc is lacking a lot. There is no huge change, no revelation, his back story is sad, yet he is not doing anything about it. It teaches the protagonist about kindness, and that people like him need protecting from the harsher people in society. Between Yoshida’s arc and abilities, it would make sense not to focus on him (at least in the second playthrough) because his abilities are not the best, and his arc is not very compelling.
So Persona 5 has been called out several times for not addressing things as they are meant to be addressed. Time after time, I have stuck up for it, explained reasons behind their choices, tried to help people explain why they did not address things for what they are. The main complaint I see about this is that no one actually says that Shiho was raped. Time and time again, I tell people that it is because when people are raped, it is hard to admit it. It is hard for them, never mind the people around them. I never really saw it as a problem. However, playing through Chihaya’s confidant arc, I had in the back of my head “this is clearly a cult, why won’t they just say it is a cult?”. I think this goes to show that you need to apply what you know about real life and real-life reactions to different situations that you have not been in yourself. I eventually thought “wait… would someone who has been through this call it a cult?”. The likely answer is no. People who go through traumatic events in which they were abused or manipulated often fail to put a label on it because this is their life. This is the stuff that happens to them every day. This is almost normal. At times, and in Chihaya’s case, she did not know what the problem is. Chihaya’s confidant arc is so different than what was expected. However, before we talk in detail about what her arc is about, let’s talk about her confidant abilities.
Chihaya’s abilities can be very useful, both in a first playthrough and New Game +. Affinity Reading is definitely the most consistently useful, and it can really help speed up confidant rankings. This is useful because there is such a limited amount of time in this game. There are 13 non-automatic confidants, each of which are most beneficial at rank 10, which is also the only way to complete the Persona compendium. It does cost money, but Money Reading can also get that money back pretty quickly. In terms of helping Joker with his rehabilitation, however, it is slightly less useful. The focus is on things such as social stats and confidants, which is obviously important but does not help him directly with his rehabilitation. I think Chihaya really loses out due to this system, as her abilities are useful in terms of playing the game. However, in terms of directly helping Joker with his rehabilitation, there is not much that can be said to aid her cause. However, it does need to be stated that it is a lot harder for Joker to go through rehabilitation without confidants and social stats.
Okay, so on to her confidant arc: it takes a long while to start, just like Yoshida. However, you are at more of a loss, as you have to pay 100,000 yen. This is for a rock, that breaks by the time you get back to Leblanc. It is irritating to have to spend so much time working on this confidant, just to start it. However, the abilities do make it worth it. The narrative is compelling, despite feeling that there could be more going on behind the scenes. This feeling goes away when you remember that Chihaya is an adult woman that has a life of her own. That sounds strange at first, I know, but she is not going to share as much with the protagonist as someone who is closer to his age would. She has matured (although she is probably the youngest in this particular grouping) and does not rely on other people as much as Ann, for example. She does not feel the need to talk about every single thing that is going on in her life, emotions, or anything really. Sure, she talks about her issues, but she does it in a very mature way. She does not just blurt everything out. I think that is one of the biggest differences between the female characters that are around Joker’s age and the female characters that are a bit older. The way that their confidant arc plays out, and the way that they convey what is going on and their emotions is significantly different and much more mature, which is to be expected.
Chihaya seems to learn a lot throughout her confidant arc and breaks free from the corrupt cult that was holding her back. The thing that was most shocking to me is that she basically came to the conclusion about the cult being corrupt herself. Considering the amount of work that the protagonist has to put in to prove that fate can be changed, just for her to believe him before the confidant even starts, I believed that convincing her that the whole organisation was actually a cult would talk a lot of work and possibly several Mementos trips. But she basically did the work herself, and I think that her doing that shows that she was always a strong person. It shows that she just needed a little support and someone to nudge her in the right direction, and the protagonist was more than happy to do that.
The thing about the female adult confidant arcs is that the biggest thing is that they are already what they are. They just need guiding. Life sometimes sucks, and it corrupts people’s hopes, dreams and perspectives. The adult confidants already have an established feeling of self, but life got in the way. The nice touch is that it is Joker who guides them back on the right path.
After making that statement, I could not think of a better person to move on to other than Kawakami. Kawakami is the protagonist’s teacher, so her confidant is a little weird and illegal if you think about it too much (my advice would just be to ignore the fact that you can romance her… and the other adults). We learn a lot through her confidant but before we get there, let’s look at her abilities.
Yet another who my system does not do justice for. Kawakami is a bit higher than Chihaya because she can do things such as make curry and coffee, which directly benefit Joker and the rest of the Phantom Thieves in their metaverse hijinks. In the same way – perhaps more so – as Chihaya, Kawakami helps so much in terms of gameplay. Time is limited in this game, and she helps us do what needs to be done while letting us to what we want to do. Everyone should aim to get Kawakami to rank 10 because you just need that spare time if you want that shiny, sweet platinum trophy. Plus, it is so much more fun when you have more time to do things. You get so much more out of the game. As for Joker’s rehabilitation, however, she helps more than Chihaya because she can make coffee, curry and infiltration tools when Joker is busy taking a bath. She also provides time in lesson to make infiltration tools which can be used in the palaces.
As for her confidant arc, it is a rollercoaster. There are lies, plot twists and a hospitalisation there. Kawakami was once an amazing teacher, whereas, at the start of the game, all she does is complain. However, as the confidant progresses, you can tell that she actually really cares about her students. She’s just tired from working two jobs. My thoughts when calling for Kawakami were never “I’ll be able to rank her up” but rather “I’ll give her something easy to do so she can have a break” which I know is not normal, but I just wanted her to be okay. Right from the start, you can tell that she is overworking herself. Once you learn why she is overworking yourself, everything becomes clear. She just wants to keep her teaching job because she loves teaching. Because of that, she is forced to work a second, dehumanising job.
Teachers are so important. They spent more time with kids than their parents, and they have the chance to be really influential on those kids. If you are lucky enough to have a good teacher, you will go so far in life. Kawakami was that good teacher, and by the end of the confidant, she is that good teacher once more. All she needed was someone to support her and have her back, to give her the confidence to put her foot down, quit her second job and focus on teaching.
Between her abilities and her confidant arc, Kawakami is worth pushing through the slow beginning. Regardless of how you play this game, Kawakami’s abilities are going to be beneficial to you, and her story is an enjoyable one.
As an additional little add on, Kawakami increases kindness.
Sojiro Sakura is a womanising businessman who- okay no, who am I kidding? Sojiro Sakura is, first and foremost, a dad. He has had his adopted daughter Futaba for roughly a year, and she has him wrapped around her little finger. He acts like a womaniser, but in reality, the last woman he found vaguely attractive was probably Wakaba. He acts harshly at first, but it is pretty easy to see through his act. Sojiro just wants what is best for everyone, but he does not want any harm to come to him or Futaba (or the protagonist). He does not want to actively help anyone because it could go wrong and backfire on him.
Sojiro’s abilities are highly focused on SP recovery, which directly helps with Joker’s rehabilitation as it means he can spend more time in the metaverse. SP recovery is so important in this game because SP is easily the deciding factor on when the team goes home. Sojiro’s abilities also means that Joker has activities that directly impacts his time in the metaverse and by extension, his rehabilitation.
As for his confidant arc, it is hugely focused on Futaba Sakura. Sojiro represents a category that I feel is often underrepresented in media: foster/adoptive parents. Parents who are not biologically related to the kids they are looking after, but they still love their kids. Sojiro undeniably loves Futaba. Right from the start, even when you don’t know that it’s Futaba on the phone, Sojiro clearly cares about the person on the phone. A lot of his confidant focuses on her and what is best for her, and how he does not want her to be taken away. This confidant arc is a touching one rather than a progressive one. Sojiro learns that sometimes it is not enough to be passively supportive.
As an additional fun thing, Sojiro increases kindness sometimes.
Lastly, Tae Takemi is great. Obviously.
So, the reason Takemi is so far up is because not only does she provide SP recovery but also HP recovery, which is actually pretty damn helpful. Reviving items are also available from Takemi. Not only that, but her arcana also has the best persona (in my opinion), which is Alice, so automatically, her confidant is worth doing just for Alice.
Her confidant arc does not show her change much, but she changes more actively than any of the other adult help. Takemi set up her little clinic to focus on her medicine in order to save a patient that she particularly cared about. She had no interest in helping other people. By the end of the confidant, she is significantly more open to helping those in the community. She is a good doctor, and when the rumours about her are gone, people almost flood through her door. Her confidant arc is satisfying, to say the least.
As an extra bonus, you can increase your guts here… but you do need some guts to do the clinical trials.
These confidants are a lot different from the ones that we discussed last week, in both the arcs and the abilities. This is expected, as the Phantom Thieves are literally fighting alongside Joker while he is working on his rehabilitation. However, these confidants give an insight into how people can indirectly help the Phantom Thieves in their missions, and also – more importantly – they give an insight into how lost people can find their way back to their own heart. Life gets in the way of people’s dreams and morals. These confidants show how easy it is to get back on track when you have the right support.