In defence of Haru

Hey, Gamers! So, I did an ‘in defence of Jaehee’ post a while ago, and I decided then that it would be a series but I haven’t really come back to it until now. With this month being big for the Persona series, and my favourite thing in the entire world is Persona 5, I thought I would return to this series to discuss Haru. A while ago, I tweeted that I wanted to do a Haru appreciation post but didn’t feel like I appreciated Haru enough to do that justice, so this is the next best thing so let’s get into it!

Spoilers for Persona 5, Persona 5 Royal and Persona 5 Strikers.

So, why do people dislike Haru? Firstly, I don’t think people ‘dislike’ her necessarily. I think it’s more that they don’t feel the connection to her that they do to the other Phantom Thieves. Haru joins the team during the least liked palace in the entire game. Actually, I’d go as far as to say that it’s actually hated by most players. Haru herself doesn’t have the best first impression with the thieves as it feels like she’s ‘stolen’ Morgana from them. Both of these points would usually be fine by themselves, but it’s also alongside the fact that Haru is the last permanent thief that you get on your team in the second to last proper palace (if you’re playing Persona 5, not Royal). It feels like the other characters have so much more time to grow as people, which is rough because Haru goes through so much in Persona 5.

So, let’s go through these points to see if we have some solid ground to stand on for a defence. We’ll talk about her lack of screen time, the palace that she joins in and the whole Morgana situation, all the while looking at the things that we know and get to learn about Haru throughout the game.

Let’s talk about something that Royal solved: Haru’s lack of screen time. I think everyone expected Royal to solve this as it added a third semester. However, you get significantly less freedom in the third semester as the sole focus is on the new palace and the characters who aren’t traditionally on the team (I’m trying to get through this part as ‘spoiler free’ as possible). While the third semester did give Haru more screen time, it’s also very short so it’s difficult to hang out with her in the daytime. The nighttime is much easier in terms of time management. For me, Haru was the only member of the team I did not get up to rank 10 before the whole third persona cutscenes, which sucked but I wasn’t too bummed out because Haru is hard to get up in such a short space of time. The issue is, Haru’s confidant is great. For me, it’s probably one of the best-written confidants in the game and the fact that you get SP recovery items from it also makes her one of the most useful confidants to do. So, why do many people struggle to get Haru up? I even just said that I struggle with it myself. The reason is that by this point in the game, most of the other confidants are around level 7. It’s daunting starting a new confidant so late in the game. It’s when things get so much more serious in terms of the metaverse too, so really you want to spend most of your time getting and making stuff for the metaverse before the last 2 boss fights. But, I am meant to be coming up with some kind of defence for Haru’s lack of screen time. Honestly, the best thing I have is just how great her confidant is. Okay, here me out. With the other Phantom Thieves, you get a ton of the story to advance their personalities and the friendship of the group. You don’t get that much with Haru in the main story, because a lot of it is hidden behind her confidant. And it is such a great confidant. She grows so much in such a short space of time and it’s so well written. If you put the time and effort into Haru, it won’t matter about her lack of screen time because she can grow just as much as everyone else. With Royal, you see her not being able to forgive the person who murdered her father and in Strikers, you see how strong and independent she is. If you put the effort into Haru, she blossoms.

Okay, now the whole Morgana situation. I won’t stick with this for very long because the defence is short and sweet. Morgana left. He left on his own accord before he even knew Haru. All Haru did was look after him. Stop blaming Haru for Morgana’s actions just because Morgana likes being valued by her. That’s it.

Now let’s talk about Okumura’s palace. Oh gosh, I really don’t want to talk about this palace. I don’t even want to think about this palace, but for you guys, I will. Okumura’s palace felt like walking into a room and getting the door locked behind you, and there is no way out and the room is shrinking and each exit is blocked apart from one. Then you use that one exit only to find yourself in the same situation in the next room, only to eventually loop round to the first room so really there’s no way out. Okumura’s palace is hell but by now, you have quite a few teammates to chose from and you probably have your favourites and your own way of doing things. I believe by this point in my first run I was using Joker (obviously), Makoto, Ryuji and Ann. I never used Yusuke and I didn’t use Morgana much either. Gosh, that’s changed so much! But regardless, adding a new teammate into the fight feels weird when you’ve already got a good team. I think a thing that made this a little worse for Haru is that Futaba isn’t a fighting member of the team, which means you didn’t have to swap someone out to have her on the team. So, really, you haven’t got a new member since Makoto. This goes against Haru, in my opinion. With the amount of stuff that’s weak to Psyc in this palace, it’s obvious they want you to use Haru (more so than any other palace with their corresponding thief). I feel like usually, most people would put the corresponding thief in the team during the palace (unless another member is needed more). I think with Haru’s palace being her father’s, the connection between the two is more prominent. With what we mentioned earlier about Haru’s character development being mostly in her confidant arc, many people may mistake Haru for a stuck-up rich girl. She is the complete opposite. Haru is vital to taking down her own father because her morals are stronger than the ones she was raised with. We didn’t judge Yusuke because of Madarame so we shouldn’t be judging Haru because of Okumura.
The palace is bad. Real bad. But considering that her persona doesn’t awaken until they’re in the palace and confronting her father, I think she handles the shadows so well. She just wants to be helpful. This girl is fearful of her life. Before thinking about how bad Okumura’s palace is, let’s think about why she’s going this. Her father is basically about to sell her off to someone who is very open about what he wants from her. Her father – her only parent figure right now – is about to use her for political gain. Haru is going through hell right now. She needs this to go well more than the Phantom Thieves do, and she’s willing to give everything she’s got because her life is over if this doesn’t go well. Honestly, I’d do Okumura’s palace 100 times if it meant I could have 100 Haru’s. Despite how awful the palace is, Haru is worth it. Not only is her confidant perfect, but she is also useful to the team through her persona’s skills and through her confidant items (SP recovery).

This girl – who is still a teenager in high school during this game – watches her own father die on national television and thinks that it’s her fault. Can you even begin to imagine how traumatising that must have felt for her? But she keeps going. She carries on, not just with life but she carries the business and is still a member of the Phantom Thieves. Even in Strikers when they go to Sapporo, Haru doesn’t doubt for one second that Mariko needed to be fought. And why did she do that? To help the person who could’ve helped her grieve her father but didn’t. She doesn’t doubt for one second that this is to help the woman. All Haru does throughout all the games is try to help people. She is a wonderful soul and deserves so much more attention and hype than she’s currently getting.

I wanted to write this post because I see so many people complaining about Haru. Either her voice is annoying, or they don’t like the way she looks, or they think she’s weird. But Haru is so much more than what it immediately presented to you. She is the sweetest, most useful and most scary member of the Phantom Thieves. She is so valuable to the team that it makes me sad to think about the amount of time we have to play the game without her. However, that doesn’t diminish how wonderful and useful she is.

So, that’s it for this post, Gamers! I hope it helped argue that Haru is actually valuable and good to have on your team. If you liked this post, don’t forget to give it a ‘like’, follow this blog for more Persona (and general gaming) content and follow 2nerds_1game on Twitch if you want to watch my partner and I goof around (I’m currently playing Strikers on Merciless and doing an AI-run of Royal). See you next post, Gamers!  

2 thoughts on “In defence of Haru

  1. When I read the title, I thought “does Haru need defending?” I only ever liked her, and I haven’t seen much negative said about her beyond how hard it is to get her confidant rank up or her annoying palace, neither of which are her fault but rather gameplay/game mechanics issues. But I refuse to go that deeply into the Persona fandom in the interest of keeping what little sanity I have left, so I’ve probably missed out on a lot there.

    It’s true we didn’t get started on the best foot with Haru, but I never felt bad about her over the Morgana situation. In fact, I was way more annoyed at Morgana for leaving over immature reasons and nearly running me over several times, then rejoining my party with a halfhearted apology. This bit was my least favorite part of the original game by a long shot, and when getting through Royal (which I haven’t even finished yet to be fair) I sped through it as quickly as possible. No blame given to Haru, though.

    And yeah, her palace is bad, but as you say that’s not her fault either. And then if you compare it to some of the more irritating dungeons in Nocturne or Strange Journey it’s not bad at all by comparison, so maybe it’s just all about having the right perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to run a Persona 5 fan page (it was a mistake, never again 😂) so I realised quickly that Haru was the least liked thief. The whole Morgana issue I always thought was ridiculous but there’s genuinely people out there that blame her for that. The thing that bugged me most was that people said there was a lack of character development for Haru but if you actually put time and effort into her confidant, like I said, it’s the complete opposite! But you can’t really argue with people in the persona fandom (unless you want to lose your sanity).

      Liked by 1 person

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