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My Favourite Personas in Each Arcana From Persona 5 - Part 1

My Favourite Personas in Each Arcana From Persona 5 - Part 1

For Persona 5's fifth anniversary, I wanted to do a little something to commemorate the popular title. I thought I would look back over the 21 different Arcana — used in the game as essentially classes for the strange monsters, demons, creatures, and gods known as Personas. The later special edition of the game, Persona 5: The Royal, added in a couple of extra Arcana and shifted some of the Personas around between the original classes and these new ones, but I'm going to go ahead and focus on the original base game. After all, this isn’t Royal’s fifth anniversary! Now, without further ado, which Personas have stood the test of time and remained my favourites, even five years later?

The Fool: Bugs

Bugbear P5

Similar to most of the Arcana in the game, the Fool’s selection of Personas hold a variety of truly great character designs. Even if the group isn’t my overall favourite, it’s hard to deny the appeal behind protagonist Joker’s Persona, Arsène, with his rebellious black wings, jagged red coat, and refined white ruffle tie. However, while I won’t deny that Arsène absolutely has the market covered on cool Fools, I simply have to admit that my favourite in the Arcana is Bugs. This Persona is based around the Bugbear, a common sort of hobgoblin traditionally meant to, as Persona 5 itself puts it, “scare children into behaving.” However, contrary to the Bugbear’s frequent depiction as a large, hairy, and creepy bear-like figure, Bugs is portrayed as a relatively cute stuffed teddy bear with some, let’s say, frightening additions. The blood seeping out from Bugs’ mouth does a great job of maintaining the classic creature’s unsettling roots even with the cutesy design, but what really sells Bugs as a unique Persona are the skulls. Plain to see on the adorable teddy bear’s stomach is a hole that seems to have been sewn up sometime in the past but which has recently come undone, revealing a small collection of what appear to be human skulls resting inside the Persona. More than anything else, this aspect of Bugs’ design binds together its cutesy and frightening natures, using a common aspect of a sewn-together stuffed animal to highlight a history of violence on the creature’s part. The idea of taking this scary boogeyman-esque figure and turning it into a toy may seem a tad simple, but its design is executed so well that I honestly would not mind buying a plush version of Bugs in real life.

Also, executing Bugs will net the player a pair of Bear Gloves that Makoto, resident brawler, can use in combat. The Critical Rate boost isn’t the highest in the game and none of the weapons actually offer any changes to the in-game model, but I still find the mental image of student council president Makoto Nijima punching the daylights out of somebody with Bear Gloves absolutely hilarious.

The Magician: Jack Frost

hee ho P5

Mr. hee-ho himself hardly needs an introduction for anyone that’s spent a meaningful amount of time with the Shin Megami Tensei franchise that Persona was born out of. Now essentially serving as Atlus’ mascot, Jack Frost joined the franchise from its second released game, Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II, and has been a fan favourite ever since. To be perfectly blunt, I tried (very hard) to pick basically any other Persona in the Magician Arcana, but I just didn’t feel right naming anyone else as my favourite in this regard. With an adorable smile, a plump body seemingly made from soft snow, and a jester-inspired blue hat, Jack Frost is instantly recognisable as a friendly winter prankster.

The Priestess: Silky

silky P5

The Priestess Arcana was solidly one of my favourites (if not my absolute favourite) throughout Persona 5, so this was a hard call. I had at least one Priestess Persona in my party at all times, with special mention going to Sarasvati and Scathach for how much they helped carry me through to the endgame. I haven't even mentioned Johanna, the Popess who is also a motorcycle, which is simply one of the best and sleekest character designs I've seen. However, despite all of these amazing Personas, I have to go with Silky. She stands out among many of the cool designs and powerful monsters in the series as this largely good and nice character who helps out with day-to-day life. Add to that her helpful abilities to heal the party and make the enemy Personas fall asleep, and Silky is an invaluable early ally! She's even fantastic on a visual level; her flowing red dress and green locks offer a great contrast that lends her this air of eeriness, like a sort of classical ghost. Overall, I guess I just really love a Persona that seems like someone that I'd want to meet in real life. I'd enjoy watching Johanna kick butt on the screen, but I would love to just sit and have a nice chat with Silky.

The Empress: Milady

milady P5

Hailing from Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, Milady of the Empress Arcana is one of the few Personas in Persona 5 that Joker cannot use himself. Rather, she acts as the personal Persona of one Haru Okumura, the heir of the Okumura Foods company. Much like Haru herself, Milady has impeccable taste in fashion and an even greater taste for violence. In life, Milady de Winter acted as a spy, even going so far as to kill those she opposed. As Haru’s Persona, Milady is far more direct, hiding a variety of firearms underneath her black-and-pink Rococo-styled dress — such as a pair of Gatling guns and a bazooka — similar to Haru’s own grenade launcher. These weapons aren’t just for show either, offering Milady several gun-focused abilities, including the powerful critical hit-inducing One-shot Kill, though she’s hardly a one-trick pony. Combining those firearm-centric skills with Psy abilities and a perfect dress sense, Milady is a well-rounded Persona that really knows how to get ahead. It’s just too bad she hasn’t been able to find her own after her beheading!

The Emperor: Thoth

thoth P5

Representing the Emperor Arcana, Thoth is an ancient Egyptian god traditionally seen as the scribe and arbiter of the gods, as well as the inventor of the written word in the first place. Usually, he is presented with the head of an ibis or a baboon, the latter of which being where the Shin Megami Tensei series has taken its design inspirations. Admittedly, this version of Thoth takes the “baboon’s head” idea and runs with it, making him into an entire baboon. However, the design doesn’t just stop there, also giving Thoth a hefty book to read, which itself has been emblazoned with a hieroglyph, another of the god’s inventions. Additionally, what at first seems to be a rather cute and tiny top hat is actually several phases of the Moon as far as I can tell, referring to his close connection with said Moon. Personally, I feel a little weird thinking of this immensely wise and powerful god as “cute,” but he is a baboon in a tiny hat reading a book: I think I can cut myself some slack.

The Hierophant: Kohryu

kohryu P5

Coming up next is the ultimate Persona of the Hierophant Arcana, Kohryu. Also known as Huang Long, or the Yellow Dragon, Kohryu exists as the ruler of the Chinese constellations’ celestial creatures, found at the centre of those four beings. Interestingly, while Kohryu is primarily associated with Earth as an element, this dragon’s only element-based abilities use Psy (short for Psychic), likely due to the fact that “Earth” hasn’t been used in the Persona series since its second instalment. Speaking of Personas, Kohryu also happens to be something of a real-life persona, as an animal incarnation of the Yellow Emperor. I suppose the dragon version of the absolute centre of Chinese religion and myth makes for a very apt symbol of the Hierophant, itself a symbol of authority, rules, and deference to the divine.

The Lovers: Leanan Sidhe

leanan sidhe P5
For the Lovers Arcana, we have Leanan Sidhe, a fairy from Celtic mythology whose name roughly means "fairy mistress" or "fairy lover." As the legend goes, Leanan Sidhe is a beautiful fairy who is always on the lookout for a man to love. This is honestly a little disappointing for me as a woman primarily interested in other women, but I probably shouldn't mind that too much this time. That's because, while Leanan Sidhe is as loving and creatively inspiring as she is beautiful, she also drains the life of her lovers until they fall into madness or death, acting as a sort of vampire. Perhaps this is why her design features a very stylish standing collar, similar to the one popularly included on vampire capes. Additionally, by implicitly offering a choice between a long, healthy life and a final burst of creativity in order to make something great, Leanan Sidhe also acts as a great example of a more traditional Lovers interpretation: having to make a choice about one's life. With an interesting portrayal of the Arcana's themes mixed with my undying adoration for standing collars, Leanan Sidhe is an easy choice as one of my favourites.

The Chariot: Shiki Ouji

shiki ouji P5

Unlike the Personas we've covered this far, Shiki Ouji, our Chariot Arcana representative, first caught my eye not with its admittedly striking paper form, but with its gameplay immunities. Every attack has some sort of attribute — such as Physical (Phys), Psychic (Psy), or Gun (Gun) — which we've discussed in small parts here and there thus far. Different Personas can have their own unique resistances, vulnerabilities, and even immunities to any given attribute — though immunities, like the Null and Repel properties, tend to focus on the more magical attributes like Fire, Ice, and Nuclear. It's not quite as often to see a Persona that can completely cancel out Phys attacks, as this attribute covers every single character's base attacks. So imagine my surprise when I found out that Shiki Ouji completely Nulls Phys, Gun, and Curse damage! If one were to afflict an enemy with Rage — a status effect providing increased attack damage at the cost of no longer being capable of any action more complicated than punching the other guy — and bring out Shiki Ouji, all attacks against it would have no choice but to fail. I suppose it's no shocker that this Persona would be such a great protector, as it is an especially powerful type of shikigami that is said to protect from disasters and curses alike.

Justice: Dominion

dominion P5

After that brief foray into liking Personas for their skills, I’m just going to go ahead and ignore that for my favourite out of those in the Justice Arcana: Dominion. While they possess some nice features, like being able to Repel Nuclear attacks, most of Dominion’s actual abilities are centred around instant kills using the Bless attribute. While these can be incredibly useful if the Persona is built around boosting how often an instant kill will occur, I personally found that — if I were to spend enough time grinding up a Persona’s level to make this kind of strategy viable — merely using my Personas’ basic attacks worked just as quickly and far more consistently. So, if I don’t find Dominion fun to play with, what about them piques my interest? Honestly? It’s the scarf thing that seems to float up and around their entire body. It’s the way they hold a scale and book in equal measure, referencing their Biblical duties as a manager and regulator of lower-ranked angels. It’s the ornate red cape that contrasts so beautifully with the ethereal white of their robes and the deep blue of their book and hair. Out of all the Justice Personas, Dominion stands out to me with their fantastic design.

The Hermit: Necronomicon

necronomicom P5

Representing the Hermit Arcana, the Necronomicon is another Persona unique to one of the game’s party members, Futaba Sakura. The Necronomicon here appears as a flying saucer, evoking the common idea of a UFO, alien invasions, and a vast library of strange knowledge, all of which feel quite attuned to Futaba’s geeky personality and computer skills. This version of the Necronomicon shares some of these traits with its original version: a grimoire hiding terrible magic and the secrets of H.P. Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones, other extraterrestrial beings. Now, Lovecraft himself was not at all a good person — to put it mildly — but the Necronomicon, alongside his other literary creations, has eclipsed the man in many ways. With all of the symbols highlighted in a techno green on the outside, the glowing tentacles that remind me of Cthulhu, and a gothic gargoyle statuette on top, Persona 5’s iteration does a fantastic job of updating the book into a style that both connects well with Futaba and looks stunning. Let’s just hope it doesn’t steal too many cows.

The Wheel of Fortune: Fortuna

fortuna P5

Fortunately, my next Persona is a fair bit less divisive. From the Wheel of Fortune Arcana, we have Lady Fortune herself: Fortuna, the Roman goddess of fortune who actually makes an appearance on some Wheel of Fortune tarot cards. How fortuitous!

Going against her common depiction of being blind or wearing a veil (as luck, like justice, “is blind”), Fortuna instead possesses a wheel and circle motif, which seems appropriate somehow. The most obvious part of this theming is the steering wheel that makes up the goddess’ torso, which she hovers her hand over and occasionally spins, which I’d argue is rather clever as idle animations go. Beyond that, however, we can also see her skirt and scarf alike billowing out to form another circle around her, cutting an impressive silhouette that reminds the viewer of the yin and yang symbol. More subtly, one can even look at Fortuna’s hair, with several strands of her fringe hanging down in a spiral style on the sides of her face. Admittedly, she is hardly alone within the Wheel of Fortune Arcana, with most of its Personas having some sort of easily recognisable visual gimmick. Aside from Fortuna, my favourite of these is how the three sisters Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos each have a portion of the string that makes up a person’s fate, with each sister’s string visually leading into the next one’s. However, while I adore this design, it takes place over three different Personas, so I felt it was more appropriate to give recognition to Fortuna, who stands (or floats, I suppose) on her own.

So that was the first 11 of my 21 favourite Personas in Persona 5. Join me next time as we go into the remaining 10. Who’s the strongest of the Strength Personas? The most temperate of those in the Temperance Arcana? Find out when the second part comes around. Alternatively, if you want to give your opinion on these questions or list your own favourites in the 11 Arcanas I’ve gone over so far, please leave a comment below!

Erin McAllister

Erin McAllister

Staff Writer

Erin is a massive fan of mustard, writes articles that are too long, and is a little bit sorry about the second thing.

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