How Persona 5 Diagnoses our Deeply Sick Society Within its Story

Over the course of 2021, I played and beat Persona 5‘s gargantuan storymode. It took me over 110 hours, and that was without grinding for level ups to get through a challenge, as the fights for the most part were fairly easy, even on hard mode. No, a lot of that time spent playing the game was actually just watching cutscenes for said story mode. There was so much ground to cover because the game possessed soaring ambitions atypical of JRPGs. A lot of the time the story fell short on those ambitions, but in some of key ways, Persona 5 is a game with the most trenchant political critique on society since Metal Gear Solid 2. This really comes down to the story’s villains, which consist of specific corrupt individuals with institutional power, rotted institutions themselves, and ultimately, your everyday person. It’s that last step that really takes really takes Persona 5‘s critique to the next level, but we should start from the beginning.

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