Warning, in case the banner above doesn’t show for you, this story has spoilers abound!
Television shows—the best ones, usually—have what seems like too many characters. Characters that if crammed into a two hour film, would fall to the wayside. But in television, universes are built. Characters are developed slowly over time. Television honors a league of characters room to breath their own stories, not just to service a measly plot.
The Persona series has always operated like a good show, precisely for this reason. Like where the drama Lost constantly shifted perspectives per episode, or the campy True Blood followed the lives of humans, vampires, werewolves, and more in Louisiana with a lustful gaze. Persona leads us through a year in a silent protagonist’s life and inches us close to the many, many friends they make along the way. Persona is essentially good ass television: complete with slice-of-life filler, rounded characters, adventure, drama, romance, and all.
Persona 5 has been out for a couple weeks now. Alongside it, players are sharing their love for the game’s many befriendable Confidants. From the hot lite-goth doctor to the shy Phantom Thieves website moderator, there are many characters to cozy up to in Persona 5. But some rise above the rest. While all the Confidants net you random bonus abilities (as you can read in our guide), some find their strengths otherwise: in how their bonds with the player unfold.
And so, like great television has been honored over the years, I’ve constructed the ultimate power rankings for the many teens and adults across Persona 5. Some aren't even necessarily the best characters to grace Persona 5. But all in their own unique ways, they’re truly powerful. Whether that's through embracing the oddities of their own existence and the bad hands dealt to them, or embracing sheer evil.
Faux-Igor played us all like damn a fiddle. After Igor’s original Japanese voice actor tragically passed away in 2010, the idea of a new Igor piping in worried fans. And for both audiences—in Japan and the English voice overs—New Igor was tonally off on all accounts. Igor just sounded plain wrong. But by the game’s end, this switcheroo proved to be purposeful. This Igor wasn’t the real Igor at all, but an imposter! Faux-Igor was the big bad the whole time! Wow. What a menace! After a series of predictable twists, Evil Igor was honestly the one I couldn’t have predicted. And for that, Faux-Igor proved himself to be a powerful villain, solely operating on the act of surprise (because that giant cup boss and the popularity contest afterwards left a lot to be desired).
6. Yuuki Mishima
Oh, Mishima. Mishima, who flirted with selfishness, but wised up in the end. Mishima, who texted my Main Character (MC) far too often. Mishima, who once loitered in Shinjuku and later in Akihabara, patiently waiting for the MC to join him. Mishima, who quite honestly, I was kinda rude to all the time. Mishima has arguably the biggest leap in growth in terms of the Confidants across Persona 5. He’s one of the only characters not in the Phantom Thieves who is aware of their actual identities. As a “phan-boy,” he moderates and manages the Phantom Thieves’ website. He thanklessly sifts through the forums for potential targets, and hops to our defenses online despite us never asking him to. He is a knight for a kingdom that doesn’t really want him.
Mishima is a true depiction of a ravenous fanboy (or fangirl) in the internet age. As console or PC lovers hop to a company’s defense at the drop of a hat (and beyond), as does Mishima for the Phantom Thieves when their popularity begins to dip, or others call their good intentions into question. Mishima is the person who proudly puts “Phantom Thieves fan” in all of their social media profiles, nets maybe 40 followers, and dives into the mentions of any naysayer on Twitter dot com. Mishima, not blessed with the magical Persona-summoning abilities as his classmates, at his core just wants to feel included and to feel powerful. At one point, he goes a little bit too power hungry (but it’s nothing a good ol’ heart-stealing can’t fix). By the Confidant’s end, Mishima learns the error of his ways, and becomes a genuinely better person.
5. Tae Takemi
If I didn’t personally feel uncomfortable with the idea of an underage teenager dating an adult, then Tae the Hot Lite-Goth Doctor would have been my girlfriend one hundred percent. Tae is the only other character who feels like she's on the same wave-length as our silent protagonist. She’s also been disgraced by the authority over her (as is the case with all the Confidants, really). And her unfortunate misgivings in life have equipped her with a sharp wit, sly sense of humor, and best of all, a flirtatious personality. Just like our MC.
Tae dresses just like her attitude, with her strappy wedges, spiked choker, and general goth-like accessories. She sets herself apart from any other doctor you’ve likely met, singlehandedly becoming the cool goth doctor of all of our dreams. By the end, Tae escapes her gossip-addled existence and breaks through the medical world with her controversial experimental medicine. And hell, she even saves a life or two along the way.
4. Futaba Sakura
Futaba joins the Phantom Thieves mid-game, and the game only grows better because of it. She quickly becomes the emotional core to the story; adding another dimension to Sojiro and giving insight into the mysterious existence of the Metaverse. After the untimely (and questionable) death of her mother, she battled depression. Futaba hardly ever left her room, resigned to a life of hacking on the web. But upon befriending the MC and battling her own distorted feelings within her Palace, Futaba ventures onto a path of finding her own happiness and discovering a new normal.
And Futaba's awkward fumbling back into society feels realistic. She doesn't change magically overnight. Her social anxiety will always be there—that sorta thing doesn't just go away (I know from experience)—but through her relationships with her friends, she grows better equipped to handle social situations. Over time, Futaba eases into a happy normal for herself. Quirks, hacking, and all.
3. Ryuji Sakamoto
Ryuji smashes the mold constructed for him. In Persona 3 and Persona 4, there has always been the dumbass best friend. In Persona 3 it was Junpei; in Persona 4 it was Yosuke. In both, they were the worst (Junpei slightly less grating). They were pervy, with only girls on their mind. They were loud and annoying, as teenage boys can be. But Ryuji’s personality—akin to the descriptors above—expands beyond that. Ryuji has been wronged in life, his career as a track star cut down by a spiteful coach. And Ryuji, furious at his life’s turn of events, adopts a punk-rock lifestyle. Or rather, a teenager’s innocent version of it.
Ryuji’s altogether a sweet kid, as we grow to know him. He cares deeply for his friends. He carries with him a supreme sense of justice, even if he veers into caring about popularity a bit too much sometimes. The first time the MC and Ryuji bond, it feels like fate that these two kids wrongfully bid unruly for society would come together. And together, they help save the world.
Shido’s the best kind of villain; the kind that haunts everything he touches, before he’s even really present. He’s the catalyst that dragged the MC out to Tokyo, accusing him of assault way back when. Shido, in a drunken stupor, fell of his own accord, but angry at the MC for intervening on his would-be sexual assault of a woman, has him arrested and sues him. The MC’s life as he knows it falls apart: his parents cast him away, he’s expelled from school, he’s tossed into a massive new city. Shido gave the MC, this complete stranger, total hell.
Later, when we bump into Shido at a buffet, the MC is startled. He knows him, deep down. Shido much later in the narrative proves himself to be much more formidable, a prime minister candidate with true malicious intent. He’ll murder anyone in his path, even manipulating his own long-lost son (side note: Goro sucks) to do his bidding. Shido’s a bad, bad dude. Whether he’s manipulating an entire nation, or an innocent teenage boy with good intent. And in the end, taking down Shido is so, so satisfying.
Yes, you pal. You, and the silent, sassy protagonist you control. Our hero is tall, handsome, and doesn’t take any bullshit. He’s been served the worst hand in life: charged with a crime he didn’t commit (assault), expelled from school, cast away to an alien city. Our hero makes the best of it though. He makes friends. He does his laundry. He learns how to brew coffee and make curry. He studies frequently. He falls in love. He lives the best life possible for himself to live, and slings a life of moonlighting thievery while he does it. The MC proves to not only himself and his friends, but to us the players, that anything can be changed at even the most micro-level, if we just take control of our own destiny.
Unranked: Yusuke Kitagawa, Goro “Walking Predictible Twist” Akechi, Haru Okumura, surrogate daddy (Sojiro Sakura), realistic alcoholic journalist (Ichiko Ohya), my girlfriend (Ann Takamaki), Makoto Niijima, Real Igor, Chihaya Mifune, bad teacher (Sadayo Kawakami), Caroline & Justine, who Phil Kollar of Polygon succinctly described as anime Bernie Sanders (Toranosuke Yoshida), Hifumi Togo, deadbeat daddy (Munehisa Iwai), Lala “Should Have Been a Confidant” Escargot, Sae Niijima, the bratty gamer (Shinya Oda), not-a-cat Morgana, Mara (the phallic Persona who showed up far too late), this game has way more characters than I can remember, humpty dumpty (Principal Kobayakawa of Shujin Academy), Ann’s BFF Shiho, all the other Palace baddies.