11 thoughts on “The (Mis)Representation of LGBTQ+ in Persona 5”

  1. The thing to remember in Persona is that despite the fact you name the character and make choices for him, he’s still a defined character rather than an “avatar” as in Dragon Age. That means that the writers had a particular role for him in mind, and that includes his sexuality. I agree that it would have been interesting to have options for gay romances, but it was the creators’ decision to not include that. You’re playing that protagonist, not “yourself”.

    The Persona series hasn’t been short of exploring LGBT stuff in the past; most people are well familiar with Kanji and Naoto’s stories in Persona 4 by now, for example, and those were good examples.

    What is interesting is that, although you are correct that Japanese society “IRL” is rather regressive with regards to stuff like this… popular media most certainly is not. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of unabashedly yuri or yaoi/BL anime in your time, and games are no exception. In fact, I’d probably go so far as to say that modern Japanese games (particularly of the mid-budget tier rather than big-name triple-A titles) tend to favour strongly female casts, at least a proportion of whom are homosexual. You just need to look at series like Neptunia and Senran Kagura, both of which are extremely popular, to see this at work.

    Could we use more gay men in games in particular? Sure. But there is some representation there, at least, and it is growing. BL visual novels remain consistently popular among both male and female fans alike, for example.

    One other thing to remember is that as you correctly point out in the case of Persona 5, several characters just happen to be some form of LGBT and don’t make a big deal about it. What’s to say there aren’t others? Authorial intent counts, of course, and if I get a definitive word one way or another from the writers that “yes, this character is gay” or “no, they are not gay” I will always defer to that on the grounds that I figure the person who wrote something probably knows better than me… but in other cases things are very much open to interpretation.

    What’s to say, for example, that Mishima isn’t gay and attracted to the protagonist, but too awkward to admit it directly, instead making use of the Phan-Site and his strong efforts to promote the Phantom Thieves as an attempt to express himself? There are doubtless plenty of other examples you could come up with, too. And without a definitive word from the authors, you can be as correct as you want to be 🙂 The joy of headcanon!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is what I said you should be better in attacking this theme than me ahah Thank you for the insightful comment.

      When it comes to media, I think that Yaoi is still way too far from representing good gay relationships, at least in the Anime side. Don’t know about Yuri, thought! I think only really recently we were able to watch Animes portraying gay as something completely normal.

      Regarding Persona 5, of course it was the developers choice, but I think it was not the best choice. They could easily bring that to the table and decided not to. Like they did with Persona 4 and Persona 3 (But I cut some slack from those ones since they are older).

      Regarding women empowerement I think you are right. We can also look for Final Fantasy XII and XIII that portray strong lead characters as Light or Ashe.

      It’s true that it’s left to your imagination. I mean it what happens with art and gaming is a way of art. Nevertheless, if you think in the girls side, clearly there is no lesbians there since you are able to date all of them.

      But, yes, I can understand your point. Nevertheless, I would love that the game was a little more inclusive. But, let’s get rea, for that you should have the possibility to chose a female character which you don’t 😀

      Again, thank you so much for this comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I didn’t expect so much depth in a post like this (but then again I’ve never really bothered to think about the representation of homosexual relationships in this particular game). I’m glad you brought up the history of Japan as much as you did as it’s clear ‘on the whole’ the country has a lot of unresolved issues with the LGBTQI community… I’m kinda with MoeGamer on this one though, the protagonist in this game–while open-ended in their relationship options–never struck me as anything other than straight as he is still kinda defined as a person, at least as far as RPG’s go. Would I have liked to have the option to hook up with Ryuji? Of course! But do I miss it in this particular instance? Not really. But I do agree that Japan needs to make itself more ~fluid~ when it comes to romantic pairings in mainstream games and just in general.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you~! To be honest, I also didn’t thought I would be able to write such a depth post about this theme, but it ended up like that 😛

      I understand what you are saying! Although I don’t really think he comes up as straight to me. In fact, I don’t have any kind of thought regarding is sexuality. He could actually be bissexual and the game would be the same character wise. But, as Moe Gamer said, and rightly done, it ends up being up to your own interpretation xD

      I think it’s getting better little by little which is good! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post with some awesome points 😁 as an honorary asexual I guess I can add a little bit, while I’ve never played Persona the description you gave of the main character sounds like a cool representation! I agree that it’s better when they don’t outright state a characters orientation but show it through actions (or lack of). It’s sad that they didn’t get all the representation right though, as long as we point out when developers fall short and push for improvement eventually it will get better (I hope!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ufff! Thank god you think the representation is cool! I was scared that I got something wrong since I’m entering a field which I don’t entirely know about. I may have a certain asexuality here and there, but let’s say I’m not a full-fledged one ahah

      Yeah, I hope that too! 😀 It’s not all games now have to portray bissexual or homossexual characters, but it would be nice to see more of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As always, I think it isn’t a case of one game needing every representation or option, but that across the medium of gaming we need wider representation in general to give consumers choices and opportunities to find something that resonates with them. Trying to make one game cater to everyone is only going to dilute it and take away from what was intended, but at the same time, if there are only a handful of games representing homosexuality and they all have the same stereotyped representation, that is also not a great situation.
    I do think representation on a number of fronts, not just sexuality, is getting better in a lot of media, but there’s still a long way to go in diversification of representation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you! I chose Persona 5 because is a game that easily could have added that flavour! Of course I’m not asking that all games portray gay characters, that wouldn’t make sense. But, as you said, I would like to have a little more of them out there!

      Yeah, I also think that! 😀 Especially if you go to the western media. I think the eastern one will take still some time to do it. Though, I think Yuri on Ice may be the one to disrupt and make a jump on this!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In the mona car form during the desert travel to futaba’s palace and fireworks. You kind of actually see Yusuke kind of interested. Even when he hangs around with the boys on the beach and Hawaii. He shows a mild interest in chatting up the ladies. You could direct it and say is the protag also asexual since he never shows any interest(s) at first. We know that the romance aspect of the game is non-canon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm probably you’re right xD That’s the thing about having bad memory… You end up forgetting things like these ahah

      Hmmm Well, you can make him asexual. You just need not have any relationship xD And let’s face it, he doesn’t really seem that eager when the teacher comes as a maid in the night ahah

      Liked by 1 person

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