I’ve invested over 250 hours in Persona 5. To some that might seem like a monumental undertaking, and to others it might seem like a drop in the bucket. It is, by in large, one of the longest playtime counters I’ve ever seen in my ~20 years of gaming. Given my in-depth involvement and acquisition of the coveted “Platinum Trophy” I would consider myself somewhat of an expert on the game. My goal here is to highlight my thoughts regarding each Confidant in the game. In this essay, I am somewhat critical of certain aspects of the Confidant story threads. Just to clear up any thoughts otherwise, I did enjoy each confidant, I just found that I had some issues regarding a few. I will be going in the order of my completion of their ranking beginning with:
Ryuji is a “fallen from grace” track superstar at Shujin Academy. I think Ryuji’s confidant is just “okay.” While I thought his character development in the Confidant story is lackluster, the writing for his personality is phenomenal. I look forward to each Ryuji line and his Confidant ranking is just more of that. Even if his Confidant story thread wasn’t my favorite, at the end of the day it’s more Ryuji and I won’t argue with that.
Ann is a sweetheart and is designed to be the “attractive” character of the bunch. Her Confidant narrative mainly focuses on a classmate that has had to deal with some difficult times. Peppered throughout each rank are glimpses into her modeling “career.” Ann’s story is touching and does well to tie into the main story, something that doesn’t happen with each confidant. Ann isn’t my favorite character in the game, so I had low expectations regarding her side story however, I was pleasantly surprised. Her upgraded Persona is one of my favorites.
“No-Good Tora” was one of my favorite confidants. I love political storylines, so this confidant ranking was right up my alley. I did not complete him during my first run of the game, but I focused in on him during NG+. He is a fantastic moral compass for the player, always providing reassurance that “The Phantom Thieves” are doing what he believes to be right. He is also one of the few, maybe the only, confidant that does not require the Phantom Thieves to solve his problems via Mementos. Great story thread.
I feel like Kawakami (aka “Becky”) is a very controversial confidant. I liked her storyline during my original play of the game, but during the second run, I found it to be… a little annoying. Student/Teacher relations aside, relying on your student to correct your problems seems to be a bit immature. Her rewards for gaining rank 10, however, are some of the best in the game, so it’s worth pursuing her full rank if for nothing other than that. Her entire thread seems to be a bit implausible to me. The claims being made against her err on the side of ridiculousness. Visiting Mementos to resolve this thread didn’t sit well with me, it could have been easily hashed out in real life amongst adults.
One of my favorite, if not my favorite, characters in the game is Yusuke. I love his personality, character development, and charm. Regarding his confidant ranking, it’s just more Yusuke goodness. His confidant is what all confidant stories should strive to be. Wholesome interplay between the player and the character, developing their bond through various hanging outs and events. Yusuke’s thread follows directly to his role in the main story. The effects of Madarame’s tutelage and corruption of that bond are lingering as Yusuke struggles to get back on his feet in the art world. I love this confidant. It’s one of the absolute best in the game. Yusuke explores his struggles in a thought-provoking way, even getting the entire crew together to help him out. Rarely, the Thieves gather outside of the main story, so it’s charming here to watch them all convene to assist their friend.
This might be entering “hot take” territory but I don’t particularly like Makoto’s confidant story thread. I understand what they were going for with the “humanizing” angle… but it falls flat when it goes off of the rails near the middle of the ranking. You spend most of her story tagging along with her new friend and her boyfriend. This provides a means to an end with Makoto’s understanding of how “normal” people operate in school her school, but the focus was placed on her friend’s character development more than her own. This is very disappointing considering Makoto is one of the strongest characters in the main story. I think they should have focused more on her backstory and relationship with her father/sister more than they did.
Chiyaya begins as somewhat of a scam artist but over time, and with your help, slowly evolves into seeing the error of her ways. In a world where teenagers can travel to trans-dimensional worlds and “change people’s hearts,” it’s not out of the question for fortune-telling to have some kind of power. The shoe-horning of her “country roots” could be omitted completely. It feels forced and clunky, not to mention it was introduced far too late in the confidant ranking. This is another case of “did the main protagonist need to step in to help her solve her problems?” I understand that the gameplay mechanic demands this thing, but when you look at the “Sun” confidant it seems clear to me that this is something that could also have been an exception to the rule. While I do believe the heart of the man who was putting pressure on Chihaya was truly corrupt, it’s not impossible to say the outcome could have unfolded differently without Phantom Theif intervention.
I will always have a soft spot for Ohya and find myself defending her confidant since her voice actress is the same as Yukiko from Persona 4. Ohya’s “problem” is one that is not easily solved and honestly, if I were in her position, I’d probably just seek new employment. For the sake of gameplay though I can argue that as I see it, there is no way that her “mementos change of heart” segment could have been solved via diplomatic means. It is shown that her boss is unwilling to budge on multiple occasions. The confidant story does lose steam as the ranks progress, but the tie into the main story gets bonus brownie points from me. As an aside, the perks that come with her rank were extremely useless to me.
I know I’ve been preaching about the need for Phantom Thief intervention in these Confidant rankings, and I know that it’s not needed here, but that doesn’t mean I love Tae’s story any less. Tae as a character is one of my all-time favorites. Her storyline is touching and has a good pay off at the end. It’s fun to see someone like her end up becoming a doctor. Part of the reason why I think I enjoy her character so much is because she does not fit the stereotypical doctor roll. In terms of capturing the overall message of the game, her character delivers on that front. She doesn’t “fit in” with the normal mold of her station.
Sojiro is another one of the strongest characters in the game. He provides key insight and furthers the plot at many points in the adventure. After around rank 6 of his Confidant ranking though, his individualized story starts to fizzle. You begin the rank by prying off Sojiro’s cold exterior, and the game hard locks your progress until your “kindness” stat is high enough. Progress is locked again until you are introduced to Futaba because the latter half of his Confidant story is focused on a situation regarding his custody of her. I’m a HUGE fan of the early story experiences with him. You begin to understand why Sojiro is the way he is and warm up to him. As soon as Futaba is introduced the Confidant takes a hard turn to focus on “her living with her uncle.” There are so many plot holes here, it’s somewhat frustrating. This man, who has presumably abused Futaba by his admission and her corroboration, has no legal grounds for the custody of Futaba. His past actions should speak volumes about his character, and yet Futaba and Sojiro both take 2 or 3 confidant rankings to “question” if Sojiro’s custody is the right thing. If “Blood is thicker than water” after all wouldn’t the Uncle be a better caretaker? No. No, he wouldn’t, and you should feel bad for thinking so.
Shinya is your stereotypical gamer tween that is pegged as the “sibling” character for the main protagonist. His story is not the strongest, but also not the weakest. The main reason to complete his Confidant, for me at least, was access to the perks it gave. Being able to easily down treasure demons helped during the latter part of the game when I was trying to Complete the compendium. There are some good touching moments here. I think this is probably the confidant ranking that the fewest people complete or even get around to due to the nature of how you have to access it. You have to pursue an optional Mementos request to even get this ranking going. Nothing stands out to me here regarding a specific moment or highlight of the confidant. Shinya’s character development is touching but nothing groundbreaking.
Mishima is one of my favorite confidant rankings. His character development is one of the strongest in my opinion. Even his token “trip to mementos” is handled differently. The Phantom Thieves just give his shadow a nice talking to and head back to the real world. They were able to showcase how you can trigger a change of heart without combative means. Mishima starts as a “loser” and eventually gains the courage to not only stand up to his bullies but also assist others (including the one bullying him) to stand up to their bullies. His confidant perk is EXP share, which is nice going into portions of the late game when you are swapping out characters less frequently.
Hifumi’s shogi career is tarnished quickly into the middle of her confidant ranking. You learn that her mom has been working behind the scenes to further her own goals and self-worth. This becomes problematic as Hifumi just wants to play shogi and is not concerned with the celebrity status she has attained. I know there are some oddities regarding this confidant ranking but all in all, it’s pretty good. Hifumi sticks to her guns and has no problem starting from scratch when the need arises. This is a pretty cut and dry example of the Phantom Thieves solving another problem via Mementos. I know I’ve labored on about this so I’ll give it a rest, I just wish they would have explored some different avenues as they did with Mishima or Yoshida.
It’s really hard to not like Futaba. As the token “little sister character” it’s almost required by human nature alone to be endeared to her. If you dislike video game/nerd culture references, I can see how Futaba would be annoying. In my honest opinion, most of her callbacks are done in good taste and provide a deeper introspective into the character. Her confidant focuses on a continuation of her involvement in the main story, even if it shifts to focusing on Joker a bit near the middle/end. You are engaging with Futaba and challenging her to be able to be comfortable with the general public on her own. Social anxiety is not easily overcome and it’s not beyond the scope of believability that someone with such a deep-rooted case as Futaba would have to have encountered some kind of miracle to progress as quickly as she did. This miracle, of course, was our pals, the Phantom Thieves. I enjoyed her confidant ranking. It was lighthearted and charming, no major drama or conflict, just hanging out and working on self-improvement.
First encounter with Iwai is kind of… strange? I don’t know if I should chalk this up to some odd localization or what but I have done his intro ranking 3 times now and never understood it. He give you a plastic gun to hold on to and then you can’t return it or even ask about it until your confidence stat is high enough. This has always been a point of confusion for me, however, this is the only gripe I have with his confidant. I loved Iwai’s storyline so much I would hang out with him just to get more Iwai goodness anytime I didn’t have anything else scheduled. His individual story is completely separate from the main storyline and can take some risks, which it does. It also focuses on his relationship with his son and involvement with his past. Iwai’s responses to some of your choices are downright hilarious. I am a sucker for a sarcastic tone and he delivers on this nonstop throughout every engagement. He isn’t afraid to hear the cold hard truth and sometimes he actively wants you to just lay it out as raw as you can. I didn’t utilize his confidant’s perks until my NG+ 100% run, and I honestly can’t say if they made much of a difference. But if you are looking for a good side story, focus here.
It’s impossible to complete this one without completing the game, and it is largely a small set of brief interactions with Sae when you finish a palace’s deadline. Her character development shines outside of these meetings, but it is important to get context and that is done via her Confidant. Not much more to say here… if you’ve played the game, you can see where this leads.
Arguably one of the most neglected Confidants in the game. You have very little time to focus on Haru and the hurdle to jump over to even being her confidant is extremely high. Unless you followed a guide during your first playthrough (shame on you), Haru was likely an NG+ only character for many Persona players. This is has led to some controversial opinions on Haru’s necessity in the game at all. To many (myself included) she felt like an unnecessary addition near the end of the game and didn’t provide nearly as much story as the rest of the gang. Unfortunately, her character shines the most during her confidant rankings. I say unfortunately because it is a shame that 90% of her character is largely ignored by a huge set of the player base. Again this might be personal preference, but Haru’s sharp tongue and sarcastic tone come through perfectly in her confidant. You learn tons more about her and you learn exactly WHY she is a good fit for the team. I won’t dive too deeply since I know that most people have glossed over her, but do try to focus on Haru during P5R or an NG+ run.
Justine & Caroline
The twins are no different than any other Persona attendant. You can complete all of their rankings in one sitting if you wanted. You do get more insight into their personality and some major foreshadowing into the ending events of the game if you complete their confidant. Completing their confidant raking in conjunction with fighting them at the end of your NG+ playthrough is worth investing the time if you want to get a deeper understanding of these two. While their ranking wasn’t as satisfying as Margaret from Persona 4 (as it’s not fair to compare them to the other characters in Persona 5) they do earn a special place in my heart in their own right.
This is another one of the rankings you will see through to the end just by completing the game. As this ranking is heavily tied to the main story, I won’t go into much detail. Akechi’s storyline is a rollercoaster in and of itself and I’m curious to know what they would have done if they didn’t lump him into being one of the defaults MAX rankings.
The final confidant of the game. The last story related confident and by the time you reach rank 10 with Igor, you will be privy to all the major plot points and intricacies that make up Persona 5. Again, not much to say since his rank is directly tied into progression. An enjoyable story to say the least.
And with that, I conclude my Confidant round up. I was firing from the hip regarding my thoughts on each of these characters, so if there are some formatting or nit-picky things, that’s likely why. I understand that some of them I was more critical of and some I let have a pass, even if they did the same things the wrong/right way. At the end of the day, this is still one of my favorite games, if not my favorite video game of all time. The story is fantastic but the game shines when it gets the character interactions right. The main takeaway from this review should be this: I wish that the confidants tied into a larger number of characters at once, and not just the player character. It’s hard to accomplish regarding a game with a schedule that is insanely loose and allows for great player freedom, but that is the top item on my wishlist. I’d sacrifice some amount of player freedom in the time management aspects for the story writers to be able to create a more cohesive experience and camaraderie amongst the wonderful cast of this game.
Note: If you were wondering, I did the lovers route for all of the female confidants that would allow it. I also missed screenshotting Igor’s rank 10 and all I had was the rank 9.