- "The moment man devoured the fruit of knowledge, he sealed his fate... Entrusting his future to the cards, man clings to a dim hope. Yes, the Arcana is the means by which all is revealed... Beyond the beaten path lies the absolute end. It matters not who you are... Death awaits you."
- —Nyx Avatar, Persona 3
The Death Arcana is debated as one of the most misunderstood cards in the standard Tarot deck because of its common interpretations that imply a physical death. While it is associated with foreboding and doom, Death Arcana also symbolizes metamorphosis and deep change, regeneration and cycles. In the earliest Tarot decks, it is was the only Arcana that didn't have a name, but the depictions of an ominous skeleton bearing a sheath led people to call it Death.
When one follows the order of the cards in the Tarot deck, one can notice that the Death Arcana implies a change in the deck. The Arcana before this one are named "small mysteries" and are often represented by human figures, while the "great mysteries" following Death include celestial symbols and angels.
The Personas of the Death Arcana are commonly associated with and excel in Dark-based affinities, but weak towards Light-based affinities. Mythological figures of the Death Arcana are usually figures related to death, or are notable in their myths for their own deaths.
In recent games, characters of the Death Arcana are associated directly with death, but a commonality that connects all Death Arcana characters is the cycles of change they experience.
- Megami Ibunroku Persona
- Persona 2: Innocent Sin
- Persona 2: Eternal Punishment
- Persona 3 / FES / Portable
- Persona 4 / Golden
- Persona 4 Arena
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
- Persona 5
List of Personas
Megami Ibunroku Persona
||Mondo||58 (Ultimate Persona of Reiji Kido)|
The Death Tarot is a high leveled Arcana in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. As their arcana suggests, the Personas of the Death Arcana focus on Dark-based attacks, while they are weak towards Light-based attacks. The Death Tarot is also the arcana of the playable character Eikichi Mishina.
Eikichi follows the archetype of the Death Arcana by transforming from his shy, lonely childhood self into a flamboyant, overconfident macho persona. Yet even as swept by the changes in his lifestyle he remains the same person - a timid, sensitive person hidden beneath a boisterous mask, with a deep appreciation for friends.
In the same vein, the cycles the Death Arcana promises are revealed as Eikichi's fears - he assumed said personality as to no longer fear the bullying he endured as a child, but eventually had to deal with his fear of his father and his open disapproval of what Eikichi had become.
|Rhadamanthus||1 (Initial Persona of Eikichi Mishina)|
|Rhadamanthus Prime||32 (Prime Persona of Eikichi Mishina)|
|Hades||57 (Ultimate Persona of Eikichi Mishina)|
The Death Tarot returns as a high leveled Arcana in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. It retains the same Personas attributes and affinities as its predecessor.
The Death Arcana plays a major role in Persona 3. Years prior to the events of Persona 3, the Kirijo Group founded an experiment hoping to study the nature, and hoped to convert the power, of Shadows. During the experiment, the lead scientists learned about the prophecy of the Fall, and subsequently, the arcana that was never meant to be, the Death Arcana.
Accepting death as a deliverance, many scientists willingly embrace it and began collecting more Shadows, to rejuvenate Death and summon it. However, during the last stages of the experiment, one of the lead scientists, Eiichiro Takeba objected to the ideal and interrupted the experiment. As a result, Death was forcefully separated into twelve respective arcana. In his incomplete state, Death tried to run away, however, his escape was stopped by the Anti-Shadow weapon, Aigis. In their battle on the Moonlit Bridge, Death was eventually sealed within a young boy. The young boy is the Protagonist.
Years later, the Protagonist is able to interact with an amnesiac young child named Pharos. He constantly speaks of the Fall, and gives the Protagonist vague hints regarding Death. At some point, Pharos would request the Protagonist to be his friend, allowing him to forge the Death Arcana Social Link. Unique from other Social Links, the Death Arcana automatically upgraded from time to time, regardless of whether the Protagonist visits Tartarus or not (Pharos can only be interacted with during the Dark Hour). By defeating the Hanged Man, the final ordeal of the Full Moon, the Death Social Link will automatically maximize itself, bestowing the protagonist the Ultimate Persona of the Social Link, Thanatos, "the bringer of death."
Pharos would later regain his memories, and bids farewell to the Protagonist. A young man named Ryoji Mochizuki shows up as a transfer student a few days later, who Aigis is immediately hostile towards. Eventually it is revealed that Ryoji Mochizuki harbors something more horrible: he is the manifestation of Pharos, which is also Death given form. He is given a human-like appearance and emotions via the Protagonist while he was assuming the form of Pharos, and his existence proves the unavoidable prophecy of the Fall.
As Ryoji is the Appriser of Nyx, he is destined to be the harbinger of Death and summon Nyx to destroy humanity.
In the end, Ryoji offers the Protagonist two choices: to kill him instead of facing Nyx. By killing Ryoji, however, the memories of the Dark Hour would be wiped clean and the members of SEES will live their lives as normal students until the arrival of Nyx. Declining Ryoji's offers to kill him results in providing the members of SEES with useful information regarding a confrontation with Nyx at the top of Tartarus on the destined day, January 31st.
On January 31st, Ryoji now serves as an avatar of Nyx, bearing the potential and skills of the twelve previous shadows. Throughout the battle, Nyx Avatar, after having gone through twelve forms, finally shifts to a melancholic tone, revealing his true Arcana: Death. In SEES final confrontation and the Protagonist creating The Universe Arcana with Igor's help, Igor states that fate has dealt the Protagonist's Death, but it is the path of the Protagonist's choosing whether to avert or accept the fate that allowed him to go so far, hinting that Death may be the Protagonist's true arcana.
FES / Portable
The Death Arcana Social Link is represented by Hisano Kuroda, an elderly widow in Persona 4. The Protagonist can start the social link once the Devil Arcana social link with Sayoko Uehara has reached level 4. After first meeting her in the hospital at night, she can be found by the banks of the Samegawa Flood Plain every Sunday or during holidays if the weather is sunny or cloudy. By the end of the social link, the ultimate form of the Death Arcana, Mahakala will be bestowed.
Persona 4 Arena
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
The Death Arcana is represented by the Confidant with Tae Takemi, which ranks up as the protagonist interacts with her. This Confidant unlocks new medicines, accessories, discounts and item efficiency improvements as it ranks up.
Tae's confidant involves her drive to make medicines to save a terminally ill patient of hers. Completing the Death Arcana Confidant will also bestow the ultimate form of the Arcana, Alice.
Notably, since Persona 5 uses the naming terminology from the Tarot of Marseilles deck, the Death Arcana is referred to as unnamed.
List of Demons
|0. Fool Arcana - I. Magician Arcana - II. Priestess Arcana - III. Empress Arcana - IV. Emperor Arcana - V. Hierophant Arcana - VI. Lovers Arcana - VII. Chariot Arcana - VIII. Strength Arcana/Justice Arcana - IX. Hermit Arcana - X. Fortune Arcana - XI. Justice Arcana/Strength Arcana - XI(T). Hunger Arcana - XII. Hanged Man Arcana - XIII. Death Arcana - XIV. Temperance Arcana - XV. Devil Arcana - XVI. Tower Arcana - XVII. Star Arcana - XVIII. Moon Arcana - XIX. Sun Arcana - XX. Judgement Arcana - XX(T). Aeon Arcana - XXI. World Arcana - XXI(T). Universe Arcana|
|Suit of Coins - Suit of Cups - Suit of Swords - Suit of Wands|
|I. Arcana Magician - II. Arcana Priestess - III. Arcana Empress - IV. Arcana Emperor - V. Arcana Hierophant - VI. Arcana Lovers - VII. Arcana Chariot - VIII. Arcana Justice - IX. Arcana Hermit - X. Arcana Fortune - XI. Arcana Strength - XII. Arcana Hanged Man - XIII. Death|