- "I am thou... Thou art I..."
- —The line most Personas say upon awakening
A Persona is a manifestation of a Persona User's personality in the Persona series, referred to as a "mask" for an individual to use to face hardship. A Persona is similar to a Shadow. Shadows are malevolent manifestations of one's inner thoughts, while a Persona is a manifestation of the same feelings but tamed and trained. If an individual takes up a resolution in their heart, the Persona will undergo a metamorphosis into a stronger form. While the summoning sequences of a Persona differs from one installment to the next, a tradition that later adaptions follow is that blue-ish fogs are always released when a Persona is invoked. A fight using Personas weighs the user's mind and spirit. Continuous use of a Persona will eventually drain the user's strength and stamina.
In the depths of human hearts, shared with all people, there is a domain where mythological archetypes dwell, and they grant an influence over an individual’s personality development. Anecdotes of mythological divinities the world over probably exist because of that, so one could say that gods and demons exist not in Heaven and Hell but in the hearts of humanity. Personas even have an influence on physical and mental abilities, making their users superhumans, for example giving them mastery over weapons or resistance to terror and madness.
Megami Ibunroku PersonaEdit
At the beginning of the game, the main characters play a game called "Persona". Afterwards they fall unconscious and meet Philemon, who gives them the power to use Personas. Each character's Persona "awakens", and then is able to be called out at will. Some characters had not seemed to have met Philemon, but could summon Persona anyways. It can be assumed that this is due to Maki Sonomura's dreamworld, which was created by the DEVA System.
Unique to this game, the Personas that can be equipped are not determined by the character's level, but by their "Persona Level", which accumulates experience at a different rate than the character experience; invoking a Persona gives more experience to the Persona Level than using weapons or firearms. Despite this, Persona creation is tied to the protagonist's Character Level, and a Persona cannot be created if its level is more than 10 levels above his; additionally some Personas can only be created using a Totem, and the most powerful Personas also require specific demons' spell cards to create. Personas themselves do not level up, but grow as their Rank increases from being invoked a specific number of times in combat.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment features a similar mechanic to Megami Ibunroku Persona, in which the main characters meet Philemon, who bestows upon them the ability to summon Personas. Each time the character summons a Persona, it costs a flat amount of SP regardless of the spell used, dictated by the affinity between the user and the Persona. Characters with the "Worst" affinity with a Persona simply cannot equip it. Better affinity with a Persona has a few advantages: the SP cost is lower and there is a higher chance of triggering mutations, which in Eternal Punishment includes a higher chance of unlocking a Persona's Unknown Power.
The Level and stats of the Persona are static, but they gain Rank gradually when they are summoned in battle (rather than using healing or support spells out of battle). A Persona learns new spells as it reaches higher ranks, plus one more "mutation spell" only obtainable via mutation after it has reached at least rank 6. After reaching Max Rank, a Persona's stats can continue to grow via mutation as well.
Personas which are not bestowed by Philemon directly are created in Velvet Room by spending certain amount of Tarot Cards of the same Arcana as the target Persona. Some Personas additionally require a Material Card to create. Before confirming the creation, the player can also add a Skill Card and/or an Incense Card to slightly enhance the Persona. The player can create any Persona up to 5 levels higher than any party member of the highest level with the only consequence of requiring more SP to cast any spell from that Persona.
In order to summon a Persona, one must use an Evoker, though there are some cases where an Evoker is not required for summoning. A Persona can actually be artificially created, but because the Persona does not come naturally to its artificial user, it becomes violent and difficult to control; if the Persona-user isn't strong enough to hold back the Persona, it may even wind up killing the host. Artificial Personas can be suppressed by certain drugs, aptly named Suppressants, but use of the drugs causes fatal side-effects. It's possible for one to have the power of the Wild Card, meaning that multiple Personas can be contained simultaneously. The only two seen capable of this power are the silent protagonists and Aigis. Personas can no longer be summoned or equipped if their level is higher than the protagonist's.
Philemon does not appear in Persona 3, but there are several references to him, namely a fluttering blue butterfly that can be seen several times throughout the game.
In Spring of Birth, when the user's stamina is used up too much, they can no longer summon a Persona unless they take a rest or until they are healed.
When one enters the Midnight Channel, one's innermost secrets materialize and become a Shadow Self which attempts to get its host to accept it. If one cannot accept the Shadow Self, or if they refuse to acknowledge what they want to keep hidden most, the Shadow becomes enraged, attracting all nearby lesser Shadows to itself and transforming into a monster which attempts to kill the person it spawned from. If one can face oneself and admit to what the Shadow Self says, then the Shadow transforms into a Persona loyal to its user.
Igor later reveals that a Persona is formed by having one's ego master its Shadow, but adds that it is also possible for a Shadow to become a Persona-user by developing its own ego (like in the case of Teddie). As Teddie is the only known Shadow to be able to use a Persona, this possibility is extremely rare at best.
In the anime, rather than summoning it only for spells, Personas do all of the fighting against the Shadows. But when the Persona takes damage, so does its user and a very weakened Persona will start to show a bit of static in its body. In addition, when Yu fuses his Persona (aided subconsciously by Igor), he does it on the spot.
Persona 4 ArenaEditThe use of Personas and their existence in the world is explored more in the game. Members from the original SEES group form the "Shadow Operatives", under control of the Kirijo Group, working under Mitsuru Kirijo, who partner with public safety officers on cases involving Shadows. Personas and Shadows are shown to be known by higher-ranking officials and are kept secret from public knowledge. It is now shown the Personas are still able to be summoned in the regular world even after the Dark Hour disappeared, but also requires the use of an Evoker. However, it can be summoned without one during crisis or with extreme concentration.
The Tarot Cards the Investigation Team use seem to be of little use in the real world as the members are shown to be unable to summon their Personas outside the TV World, like Rise once mentioned in Persona 4. The TV World, however, helps those who have summoned Personas before hand, making it much easier then before, to the point where the use of an Evoker isn't necessary to summon one; Mitsuru expresses surprise at only having to think of her Persona to bring it out.
Rather than being held in Cards as in all previous Persona games, Personas are now contained within different masks worn by the protagonist. The mask dissolves into blue flames and changes back into its normal form when invoked as a Persona.
The Phantom Thieves of Hearts realize that society forces people to wear masks to protect their inner vulnerabilities, and by literally ripping off their protective mask and confronting their inner selves do the heroes awaken their inner power, and using it to help those in need.
When the protagonist first summons his Persona, he is engulfed in blue flames, and his school uniform changes to his Phantom attire while the flames appear as his Persona behind him.
Persona -trinity soul-Edit
Everyone possesses a Persona, but only those who have summoned it before and know of its existence may call it out by will by concentrating one's mind. Personas that have consumed other Personas will be more unstable and will need Persona suppressors to keep their Personas under control. Strangely, although -trinity soul- is supposed to take place in relation with Persona 3, evokers are never used and summoning Personas is an easier task than it was in the game on which this anime was based.
The anime also states that a person's ability to summon Persona weakens as they reach adulthood and may need to take medicine to keep up that ability. This, however, contradicts with Persona 1 and Persona 2 as the rest of the adult cast can summon their Personas without any issue. One character speculates that this may simply be due to adults tending to lose their strong sense of identity as they grow older, and that it's not inherently about age, but personality. Despite that, however, this is one of the reasons that Persona -trinity soul- is not considered canonical to the series.
The awakening of a Persona in someone with the ability to summon and command them can depend on several internal and external factors, but the most recurrent way in users is sudden danger or an emotional episode. In Megami Ibunroku Persona, Innocent Sin, and Eternal Punishment, the main casts are confronted by threats from demons or other Personas, which fully activate their Persona abilities and allow them to defend themselves. An example of an emotional awakening is with Kei Nanjo, who sees his retainer Yamaoka mortally wounded by demons. Danger may be deliberately placed before the characters to prompt their awakening, as in Eternal Punishment where JOKER summons demons and forces Maya Amano, Ulala Serizawa and Katsuya Suou to awaken to their Personas.
In Persona 3, Persona awakenings depicted in the game show that a sudden danger prompted them to appear. Mitsuru Kirijo had joined her father in an expedition into Tartarus, and when he was attacked by Shadows she awakened to Penthesilea. Similar happenings occur with Akihiko Sanada, Junpei Iori, Yukari Takeba, Ken Amada and Koromaru. An exception is Fuuka Yamagishi, who awoke to her Persona naturally when she wanted to protect others. The protagonist's power was awakened through a combination of danger, his contract with Igor, and some strange prompt from the boy Pharos. Persona 4 shows awakening in a slightly different way. While the protagonist Yu Narukami awakens to his Persona ability when attacked by Shadows, the other members of the Investigation Team are faced with their berserk Shadow Selves, which must be defeated and accepted before they transform into Personas.
In Persona 5, each Persona awakening is triggered by the user facing against some detested fate or person, such as Ryuji Sakamoto facing down his rival and tormentor Suguru Kamoshida - each member of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts makes a resolve to stand against their oppressors. Each time, the process is traumatic: the user is wracked with pain as their Persona speaks from within them, their eyes turn yellow and a mask appears on their face. The mask must be physically ripped from their faces, leaving bloody markings around their eyes until the Persona appears, erupting with a burst which can kill nearby enemies.
In virtually every case of awakening since Persona 3, the process is physically and mentally exhausting, with the newly-awakened user needed to rest away from the field of battle for a time.
Loss of ControlEdit
While Philemon describes the Personas as reflections of a character's inner self, there have been many instances that a Persona has rebelled against their controller, though every recorded incident of this instance has been either due to the extremely risky procedure of artificial Persona awakening, or due to external factors.
In Persona 3, for example, Strega members must take medication to prevent losing control of their Persona and being killed by it. Strega, however, is a group of artificial Persona users. In Persona 3 The Movie, Shinjiro is strangled by his Persona Castor. Additionally, during Megami Ibunroku Persona, Takahisa Kandori loses control of his Persona and it possesses him, turning him into a demon. However, this was because his Persona was actually Nyarlathotep in disguise.
In Persona 4, Teddie mentions denying the Shadow's message once again when it has truly manifested as a Persona might cause said Persona to devolve into a Shadow and resume its vengeful mission. This is confirmed in Persona 4 Arena - according to the Malevolent Entity, a Persona will revert into a Shadow if its user experiences extreme psychological stress; if the restored Shadow is denied again, it will try to kill its former controller once again. It is also suggested that Shadows that have reverted from Personas are much more powerful due to its experience as a Persona. This reversion is also seen in Persona 4 The Animation, where Izanagi reforms as Shadow Yu, outlining how greatly he relied on his friends. Due to the nature of this occurrence, and how Yu Narukami was under a great deal of emotional stress during his fight with Margaret, this can be seen as supportive of the Malevolent Entity's remarks.
The Persona GameEdit
In Megami Iburoku Persona, and Persona 2 a ritual that appears in the form of a game, and incarnation respectively.
In Megami Iburoku Persona, the "Persona" game starts with four participants in each of the four corners of a room facing inward, with the rest of the participants standing inside the room. One of the people in the corners will shout out something along the lines of "Persona, Persona, Please come here." (The come here part varies with each speaker). Then the first person walks to the right, till they're standing by the second person in a corner. Then that person repeats that action, ending up near the third and so on. The game ends when the fourth person reaches the spot the first was positioned at the start of the game.
In Persona 2, the game is called "Master Persona Incarnation" which was rumored to let one see their future. However it is slightly different this time. All the participants would stand in a circle. Everyone would walk counterclockwise twice while shouting out "Master Persona, Master Persona, please come to us!" each time. Then one of the members would walk until they were behind the person in front, and then that person would walk. The cycle completes when the last person ends up at the first person's spot. A final shout of "Master Persona, Master Persona, please come to us!" finishes the Incarnation.
Persona 2: Innocent SinEdit
- "An imposter, born out of our rumors, isn't it...? It's just like what happened with our Shadows. Another "self" that was created in the minds of others. "People only know about themselves through how others perceive them". The existence of our "ego" originates in others. We compare ourselves to others, and we are conscious of how our image is perceived when we are among others. That's when "we" really start to be created. I think that means for every person we meet, we have yet another "self" formed out of their perceptions."
- —Maya Amano
Persona 3 FESEdit
- "Personas and Shadows are the same thing. That's why you're able to fight them in the first place. Did you all think that Shadows were mysterious invaders or something? Shadows are the lower parts of the psyche everyone has... Suppressed human thoughts given physical form. When people are unable to face their darker selves, they break loose, free from all control. But sometimes, humans with special awareness can tame their Shadows... Those are Persona-users. The Shadows' power affects time and even space... Through your Personas, your unspoken desires were manifested..."
Persona 3 Drama CD: MoonlightEdit
- "Did you know? It’s thought that Personas are actually the avatars of our wills. It’s been theorized that since people’s minds are what give them their forms, that’s why they tend to take the forms of gods…
The power to affect time and space. In other words, the heart’s ability to draw a manifestation of itself into reality. Of course that power will inevitably resemble a person’s true self, wouldn’t it?"
- —Mysterious Girl
- "A shadow is suppressed power, and when controlled by one's ego, it becomes a Persona..."
- —unofficial project document, read by Naoto Shirogane
- "Shadows are suppressed human thoughts given form… everybody has them inside."
- The Persona Game is based on one famous urban legend in Japan, " ". The origin was about a group of five mountaineers stuck in a heavy blizzard. One member died and was buried. When the remaining four mountaineers reached a small abandoned house, they found there was nothing around for them to light a fire. In order to stay awake and survive the freezing night, they began an activity (performed in Persona) where each member stands in a corner and take turns walking counter-clockwise to tap the next person on the shoulder. The strange thing about this activity is that there should have been nobody standing in the first corner for the fourth person to tap, but this wasn't the case which led them to believe the mysterious fifth participant in the game was the ghost of their friend they had buried earlier.
- In every Persona game, the Personas are summoned in the Velvet Room into the form of a Card; during fusion, Igor or the Velvet Room attendant fuses cards holding Personas into a new Persona, which also comes on the form of a card or is confined or changed into a card after being summoned.
- In Persona 5, the sound effect accompanying a Persona summon has been changed from "カッ?" (flash) to "ブチッ?" (snap), implying that the characters have hit a breaking point of some kind, which results in the manifestation of their Persona.
- The Guardian system from Shin Megami Tensei: if... serves as the basis of the Personas.
|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|
|Playable||Rise Kujikawa - Yu Narukami - Kanami Mashita - Yosuke Hanamura - Chie Satonaka - Kanji Tatsumi - Teddie - Yukiko Amagi - Naoto Shirogane - Nanako Dojima - Margaret - Marie - Tohru Adachi - Hatsune Miku|
|Non-playable||Protagonist - Ryotaro Dojima - Minoru Inoue - Sumomo Ujima - Tomoe Sayama - Tamami Uesugi - Nozomi Nakahara - Kyoka Ochimizu - Dance Instructor - Mikuratana-no-Kami - President Tanaka|
|Other||Velvet Room - Yomotsu Hirasaka - Takura Productions - Inaba - Midnight Channel|
|Midnight Stage||Kujikawa Rise (Stage) - Circus Tent - Sultry Lounge - Doll House - Romantic Castle - Mechanical Castle - Event Space - Mikuratana-no-Kami's Realm|
|Albums||Persona 4: Dancing All Night Original Soundtrack|
|Songs||Dance! - Calystegia|
|Terminology||Persona - Persona User - Shadow - Kanamin Kitchen - LMB Festival - Shadow Self - Investigation Team - Apathy Syndrome|