- "You might have done a variety of things in hiding in your hometown, but you will behave yourself here."
- —Principal Kobayakawa, Persona 5
Kobayakawa is a character from Persona 5. He is the principal of Shujin Academy.
Kobayakawa is overweight and bald. He wears a beige suit, white undershirt and red bow tie.
Kobayakawa is callous and apathetic towards his students, caring only for the reputation of Shujin Academy and his own status. He was aware of Kamoshida's abuse of his students, but did not care due to Kamoshida's fame as an Olympian athlete and reputation he provides to Shujin. His actions are always meant to please his benefactors that helped get him to his seat in power and becomes distraught when he quickly loses influence and favor starting with the revelation of Kamoshida's abuse to the press. He is willing to use the students for his own gain or to save himself, even using the Student Council President Makoto Niijima as his enforcer to expose the Phantom Thieves identities. He even implies academic prospect repercussions if she cannot produce results he wants, a plan that fires back at him when she breaks from his influence and tells him off for his corruption. He is particularly weak willed when defeated, having no loyalty when all is lost and even was willing to sell out his benefactor to save his own skin, a choice that ultimately ended with his death.
Kobayakawa is the principal of Shujin Academy and spent years building up Shujin Academy's notoriety, even employing a former volleyball olympian, Suguru Kamoshida, as an instructor for the school. However, Kamoshida began abusing his student and athletes; sexually abusing the female athletes and either disbanding other male athletic teams by force or subjecting his own male athletes to draconian torture-like training. Despite all this, Kobayakawa turned a blind eye to his actions, even hushing parental concerns and ultimately strong-arming the faculty and much of the other students into silence regarding the matter, all for the sake of preserving Shujin Academy's image provided by Kamoshida.
He appears on the day when the protagonist first arrives at the school on Sunday for registration. Kobayakawa assigns the protagonist to Sadayo Kawakami's class 2-D which is also attended by Ann Takamaki and Yuuki Mishima because it is the only class of second year with vacancy. He was forced by his benefactors into having the protagonist attend Shujin to keep a close eye on him. He came up with the excuse that reforming the protagonist during his probation period would further bolster Shujin Academy's prestige.
Shujin Academy becomes the center of attention by the media when the Phantom Thieves of Hearts target and reform Kamoshida, causing him to admit to his sexual harassment and physical abuse of his students. This sudden shake up along with the heist of Ichiryusai Madarame's heart alarms both Principal Kobayakawa and his benefactors who force him into investigating his own students to find out if any of them are a Phantom Thief. He tasks the student council president, Makoto Niijima, into investigating the student body for potential suspects. After Makoto fails to produce results quickly, he threatens her with damaging her chances of getting higher education, causing her to lose faith in him. Even though Makoto does eventually discover the identities of the Phantom Thieves, she withholds that information and uses them as a means to test their morals by targeting Junya Kaneshiro, whose heist is pulled off successfully, further brining the Phantom Thieves into notoriety. Ultimately, not only does Makoto relinquishes her role as his investigator, Makoto joins the Phantom Thieves herself (though she does not tell him) and states that she can get into a college based on her own merit, not by his word. After she leaves, Kobayakawa calls for someone he cringingly addresses as "Sir," apologizes and promises he will try to find out about the thieves.
After the story about Kobayakawa's true nature is leaked to a tabloid magazine, the SIU Director and the other conspirators decide feel that he is no longer of use to the Conspiracy. During the Shujin Academy class trip to Hawaii, Principal Kobayakawa is seen walking towards Police Headquarters with unknown intent. As he walks through the crosswalk, he suddenly stops in the middle as he clutches his chest and his eyes go pale in pain. Unable to leave the crosswalk, he is brutally killed when a large truck crashes into him.
Upon return from their class trip, the school is notified of their principal's demise. Though the death is ruled a suicide, rumors begin to circulate around the school that the Phantom Thieves were responsible since Kobayakawa had little to show in motive for his sudden change in heart. However, due to his focus on the image of the school and not of the students themselves, many do not mourn for his death, even with claims by the vice principal that Kobayakawa did care for the students. After Kunikazu Okumura's death when confessing wrongdoings, the police found a Phantom Thief Calling Card in Kobayakawa's office, which was purposefully forged and planted by Goro Akechi as a means to frame both his and Okumura's deaths on the Phantom Thieves. This would also serve as means for him to infiltrate and join the Phantom Thieves as a means to take out their leader and disband them.
When the Phantom Thieves infiltrate Shido's Palace, Shido's ally, a politician referred to as Ooe, reveals that Kobayakawa was assassinated because of his plans to expose the Conspiracy to the police out of guilt.
- While he remains unnamed in the Japanese version, in the Western version he is addressed as "Principal Kobayakawa."
- He is the second high school principal in the series to suffer a gruesome death for his connection with the Conspiracy after Takashi Hanya from Persona 2.