Persona 5 Versus Authority

Original Source

If you’d been following Persona 5 at all before release, you might have heard the developers throwing around a certain word: “picaresque.” Since this is a literary term, I was surprised to see it used in the context of a video game, which usually stick to more grandiose concepts for their references. (Looking at you, Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse.) The picaresque is basically the opposite of philosophical grandiosity, as a genre that turns its attention to the rogues, scoundrels, and general underdogs of society. Its focus is on the little guys, and how they survive in a world run by cruel, unjust authorities. It’s a worldly genre, one that’s explicitly aimed at social critique. From the first interviews I read, this signaled a new ambition from the Persona series to take a hard look at society as a whole. Persona 4, with its thesis statement of “reach out for the truth,” cast its eye on individuals and their personal neuroses. This sequel is both a reversal and an extension of that theme, examining how these issues are produced by society, and how it’s society that needs to change for the sake of the downtrodden.