- Persona 5 Royal has some of the best and most memorable villains in gaming, but some are better than others due to their connection to the Phantom Thieves.
- The weaker villains in Persona 5 Royal, like Kaneshiro and Okumura, lack personal connections or screen time with the Phantom Thieves outside of their boss battles.
- Persona 6 should learn from the stronger villains in Persona 5 Royal and give all of its villains a meaningful connection to the protagonist party to elevate its story.
Persona 5 Royal has arguably some of the best villains in the series, and some of the most memorable villains in gaming as a whole. There is a lot of satisfaction of playing as the Phantom Theives and changing these evildoers’ hearts by traversing their Palaces and stealing their treasure. However, there are definitely some Persona 5 Royal foes who are much better villains than others due to their distinct connection to the Phantom Thieves. Persona 6 should continue to refine this approach to its big bads in order to achieve a more well-rounded rogues’ gallery.
A lot of the themes Persona 5 Royal deals with feel very personal to the characters, and the boss of each act tends to embody their personal struggle. While this is the case for most of the game, there are a few villains that end up falling a bit flat compared to others because of their lack of screen time or direct confrontation with the Phantom Thieves outside of their boss battle in the Metaverse. Compared to past entries, Persona 5 Royal has a greater variety of notable villains, but the weaker ones should serve as a source of growth for Persona 6.
Persona 6 Should Avoid Villains like Kaneshiro and Okumura
Unlike Persona 3‘s recurring villainous team Strega or Persona 4‘s series of TV World Shadow Selves, Persona 5 Royal pits players against a new, unique evildoer in each story arc as the Phantom Thieves seek to make a name for themselves and rid the world of injustice. The game starts off strong by creating a very intense and personal situation that forces Joker, Ryuji, Ann, and Morgana to come together to take down Kamoshida and expose his crimes. While the first few chapters of the game introduce these very personal story arcs, the middle of the game tends to fall a little flat due to its weaker villains.
The two outliers in Persona 5 Royal‘s otherwise fantastic cast of villains are Kaneshiro and Okumura, who are the Phantom Thieves’ third and fifth targets respectively. Kaneshiro’s arc revolves around him blackmailing the group, threatening to fabricate their involvement in his illicit activities if they don’t pay his ransom. This chapter is supposed to be Makoto’s story as she awakens to her Persona and joins the Phantom Thieves during it, but her lack of personal connection to Kaneshiro aside from trying to investigate his harassment of Shujin students makes this one of the game’s weaker arcs.
The Phantom Thieves’ pursuit of Okumura is often cited as the least popular chapter among Persona 5 Royal fans. Aside from many players finding his Palace annoying to navigate, players are never given a strong connection to him as a villain since the Phantom Thieves never interact with him face to face. Despite the personal connection Haru has to Okumura as his daughter and the grievous mistreatment of both Haru and Okumura Foods employees, she is the only one who ever interacts with him, giving the rest of the group little motivation to take him down aside from helping Haru.
What makes other villains like Kamoshida, Madarame, and especially Shido so compelling is their deeply entrenched connection to the Phantom Thieves as a whole. Kamoshida may have hurt Ann the most, but he also committed crimes against Ryuji and Joker, and Madarame showed his two-faced nature directly to the group during their infiltration of his home. Persona 6 should learn from the elements that made these villains great (and what made characters like Kaneshiro and Okumura weak) and seek to give all of its villains a meaningful connection to the game’s party of protagonists in order to elevate its story beyond that of Persona 5 Royal.
Persona 5 Royal is available for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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