Arcana in Persona 5 Royal: Queen, Fox, and Oracle

With Persona 5 Scramble out, it seems right to pay homage to its predecessor, Persona 5 Royal, and the way the parent game created wonderfully complex and lovable characters, each character represented by a tarot card. Couple this with the fact that F(r)iction’s Arcana issue is coming out, now is the perfect time to take a look at how this beloved video game connects its characters to their corresponding cards.

Needless to say, this article will contain spoilers for Persona 5 Royal! Read at your own risk.

1. Makoto / The High Priestess:

An upright high priestess card indicates wisdom, but reversed, it indicates that one’s problems come about because they are too heavily swayed by others’ opinions. This card is extremely apt for Makoto. In her investigation regarding high schoolers involved in the red-light district, she focuses solely on how others perceive her usefulness: “I’m going to show you how useful an honor student can really be.”

But in the process, she begins to question the status quo when she realizes her new friend’s boyfriend is trying to flirt with her, as well. Here is the boyfriend’s undiscernible first text to Makoto: “It’s meee, Tsukasa. *heart emoji* I no we just met but I cudn’t wait 2 *phone emoji* u.”

She tries to convince her friend to leave this toxic relationship and constantly questions her own involvement in this situation. At one point, Makoto, normally no-nonsense and uptight, gets frustrated to the point where she slaps her friend in a fit of anger and passion. Eventually, all’s well that ends well; she makes up with her friend, her friend leaves her toxic relationship, and Makoto grows in her self-confidence and learns to follow her instinct: “This time I’m not seeking anyone’s praise, and I’m not trying to show off my intelligence. I simply want to fulfill my own personal goals and dreams.”

2. Yusuke / Emperor

Yusuke depicts all the traits of a reverse emperor card: in his pursuit of beauty through his art, he’s nothing less than a petty tyrant, rigid in thinking, seeing others as people meant to serve and flatter him. A talented artist with a creative block, he (and his views about life) feels tainted because of his corrupt art mentor. Yusuke solicits the player for advice on how to overcome his internal struggles. But when one of his paintings is exhibited, even his language reflects that of a king: “That was nothing more than the drivel of unrefined commoners. I needn’t pay any mind to them,” and upon critique, “How dare you!”

The player and Yusuke then go on a variety of adventures to help Yusuke learn the meaning of beauty, from romantic rowboat excursions to eccentric church visits, before he realizes that his pretentious attitude towards others has been harming him all along. He states in self-understanding: “I looked down on [my mentor] for focusing so sharply on fame and money, yet I too yearn for the praise of others!” It is from this realization that Yusuke realizes that his art is meant to be a gift to viewers, and his newly found determination propels him to paint in order to give hope to others.

3. Futaba / The Hermit

Perhaps one of the most beloved characters in the series, Futaba represents the hermit card. Before Futaba grows into someone who finally finds answers within her, she begins as a girl who chooses to resist growth and cuts herself off from others in detrimental ways. Before she meets the player, her foster dad says, “She won’t take a single step outside the house, or even try to see other people […] she doesn’t even let me come in her room.”

When she meets the player, she expresses a desire to slowly start changing herself and creates a promise list with the player. From going to school to starting a conversation with someone her age, her list consists of tasks that someone who has been shut in their room for years would find difficult. But through her persistence and with the player’s support (whom she calls her “key item”), she’s able to begin to see the benefits of re-integrating herself with society. Her final confession upon completion of all the tasks is this: “My whole world is expanding. Every day brings new and different discoveries […] Things might be the exact same as they were yesterday, but from my perspective, it’s all spinning […] I just hope I can keep changing little by little.”

While these are only three of the many lovable characters in P5R, the other tarot card and their corresponding characters are just as spot-on! And if you found these tarot-themed analyses interesting and are looking for more ways to connect with your inner mysticism, then discover more arcana content in the next issue of F(r)iction. Order here!

Esther Hsu

Esther Hsu is a high school English teacher based in California. They graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a BA in English and Japanese and from SJSU with their Master’s in Educational Curriculum and Instruction. When they’re not thinking about ways to upset the current educational system or include diverse voices in curriculum, they can probably be found playing a board game, immersing themselves in video games, binging Netflix, trying to get their cat to love them, or studying languages.