By far the most prominent series during all of Anime Expo was Persona 5, with one of the most anticipated panels being the Persona 5 voice actor panel. During this panel, we got to see the entire main English cast of Persona 5 as they performed various skits and comedic segments throughout. While nothing particularly groundbreaking occurred during the panel, it was still incredibly light-hearted and a joy to watch, especially as a big fan of Persona 5.
Who was there?
Once the panel began, each of the main Persona 5 voice actors took to the stage: Xander Mobus, Cassandra Lee Morris, Max Mittelman, Erika Harlacher, Matthew Mercer, Cherami Leigh, Erica Lindbeck, Xanthe Huynh (going the extra mile and cosplaying as her character, Haru), and Robbie Daymond. The voice actors were also joined by project lead Yu Namba, who supervised most of the voice recording sessions, and assistant project lead, as well as lead translator, Mai Namba. Yui Namba gave some insight into the translation efforts for Persona 5, stating that the project required 6 translators, 8 editors, and over 10 quality assurance staff, as well as the fact that Persona 5 easily had the most voiced lines and non-voiced text dialogue out of every Persona game.
After the cast was introduced, they continued the panel with an improv section. The cast was given various prompts to begin incredibly comedic improv amongst them all, including prompts such as "coffee vs curry" and what would be inside of each characters palace (with the highlight being Ryuji's palace of Burger King and various versions of Joker). Listening to the voice actors playing out the different comical scenarios was incredibly fun and light-hearted, with the biggest disappointment being the fact that it did not last very long at all.
Making Us Hungry
Following the improv session was an advertisement for the Okamoto Kitchen food truck. Okamoto Kitchen had various food items themed around Persona 5, and even gave away stickers for Persona 5 if it was ordered from them! In honor of the partnership, the Persona 5 voice actresses (sans Cherami Leigh) had to go through a team food competition, with the team consisting of Harlacher and Lindbeck going up against Morris and Huynh. During the challenge, they were all blindfolded and given a food item to eat, which they would then have to recreate as accurately as possible using taste alone. From the very start, the challenge progressed about as well as expected (not very), with the end result being a fight amongst the ingredients by both teams. In the end, the first team managed to win by a single ingredient, with the video’s end also marking the end of the panel.
The panel could best be described as painfully short, but pleasantly sweet. The entire panel took about 30 minutes, but seeing the voice actors interact with each other both in and out of character was incredibly wholesome and fun. Leaving the panel came with a feeling that there should have been more, which can be seen as either a positive or a negative. Hopefully, next Anime Expo includes another panel for Persona 5 to some extent, and ideally it'll be longer than this one. If you were at Anime Expo and got to see the Persona cast, feel free to discuss in the comments section!