For the past 20 years, Persona, which is a spin off of the Shin Megami Tensei series, has been one of Japan’s top leading RPG franchises. With its 5th edition being its international break out, it is accompanied by an anime which captures the basis of its story, style, and jazzy soundtrack. No longer wanting to accept the corruption of the adults in society, a group of high school students who discover the ability to travel into the hearts of these adults, or the Metaverse, form a gang called the Phantom Thieves of Hearts in order to make them change their ways. As they travel to the Metaverse, the members gain special powers, or titular personas. So in this brightly colored and musically intensified anime, who are some of the top characters who can steal our hearts? Read our list to find out!
10. Goro Akechi
Though he’s a high school student just like the Phantom Thieves, Goro is already an accomplished private detective. As someone who works with both law enforcement and the prosecution office, he publicly condemns the Phantom Thieves but manages to acquaint himself with Ren during his investigation. Due to being peerless and growing up in foster care, Goro has a hard time forming meaningful relationships but you do see him learn to value that as his relationship with Ren develops (or so you think).
However, how this character steals your heart is something that will surprise and crush you. After learning the truth of Ren and the Phantom Thieves, he ends up selling them out to the authorities claiming there is no such thing as friendship or justice. The fact that he uses his youth and intelligence to manipulate the cast and the audience just does that.
9. Sojiro Sakura
Sojiro Sakura is the temporary legal guardian of Ren due to his probation. He gives Ren a room upstairs in the café he runs, Leblanc, and lets him work part-time there. Not only does he have to take care of Ren, he also adopted Futaba, the daughter of a friend. Due to the circumstances behind her mother’s death, he largely keeps her existence a secret until he’s forced to tell the truth. While Sojiro may seem like a failure from an outside point of view, he does what he can as a single parent. As for why he took in Ren, Sojiro says that he sees himself in him.
After discovering Futaba’s involvement with the Phantom Thieves and learning than Ren and his friends are that very group, he naturally reacts in anger but Futaba pleads with him that it’s because of them, she was able to break out of her shell and accepts them. After that, he approves of their activities but also wants them to be safe. The fact that he’s a supportive single parent who does his best while trying to run a business can take anyone’s heart.
8. Haru Okumura
While Haru joins the Phantom Thieves towards the final act, Morgana recruits her after learning she’s the daughter of one of their targets, an abusive food company owner who wants to run for office. Despite her father’s high status, Haru tries to not stand out as much as possible by tending to the school’s garden. Due to being suspicious of her father’s activities in addition to being in a forced arranged marriage, she wants to find the truth. Though Haru initially has trust issues, she becomes fast friends with the Phantom Thieves not only for their support, but just for how genuine they are as people.
Haru is one of those characters that shows a two-sided personality. As regular Haru, she acts very formal due to her upbringing and being new to the group. But when she assumes her Metaverse personality as Noir, Haru acts like a tokusatsu heroine and lets go of all of her inhibitions. And once she gets a combat high, you can’t believe that she is the quiet girl. And those qualities are pretty much why she’ll steal your heart.
Though Morgana’s a talking cat, he claims he was originally a human who wants to regain his form. Despite that, he becomes a contributing member to the Phantom Thieves since he is the most experienced in context to the Metaverse. He tends to be their guide and can easily conclude how to find a target’s treasure. Morgana cares very much about his dignity due to his predicament and doesn’t like it when people only see him as a cat. Due to how his personal situation, he does act like a smart aleck but when coming up with strategies, Morgana is very level headed. In the Metaverse, he does have various uses beyond combat and stealth. As an obvious homage to My Neighbor Totoro, he can turn into a cat bus and that along with his other qualities are why he steals your heart.
6. Yusuke Kitagawa
While Yusuke goes to a different school apart from the rest of the main cast, he becomes a contributing part of the Phantom Thieves upon his inclusion. His passion and pursuit for art comes from his upbringing by Madarame, a famous artist. However, Yusuke learns that he uses the works of his students as his own and it turns out that he stole his greatest masterpiece from Yusuke’s own mother, and had her killed for it! After he comes to terms with Madarame’s corruption, he does show some forgiveness (and gratitude) which is why he’ll steal your heart.
Due to his more sheltered upbringing, Yusuke does come across as eccentric and awkward. He tends to casually point out the flaws of his friends but in the end, Yusuke does it out of the goodness of his heart. While the man that introduced him to art was a crook, the great thing about Yusuke is that he never gave up on it. In fact, Yusuke goes to the Metaverse for inspiration and makes a painting of what he sees there.
5. Makoto Saejima
Makoto, the younger sister of a prosecutor, also serves as the president of the student council. Despite her role, many students initially resent Makoto feeling she could have done something about Mr. Kamoshima. Unfortunately, nobody can cut her any slack since her position doesn’t grant her such authority. Due to all of the expectations forced upon her, Makoto is initially portrayed as submissive towards them and people say she can’t think or act for herself. While she was initially skeptical of the Phantom Thieves, after being rescued by them from a loan shark, she becomes another valuable member when they take him down. After seeing first hand that the Phantom Thieves want to help society, she decides to use her sister’s computer to find information on cases they can crack.
Upon assuming membership, Makoto becomes something of a vice-leader by actively saying which cases they should or shouldn’t take based on the impact they can make. The fact that she becomes a little bossy demonstrates how she breaks out of her shell of being obedient to the expectations of others shows how she can take the audience’s hearts.
4. Futaba Sakura
Ever heard of NEETs or Hikikomori? Well, Futaba Sakura, the adoptive daughter of Sojiro, is a perfect example of that. Due to the traumatic loss of her birth mother (and being mistreated by relatives who had temporary custody of her), she’s afraid to leave her room. Despite hardly ever going to school, Futaba is still highly intelligent and proficient with computers, smartphones, and networking (as opposed to going to school, most of her studying was through the internet). Thanks to installing a surveillance system at Sojiro’s café, she knows the true identity and methods of the Phantom Thieves and asks them to take her heart and change her ways.
After the Phantom Thieves help her, her development throughout the rest of the series will truly capture your heart. Futaba begins to accept the Phantom Thieves as her friends as she goes out around downtown Tokyo, and even manages to wear a bathing suit at the beach! She shows that she has a sense of humor when she messes around with her friends. The fact that Futaba goes from communicating through text to being able to talk and laugh face-to-face shows that her development is something that will also melt your heart.
3. Ann Takamaki
Ann is the first young lady who joins the Phantom Thieves as Panther. Though she is also a part-time model, a lot of people feel intimidated by her and tend to think of her as shallow, when in fact, she’s the opposite. While others tend to negatively judge her, Ann doesn’t let that bring her down as became Ren’s second friend at school after Ryuji. Due to being a victim of Mr. Kamoshida’s abuse along with her best friend, she becomes another valued member of the Phantom Thieves. Since Ann no longer wants to see anyone become a victim, she continues to join the crusades in cleaning up a corrupt society.
Before the group progressively expands, she was the voice of reason within the group. While Ren was someone who was willing to listen without giving a final say, and with Ryuji just wanting to be famous, she kept the group grounded that their mission was to help people. Her humbleness and willing to care for others despite how they have judged her is a true quality that will take your heart.
2. Ryuji Sakamoto
Ryuji, or Skull, is the first person our main character makes friends with due to him being a fellow outcast no thanks to Mr. Kamoshida’s negative influence. After getting the track team suspended for a year for standing up to Mr. Kamoshida’s shenanigans, Ryuji does what he can to make things right. When Ren comes into his life, they both discover how they can change his heart by entering his own personal palace in the Metaverse, a way of entering his inner world.
While he can be brash and conclusive, in the end, his heart is in the right place. He was the first to recognize that Ren wasn’t the bad boy that the school and society rumored him to be, and when it comes to fighting for justice, his drive equals that of Ren. Deep down inside, if you want something to have your back thick and thin, Ryuji is someone you can always count. Overall, it’s just that fact that he’s so uncompromisingly caring is what makes him steal your heart.
1. Ren Amamiya
Ren (also Akira in the original game), is the de facto leader of the Phantom Thieves, and goes by the code name Joker in the Metaverse. While he seems like an ordinary teenager, he’s actually serving probation for an assault he was framed for. Due to his situation, many of his classmates other than Ryuji want nothing to do with him upon his transfer. Still motivated by his sense of justice, Ren uses his access to the Metaverse to first change the corruption in his school no thanks to Mr. Kamoshida, a PE teacher. After he succeeds in changing Mr. Kamoshida’s heart, he wants to use his powers to change society.
As more people learn of his secret and his motivations, Ren encourages those he encounters to join his quest in changing society. As a leader, he treats everyone equally and doesn’t really force people when he encourages them. Ren lets people fall into their roles naturally and whenever they have doubts, he’s always there for you. Because of Ren’s fairness towards others, the notion that he was charged with assault will convince you it was all a lie and that he is truly the most heart captivating of the cast.
The great thing about Persona 5 is no matter how old you are, you can truly make a difference. While we all wish we could enter someone’s palace through a special app on our phones, we can do it in different ways. We could involve ourselves in community service, or just encouraging someone who may be feeling down. The thing that steals our hearts through Persona 5 is just by being kind to one another without preconceived judgments, we can make the world a better place.
While it is undeniable that many adults in the real world are rotten to the core, as the future, the youth can truly make a difference. A teenage boy in Africa was able to provide wind power to his village, two Australian teens were able to make a cheap version of a medicine that combats HIV, two teenage boys from Ohio created Superman and at 17, Joan of Arc became a symbol of France. To you teenagers reading this, if there’s something that you don’t like, there is something you can do about it and that’s what the characters of Persona 5 can teach its audience. So do you think you can steal our hearts? If so, go out and try!