It’s 2021 now. Persona 5 has been out a few years now, and people are starting to discuss what they’d like to see in Persona 6. We’ve reached the series’s 25th anniversary, and now we’re all waiting for them to announce that this game is in development. Other Japanese games are including more queer romance options, so it’s time we see it in the Persona universe, right?
I agree that we need more queer romance options in this series.
But queerness is already present in this universe. Or, in some cases, it was supposed to see. And that fact highlights why now, we need it more present in this game series.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin
This game is old and in many people’s opinion. Not great. But this is a Persona game where the protagonist has a possible romance with another guy.
Now this game is very different to the Persona we know and love now. There aren’t as many romance options. And your relationships with characters don’t matter as much within the actual game. This romance just changes some of the dialogue in the game.
But it was possible to romance your childhood friend and one-time enemy. As well as the main girl character, of course.
Funnily enough, this guy was known as Joker for a while too. Funny how that comes back around later…
Innocent Sin is definitely a game worth mentioning when it comes to talking about queerness in Persona. This game is old. It was released in 1999. And yet, this is a JRPG with a queer romance as far back as that. It almost seems strange that they’ve backtracked so much since.
Persona 3, or more specifically, Persona 3 Portable (P3P), granted the player the opportunity to play as a girl. It’s the same story mainly as the original Persona 3, but with some differences.
One of these differences is obviously the romance options. You can romance all the guys from the story. But one of those romances doesn’t change. You can still romance Aigis.
Now, maybe this is because she’s a robot. Maybe, it’s because queer girls are always seen as different to queer guys in media. Whatever the reason, this is a WLW romance, and we love that it was still included. Though it would have been nice if all the girls and guys in all the games were bi options…
When talking about Persona and queerness, you have to talk about Persona 4. Maybe some of these statements should be considered fanon only. I’m not going to go into Naoto’s gender because I know that’s not canon. But I still think of him as a trans guy. However, when it comes to romance and sexuality in characters storylines? It’s very much present in Persona 4.
Even if you can’t romance a guy yourself.
Kanji is one of your companions in this game. He’s a very tough-looking guy who secretly loves sewing and cute things. When you meet him, he’s questioning his sexuality. His entire dungeon is themed on his fear caused because of this. And even though that dungeon is incredibly uncomfortable – he’s 15, and it’s designed like a men’s bath filled with creeps – as that’s what he assumes being a gay guy is like. And that’s sad. He does possibly have a romance with a ‘girl’ character. But I would argue in that case that if you see Naoto as a girl, he’s probably bi.
Unfortunately, with the queer rep comes some homophobia. And some of that you do seem to participate in. It’s uncomfortable, and it would have been better if characters had to make up for it. But it is a clear issue.
As for protagonist romance…well, it was originally going to be possible. There’s dubbed dialogue that can be found on the Persona 4 disc of Yosuke telling the protagonist he really liked him. Dialogue that sounds like one of the romance scenes. And didn’t make it into the game. It seems like this game was originally going to have a gay romance, and they got as far as dubbing it. Before they cut it out.
That’s incredibly sad and frustrating. But it still highlights that queerness in Persona? It’s not gone.
I know incredibly little about Persona 5. I’ll be honest. I know there’s no queer romance but some uncomfortable age-gap ones. Sadly that’s not a surprise as this is Japan we’re talking about. But plenty of people have queer ships.
This game has taken a step back from the older games in the series in that there is no canon queer rep. We’ve gone from it being an option for a player. To important side characters. To…nothing.
And that’s really kind of disappointing. I read an article on why there should be queer romance in Persona 6, and it focused solely on the lack of it in Persona 5. And when that’s all you talk about, it seems even more unlikely that they’re going to include it. But they have in the past, so why shouldn’t they now? Especially since queer romance is becoming possible even in other Japanese games like Story of Seasons.
It would be disappointing if they didn’t include the possibility. A step even further back than they’ve already taken.