Being holed up at home means there’s more time to spend on games, and with the release of the updated and highly-anticipated Persona 5 Royal, it’s entirely reasonable to sit back and sink in hundreds of hours on this intense, comical, and poignant wild-ride.
Acting as a “director’s cut,” of sorts, featuring new additions and changes to both the gameplay and story, players take control of a group of high school students sneaking into people’s consciousnesses to steal the twisted core of their desires, while simultaneously balancing their school and social lives. Like I said, it’s a crazy journey, one that really has players learning about complicated philosophical teachings, like Carl Jung’s work on cognitive functions.
Regardless, one of the major elements of Persona 5 is socializing with your classmates and friends, developing tight-knit relationships amongst your “Confidants” which also provide players varying ranges of benefits, from increased experience gain to evolving high-powered Personas. Additionally, players have the option of romancing some of these confidants, further deepening these relationships (although be wary of trying to establish a harem). While each of them has merit in terms of how they relate to the story, some are better than others, in terms of the perks provided to players. Below, I’ve ranked the romances, from worst to best, and while I know these rankings are sure to cause disagreement, I value the discussion of who truly is the best waifu.
(Note: romancing a confidant is not required to gain all beneficial skills)
(oh, and spoilers, duh)
10. Ichiko Ohya – The Devil
An investigative journalist who’s okay with twisting the truth in order to get publicity, players meet Ohya during their first visit to Madarame’s residence, and later call her up when they need to identify the Yakuza boss targeting Shibuya. Most nights, you can find her getting tipsy at the Crossroads bar. As players get her to open up, you learn more about the disappearance of her partner and the censoring of her articles, leading to her renewed faith in her profession.
Along with not having much connection to the main story, save for her assistance in identifying Kaneshiro, Ohya’s confidant skills don’t provide as much benefit as would initially seem. Being able to lower security levels in Palaces may seem helpful, especially on higher difficulties, but if you manage to stick to cover and ambush enemies, Palace security isn’t much of a concern. It’s worth spending time with Ohya solely to meet Lala Escargot and work at the bar, earning yourself a couple-thousand yen in the process.
9. Haru Okumura – The Empress
The heiress to the Big Bang Burger empire, it’s a shame Haru doesn’t get as much screen time as many of the other characters. Though this is rectified somewhat in Royal, it is well into the game before players meet this third-year gardening enthusiast. Haru’s extreme shyness and subservience stem from abuses inflicted upon her by not only her father, but also her fiance, whom she is being forced to marry. Her reluctance changes to assurance as her confidence grows, and her confidant story is sure to warm anyone’s heart.
Unfortunately, as mentioned above, Haru suffers from not being properly introduced until midway through September, meaning most of her story is crammed into the latter portion of the game. Royal rectifies this by showing her in the background throughout earlier portions of the game, but by being the last member to join the group, players can’t take complete benefit of her SP-recovering vegetables and her Persona’s wide skillset.
8. Makoto Niijima – The Priestess
She’s top-in-the-class, student council president, and on track to attend law school, but Makoto can’t catch a break. Disliked by her fellow students, manipulated by the school principal, and is greatly overshadowed by her accomplished older sister, Sae. It’s this constant pressure that causes her to snap, awakening her to her Persona in one of the game’s coolest scenes (her Persona is a freaking motorcycle!). It’s very easy to see why so many people have warmed up to the intimidating Queen.
Makoto’s persona, Johanna, has access to both Nuclear and Recovery spells, making her both a powerful damage dealer and healer. Her Shadow Factorization ability seems initially helpful, allowing you to see if certain attacks have neutral, or even positive, effect on enemies, but you won’t have a need for this unless on higher difficulties. Her confidant story, among the game’s weakest, does her no help, either. Her versatility as a party member, however, is what makes her among the better characters.
7. Ann Takamaki – The Lovers
Ann is the first character you will actually meet in the game, crossing paths on your first day at Shujin Academy. It is her best friend, Shiho, who faces the worst of Kamoshida’s abuses, driving her to exact revenge and help create the Phantom Thieves of Heart. Her bubbly, upbeat personality masks years of guilt and isolation, and after peeling away the layers, she, like everyone else, is just trying to find her place in the world, somewhere she belongs.
While Ann’s Persona does have helpful buffs and debuffs, making her an excellent support character, it is because of the Sexy Technique that Ann is as high-up as she is. After reaching a certain confidant level, Ann will have the chance to outright cancel an enemy’s attack. That ability alone is extremely helpful in nearly any situation. I know Morgana’s going to be furious at me for not placing her at the top of the list, but I have to tell it like it is.
6. Futaba Sakura – The Hermit
One of the world’s most infamous hackers and still only a first-year student, Futaba is the step-daughter to Sojiro Sakura, the player’s caretaker. Blaming herself for the death of her mother, Futaba hides in her room and shuns contact with the outside world. That is, until the Phantom Thieves attract her attention. She puts her computer skills to work, quickly taking up the mantle of the team’s guide and vowing to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death.
Futaba doesn’t assume the role of a normal party member, but rather, provides support from the sidelines. Instead of taking a spot in your lineup, she’ll constantly be applying restorative buffs, saving characters from being KO’d, and replenishing lootable objects in Mementos. She may seem a little unorthodox at first, but her abilities more than makeup for her lack of social tact.
5. Kasumi Yoshizawa – The Faith
One of the largest additions to Royal is the inclusion of first-year Kasumi Yoshizawa, a new student who starts at Shujin Academy around the same time as you.
She’s a quirky mix of cheerful, caring, and clumsy, an interesting balancing act that veils a mysterious past. Although she joins the Phantom Thieves, she is reluctant, believing it is up to people themselves to solve their own problems, rather than rely on others. Her story arc is really enthralling and unfolds throughout the entirety of the game, so you’ll constantly be reevaluating your opinion on the newest party member.
Others may disagree, but the inclusion of Kasumi feels somewhat forced due to her peppering-in throughout the earlier portions of the game, as if the player is being railroaded into romancing her. However, since we’re talking in terms of gameplay, her confidant abilities make her one of the best Phantom Thieves. Along with a chain grappling hook which can be used to ambush enemies from a distance, she also prevents players from being surrounded by foes. It may take a while for you to break through her vivacious shell, but she’s worth investing the time into.
4. Chihaya Mifune – Wheel of Fortune
The so-called “Maiden of Relief” can be found telling fortunes in Shinjuku and selling Holy Stone amulets.
When she’s not taking 100,000 yen from you (don’t worry, you’ll get it back), Chihaya will happily read your fortune, a skill she’s honed over the years before moving to Shibuya from the countryside. Other city-dwellers go back and forth between being infatuated by her, or being afraid of her. Only by pushing her to accept herself will players experience the entirety of what she has to offer.
And she has quite a bit to offer. By increasing your relationship with her, players open themselves to new kinds of readings, which can improve your social stats, increase the amount of money you gain, and even deepen the bond you have with other confidants. Depending on whether you want to max out your stats on a first or second playthrough, Chihaya will be a constant fixture in your life.
3. Hifumi Togo – The Star
When not at school, star shogi player Hifumi Togo can be found practicing her craft in solitude at a local church. While she appears to be beautiful and composed, when playing the game of generals, she turns into a fierce rival, unmatched in her determination and furious will.
She is the champion of the Female Shogi Lead, and with the player helping her practice new moves, she hopes to be known as an internationally-renown Shogi master.
Along with her confidant arc being absolutely charming, the skills players acquire from Shogi lessons are extremely vital. The most important of these is allowing players to switch out party members for backup, letting them quickly adapt to changing combat situations on the fly. This, along with special follow-up attacks and being able to more easily escape from battle, are what make the Venus of Shogi such an important confidant.
*Fun fact, Hifumi was originally supposed to be a Phantom Thief, but as Makoto became more fleshed-out of a character, Hifumi was eventually relegated to a background role.
2. Tae Takemi – Death
Where else is the party going to get its medicine than from an eccentric back-alley doctor? Known as The Plague among her former colleagues, Takemi is a disgraced doctor making unregulated medicine in her clinic office. A genius in pharmaceutical research, her eccentricity and morbid personality reveal a woman scorned by the medical community, yet still doing her best to try and help patients. Just don’t try to lie to her about why you need your medicine.
Takemi is going to be the player’s source for restorative items throughout the game. She sells players healing tablets, regenerative bandages, and status ailment capsules. As you take your bond with her further, the number and efficacy of her available items increase, providing you with more items that will help you survive out in Palaces. The frequency with which players visit her is what ranks Takemi so high on the list.
1. Sadayo Kawakami – Temperance
I know it’s weird, dating your homeroom teacher, but just hear me out. By day, she appears to be a normal, if disgruntled, second-year instructor, but in order to support herself with an additional income, Kawakami moonlights as a maid for a “delivery health” service (to put it diplomatically). Players will go between her reprimanding you for being late to class, to her praising and even flirting with her new “master.” Her exhaustion and stress eventually make way for a teacher who is trying to do her best to help students succeed.
It’s important to gain Kawakami’s trust early on, as the abilities her confidant unlock are almost necessary to really take full advantage of the game. At first, she will only let you slack off in her class or make coffee for you, opening up time for players to do something else. Later, however, Kawakami makes it so you can slack off in other teachers’ classes, she will make higher-level items for you, and best of all, after a long day in a Palace or Mementos, she’ll give you a stress-relieving massage, allowing you to go out at night even if you’re exhausted. It may not be the traditional choice, but with how much you’ll be calling her to do you favors, Kawakami’s bond is among the most important in the game. Just make sure you have a lot of yen saved up to afford her housekeeping fees.
What do you think? Did we rank your favorite confidant high or low on the list? Comment below, and let us know who you think the best partner for Joker. Persona 5 Royal released worldwide on March 31, exclusively for PlayStation 4.
Fanatic to the extreme. When I'm not busy writing about or playing games, I can be found nerding out over mixed martial arts, heavy metal, and molecular gastronomy.