The Phantom Thieves are here to steal your heart!
Original Content: ATLUS
Story & Art: Hisato Murasaki
Translation: Adrienne Beck
What They Say:
After being arrested and having to transfer to a new high school in Tokyo, Akira Kurusu is given the goal of rehabilitation and awakened to a new power—the power of one’s true self, a Persona. Using his Persona and the mysterious navigation app Mementos, Akira and his friends take on the role of phantom thieves, saving people from the twisted desires of those around them.
Akira Kurusu thought he was doing the right thing when he rescued a woman who was being attacked. Expelled from his school and sent away from home, he is re-enrolled in Shujin Academy on probation. Trouble finds him again on his first day when he comes across delinquent Ryuji Sakamoto and the two somehow stumble into a castle in an alternate reality. Caught by the castle’s king, the schoolteacher Kamoshida, Akira discovers his will to rebel and awakens the power of his Persona!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Where did things go wrong for Akira Kurusu? All he wanted to do was save a woman from her abusive partner. How did he end up as the bad guy? He was doing the right thing! Why is he being sued? I think it’s safe to say that he learned that the world is a scary and complicated place. Expelled from school with a criminal record, Akira is forced to move away and stay with an acquaintance of his parents. On his way there, he notices a weird app on his phone and accidentally pushes it. For a brief moment, it seemed like time had stopped. Now that’s freaky! But everyone starts moving again a few seconds later. Did he imagine it? The kid’s got a lot on his mind and could be stressed out. It doesn’t help that he’s been hearing news of weird accidents happening all around the city. Yup, the world is a crazy place right now!
Akira meets up with Sojiro Sakura, the acquaintance of his parents, at his cafe. Apparently, his parents are customers of his. He starts having regrets about taking care of the kid but he already accepted the money. I guess they’re stuck with each other, huh? Sojiro gives him a quick life lesson and tells him that being a white knight never pays off. It’s best to just stay out of other people’s business. He should just keep his head down for the year and his probation will be over before he knows it. Sojiro doesn’t have time for BS. That’s fair and his advice is sound. The world is a cruel place. Akira will be living in the room above the cafe. Also, he has to clean it up himself. Well, this day just keeps getting better, doesn’t it? After cleaning his new room, he lays down and pushes the weird app on his phone because why not? Curiosity killed the cat, you know? To his surprise, he’s now wearing a prison uniform and is behind bars! See, what did I tell ya? He’s greeted by a pair of twins and a creepy old man named Igor. Igor welcomes Akira to the Velvet Room which is a reflection of his heart. He also informs him that he’s heading towards impending doom. In order to escape that fate, he must rehabilitate himself. He must also have the courage to face the distortions of the world. Okay, that’s a lot to take in which is perfectly understandable. Akira has many questions but before they can be answered, he wakes up in his room.
Weird doesn’t even begin to describe the past 24 hours for Akira. The heck is going on? Hopefully, things will get better on his first day of school. By the way, it’s pouring outside. That’s never a good omen. Akira has to find cover until the rain stops. He notices a beautiful girl get a ride from a teacher. Okay, that’s totally not suspicious. A rowdy kid from his new school runs by and comments that Kamoshida, the teacher, is a pervert. It seems pretty legit. Akira inquires what he means by that and starts getting crap from him. That’s rude. He has to explain that he’s a new student and doesn’t know anyone. The delinquent student, Ryuji Sakamoto, apologizes and agrees to show him the way to school. They arrive at the school but something doesn’t seem quite right. Why does the school look like a castle? More weird stuff, huh? Ryuji is positive that this was the right way to school. But hey, the sign says “Shujin Private Academy” so this must be the right place. They decide to go in.
The moment they enter the castle, they’re captured by strange creatures and put into a prison cell. Well, that didn’t go as planned. The prisoner in the cell next to them tells the duo that they’re currently in a Palace, a different world separate from their reality that’s created from the twisted desires of an individual. The fact that their school has turned into a Palace means that someone there has twisted desires. Alright, that’s a lot to take in but Akira must be used to it by now, right? Things just keep getting weirder and weirder. Anyway, whose desires created this Palace? It turns out to be Kamoshida, the pervy teacher. I also have to add that he’s wearing nothing but a robe, a crown, and underwear. That’s it. He’s definitely a pervert. Ryuji demands to be released and threatens him. He gets punched in the face for his troubles. Ouch! And hey, teachers shouldn’t be hitting students! Akira tries to help Ryuji but also gets punched for his troubles. Kamoshida proceeds to kick the crap out of Ryuji and demands that he shows him respect. He refuses and Kamoshida remarks that he’s going to break his other knee. What a jerk! It’s clear that these two have a history together. Akira watches on as Ryuji gets beat up and wishes he had the power to help him. It’s at that moment that his Persona, Arsene, activates! He also gains a cool mask and a stylish thief outfit. Looking cool, Joker! That’s a reference from the game in case you haven’t played it yet.
Kamoshida sends a couple of Pyro Jacks towards Akira but he disposes of them easily thanks to Arsene. Having a persona really comes in handy! Ryuji uses this opportunity to shove Kamoshida down and both of them run away. The prisoner that was in the cell next to them asks if they can free him. Also, it turns out that he’s a talking cat! He doesn’t like being referred to as a cat though. It’s not the strangest thing they’ve seen today, that’s for sure! In exchange for freeing him, he’ll show them the way out. Not a bad deal. They free Morgana, the talking cat, and head towards the exit. Morgana explains that Kamoshida turned the school into this castle with his twisted desires. The egomaniac truly believes he’s the king of the school. Even worse, they find out that he’s been abusing students! It’s clear that Kamoshida is a real piece of crap. They’re spotted by the guards and Morgana unleashes his Persona, Zorro! Yeah, the talking cat has a Persona, too! They plow through them and make it to the exit. This is where they part ways. Akira and Ryuji return to the real world. What a day!
The day is only just beginning though and Akira is late for his first day at his new school. Well, this certainly isn’t going to help his reputation. He meets up with Ryuji after school and they come across Kamoshida. Ryuji, understandably pissed, starts going off on him but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Kamoshida walks away and warns them to stay out of trouble. Akira and Ryuji decide to ask his students tomorrow if they’re being abused. The next day, they go around the school and asking people if Kamoshida abuses them. Judging from all the bandages and bruises, it’s clear that he is but no one will admit it. Akira comes across the beautiful girl from the other day, Ann, talking to her friend, Shiho. Ryuji aggressively asks Shiho if Kamoshida disciplines his students and she bails immediately. No one wants to talk! Later, they track down another of his students, Mishima, and he actually starts spilling the beans! However, he says it doesn’t matter because everyone knows about it and they keep quiet. It’s at that moment that Kamoshida joins them. He tells them to stay out of his business or else. What a bastard, am I right?
As they ponder their next move, they’re greeted by an adorable cat…who can talk!? Morgana!? Yup, it’s him. Still not the weirdest thing they’ve seen recently! He informs them that they can change Kamoshida’s heart. All they have to do is destroy his Palace. That seems…not that simple. Do they even want to go back there? Later that day, something terrible happens. Shiho jumps off the roof of the building! She survives and is immediately taken to the hospital. Why did she try to kill herself? The boys suspect Kamoshida is involved somehow and confront him in his office. Their suspicions are confirmed but Kamoshida doesn’t seem worried. He plans to put the blame on them! Say what!? Who are people going to believe, two delinquent kids or a respected teacher? Again, what a bastard! Adults are jerks. You know what? Screw it! Akira and Ryuji decide to go back to the Palace and change Kamoshida’s heart. Time to kick his butt…at least that was the plan. They’re attacked by his guards and they seem tougher than before. Things don’t look good when Akira gets knocked down. Ryuji wishes he wasn’t so useless. If only he had a Persona! Then he could join the fight. Guess what Ryuji? It’s your lucky day! Well, I mean it hasn’t been the best day but at least you can fight now! Ryuji unlocks his Persona, Captain Kidd! He gains a skull mask and a stylish thief outfit. Looking cool, Skull!
What happens next? We’ll find out in Volume 2! I just want to mention that there’s an extra bonus at the end of this volume where the author talks about how excited he was to be given the opportunity to draw this Persona spin-off! He’s a huge fan of the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series. I can certainly appreciate his enthusiasm! It’s always great when the authors are big fans of the series they’re drawing for. We can see the passion in their work!
If you’ve played the game or watched the anime, you’re not missing much with this manga. There are a few differences here and there but it’s basically telling the same story. It made me feel like I was playing the game all over again which is fine. I liked the game’s story and don’t mind experiencing it in manga form. If you wanted something different, well, you’ll probably be disappointed. For new fans, I’d say this manga is a nice way to get introduced to the series. Who knows? It may make you want to try out the game! By the way, the Persona 5 game is awesome. The only problem I had with this volume was the pacing. Sometimes things happened too fast, other times too slow. I imagine people who never played the game would probably get confused at certain parts. I hope the second volume paces itself better. That being said, as a fan of the Persona series, I enjoyed this volume. Sure, it’s nothing new to me but as I stated earlier, I don’t mind reliving the story again in manga form.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: T+
Released By: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 14th, 2020
MSRP: $9.99 (US), $12.99 (CAN)