I finished Persona 5, thank goodness. I like RPGs, but not ones that go for so long and have balance issues. (By which I mean, by the time I was reaching the final dungeons, I already had those Personas and was not gaining experience due to being so far above the enemy levels just by doing the story dungeons and the social link requests. Given that there’s so much to do, that basic level of gameplay shouldn’t be making the entire party OP enough to one-hit kill physical resistant enemies with melee attacks.)
More spoilers below the cut, finishing off my thoughts on Futaba.
I also finished Futaba’s social link, in which she decides to go back to school! She also thanks the player character for helping her realise she can be the way she is and that’s okay!
And then in Mementos, she whines about how she doesn’t need to go to school because she can learn things on the internet.
And then in the end game, she’s going back to school again! (But without her entire support system.)
You would think the writers would make up their mind and try to support that, but instead it reads like a very dismissive view, filled with ‘I can understand because I used to be like that but this is so much better we have to fix them!’.
No, no you don’t.
And while I’m wandering around in endgame dungeons that are too easy because I played the main story, I have time to think about it.
And so, yet again, Persona gets a big fat fail from me. There isn’t one way to progress or be better, and it’s okay to not progress or be better, and it is not okay to decide that for everyone else because of what you think or what happened to you.
Perhaps, if this was all initiated by Futaba, it would be different. But in the first instance, it was forced on her, expressly against her objections and your own, while she’s in a vulnerable state. The things she chooses are smaller tasks that she is allowed to fail at. She goes to Akihabara because she thinks she’ll be fine because she got dragged to the beach, and freezes. (Then you have to save her, because people with anxiety in public get arrested, great message, really, totally incorrect.) Then it’s like ‘I want to talk to my childhood friend’. These kinds of steps, when people choose them and can control them, are a lot different from ‘you have to get used to talking to people and being outside in five days so you will get dragged around and put through torture with no thought as to how it might affect you and we won’t listen to any objections’, which is what happened.
And then, of course, in Sojiro’s social link, she gets to go on about how Sojiro really helped her – Sojiro gave her space, made sure she had food and a safe place, and let her control her own healing, though it was heavily couched as ‘out of touch step parent doesn’t know what to do with kids’. He doesn’t force her to do things she doesn’t want to or isn’t ready for, trusting her own judgment on that, and asks you to look out for her because she trusts you.
The similar track with the party is more like Futaba reaching her own separate personal goal despite them. The party eventually do accept Futaba, but only for what she can do, not who she is. Futaba gets treated like a tool, except in her social link – Futaba can analyse data, Futaba can find out online, isn’t Futaba great with information? She even calls Yusuke out on it, informing him that the computer isn’t almighty. If you don’t get to max her social link (which I prioritised so I could see how it turned out in case it magically fixed everything), I guess she doesn’t go back to school, but she also doesn’t get to exist as more than a tool.
Of course, perhaps if she left again like Mona-chan, everyone would talk about how much they valued her, but… she doesn’t, so we don’t get to see anything more than “Futaba can do this” and “Futaba can do that”. Granted, there’s also minimal socialisation and emotional content between the other party members, so it’s not out of place, but their role isn’t quite so narrowly focused on. There’s less on how Yusuke designed the logo, and Makoto’s strategist role is basically ignored but for a few side comments which fall into the random banter category, and may therefore not trigger for everyone. Futaba’s tasks are integral to the story, and the banter for her is not optional unless you get a bad ending and die first.
So it’s disappointing for me to see someone who reminded me of me be treated like that. Yes, sometimes people like us can do things that would be difficult for others with more ease, but we’re still people, and that’s not all of who we are – we shouldn’t be reduced to that, and we shouldn’t be normalised against our wishes.