Spoilers Regarding Mishimas social link route, early Persona 5 early story, and one Futaba joke.
“Mishima…. are you an NPC!?” Exclaimed Futaba after talking to Mishima for a few minutes in the café that I take all my friend to. Without thinking I chose the reply where all my player character said was savage. Futaba then replies stating it’s more savage to lie about what he is. At that moment 50 hours into Persona 5 that I finally recognize who Mishima really was. He was actually my surrogate in Persona 5 instead of my actually player character.
In Persona 5 like Persona 4 and kind of like Persona 3 you play as the popular teenager I’ve always dreamed of being. Just by eating hamburgers or taking a bath you gain the stats to date the diligent but cute student council president, or you can hang out with the troubled but quirky art student and hang out in a church. All the characters you meet in Persona 5 can all fall under some type of cool. Besides Mishima.
Mishima is introduced as a character beaten quite literally. Suffering daily abuse at the hands of the game’s first boss the volleyball coach. He knew it was wrong, but he wanted to attach himself to the Schools winning team hoping to apart of something great. That’s when the player character changes everything. I saved Mishima from his daily beatings. I didn’t mean to save him it just was on the critical path of beating up the Coach who was going to expel me. After that though Mishima attaches himself to the Phantom Thieves and the player character.
Mishima creates a “phan-site” for the games heroes. He becomes the characters number one fan. Even when the whole world is against the thieves he supports them. Even when he maybe shouldn’t support them he does. Whenever you talk to Mishima all he wants to talk about is the phan-site and how he’s supporting out heroes. Characters at one point say they don’t even like talking to him that much because that’s all he talks about. They never really thank him they just dunk on him behind his back or in front of him. In the main story of P5 all Mishima is a tool. A tool for characters to get requests for side missions and the butt of the joke. That’s all he is for many players though unless you decided to talk to him outside those main story bits.
It was only after that conversation in the café that wasn’t even a part of his route that I realized who Mishima was. He was the character that I most identified with. It wasn’t the character I was supposed to role play as. I was meant to roleplay as the guy at the heart of the group who was dating the student council president. At that moment I saw clearly who Mishima was. He was someone trying to be a part of a group who didn’t care for him.That was the point I started to go see Mishima outside the main story. I decided to stop spending less time with the shogi playing model, and get to know the guy who try’s his best to support me.
Mishima social link starts out with him trying his best to help you out. You know by buying you a gun and trying to give it to you. After a couple of more meetings he then talks about banning people on his site who speaks any ill of his heroes. Mishima then begins to make specific demands of who you target as the Phantom Thieves. Its clear at this point he is completely unhinged. After discussing this with your real friends they decided to change his heart. To do this the character had to find and talk to the personification of Mishima heart.
The conversation with his heart reveals a lot about Mishima. His anxiety’s and fears spilled out. This was pretty eerie for me because at that moment the game was also relaying my fears back at me. He says now that he is helping out this group much bigger then himself he is now important. He says he finally has some hope. Because now that he is friends with someone famous he also could now get famous. At the end of the conversation the player doesn’t change his heart, but they leave him to think about what he is done.
Mishima after that talk decides to not take advantage of his friend anymore. He then reigns himself to the place the game puts him. He again becomes a dedicated phan who gained a little confidence in himself. He then decides to write a book and make a documentary about the Thieves, and that’s the end of Mishima story. Mishima forever in the world of the game stays attached to the player character, but doesn’t ask selfish requests anymore. He regressed to that friend who is overly helpful while being the butt of the jokes.
I expected a different ending for Mishima. I hopped he would become someone independent of the heroes or even become their equal. At least learn of his unhealthy obsession. Instead the game gave me what would really happen. After the player character helping him once he becomes more devoted to his hero. Which again brought my own life back to the forefront
I used to be pretty badly bullied in school. Until one day I attached myself to a couple of kids who didn’t actively bully me. Sure they had funny names for me, and they spent most of their time hanging out with a cooler group of friends. Who knows I thought maybe once in a while I’ll get that pat on the head, and get invited to a group of cooler kids? For now though I thought I will try to make myself an invaluable person to them. That didn’t happen, and Persona 5 never had a scene where Mishima ever got to hang out in the hideout with the cool kids.
This makes me wonder what happens after Persona 5. After I stop controlling the player character. Do I still talk to Mishima once in a while? Do I ever invite him to meet my biker girlfriend? Probably not because that’s what’s not Mishima is for. Mishima is an NPC. He’s created to give the Character a person to make fun of, and to scream out his support to the phantom thieves. That’s all he is, and all he will be.
But I’m not Mishima. I can escape from the people I attach myself to today. It may take some time but who knows. Sometimes I’ll miss these people, but maybe someday I can befriend someone besides be a fan of them. Who knows.