Mental Health and Persona 5 Royal

Kasumi Yoshizawa’s story is a case study on how to carefully and respectfully navigate mental health issues in popular culture

Paul Lombardo
Published in
8 min readNov 3, 2020

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Many people believe fiction has the power to influence real life. This idea is tied to mental health — a topic that has gained much more attention in recent times given the ongoing struggles due to COVID-19. According to Checkpoint.org, an overwhelming majority of gamers believe video games can help mental health. Games like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, and even Destiny all help people maintain healthy minds through virtual escapes. Persona is no stranger to helping those in need — the characters of these lengthy JRPGs are written to reflect real-world issues.

Part of why video games, or media in general, can help people feel understood is based on the relatability of the characters. To achieve a relatable character, an accurate portrayal of real-life problems needs to be reflected in the fiction in question. When the developers of games hold up this congenial mirror, it makes us feel understood and even less alone.

Persona 5 Royal added an abundance of new content to the original game when it was released in the west earlier this year. One of the major additions was a new Phantom Thief: Kasumi Yoshizawa.

Source: Atlus.

Kasumi Yoshizawa is a transfer student at Shujin Academy (much like Joker, the protagonist of Persona 5). Being unmatched with her gymnastic abilities, Kasumi received a scholarship to Shujin. Her athletic sport of choice demands elegance and grace, something Kasumi radiates exceptionally well. She’s also very friendly and determined, demonstrating a drive to be on top of gymnastics. Kasumi’s beauty, success, and talent render a perception of a perfect life to those on the outside looking in.

Despite these successful attributes, the protagonist encounters Kasumi enough to witness perplexing and contradicting behaviors. For example, Kasumi falls into slumps of depression that seem to be brought on by inconveniences that would be considered minor for most people. Basic mistakes or even…

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Paul Lombardo
SUPERJUMP

Journalist writing about video games and the stories they tell | Student at the University of Florida