Persona 5 Royal characters as songs from Taylor Swift’s masterpiece, ‘Midnights’.

Hey, Gamers! I have been a huge Taylor Swift fan since 2011. I actually got bullied for how much I loved Taylor Swift. I know no one wanted this post, but I’m doing it because I think it’ll be fun. This is part of a new series where I assign characters from video games a song off of a Taylor Swift album. For my favourite thieves, I was going to do Reputation but I wanted to start with Midnights. I might do Rep for the thieves anyway… this series might end up being all about the Phantom Thieves. Since Midnights has more songs than the Phantom Thieves has members, I will be adding the odd confidant here if it feels right. Let’s go!
Before we get into it, this is merely my own interpretation of the characters. If you believe something else, that’s fine. We can view characters differently. Secondly, I’m including the third semester thieves from Royal so if you haven’t got that far, save this post for when you have.

This is Persona 5 Strikers, the rest of the pictures are Persona 5 Royal

1) Lavender Haze: Morgana
This one isn’t that deep. Lavender Haze is about the feeling you get when you’re in love, and Morgana is canonically in love with Ann.
2) Maroon: Ohya
This one is not that deep either. Ohya’s confidant is fantastic in terms of the story. I highly recommend doing it if you haven’t already. Maroon is about being in a relationship that didn’t end well; it wasn’t perfect but you can remember the good moments. Lyrics that give me Ohya’s vibe include ‘”How’d we end up on the floor anyway”’, “When the silence came, we were shaking blind and hazy” and “how the blood rushed into my cheeks, so scarlet it was (maroon)”. I think the theme of alcohol running through this song is what leans into this song fitting Ohya, but it’s not the only thing. Maroon is a more mature version of Red. Ohya’s personality is much more mature than the other confidants, even compared to Kawakami and Takemi. You meet her at a bar, with her clearly being oblivious to the fact that you shouldn’t be allowed there. The mature theming of Maroon is ultimately why I assigned this song to Ohya.
3) Anti-Hero: Ryuji
I am ready for the cries of “what about Akechi?” or “Akechi is a literal anti-hero” and I get that. What I also get is that this song isn’t about being an actual anti-hero. Ryuji’s entire story is basically this song. He struggles so much with who he is, and it’s being a part of the team that helps him realise that he’s good with who he is now. Ryuji spends a lot of the game being haunted by his past, similar to the line “When my depression works the graveyard shift / All of the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room”. All of the thieves are traumatised, obviously, but Ryuji is quite literally haunted by the people he cannot help. That shows through his enthusiasm at the start of each arc, even down to the requests in Mementos. Most notably, I think it shows at the start of Okumura’s arc. He’s so haunted by the thought of not being able to help these people, he flips out. Ryuji grows the most during the game (in my opinion), but he’s still a boy who has struggled to control his emotions his whole life. At the start of Okumura’s arc, he’s hurting because the whole point of their Phantom Thief work is to help people so why doesn’t anyone else want to help? I imagine he felt quite betrayed during this time, as did Morgana (albeit for different reasons). Ryuji was, in a way, the catalyst of Kamoshida’s violence and therefore he likely feels somewhat responsible for the pain caused by everyone after him (especially since that’s what his team insinuates), and the fact that he could stop the pain they were going through gave him… not power exactly, but the only way I can word it (from my personal therapy experience) is that it gave him power over the experience. It put the ball in his court, so to speak, and because of that he feels the need to help as many people as he can. He doesn’t want anyone else to go through anything like he went through, and that’s so evident in his behaviour.
Next, I want to talk about the line “I wake up screaming from dreaming / One day I’ll watch as you’re leaving / ‘Cause you got tired of my scheming”. This desperation is reflected during Ryuji’s confidant arc. The healing that Ryuji did throughout the game is basically solely reliant on the Phantom Thieves and, by extension, Joker. He is well aware of this. This is also the main reason I despise the beginning of Persona 5 Strikers because it’s so uncharacteristic of the majority of them to not communicate. I have a theory that the texts at the beginning are the characters talking to the player, not Joker, but that’s a discussion for another time. Ryuji is afraid of losing the friends he has; he’s afraid of regressing in the progress he has made. That’s completely understandable, something that a lot of traumatised people go through. When healing from trauma, it’s like taking one step forward and two steps back. If Ryuji loses the Phantom Thieves, he loses more than his friends. He loses his method of healing, his only way of helping people and the people who have helped him heal. I’ve talked about the Phantom Thieves being more than a group of friends quite a few times, but I wanted to emphasise that here. They’re each other’s chosen family, and being in a position to choose your own family is incredibly healing in itself. This lyric repeats in a future verse, however the last line changes to “And life will lose all its meaning”, and I think this only further supports my point with this song.
I know Akechi is a literal anti-hero, but that’s not what this song is about. This song is about feeling like you’re an anti-hero, and I think Ryuji is the embodiment of that.

4) Snow on the Beach: Futaba
Hi, uh, one line is sticking out to me and that’s “weird but f*cking beautiful”. This song is completely Futaba. It reminds me of her relationship with Yusuke during the game. They’re both pretty aloof and really, it shouldn’t work out because they’re both prideful and stubborn but they get each other like no one else does and what they have is so different to everyone else but it’s so special and just feels right.
Furthermore, the lyrics of this song are so intelligent and artistic that I fail to think of any other relationship than Futaba and Yusuke. It paints a picture of their individualism and their togetherness all in one. Most importantly, the entire world doesn’t get them. I picked Futaba over Yusuke for this because I feel like she struggles to express this the most, and I feel like this song is a beautiful mixture of someone trying to explain something so beautiful that words aren’t enough. I think Yusuke would have those words, but Futaba would struggle.
I think the repeated theme of ‘what ifs’ are really important to both Yusuke and Futaba. Yusuke’s is handled pretty well during his confidant arc, but for Futaba it was touched on as early as her own palace. In Snow on the Beach, the speaker states ‘I can’t speak, afraid to jinx it, I don’t even dare to wish it’ and then goes on to say ‘Can this be a real thing? Can it?’. It’s not just her relationship with Yusuke that this relates to – it’s her relationship with the whole group.
Futaba shutting down after her mother died had serious implications for her mental health. It was a huge thing. The Phantom Thieves saved her in multiple ways, but the main one that stands out to me is that she’s able to appreciate her life again. She’s so lucky to have these people, and without them she wouldn’t be the same. She wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty of life. She wouldn’t be able to have the life her mother wanted her to have. Futaba’s story is so deep and there’s multiple layers to it if you overthink it (like I clearly do) but even on surface level, you have a girl who was throwing away her life due to mental illness and a group of people who help her appreciate the life she was given- she’s now able to appreciate the beauty in everyday things because she’s living instead of just surviving.

5) You’re on Your Own, Kid: Sumire
This one will obviously give away spoilers for the third semester, so leave now if you don’t want that.
This song screams Sumire to me. Her whole arc is based on her coming to terms with who she is as a person. She struggles immensely as she tries to find herself, and while she does find extreme comfort in Joker and being a part of the Phantom Thieves, it’s also made very clear that her healing journey is something that she needs to go through alone. Sometimes she might need a shoulder to lean on, but for the most part, she needs to do this for herself (and for the memory of her sister). It reminds me of Taylor Swift’s graduation speech, where she said something along the lines of “You’re on your own now, but you’re on your own now” which, for anyone who doesn’t speak Taylor Alison Swift, means that being on your own is scary but that fear is thrilling and it means no one can hold you back. Sumire was holding herself back for so long (not on purpose, it wasn’t voluntary or her fault in any way) because she was desperate not to be herself. The second that she truly embraced herself was the second she learnt of the power she was truly capable of. That’s something that only comes from acceptance, and that’s something she needed to do on her own.
Let’s throw some lyrics around for good measure. For one, “I didn’t choose this town / I dream of getting out / There’s just one who could make me stay”. This could be interpretated in different ways for Sumire. Let’s talk about the main two, and for that we need to talk about who “the one who could make [her] stay” is, and it’s two different people: one is Joker, the other is Kasumi. Let’s tackle Kasumi first. It feels weird openly discussing this because it’s such a spoiler but the story itself deserves to be talked about. It’s such a wonderful story. In this interpretation of the line, the memory of Kasumi has a hold on Sumire. Kasumi and Sumire had their dream, a dream they had because they were sisters and without her sister, Sumire is lost. She has worked towards this dream her entire life; yet she cannot do it exactly as she planned it without Kasumi. Kasumi’s memory is keeping her in gymnastics. She eventually decides that she needs to live out that dream, to honour her sister. There’s so many things that the memory of Kasumi is linking her to – gymnastics, her identity, cooking, her style. Because she’s relied on her sister for so much, her whole world came crashing down when it was gone. She didn’t choose this. She didn’t and probably wouldn’t have chosen this life. If it wasn’t for Kasumi, she probably wouldn’t feel the draw to gymnastics and the… determination she feels to keep going.
As for the interpretation surrounding Joker, we need to focus more on Sumire’s journey. The interpretation of this line implies Sumire is holding onto the Phantom Thieves/Tokyo due to her relationship with Joker. I want to point out that I personally do not feel as strongly about this interpretation, so if it makes less sense it’s because I feel less confident about it. For this, we need to focus on the canonical story rather than her confidant (which is optional) to look at the times she appears. While Sumire is a major part of the story of Persona 5 Royal regardless of how you play it, she appears significantly less than expected considering she was basically the poster girl. Throughout the story, her interactions with Joker seem short and sweet. She’s seen less than the other thieves because she’s not focused on taking anyone down or having a united goal with the thieves. She’s focused on gymnastics. We even see throughout her story that her education has even had to take a back seat because gymnastics is so important to her. Sumire is arguably the most independent Phantom Thief, while still relying a significant amount on Joker for mental and emotional support. So, we get that Sumire appears less due to her focus on gymnastics and her interactions with Joker are short yet impactful, right? Okay good, let’s move on the section spanning from the Hawaii trip to the third semester. While seeing Sumire in Hawaii, it becomes obvious to the player (and to Joker) that gymnastics is a very serious thing for her and could actually take her places. I mean, she’s literally travelled to another country just to train. She could and probably will travel the world. So what’s tying her to Tokyo, to Shujin, to the Phantom Thieves? Logically, her family, but an argument could be made that her connection to Joker and how he helped her throughout the story and then further in her confidant shows that their connection is pretty special. It shows that despite the dream, she’s still making those connections (see the line of this song where it says “So make the friendship bracelets / Take the moment and taste it / You’ve got no reason to be afraid”). Joker is both what ties her to the Phantom Thieves and what gives her the freedom to follow her dreams.
This song is all about the things you do to follow your heart. It’s about making mistakes but living through it. I don’t think there’s a song that shows off Sumire’s character arc more.

6) Midnight Rain: Makoto
Ah, this song is such a bop. In this instance, I’m putting it in context that applies to the character. For Makoto, I believe that Midnight Rain is about not being able to change who you are. For the line “He was sunshine, I was midnight rain”, I imagine ‘he’ being who other people wanted her to be. She can’t change who she is. She can’t change her strong sense of justice and distaste for corruption, even if it would help her out in the long run. Similarly, the line “he wanted it comfortable, I wanted that pain” reflects on the fact that being a Phantom Thief was not easy for Makoto. It would be much easier for her to ‘be comfortable’, to be complacent, to just do what people were asking of her. But Makoto’s sense of justice got in the way, and it’s such a core part of who she is… but she’s been raised to be an obedient, unquestioning tool. Finding who she was by working with the Phantom Thieves opened her eyes completely. The line “My town was a wasteland / Full of cages, full of fences / Pageant queens and big pretenders / But for some it was paradise” really reflects Makoto’s journey. So many people in this game are happy with being complacent in the corrupt world built by corrupt people. If they see success, like the principal did, they’re perfectly happy with it. But the way the ‘town’ (the town is society in this case) is described shows that she doesn’t feel that way. It’s likely that Makoto has never been happy in this system, she just had no way to change it. The system, to her, is old and holding her back from her true potential. Society is holding this girl back, and it’s not until she realises that there are ways of changing it that we see the true magnificence of Makoto.

7) Question…?: Yusuke
This is another basic one. Yusuke is pretty inquisitive. He’s also not very socially aware, which is the vibe I get from this song.
8) Vigilante Sh*t: Joker
Not my family friendly blog censoring the second best use of a swear word in Taylor’s discography. I feel like this one is self-explanatory. Joker acts as a literal vigilante by being a Phantom Thief, and he’s the leader so he has the extra responsibility of being in charge of a group of vigilantes, which makes him the lead vigilante. On top of that, there’s certain lines that give me Joker vibes. Before I talk about them, remember that Joker is a stand in for the player and most people play him differently. Therefore, everyone’s interpretation of Joker is different and that’s something that should be celebrated, not argued over. But anyway: ‘Someone told his white collar crimes to the FBI’ reminds me of Joker’s relationship to Shido. Similarly, ‘I don’t start it but I can tell you how it ends / Don’t get sad, get even’ reminds me of Joker’s relationship with Kamoshida. Lastly, and this is the weirdest correlation to me but ‘Picture me thick as thieves with your ex-wife’ reminds me of… Joker and Yusuke. So, Joker would be directing that line to Madarame.
But it’s best to focus on the literal vigilante thing if you don’t like my interpretations of lyrics.
9) Bejeweled: Ann
Okay, this song is perfect for Ann. The vibe, the lyrics, even the music video screams Ann to me. If you just listen to this song and imagine Ann, you’ll get what I mean. But let’s look at some lyrics. Before we do that, though, I will be talking about Kamoshida and if that triggers you, please skip this one. Look after yourself, and I’m sorry that someone put you in the position where something like this is triggering.
The opening of this song is “Baby love, I think I’ve been a little too kind / Didn’t notice you walking all over my peace of mind”. This refers to how bothersome (for lack of a better term) Kamoshida is with Ann early on. He’s basically a stalker and she’s very clearly on edge the entire time. Her peace of mind is gone.
The lines that go “Best believe I’m still Bejeweled / When I walk in the room / I can still make the whole place shimmer” gives me Ann’s awakening vibes. She’s still this strong, powerful, amazing female despite everything he’s done to her and those she cares about. Despite everything, she’s still her bejewelled self.
One verse goes:

Baby boy, I think I’ve been too good of a girl (too good of a girl)
Did all the extra credit, then got graded on a curve
I think it’s time to teach some lessons
I made you my world (huh), have you heard? (Huh)
I can reclaim the land
And I miss you (I miss you)
But I miss sparkling (ah, hey)

This just screams Ann’s entire storyline to me. Like, the entire first arc of the game. She’s been so hesitant, just putting up with Kamoshida out of fear for there being worse repercussions along the line. Then she remembers who she is and what she has to fight for and suddenly she starts to fight back. Because she has so much to fight for, because her self-worth is worth more, because her friends don’t deserve this, because she blames herself for all of it and none of it needed to happen if she just shut it down immediately (I’m thinking of it in terms of how Ann might think, not how I think).
In conclusion, this song is Ann’s song and no one can convince me otherwise. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
10) Labyrinth: Tae
Tae’s relationship with everything seems complicated, like a labyrinth. Even the happy relationships, like the ones with Joker and her relationship with the little girl she helps, seem to be difficult for her. I feel like Labyrinth explains the experience of being fearful of happiness and being in love very well, and I do think that this applies to Tae. She’s so worried – constantly – of something going wrong and she puts on this hard exterior of acting like she doesn’t care in order to trick herself into not caring when in reality she cares very much.

11) Karma: Akechi
Akechi feels like karma is on his side, that he’s entitled to his revenge. I know this song is about positive karma, but I’m sure Akechi doesn’t think his plan is evil or anything bad. It’s just what he needs to do.

12) Sweet Nothing: Haru
During Haru’s relationship with Joker (not necessarily romantic, but just throughout her confidant), she’s constantly surrounded by people who want to take something from her. Joker is the exception here, and you can tell throughout her confidant that she really values that. (Editor’s Note: Eleanor, you are just straight up wrong, Joker wants her vegetables.)
13) Mastermind: Maruki
Maruki has been planning the setting of the third semester for so long. I was going to give this song to Akechi, but the way everything fell exactly where Maruki needed it to was just too good. This is the best song from Midnights, and arguably the best song that Taylor Alison Swift has ever written, so I really wanted to give this to a character I liked more (like Sumire), but I couldn’t. Maruki deserves this song. All his hard work paid off. For a bad guy, he did pretty good. If his intentions were malicious (like Akechi’s), I don’t think I would assign this song to him because… it’s about making everyone else think that they want this. I mean- that is quite literally what Maruki did. His intentions weren’t bad and I think that’s what most people struggle with during the third semester. They can really resonate with him, understanding where he’s coming from and why he’s done this. But ultimately he went about it the wrong way and I can see the voice of Mastermind also doing this.

And with that, gamers, months of writing this list is over. As I’m finishing this list, Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) has just been announced. I’ve had this idea since listening to Midnights way back in October so you can tell how long this has been in my head (and it took so long to get my muddled thoughts onto digital paper). Obviously, all the lyrics and everything mentioned in terms of the songs belong to Dr. Taylor Swift who… I am a tad obsessed with. I’m sure Josh is going to have a field day with the editing of this post. He always says Swifties are crazy for their theories about the next album so I can’t wait to hear his reaction to this. Let me know if you guys have any other interpretations to these songs and Persona 5 Royal characters. I could be tempted into doing a Part 2 to this list with the songs from the 3AM version. Since I am and forever will be a Speak Now girlie, there will be a similar post to this but when Speak Now comes out. I think I might do that one based on Pokémon.
This was meant to just be a fun joke post, but it’s now over 4000 words. But that’s it for this post, Gamers! Please go listen to Midnights (and other Taylor Swift albums owned by Taylor – avoiding Debut, Speak Now, 1989 and Reputation for now, with Speak Now coming to us in July this year). Play Persona 5 Royal if you haven’t already. It will forever hold a special place in my heart. I think this might be my first Persona 5 Royal post since my great return which is crazy but also… obvious that I’ve lost a little bit of spark over the game since Atlus ‘ported’ it to the PS5 without using the PS5’s upgraded features at all, just for a cash grab. Anyway, hit like to help me hold onto what’s left of my sanity; if you’re reading this next week, there’s a chance Josh and I have returned to streaming on Twitch so check out 2nerds_1game over there; lastly, follow my blog for more (slightly insane) gaming content. See you next post, Gamers!


Published by eleanorreeswriting

Hi, I am an autistic gamer in my 20's who loves to share my experiences and thoughts about games, characters and everything about gaming.

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