ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Persona 5,’ Vol. 3

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Persona 5 Vol. 3

Persona 5 Vol. 3, published by Viz Media, is a retelling of the game of the same name. The volume comes from mangaka Hisato Murasaki, with translation from Adrienne Beck, touch-up art and lettering from Annaliese Christman, design by Kam Li, and edited by Marlene First. The volume also features approval cooperation from Shinji Yamamoto and Miki Iwata of ATLUS Games. Previously, Akira, Ryuji, Morgana, and Ann defeated Kamoshida’s palace after Ann discovered her own Persona. The four are now determined to change more hearts starting with Momentos, the distorted version of Tokyo’s subway that contains everyone’s hearts. But when a new clue emerges, the team finds themselves ready to take down an even bigger target, the famous artist Ichiryusai Madarame.

At the end of Vol. 2, the team met Yusuke, and Persona 5 Vol. 3 picks up with them running into him again at Madarame’s art exhibit. After learning more about the artist from the exhibit and an anonymous tip, the team decides to make him their next target. But to do so, they will need an inside source.

Yusuke is one of the most frustrating characters of the series. The team initially meets him after they confront him for stalking Ann and later asking her to attend Madarame’s art exhibit. When the team does attend, even though they insist it is to see the art and not him, he continues to not get the hint and asks Ann if she will model for him. Despite wanting to help him escape his abusive teacher, Yusuke is reluctant to speak to the group after they confront him about Madarame’s treatment of him. Ann is able to speak to him again, but only by modeling for him. Just as Yusuke begins to open up during the painting session, he requests Ann model nude for him. She is forced to comply, or at least stall him long enough while Morgana attempts to gain insight into Madarame’s crimes. Ann is uncomfortable and the manga does not rectify any of the problematic parts of this scene. As much as I adore all the main characters of this series, it is impossible not to be disappointed when Akira, Ryuji, and Morgana push Ann to do something she is blatantly uncomfortable with.

In the previous volume, Ann, with the help of Akira, Ryuji, and Morgana, stood up to her abuser, a man who sexually harassed and coerced her. So to see her now having to relive that trauma and her team pushing her in a similar way is uncomfortable to read. It is also disappointing because it is so easy to fall in love with Yusuke. The beautiful parts of this character like his passion for art and quiet but wise nature are overshadowed by his sexist attitude and inability to understand how uncomfortable he makes Ann.

A lot of the manga adaptation remains the same as the game; however, it does a great job of expanding Akira’s character. Unlike the game, the main protagonist, who in the novel is named Akria, speaks a lot more. Getting a look into his thoughts and dynamic as a leader, particularly when the team discovers Madarame’s palace, is a refreshing addition.

Murasaki’s art is still beautiful. The characters’ expressions are vivid and compelling. That being said, my digital copy was incredibly grainy, often making it hard to truly appreciate the artwork. So much of the page is muddled because of the grainy effect. Ann’s features, which are drawn with thin strokes, are almost impossible to distinguish on pages with dark, heavy backgrounds. Christman’s lettering can also be difficult to read because of this grainy effect. This is incredibly unfortunate because the physical copies I have of previous volumes do not have this same issue. While I cannot be certain every digital copy suffers from this, it was a big enough problem that it did take some of my enjoyment away from reading.

At the end of the day, it is hard to recommend skipping Persona 5 Vol. 3 when it does so much for the story at large but at the same time, it has so many uncomfortable moments that make it difficult to outright recommend it.

Persona 5 Vol. 3 is available in book stores everywhere July 14, 2020.

Persona 5 Vol. 3
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TL;DR

At the end of the day, it is hard to recommend skipping Persona 5 Vol. 3 when it does so much for the story at large but at the same time, it has so many uncomfortable moments that make it difficult to outright recommend it.