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The Punk Spirit of ‘Persona 5’ – A Look at Persona Through Punk Culture

Persona, as a series, has always been about a group of high schoolers rising up to defeat evils beyond their understanding, defying authorities of all sorts in order to do what they know is right.

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Persona, as a series, has always been about a group of high schoolers rising up to defeat evils beyond their understanding, defying authorities of all sorts in order to do what they know is right. The main cast faces their inner demons, all the distorted emotions that dwell within them and take control to find their inner power. At their core, the games are about how friendship, confidence, and spirit can save the world. Persona 5 embraces punk culture and weaves it into the narrative and characters.

Even prior games had the spirit of punk. Persona 4 has that sort of small town pop-punk feel, homely and personal, with Yosuke going as far as the “I hate this town” side of things. The games are filled with the spirits of the youth, with Yukiko and Chie conquering the prejudice against them and choosing to become their own person, while Rise escapes the idea of empty fame for a more meaningful existence. There are lots of ways to look at it but Persona 4 has that energy and personal emotion that pop-punk embodies.

Yosuke hates this town

Yosuke hates his town, but loves his friends, can’t get much more pop-punk than that.

The most recent entry into the series, Persona 5, takes this trend and turns the punk influence up to 11. Persona 4 embodies the pop-punk reminiscent emotions and the group of friends fighting to understand themselves and each other while helping each other overcome their innermost turmoils, but Persona 5 takes on a different approach. The game is brought to a world where it’s frighteningly blatant that the 1% control the systems of authority. The cityscape is a perfect backdrop to a landscape of corruption and dismissal, and perhaps one that is all too relevant in the modern day. There’s the idea of rebellion against the powers that unfairly control, the punk spirit of resistance, and the end goal of reforming society.

The plot revolves around the spirit of the young, where there’s constant talk of oppression and tyranny from adults. There’s widespread corruption in systems of authority, from the school board and teachers to politicians and celebrity figures. The Phantom Thieves offer their abilities to change the hearts of these figures, choosing to take wider issues into their own hands in order to actually achieve change, aiming to bring courage to the masses. The focus in this Persona isn’t on building their own courage and determination, but instead on bringing those traits out in the general public, creating an uprising of sorts against corruption. This focus contrasts greatly with other games within the genre. Instead of a constantly looming evil force that the group is growing in order to defeat, or a clear and concise end goal of saving the world, Persona 5 sees the cast actively searching for ways to spread their influence, to rally the people, and to save all of those that they can from the serious issues that surround us every day.

Persona 5 Calling Card

The calling cards in Persona 5 don’t just act as a way to finish a palace, but also as a way to garner public attention and rally courage.

Punk is often blunt, efficient, and characterized by quick and high tempo tracks, and the nature of the palace heists can be seen to reflect this. The group finds their target, then finds the information they need to begin their infiltration, and here is where the track begins. Despite their stealthy approach toward the treasure, inevitably the final confrontation is short, fast, and loud. The Phantom Thieves risk everything they have in order to incite change, and to ‘bring courage to the people’ as Ann Takamaki describes it, just as bands like Anti-Flag, Against Me! and Propagandhi dedicate their lives and their talents to sending their message out, rallying people together, and giving a voice to those that need one.

There’s a particular focus on inclusion, the misfits band together despite their incredible differences in personality and class to attain a common goal, and find out they really aren’t so different deep down. There’s the pretty part-foreigner model Ann Takamaki, who spends almost the entire game becoming best friends with the student with a criminal record in the MC, and the rebellious Ryuji Sakamoto who is widely seen as a constant failure. And, whilst the early days of punk were arguably rather exclusive, there’s been a conscious effort to make everyone feel at home in the culture, a place to turn to when there’s nowhere else that will take you. The Phantom Thieves make every effort to fight against the labels put on them, all whilst searching for the place where they want themselves to head in life.

Persona 5 Ryuji

Alt, rock, punk, the Phantom Thieves bleed all sorts of style.

The game forms a modern infusion of the Western punk ideals that Japan takes great influence from in their own punk cultures, and the sense of honor and concerning oneself with personal problems, whilst leaving others to do the same. The group has inner struggles at times with whether or not their actions are right, whether their supernatural strong-arming is in fact the best method of change, and the constant talk of ‘brainwashing’ that also came from those opposed to punk’s uprising, does little to quell their doubts.

This unique mix of ideals sets a contrast against the general depiction of justice in the West, rather than determination, followed by a moment of indecision and contemplation before the righteous path is chosen, Persona 5 has a constant sense of self-doubt. The group understands what they need to do, and that they’re the only ones that can bring courage to the people, but also fully understand that their methods may have serious backlash in other areas, and that the greater masses may be affected by the removal of negative forces that may still be foundations of society. Ultimately their indecision does not lead to inaction. They make sure they’re all comfortable in what they’re doing before bringing their righteous message of courage to the masses.

Even the dialogue positions itself firmly in the anti-establishment punk culture, with Igor describing the group as such: “They have all been unfairly labeled by society and are standing up against such fates.” You could use that sentence to describe practically all of punk, from the bands, to those embodying the culture in other ways. Makoto Niijima, student council president turned Phantom Thief of Hearts, also gets into the memorable quotes with; “Evil adults are nothing more than garbage, and I am no better…” Maybe very loosely reminiscent of a certain “No Good” from Knuckle Puck.

Persona 5 Makoto Niijima

Makoto Niijima, student council president turned Phantom Thief.

In the earlier days of punk, and even today, there are adults who worry about the influence of such strongly opinionated and political movements as punk on the youth, and on the general populace in more wide instances. Persona 5 captures this essence excellently in how the media and the corrupt adults see, react to, and retaliate against the Phantom Thieves. They are referred to as ‘morally corrupt’ and as seeing to their own selfish ideals rather than the greater need of the people.

There’s a few broader examples possible through this line of thinking, such as the great importance in the meaning and feeling of art (especially in Madarame’s palace and Yusuke’s S-Link), to the fairly obvious such as the alternate fashion typical of punk culture: skull motifs and studded chokers amidst a mixture of purples and blacks. There’s also quite directly ‘Punk-Rock Woman’ as the descriptor for the owner of the medical clinic in Yongen-Jaya before you get to know her. The game oozes style, and that style mixes different influences from anime to comic books, however there is an overarching presence of punk within it. There’s the color scheme of red and black, from the Dead Kennedys to Black Flag to the Misfits. Their logo becomes a sign of rebellion, a distinct icon of a movement, just as in punk bands. Whether you see the Misfits skull, or Bad Religion’s crossbuster, or the “TAKE YOUR HEART” logo found on the Phantom Thieves’ calling cards, they represent change and a social movement in their own way.

Persona 5 Punk Logos

Logos are powerful, and punk culture turns them into a symbol of courage

Persona 5 is a fantastic look into Japanese life, a slice of the nation offered to be explored. It’s an incredibly well realized world where real connections are made between characters, and it’s a layered JRPG with an insane amount of things to do in the world. From fighting, to exploring, to going to the batting cages, to seeing a movie with a friend. The game is all this, and so much more, perhaps appropriately being hailed so early as “the most important JRPG since Final Fantasy VII.” Looking at the game through a different lens, such as through the view of punk culture, can reveal an impressive and intricately woven experience.

Shane Dover is a Melbourne, Australia based freelance writer contributing to Japanese punk news site Punx Save The Earth, punk publication Dying Scene, Diabolique Magazine and Goomba Stomp. Not just a fan of punk music, he's spent most of his life obsessed with the horror genre across all media, Japanese cinema, as well as pop culture in general. He plays music and writes fiction, check out his Twitter (https://twitter.com/Karzid) for updates on those projects. Follow him on Twitter, and check out his work every Wednesday on Dying Scene.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. NotAdachi

    April 24, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Adachi did nothing wrong

    • pikadon

      April 24, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      yeah okay m8 go back to romancing cabbage ya smeghead

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Fantastic Fest 2019: Second Wave Adds ‘Knives Out’, ‘Parasite’ and More

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This year’s Fantastic Fest is shaping up with one of the strongest lineups in recent years and if the first wave announcement didn’t impress you, the second wave of films announced today will have you running to buy tickets.

Wave two brings a ton of exciting new titles including Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out, Bong Joon-ho‘s Palme d’Or winner Parasite, as well as Richard Stanley‘s The Color Out of Space and the latest from filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Synchronic.

This year, Fantastic Fest will also be spotlighting Mexican genre films such as The Black Pit of Dr. M and The Ship of Monsters—and, the festival will also include a sidebar dedicated to LGBTQ+ representation in genre cinema.

Check out the full second wave film lineup below. Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26. Be sure to check back as we will be covering the event once again this year.

Abou Leila
Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019
North American Premiere, 139 min
Director – Amin Sidi-Boumédiène
In the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Lotfi ventures into the desert with his lifelong friend S., who hopes to find and kill the elusive, dangerous terrorist Abou Leila.

The Antenna
Turkey, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Orçun Behram
Somewhere within an unnamed city in Turkey, the residents of an apartment block await the installation of their new antenna as ordered by the central government. No one can prepare them for the evil that will be unleashed.

The Black Pit Of Dr. M
Mexico, 1959
Repertory Screening, 82 min
Director – Fernando Méndez
Two doctors make a pact on behalf of science: Whichever one dies first will return to share the secrets of the afterlife. This pact will not end well.

Bliss
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 80 min
Director – Joe Begos
While trying to complete her latest painting, a starving artist facing a lack of inspiration spirals out of control in a blaze of blood-soaked, drug-fueled glory.

Blood Machines
France, USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 50 min
Director – Seth Ickerman
The wild sequel to the Carpenter Brut music video, Turbo Killer, shoots you into a turbulent psychedelic adventure of galactic hunters tracking down the soul of a spaceship set to a killer synthwave soundtrack.

Butt Boy
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Tyler Cornack
Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy introduces us to Chip, a middle-aged man whose first prostate exam stirs feelings deep inside leading to an addiction that can only be shown to Fantastic Fest audiences.

Climate Of The Hunter
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mickey Reece
The “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Mickey Reece, returns to Fantastic Fest with his 27th feature. Two beautiful sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

Color Out Of Space
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 111 min
Director – Richard Stanley
Unimaginable terrors befall the Gardner family after a meteorite lands on their front lawn in Richard Stanley’s entrancing, horrific adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story.

Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks
Australia, 2019
North American Premiere, 107 min
Director – Serge Ou
From the Shaw Brothers to The Matrix, this wild documentary tells the story of how kung fu films conquered the world from the 1960s to now.

Knives Out
USA, 2019
Special Presentation, 130 min
Director – Rian Johnson
In attendance – Director Rian Johnson
From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.

The Lodge
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 108 min
Directors – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Five years after Goodnight Mommy stunned Fantastic Fest audiences, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are back with another disturbing psychological twister about a brother and sister spending Christmas with their shadowy soon-to-be stepmother.

The Long Walk
Laos, Spain, Singapore, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Mattie Do
In attendance – Director Mattie Do
An old Laotian hermit discovers that the ghost of a road accident victim can transport him back in time fifty years to the moment of his mother’s painful death..

Lyle
2014, USA
Repertory Screening, 65 min
Director – Stewart Thorndike
In attendance – Director Stewart Thorndike
After the loss of her child, a young woman begins to suspect that her neighbors might be part of a satanic cult and that she might be their next target.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
USA, 1985
Repertory Screening, 87 min
Director – Jack Sholder
In attendance – Actors Mark Patton and Kim Myers
Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new kid on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger might not be the only monster in the closet in this much discussed but under-appreciated queer horror classic.

Nobadi
Austria, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Karl Markovics
In a retirement allotment in Vienna, a crabby 91-year-old finds both himself and his humanity when he hires an Afghani refugee to help him in Karl Markovics’ remarkable and poignant third feature.

Parasite
South Korea, 2019
Texas Premiere, 131 min
Director – Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature — about an unemployed Korean family conning their way out of their basement apartment — is a roller coaster ride of laughs, gasps, horror, tears, and perfection.

Patrick
Belgium, 2019
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Tim Mielants
Patrick is not having an easy time. First his domineering father passed away and now his favorite hammer is missing. Before the day is out, Patrick’s search will lead him to discover answers to the questions he didn’t even know existed.

Phil Tippett – Mad Dreams And Monsters
France, 2019
International Premiere, 80 min
Directors – Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet
After their documentary Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex, French journalist Alexandre Poncet and filmmaker Gilles Penso deliver an in-depth, sad, and beautiful documentary about the stop motion and VFX artist Phil Tippett, a man who changed the landscape of visual effects in film.

The Platform
Spain, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
In attendance – Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Somewhere in the future exists The Platform, a vertically tiered prison where the upper levels have access to exquisite food and the lower levels fight for survival. Level assignments are random, but how long can a prisoner’s luck hold? One man is about to find out.

Prey
1977, United Kingdom
Repertory Screening, 78 min
Director – Norman J. Warren
Jessica and Josephine find more than their relationship at stake when they’re chosen by a shape-shifting alien as his target for an observational study.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 100 min
Directors – Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen
In attendance – Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
More than thirty years after its release and his departure from Hollywood, Mark Patton (star of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), sets the record straight on the famously queer horror sequel in this fabulous, surprising, and eye-opening documentary.

The Ship Of Monsters
Mexico, 1960
Repertory Screening, 81 min
Director – Rogelio A. González
Two Venusian women and their robot servant are on a mission to find suitable candidates to repopulate their planet. Soon their ship is filled with bizarre specimens from across the universe, leading to an adventure like no other!

Synchronic
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
In attendance – Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.

Trampa Infernal
Mexico, 1989
Repertory Screening, 77 min
Director – Pedro Galindo III
In Mexico’s most notorious unseen video-era masterblast, a crew of toxically masculine bear murderers runs afoul of a forest-dwelling war veteran wearing a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove. Entertainment ensues!!

The True Adventures Of Wolfboy
USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 88 min
Director – Martin Krej?í
Suffering from hypertrichosis — which covers him with animal-like fur — Paul knows he’s not like other kids. But a seemingly random package from his estranged mother will send him on a journey of self-discovery alongside extraordinary characters.

The Vast Of Night
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Andrew Patterson
A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.

VFW
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 92 min
Director – Joe Begos
In attendance – Director Joe Begos
In the near future, a new drug called Hype has turned America into a war zone. The addicted are more mutant than human, and they’ve set their sights on assaulting a VFW post in Joe Begos’ star-studded latest.

VHYES
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 71 min
Director – Jack Henry Robbins
In attendance – Director Jack Henry Robbins
This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, takes us back to when 12-year-old Ralph, over one formative week, mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Vivarium
Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, 2019
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Lorcan Finnegan
When young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) drive out to a maze of temptingly affordable houses in the suburbs, they find themselves unable to leave.

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Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’ Gets a Mysterious Trailer

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Fox Searchlight has released the first trailer and poster for Antlers, a rural horror film about a small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, who discover that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret that places the entire town in danger.

Director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro have teamed to adapt a short story from Nick Antosca, the creator of the criminally underrated horror anthology series Channel Zero. Not much is yet known about Antlers other than Fox Searchlight, now owned by Disney, has scheduled the film for a 2020 release. Rounding up the main cast is Graham Green, Amy Madigan, Scott Haze and Rory Cochrane. Watch the trailer below.

Antlers Movie
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Be Excellent to Each Other with these Awesome ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ Figures

“History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can’t spell.”

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Since its release in 1989, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure inspired a sequel (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), a Saturday morning cartoon, a comic book series, and launched actor Keanu Reeves into movie stardom. And now, three-plus decades later, Bill and Ted are getting their own scale collectible set courtesy Sideshow and Blitzway.

This is your chance to own the friendly duo in one go! The work put into creating these high-end figures is truly astounding as the figures capture the look of a young Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves just as we remember them. If you have $399 to spend, they can be all yours.

Check out the photos below along with the official press release.

Bill and Ted are two high school buddies who dream of becoming international rock stars. Their hilarious time travel adventure is depicted in the amazingly audacious comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

It’s like having them pop up right in front of you, with their iconic fashion and elaborate accessories. Besides, the iconic props are designed to let you reproduce a variety of wonderful scenes from the movie.

Be excellent to each other and travel to the past through the exciting story of Bill and Ted!

The Bill & Ted Sixth Scale Collectible Set specially features:

Highly detailed likeness of Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston Esq.
Highly detailed likeness of Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan
Newly designed and developed male body with over 30 points of articulations and flexible soft arms
Two (2) Newly designed and developed figure stands
Twelve (12) interchangeable hands (total for both) including:
Two (2) pairs of guitar hands
Two (2) right blow fist hands
Two (2) pairs of open hands
Two (2) right good fortune hands

Costume for Bill:

One (1) purple pattern shirt
One (1) graphic t-shirts
One (1) pair of blue jeans
One (1) pair of pattern underpants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

Costume for Ted:

One (1) blue jacket
One (1) black vest
One (1) graphic t-shirt
One (1) pair of graphic shorts
One (1) pair of inner training pants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

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Watch the Creepy Trailer for ‘Little Nightmares 2’: Six is Back and She has Help.

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One of the biggest surprises to come out of Gamescom 2019 so far is the announcement of Little Nightmares 2, the sequel to the puzzle-platformer hit horror game developed by Tarsier Studios.

While the first Little Nightmares has you take control a character named Six while avoiding instant death as she traverses alone amongst the depths of a dungeon, the sequel will give her a companion named Mono, who must accompany Six throughout her terrifying new journey.  

Little Nightmares was one of our favorite games of 2017 and so we can’t wait to get our hands on the sequel. In our review, James Baker wrote, “Tarsier Studios have created a wholly original concept to a horror genre that has leaned more towards thriller before anything else, bringing its roots back without relying on jump-scares and needlessly-gory shocks. Just like hide-and-seek, Little Nightmares captures the fear of being caught, albeit in a creepy, macabre style.”

Little Nightmares 2 will be released sometime in 2020 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Watch the trailer below and if you are a fan of the first game, we recommend reading this article that dives deep into the meaning behind Little Nightmares.

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NBA 2K20’s Story Mode Gets a Stunning Trailer

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NBA 2K19 features to date, its strongest MyCareer mode with the aptly titled, “The Way Back”, a fascinating look at the culture behind college basketball recruiting. The story mode was well received by critics and fans everywhere and in our review, we called it, “an incredible achievement that conveys the fabric of modern American life, aspirations and incidentally, sports, in close-up and at length”.

NBA 2K20 which will be released in less than a month, promises to include an even better story mode, and while we haven’t played the game yet, we have plenty of reasons to think it might be. Not only does it feature an all-star cast with top-tier talents such as Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson, but the story mode – entitled “When the Lights Are Brightest” – is being produced by LeBron James’ Springhill Productions, the same company behind the upcoming Space Jam 2.

NBA 2K20’s latest trailer, which debuted Monday during Microsoft’s Inside Xbox show live from Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, give us a good idea of what to expect. We get a glimpse at Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson in action as well as the rest of the supporting cast which includes Thomas Middleditch, Mark Cuban, Ernie Hudson, Lamorne Morris, Scottie Pippen, and Jaleel White!

The NBA 2K20 demo will go live on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and will allow players to create a character and get a head start on MyCareer. Any progress made will carry over to the full game, which will be released Sept. 6 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

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Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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