Hello all Nasties! Mod Aria is back today with another Character Spotlight. As Atlus has just announced a Persona 5 anime set to air in 2018, I decided to celebrate. So today, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite Persona 5 characters, Futaba. I feel as though Futaba is a character so many people can relate to (especially female gamers), so it’s no surprise that I find her absolutely wonderful. But there’s so much packed into Futaba’s character that I feel like goes unnoticed. So I’ve made it my mission today to discuss it with our dear readers! Warning: Spoilers Follow. Suicide discussion also appears.
Naturally, if you’ve played Persona 5, you know what’s up with Futaba. She suffers from a mental illness due to a horrific incident in her past. But before we get into her psyche, let’s just talk about some fun things. Futaba is a computer geek, a gamer and an otaku. She is also a genius; Futaba reveals at one point while bonding with her that she was so much smarter than the other children in her school that she faked failing tests just to fit in. Futaba may be young and immature, but she is leagues beyond all of the rest of the Persona 5 cast.
In regards to her Persona, she spends her time on the sidelines. Futaba maps the dungeons that you spelunk as well as offers support during combat. I think her support role fits her character very well; even though she is healing, that process takes time. Having her engage in combat would seem too unrealistic for her. Even her mannerisms as the game progresses symbolize her own nervousness: her hunched posture, her mumbling, her emotional range. What I’m trying to get at is that Futaba is a very well made character.
Futaba suffers from a very unique, yet very tragic situation. The death of her mother leaves her scarred and frightened, and her trauma is justified. Being blamed for the apparent suicide of her mother has given Futaba severe agoraphobia; she hardly even feels comfortable leaving her own bedroom, let alone her home. This interferes with Futaba’s life so heavily that even her existence is a rumor. What’s amazing about the situation is this: despite feeling there is nothing she can do, Futaba is (or was) on her way to recovery even though she didn’t realize it.
The fact that Futaba approached the Phantom Thieves at all means that she recognized how her PTSD had taken control of her life. She wanted to fix it; to be free of her fear. You know that saying “the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem”? There’s merit in that statement; you can’t fix what you don’t think is broken. Futaba wanted to take those steps. She just thought that the Phantom Thieves stealing her heart would be the only solution. But is that really the case?
Because Futaba is cognizant of her agoraphobia and wants to fix it, I personally don’t think that she wouldn’t have recovered without the Phantom Thieves. However, that’s just what I think. The game presents quite the opposite: if you miss the deadline to steal Futaba’s heart, she commits suicide because of her crumbling mental state. It’s quite a dark ending, but not an uncommon scenario. Many people who know they need help and want it can end up hurting themselves due to the melancholy over thinking there is no way out. Especially if the only way out they know ends in failure. She likely not only had agoraphobia, but severe depression as well.
This is just another reason why I think Futaba is a terrifically crafted character: her mental illness(es) is/are showcased in such an accurate way, and seeing her take the steps to heal is one of the best parts about bonding with her in the game. While it is a miraculously fast recovery, the game’s fantasy elements justifies the quickness. And while Futaba leaving her home is a strange move, I still think her full recovery showcased in her bonding scenes makes sense. She sets reasonable goals for herself. She doesn’t take on too much all at once. Futaba surrounds herself with a support system as she tries. It’s stunning how healthy it is.
All in all, Futaba Sakura is one of the most interesting characters to come from Persona 5. Her writers and creators knew what they wanted her to be and knew exactly how to portray the heavy topics of PTSD, agoraphobia and metal illness. I think that Futaba’s transitions from unhealthy to healthy are great examples others with mental illnesses should use as a template to help them understand what true recovery means. As long as they know that Phantom Thieves can’t make everything go away instantly.
It’s not an easy task living with a mental illness, but Futaba can help you understand that it doesn’t mean you cannot live. You can get better. You can be free.
Thanks to everyone for supporting NWG. Until we meet again!