Spoilers for the new content in Persona 5: Royal are ahead! Read at your own discretion!
The list of changes made in the Royal version of Persona 5 are far too numerous to count. Some are extremely subtle, like the various adjustments to combat and the flow of time in-game. Others are in-your-face obvious, like all the new characters, revamped boss fights, and the new Palace. I’ll be going into greater detail in all that in my review, which should be coming tomorrow.
Today, I’m going to dive into one of the biggest new characters in the game. The new member of the Phantom Thieves: Kasumi Yoshizawa. Or is she’s later code-named: Violet.
As you progress through the old content of P5, you’ll slowly be drip-fed various scenes of Kasumi and Joker getting closer to one another. As these scenes progress, we slowly learn more about her as a person. We see her seemingly incorruptible pure soul, her desire to be an Olympic-level gymnast, and her love for her deceased younger sister. By the time we reach the end of the original game, we have a pretty strong grasp of who she is.
Only for it to all come crashing down in the new endgame content!
Okay seriously, major spoilers ahead. Stop reading if you’re planning on playing Royal. Because I’m about to spoil the big plot twist in this article. This is your final warning.
The Wound and the Lie: Kasumi Yoshizawa
Okay, so, in order to understand the rest of her character, we need to get the big one out of the way. So buckle the fuck up. Because this is going to be a wild one.
So, plot twist, the Kasumi Yoshizawa we know isn’t actually Kasumi. She’s actually Sumire Yoshizawa, the younger sister of Kasumi Yoshizawa. When her older sister protected her from an oncoming car, losing her life in the process, Sumire became deeply traumatized. She blamed herself for her sister’s death, believing that she stole her dreams and life from her. Soon enough, she loathed being Sumire Yoshizawa and desperately wished to become her older sister, as to fulfill the dream she thinks she stole from her, as well as to escape her guilt and inferiority complex.
This is when she met Doctor Maruki who, second plot twist, is the antagonist of the new story. He has the power of actualization, the ability to rewrite people’s cognition and make it a reality. She wanted to become Kasumi; so he used his power to make it so. From then on, Sumire became Kasumi in every way, shape, and form. All except that bright red hair.
But that begs the question: why? Why go so far as to become her sister? Well, that leads into:
The Want: Escape the Pain
On the surface, Sumire/Kasumi’s desire seems simple. They both wanted to be Olympic-level gymnasts. So logically, with the real Kasumi gone, Sumire as Kasumi would strive to make that dream come true in her stead. Simple, right? Well, that’s certainly a major factor. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
Guilt and envy are the major driving forces of Sumire/Kasumi’s character. In a fit of jealousy over her sister’s talent, she wasn’t looking where she was going, which got the real Kasumi killed. The accident wasn’t what made her want to become her sister. Those feelings were already there. They just became the driving force of her strongest desire: escape.
Sumire desperately wanted to escape the crushing guilt of her actions. She wanted to undo her mistake so Kasumi could live and fulfill her dreams. At the same time, she wanted to take her sister’s talent, which she always saw as superior to her own. That’s why she became her sister (aside from Maruki’s Persona-fueled influence). To her, that was the only means of escaping her guilt and satisfying her envy.
That is, understandably, a bad way of coping with grief. It’s effectively like trying to kill her old self while living a delusion. She can’t be Kasumi. By living as a dead person, she isn’t living at all.
But there is a way out. Or more accurately, a way forward.
The Need: Sumire Yoshizawa
Or, as I was originally going to put it, ‘wake up and smell the coffee’. But that one seemed a bit insensitive. I probably should’ve gone with ‘forgive, but not forget’.
Facing grief is an incredibly hard thing to do. It’s only natural that people don’t want to do the things they know will cause them pain. Even still, it needs to be done. If not, it will only cause more pain later. It’s like ripping off a band-aid; you know you need to, but you sure as hell don’t want to.
That’s what Sumire needs to do. Rip off the bandaid. Face the reality of Kasumi’s death, her identity as Sumire, and move on. Pretending to be her sister like she has been won’t do her any good. The only way for her to grow, to achieve the dream she shared with her, she needs to face that pain, grow from it, and move on.
Pain is a major theme for the new Royal storyline. Maruki, the antagonist, wants to create a world devoid of pain, where no one has to suffer ever again. By doing so, he’d create a place where people can’t grow. He thinks that what he’s doing is right; but in his efforts to help, he’s only going to imprison the human race. Essentially, he’s a more delusional, benevolent version of Jaldaboath, the God of Control (the original final boss of Persona 5).
Sumire is living proof that is ideology is wrong. By experiencing her pain and growing from it, she becomes a happier person than she was as Kasumi. The process of getting there is hard and painful. But the results are well worth the effort.
Suffering may be hard; but in the end, it only makes us stronger.
Admittedly, I wasn’t super hot on Kasumi through the majority of my playthrough. She just seemed like an overly pure character that society tries to kick down. The most interesting thing about her was that her confidant line was only five beats long, as compared to the usual ten.
But then that plot twist happened. And I’ll admit: it’s been a while since something like that took me by surprise. That shit? That caught me completely off-guard!
If you’re now mad that I spoiled the surprise, too bad. I warned you twice; now it’s your own damn fault.
By the end of Persona 5 Royal, Sumire became one of my new favorite characters! Her story went from bland to incredible, making her story one of the most memorable in the game! She’s earned a spot right next to the old cast as one of my favorite Persona cast members of all time!
Although the specific place on that list is still up for debate. I kind of love every character, so choosing specific places would be hard. Oh! I should make one of those tier list things!