With the release of the game in the West after years of waiting, Waypoint conducted an interview with Persona 5 producer and director Katsura Hashino, where he discusses the game’s production and some of its creative decisions.
On PS3 to PS4 Development
The 2D elements of the game had to be completely redrawn, from the PlayStation 3 originals, in order to even work on PS4.
On the High School Setting
Hashino sees the high school setting of the series as being at the core of a “precious feel” that appeals to the audience. Waypoint writes:
“At the end of high school life, there’s always graduation and a farewell to everyone as you part and continue with your lives,” the director explains. “When you’re an adult, those kinds of chance meetings and farewells won’t happen that frequently any more. Your circumstances are going to remain the same for a long time. That’s why we wanted to focus on high school students, to get that precious feel.”
On a Female Protagonist
When asked about the lack of a gender option for the main character in Persona 5, Waypoint writes:
“Every time the development on a new Persona game starts, this subject always comes up at the very beginning,” Hashino tells me. “When thinking about how much work goes into accomplishing such a feat, it’s a huge amount. Honestly, to put that option into the game, we’d have to cut out other things to compensate for the workload, and every time that’s the situation we’ll basically say, ‘it’s not worth it’.”
Addressing the story and scenario of Persona 3 in relation to later games, Hashino says: “With the way that game’s world worked, it was okay for the protagonist to be female. With Persona 4, though, we needed the character to come from a big city to a small country town to be the driving force of the story, and it seemed more natural for a male character to fulfill that role. There are story aspects to this decision, as well.”
Project Re Fantasy
Hashino sees Persona 5 as “a turning point” for the series, and is moving onto another project with Project Re Fantasy, revealed in December 2016. In addition to his previously stated inspirations for the game, he tells Waypoint:
I’m playing through the original Wizardry, and reading the entire Lord of the Rings series.
Read the full interview on Waypoint.
Persona 5 was released for the PS3 and PS4 in Japan on September 15, 2016. It was released for the PS4 in Traditional Chinese on March 23, 2017. It released in North America and Europe on April 4th, 2017, and will release in Korean in 2017.