Persona 5 is full of strong young women, but Futaba Sakura’s intelligence, creative thinking and importance to the story make her the Best Girl.
Persona 5 has a massive cast of great characters, all with their own unique strengths and struggles, but only one of them can win the title of Best Girl. However, while such discussions are often focused on who would make for the protagonist’s best partner, such relationships aren’t the only ones that matter. Joker’s story is a personal battle against the corrupt politician who stole his childhood, so it’s fitting that this Best Girl title goes to someone who understands such pain, perhaps better than he does, and rises just as highly above it: Futaba Sakura.
Futaba Sakura admittedly doesn’t have the strength, combat prowess or tactical brilliance that her competitors display. However, in terms of what she practically contributes to the both Phantom Thieves as a group and their story of wronged teens tearing down a rotten system, she is simply without peers. Burdened by tragedy but able to retake her mind, avenge her family and fight for justice no matter the odds, Futaba isn’t just Persona 5‘s Best Girl. She’s quite possibly one of the best characters in the entire Shin Megami Tensei multiverse.
Futaba begins Persona 5 as a depressed child, locked away from the rest of society. Her mother Wakaba died long before the story started, apparently leaving a suicide note that blamed Futaba for her death. Young and impressionable enough to take this all at face value, Futaba was consumed by guilt and self-loathing. She became highly reclusive and, according to her adoptive father Sojiro, began developing visual and auditory hallucinations of her mother condemning her for her death.
It’s not until Futaba learns about the Phantom Thieves, heroes with the power to change peoples’ hearts, that she finds some reason to hope. Reasoning that they could help her overcome her misery, she effectively enlists their aid to overcome her pain. The young genius ends up getting exactly what she wants, but not in the way that she envisioned. Following the Thieves into her Palace, a world born from her subconscious fears and desires, Futaba comes face to face with her Shadow: the embodiment of her repressed emotions.
Many Persona games see their heroes confront a Shadow that represents their hidden anxieties. However, because Futaba has been drowning in misery, her Shadow instead represents the positive aspects of her personality. Her Shadow helps her use her sharp mind more critically, allowing her to realize that the suicide note was a forgery and that the mother who loved her would never turn to suicide to escape her. Burning with a desire to learn the truth behind Wakaba’s death, Futaba joins the Thieves as their navigator and technical support.
As it happens, Futaba was right to assume there was more to her mother’s untimely end. What appeared to be a suicide was a cover-up killing, orchestrated by the game’s villain Masayoshi Shido as part of his plot to steal her research on human cognition and exploit it for his own schemes. By a particularly nasty coincidence, Shido is also the protagonist Joker’s archenemy; being the man who got him arrested on a false assault charge. This gives the Wild Card user a special connection to Futaba, one he doesn’t really have with anyone else.
That’s not to say that Futaba is the only character with personal reasons for wanting to stop Shido. Haru has also lost people to his schemes, but her late introduction means she doesn’t enjoy the same amount of development that Futaba gets. Akechi is also deeply damaged by Shido’s influence on his life, but his status as a rival and absence from the climactic battle prevent this aspect of his character from reaching a particularly meaningful point.
Futaba, on the other hand, has far more time to integrate herself into the Phantom Thieves. Furthermore, she’s one of the masterminds in their plan to trick Shido into lowering his guard by faking Joker’s death. Considering the consequences implied by the game’s bad ending, this suggests that Joker is quite literally willing to trust her with his life. It’s an incredibly vulnerable moment for an otherwise confident protagonist. The fact that so much of the responsibility for keeping him safe fell on Futaba’s shoulders indicates that she may well be his most important ally.
Persona 5 has an amazing cast of exceptional characters, all of whom fans have discussed and debated for years. However, at the end of the day, it’s hard to argue that any of them have a bigger impact on the plot than Futaba. Her deeply personal story makes her a fantastic counterpart to Joker, and their trust in each other makes for an incredibly engaging friendship. Add all that to her endearing geekiness, her willingness to make friends and determination to see the outside world, and it’s very clear that Futaba is Best Girl.
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