So, yes, I haven’t been writing much recently. This is due to me moving into a new place + work. I’m really sorry for this. I am also hoping to get a new computer sometime towards the end of the month, so I can finally make videos much more consistently and effectively.

ANYWAYS ENOUGH OF THE UPDATING GARBAGE, LET’S GET TO THE DIARY!

1.) Detective-Sized Elephant in The Room

Alright, there has been a character I have been neglecting. This character is very important to the plot as well, and yet, I have failed to mention their name once. What was my master plan in neglecting this man?

I don’t know I just kind of forgot about Goro Akechi.

My thoughts on this character so far are thus:

This guy is so fake. I have to commend Akechi’s voice actor for making him have this intentionally fake, appealing voice. He’s a beautiful anime boy (arguably the most beautiful), who is smart, charismatic, and all-around better than everybody in your group. He’s a TV celebrity at the age of 16, he is at the top of his grade in academics, he is this glorious human being.

At least, that is what he is on the surface. This is why his fake personality, or his “persona”, comes across as so offputting. There are hints and deeper layers to him that make me feel he can snap at any second and attack.

His social link always cracks me up too. It goes like this:

Akechi: I think we can be best friends

Me: Go fk urself fgt

RANK 50 UP JUSTICE ARCANA ADVANCED.

2.) Inkling Girl and Curry Man resurrected

Futaba is back from taking her 3-week nap after finding out her mom didn’t commit suicide because of her, and she overcame her anxiety and depression. So, you know, the usual that happens during Summer Vacation. Futaba’s awakening is that into a girl who is finally confident in herself, and is attempting to live her life happily. It’s a happy ending, and it is incredibly personal to me.

This also marks the beginning of Sojiro’s resurrection, and you really see how his happiness is tied into Futaba. Sojiro begins the game as cold-hearted and resentful towards the main character. He almost outright hates you, and is incredibly cutthroat with everything he says and does. It can be seen in his interactions with customers. At the beginning of the game, you see him insult a customer, and you have the option to grill him for it. Right before you meet him, he’s aimlessly doing a crossword on his own, away from his customers, in his own aloof mind. To him, the perception of the world is depressing. Everyday is just a daily struggle with no aspirations for the future.

That is, until Futaba experiences her reawakening, and he notices a lot of positive changes in her. She’s happier, she’s comfortable around people her age, and she’s having fun, summer vacation opportunities. He encourages her to have fun with friends because he knows it will be the happiest memories she experiences.

The beach trip they go on leads to Futaba coming out of her shell and having positive memories with the other female characters. It’s likely her first trip out with friends, and it is also here where she reveals her reason for sticking with the Phantom Thieves. She wants to find the people who killed her mom. It isn’t about fame or reforming society. its her own personal goal. This is something I really like about all the characters in Persona 5. While everybody works as a unanimous team, they still have their own reasons for being Phantom Thieves. Ryuji hates terrible adults and wants to become a hero, Ann wants to make sure people don’t take advantage of others like they did Shiho, Morgana wants to get to the bottom of mementos, etc. They are united by their own humanity and individualism. It feels like people are humans living in a modern Shibuya. It’s great.

3.) Fame and Fortune

Man check dat 80% approval rating on the Phan-Site. A non-distinct amount of people love us so much. Ryuji absolutely loves the fame, and it’s honestly getting pretty unhealthy in the Phantom Thieves dynamic. We are getting obessed with rushing targets and taking down evil adults, that it doesn’t seem to be a fight for justice anymore. Rather, it is a battle for fame and recognition, which is completely counter-intuitive to the concept of a Phantom Thief. Shouldn’t a Thief try to be sneaky, and not make their presence known to the world? Even characters who condemn Ryuji for his fame obsession are getting sucked in by it too. Makoto, Ann, and even Futaba scorn Ryuji for this, but they are not hesitant to search for a new target. They are dictated by the Phan Site’s poll on who to target, and they begin to rely on the wishes of their fans, rather on their own judgement. Okumura becomes a suggestion for them because he is the number 1 target on their poll, and the Phantom Thieves search for justification. They did not make the decision to find Okumura, but rather, it all came to them, and they are following through on people’s desires.

It also doesn’t help that the requests on the site are becoming more egregious. Some people are asking for outright murder of their ex-lovers, or of their asshole bosses. People who aren’t bad enough to justify a reformation have their personal information leaked on a website for the entire world to see. It’s one of the revolting aspects of the Phandom. If you have mysterious heroes who cause changes of people’s cognition with unexplained means, people’s demands are going to get absurd.

4.) Summer Vacation Vibes

I’m going to be honest, I found the Hawaii trip somewhat disappointing. It lasted four days, and there was hardly a memorable moment. It was just a standard, school trip with no Persona-style hijinx. Other than a date with Makoto, which was pretty nice, it was just people worrying about the next target. I found this slightly interesting, as this compliments the more realistic and relatable tone that Persona 5 is going for. But I mostly found it uninteresting, with not much happening other than the group photo before they go on the trip.

However, the rest of the Summer vacation of people coming over all day and playing retro video games together give me the perfect vibes. See, my summer vacation has been completely botched, because it doesn’t exist. I work full-time, so there isn’t really many fun, full days with friends to be had. Those days are the most precious to me, and their scarcity does ensure they are all special, but I wish they were more frequent. It was really heartwarming getting messages from friends at like, 4am, asking to hang out at my place. I beat Futaba’s palace as soon as I could, just so I could enjoy these moments.

It sounds depressing, but these hangouts were a nice replacement for what I wish I could do more frequently. Although, if I splurge on junk food everyday, I’ll shave my life off by 10 years in about 2 months. Moderation is key.

5.) Let’s Discuss the Themes of Persona 5 That I Find Most Interesting

SO. Persona 5 does a lot with its story that I haven’t seen in a video game in a long time. From its understanding of internet culture, to the current issues of hive-mindedness that plagues society, Persona 5 deals with them very well. I believe a story’s plot is one of the least important aspects of it, and its themes are more fascinating. Persona 5 takes on very modern themes that I have always been fascinated with, but have not been touched upon for a long time.

ONTO THE LIST WITHIN THIS LIST.

Individuality

So this one is the most obvious and blatant theme in Persona 5. This has been a topic that’s been discussed in literature for hundreds of years. Some believe we all are our own individuals, different from everybody else. Some say that we are insignificant, and our differences are too tiny to measure, so we must all be categorized for easy understanding. If we all seek to be individuals, why do we find comfort when we discover another person has common interests? If individuality is promoted, why do we reward those for fitting in with the norms of society, and believe them to be okay? Are all social norms just constructs that people have been told are okay, but cannot be reasonably explained?

Persona 5 tackles these topics fairly well, and the concept of being rebels within a Japanese society that endorses conformity is a nice message. Sure, your group of Phantom Thieves + an Inkling Girl are all really pretty, but they are social outcasts because of their personalities. They’re all absolute weirdos, and that’s perfectly fine, because they are comfortable in it, and if everybody in the world was the same, it would be boring.

Society

This theme is moreso endemic to Japan, but it could be applied to any location on the planet. Every culture has certain expectations placed on an individual. Work at a business firm? Wear a nice outfit and have a professional attitude. Work at a convenience store and you’re 30 years old? You must be a failure in life. We all have these expectations that have been molded through thousands of methods as we grow up.

I love that Persona 5 does so much to give you a taste of society. I love that nobody’s opinion of the main character improves other than those close to him. It makes you realize that society has unbreakable conceptions. Once the main character is branded as a criminal, it never changes. So much of what you do influences the world, and you feel like a hero, but it all comes crashing down once you step in class and get a question wrong FU-

But society has a great impact on the Phantom Thieves as well. The people believing in them gives them power, regardless of their actions. If people didn’t believe in the Phantom Thieves and they saw somebody have a change of heart, they would likely chalk it up to some psychological disease. But since the public perceives the Phantom Thieves changing people’s hearts as a legitimate, swift method to problem solving, they put their faith in it. Japan needs Jesus.

But, I think that should be fine for theme discussion. I will talk about them more as I continue through this great game.

YES, I WILL MAKE A YOUTUBE VIDEO SOON! SOON, MY COMPUTER WILL BE FIXED, AND THE VIDEOS WILL COME OUT TWICE PER WEEK.

Animal Crossing New Leaf is one of the best video games ever made. Notice how I didn’t say “one of my favourites.” No, this game is, in my opinion, one of the greatest video games ever created. I say this with no hyperbole.

Animal Crossing doesn’t have the best gameplay ever. Animal Crossing doesn’t have the best story ever, hell, it doesn’t really have one at all. Animal Crossing isn’t even the most innovative game series ever. But Animal Crossing evokes something. Animal Crossing makes you feel something that other games can’t do.

Comfort.

Everything about the game is designed around the one goal: The evoke comfort and safety in the player. All the gameplay mechanics and systems aren’t made to test the player’s abilities, but rather, to invoke relaxation. This may sound fairly silly, as many other alternatives can provide comfort and relaxation. Family, good times with friends, calm music, all of this can do the job. Well, not quite. Animal Crossing evokes a particularly special kind of comfort and escapism. There are tons of subtle factors that make Animal Crossing different from these specific types of escapism.

SO LET’S OUTLINE THEM, SHALL WE?

The Soundtrack

Animal Crossing OST’s are as simple as they get. They are peaceful, 1-2 minute loops with very few instruments. Each in-game hour has a different track to evoke a mood you’re meant to feel. 4PM will have an upbeat tempo to keep you motivated throughout the day, while 1AM will have a very slow, mellow tune to evoke relaxation and stillness. On their own, many of these songs aren’t exactly what you’d listen to on transit or in your car, but as atmospheric, supplemental music to another task, it works phenomenally.

But other game’s have relaxing soundtracks, what makes these so special? Well, their simplicity lends to the theme of innocence permeating throughout Animal Crossing. None of the songs are bombastic or take you by surprise. All of the songs suggest positive, wholesome themes like happiness, openness, and humility. I know it sounds weird to read this, but Animal Crossing’s soundtrack is focused towards specific goals and evoking specific emotions.

 

In high school, for example, if I had a really stressful day and needed to unwind when I got home, Animal Crossing was the perfect coping mechanism. I would always usually open it up around 4PM, hear the upbeat, simple jingle, and begin my daily routine. I would organize my home, talk to my villagers, see the daily catalogues, and my mind would clear. See, I also had a pretty nasty medical condition where I would get headaches frequently. High School would amplify these headaches greatly, and they would often be debilitating. But, popping in headphones, hearing the calming tracks at any time of the day, and just, relaxing always cleared my head. It was more potent than Advil or any drug.

Parents, if you want your children to stay away from alcohol or drugs, just give them Animal Crossing. It works wonders.

Each track also evokes a feeling you generally feel during the time of day. Regardless of whether or not you’re a night owl or not, at 4AM, anybody can relate to the feeling of horror or chills. Like, in the still night, that there can be somebody watching you, ready to kill.

This song exemplifies that feeling. It’s 4AM, none of your villagers are awake, all stores are closed, nothing is running. So, why are you awake? The game is reflecting your isolation, your paranoia, your fear.

I’ve even had friends come up to me and say Animal Crossing’s music reflects their emotions incredibly well. It helped them with their depression and loneliness by showing those complicated topics in an easily digestible form. Loneliness manifested within a video game, and I think that, for a soundtrack to have that power, is incredible.

No Story

How does no story make Animal Crossing a great game? What’s the point to keep you going? Goals. Small goals, big goals, inconceivable goals, or nothing at all. Animal Crossing drops you into a town, it gives you a small house and some tasks, and you’re expected to pay it off. Only, you don’t have a time limit to pay this off. You can go say hello to your fellow villagers, visit Tom Nook’s store or the Mabel Sisters to design a new shirt or hat. It’s all very cute and wholesome. There are no pressures or deadlines, but rather, goals that the player sets at their own pace. You could develop a daily routine and schedule, you could meet with friends locally and online, you could do whatever you wanted, whenever.

That type of freedom allows for player-driven stories, and a variety of motivations to be acknowledged. Some people may wish to become the best mayor, designing projects and funding their creation for the most beautiful, luxurious town there is. Some people become designers, and post their designs on Pinterest and Tumblr. Due to the immense customization for designs, some of these are fantastic.

Dapper outfit!

My personal story when I used to play Animal Crossing was to make as much money as possible. I still remember getting excited catching sharks and barred knifejaws, and getting depressed at the bombardment of Sea Bass. I wasn’t into catching bugs because it never made me much money. I was really uncreative, so I never bothered to theme or customize my house. I just got varieties of furniture that “looked cool” to a 10-year-old. I concerned myself with a specific goal, and I had fun doing it. Animal Crossing has the systems in place to facilitate desires. There are no consequences for not pursing a different goal. If you want to live in the smallest house and resist the capitalist regime, then go for it. Go catch butterflies, you don’t need to eat food in this world.

Even as a child, I abused my Nintendo DS’ internal clock to form my own time travel stories. Like, I would set it 3 years in the future and give myself a new outfit, seeing which villagers are still there and how much they remember me. I would draw constellations in the sky at the Museum Observatory and pretend they were prophecies of an apocalypse. I’d set the timer to be 7PM so it would be sunset, or, as I called it, “The Apocalypse.”

The world is uh, ending.

But these are just silly stories I made when I was a kid. When I got older and picked up New Leaf, I ditched away those old habits and made it essential to experience the game with friends. We would visit each others towns, give gifts, and try to improve everything. It was like we were a team making our town’s the best they could be!

Anybody’s journey in Animal Crossing is their own, since it is so peaceful and open. Let me know if you have any of your own personal stories as well.

Characters and Villagers

Animal Crossing would be an incredibly lonely experience if it weren’t for the characters residing in it. I can only handle fishing and bug catching on my own for so long before I need some social interaction. Thankfully, the plethora of villagers who move into your town add a lot of necessary breaks and tasks to a day.

I’m a big fan of villagers providing you daily tasks, as it keeps incentivizing the player to return for more Animal Crossing. Although I am not a fan of these villagers trying to swindle me into stupid deals. Believe it or not, a shark for a pear is not a fair deal. Please stop trying to convince me otherwise.

Each villager has their own personality and unique appearance too, so you can get a multitude of responses that personalize your town. The best part, is that none of the villagers pressure you into anything. They just mind their own business, and if you feel like talking to them, they’re open to conversation. Sure, they don’t work or contribute to the town’s economy, but, they don’t talk to me when I don’t want them to, so it balances out.

Unless they give you…this look:

Then just get out of there.

But the villagers’ lack of initiative plays into the theme of comfort and relaxation. Nothing comes at you in the game like it’s an absolute necessity. When I play Stardew Valley, there are a lot of timed systems that require stressful planning and time management. Animal Crossing’s town members don’t follow a strict schedule, and they can often be found relaxing in their homes.

And when villagers are set on a specific schedule, it never changes depending on the day. They go to bed at realistic times and they are available at any other time. It isn’t different if it’s raining or a different day of the week, and you don’t need to religiously follow a guide to find villagers. They are there when you need support, not a burden on you.

So who’s my favourite villager?

My boy Brewster.

Pace

Animal Crossing’s time follows the real-life time. This means that, if it is 5:09PM in the real world, then it is 5:09PM in Animal Crossing. This is the most divisive aspect of Animal Crossing, and it turns people away from the game. I believe this purpose adds quite a lot of hidden charm. Let me explain:

Animal Crossing very rarely utilizes deadlines for tasks. This is because deadlines naturally create stress, and Animal Crossing does not want you to feel like you’re doing a job. If a deadline is given, it’s usually a fairly simple task with a generous amount of time. You have 10, real life hours to talk to an NPC and deliver them a shirt. Fail to do this, and you get slightly reprimanded. There is no consequence, but there is a benefit if you seek it. There’s no morally ambiguous “IF YOU DON’T DO THIS, THIS CHARACTER WILL DIE” bullcrap.

Some people dislike the lack of conseuqences, but remember, everything in this game is here to be peaceful and wholesome. This is a deliberate decision to ensure that players are always welcome at any time of the day.

My personal favourite aspect of the real-life clock system is how well it mirrors real life surroundings. When I’m huddled under my blanket at 1 in the morning on a freezing winter day, and I see that experience translated into video game form, I create a connection with it. I feel comforted and nostalgic by what I see. When it’s 8PM on a summer day, and I see the sun setting slightly, it warms my heart. It’s a nostalgic sight, because the fantasy of a video game lets me fantasize about great memories in the past. If I can’t go outside and experience these memories at the moment, Animal Crossing provides that alternative. It’s a comforting world that reflects reality, but with talking bears and hedgehogs.

Always Waiting For You

Going off of the theme of universal time progression, Animal Crossing doesn’t really change much on a day-to-day basis. Other than holidays and small little fun events, you don’t really miss much if you put the game down for months at a time. All that really changes, is plants die, some villagers may move, and your town looks like this:

But, really, these changes are minimal. Animal Crossing lets you pick up right where you left off with minimal effort. It doesn’t really discourage you going away from the game. It’s just a light slap on the wrist. It lets you know that a lot of time has passed. Even the villagers remark on how long you have been gone for, and they say that they missed you. It’s nice, knowing that there are people there to return to.

As obnoxious as the villagers can be sometimes, they’re always supportive and friendly. They aren’t doing anything terrible.

Animal Crossing is always waiting for you, but not in a creepy way. Animal Crossing welcomes anybody with open arms, and the glut of positive fanart and happy community it has formed in the gaming world is testament to that. Seriously, you won’t find people more wholesome than the Animal Crossing community. It’s a game that breeds cooperations and family, and that is reflected in the positivity it exudes.

That’s why Animal Crossing New Leaf is one of the best video games ever.