- For fighter info, see Joker (SSBU).
Joker is the codename of the main protagonist of Persona 5 from Atlus, the sixth main entry in the Persona series, which is a spin-off of the Megami Tensei series. His main Persona is Arsene (based off Arsène Lupin, a character featured in multiple Maurice Leblanc books).
Although his real name can be given by the player much like the previous protagonists in the Persona series, certain media have given him "official" names; in the Persona 5: The Animation anime adaptation and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, he is given the name Ren Amamiya, while in the manga tie-in he is given the name Akira Kurusu.
The Persona 5 protagonist is a second-year high school student who transfers to Shujin Academy in the spring in Tokyo near Aoyama-Itchome after being falsely accused of assault, criminally charged, and labeled as a delinquent. He lives in the attic of a coffee shop called Cafe Leblanc located in Yongen-Jaya and owned by Sojiro Sakura, an acquaintance of his parents. On his way to Shujin on the first day of classes, he notices a strange app that has mysteriously been added to his phone, though he initially brushes it off as nothing. He later has a chance encounter with fellow student and former athlete Ryuji Sakamoto after running into their lecherous gym teacher Suguru Kamoshida. One their way to school, they accidentally find themselves in a parallel reality known as the Metaverse, later discovering that the app is a conduit to said realm.
The Metaverse is where an individual's twisted desires have manifested into a fantasy-like area known as a "Palace". In Kamoshida's case, he sees Shujin Academy as a castle where he is king and the students and faculty are his slaves. During their initial exploration of the castle, the pair break free a mysterious cat-like creature named Morgana, who fills them in on the Metaverse and its attributes. After seeing Kamoshida's true nature, the protagonist rebels against this reality which in turn awakens his Persona, Arsene, and dons a cloak and mask and the codename of "Joker".
Like with the other Persona protagonists, Joker possesses the rare Wild Card ability, which allows him to wield multiple Personas at once. Personas can be obtained through negotiating, stealing, or fusion. In charge of managing his growing collection of Personas is the mysterious Igor, the proprietor of the Velvet Room, a recurring area throughout the series. Igor continuously warns Joker of an imminent ruin and the only way to avoid it is to complete his "rehabilitation", facilitated by himself and the Velvet Room's attendants, the twin wardens Caroline and Justine.
After several return trips to the castle, Ryuji (codename Skull) and another fellow classmate and victim of Kamoshida, the part-time model Ann Takamaki (codename Panther), rebel against Kamoshida and awaken their Personas, Captain Kidd and Carmen, respectively. Under the guidance of Morgana (codename: Mona, Persona: Zorro), the four send out a calling card throughout Shujin, announcing themselves as The Phantom Thieves of Hearts, which in turn causes his treasure to manifest in the castle. After a fierce battle, they successfully defeat Shadow Kamoshida, steal his treasure, and trigger a change of heart within him leading to him publicly confessing his crimes and turning himself in.
Following this, the Phantom Thieves begin to gain notoriety as they pursue more high profile targets, including renowned artist Ichiryusai Madarame, criminal kingpin Junya Kaneshiro, and restaurateur Kunikazu Okumura, while overtime expanding the team and gaining new members, including aspiring artist Yusuke Kitagawa (codename: Fox, Persona: Goemon), student council president Makoto Niijima (codename: Queen, Persona: Johanna), shy hacker Futaba Sakura (codename: Oracle, Persona: Necronomicon), and heiress Haru Okumura (codename: Noir, Persona: Milady). Their actions also gain the interest within members of the police, including prosecutor Sae Niijima and famed student detective Goro Akechi, who are in the middle of investigating a series of mental shutdowns that have rocked the city prior to Joker's arrival.
As the game progresses, the Phantom Thieves slowly discover that a masked assassin has been infiltrating the Metaverse to kill their victims, causing the mental shutdowns, and have been framing the team for the crimes. In pursuit of the murderer, the team are assisted by Akechi (codename: Crow, Personas: Robin Hood and Loki) and go to infiltrate the Palace of Sae Niijima, who is Makoto's sister. After defeating Shadow Sae, Joker is arrested and interrogated by the real Sae. Akechi also arrives to prosecute him, but his true intentions are revealed when he seemingly kills Joker, confirming him to be the masked assassin.
It is then revealed that the team had suspected Akechi's deception and faked Joker's death. He eventually manages to escape with help from Sae and goes into hiding. The Phantom Thieves reunite, catch Sae and Sojiro up to speed on all that has been happening so far, and deduce that the mastermind is the corrupt politician Masayoshi Shido, who just so happens to be the one that pressed charges against Joker. He has been using Akechi's Metaverse abilities to murder those who stand in his way in his pursuit of becoming the new Prime Minister of Japan. During their heist in Shido's palace, they encounter Akechi who has come to finish the job and reveals that he is Shido's illegitimate son, only allying with him to eventually exact his revenge on him for years of neglect. After a brief fight, Akechi sacrifices himself to a group of enemies, allowing the Thieves to escape and face Shido.
Despite defeating Shido and triggering his change of heart, the public's opinion of the Phantom Thieves begins to rapidly dwindle. In response, the team decides to steal the treasure located in the depths of Mementos. However, to their horror, they discover that the public is in disarray and have chosen to give up their autonomy. The treasure ejects them from Mementos and begin to disappear as they witness the Metaverse merging with reality
Joker then finds himself awakening inside the Velvet Room, where Caroline & Justine begin to regain their memories. He then merges the two into their true, whole form; Lavenza. She reveals to him, as well as the reunited team, that the true mastermind was the god-like being Yaldaboath, who has disguised himself as Igor and imprisoned the real one. Yaldaboath was created from humanity's desire to give up control and was the one who gave Joker and Akechi their Metaverse abilities to see if the world would be preserved or destroyed through their actions as part of a bet he made with Igor, while rigging the game to his favor.
The Phantom Thieves come together to make a final stand against Yaldaboath's reality while Joker's allies and confidants rally the public to resist his control. After a long and brutal fight, Joker awakens his ultimate Persona, Satanael, and defeats Yaldaboath and destroys the Metaverse. In the aftermath, Joker turns himself in to the police in order to successfully prosecute Shido; during his incarceration, the team and their allies manage to gather sufficient evidence that proves his innocence and eventually overturn his conviction. In the end, he bids farewell to his confidants and is driven back home by his new friends.
However, in the Persona 5 Royal expansion, Joker stays to complete a third semester. The expansion adds a new member to the team, gymnast Kasumi Yoshizawa (codename: Violet, Persona: Cendrillon) as well as Shujin's new student counselor Takuto Maruki and follows the team trapped in a dream-like alternate reality where each member's wishes and desires are fulfilled, such as Morgana being human and Futaba reuniting with her deceased mother. It is eventually revealed that Maruki himself is the instigator of the world, having fulfilled everyone's wishes (after having counseling sessions with them) in an attempt to create a world lacking with strife and filling everyone with empty happiness. He has also gained control of Mementos having taken it from them after revealing their desires. They also learn that Kasumi is actually her twin sister Sumire and that the real Kasumi was killed in an accident, leading to Sumire to request Maruki to change her identity to her late sister as a form of coping with her survivor's guilt. Maruki also reveals that Akechi is alive due to Joker's wish to save him, and he can remain so if he accepts the reality Maruki has created, to which Joker rejects. The Phantom Thieves return to the Metaverse to steal his heart and, after a fist fight between Joker and Maruki, redeem him and remove the dream reality, which lets the story proceed as it normally does in the original game after defeating Yaldaboath. The Royal ends much the same way but with a newly reformed Maruki now taking a job as a taxi driver; he drives Joker to the train station where Sumire is also there to say goodbye.
One year after the events of the original game, in Persona 5 Strikers, Joker returns to Yongen-Jaya to spend his summer vacation with the rest of the team. However, they are brought back into action to battle a Japanese pop idol named Alice Hiiragi, who has somehow mesmerized much of Shibuya's residents with a mysterious phone app. Along the way, they meet new allies including a sentient A.I. named Sophia (Persona: Pandora) and a new addition to the Phantom Thieves, police inspector Zenkichi Hasegawa (codename: Wolf, Persona: Valjean).
Joker was announced to be included in Ultimate at The 2018 Game Awards on December 6, 2018, confirming him to be the first fighter in Fighters Pass Volume 1.
Joker battles with a knife, a gun, and a grappling hook. He is also equipped with the Rebellion Gauge; when it is full, he will be assisted by his main Persona, Arsene, for a limited time.
He was released on April 17, 2019, alongside the stage Mementos, 11 music tracks, and a Persona 5-themed Spirit Board as a part of Challenger Pack 1.
- Joker is the third fighter to represent Sega, following Sonic and Bayonetta, as Atlus was acquired by Sega Sammy Holdings in 2013.
- Joker is the first fighter to represent a spin-off series.
- Joker's debut on a Nintendo console is in the 3DS game Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, a crossover with the casts of Persona 3, 4, and 5. His proper Nintendo Switch debut is Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers (discounting his costume cameos in Sonic Forces and Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Encore).
- In an interview with Atlus to commemorate the announcement of Joker's inclusion as well as on his bi-weekly column in Famitsu magazine, Masahiro Sakurai has stated that he is a big fan of the Persona series and played Persona 5 in his spare time during Ultimate's development and mentions being impressed with the game's design and aesthetic. It's with this impression that he aimed to capture the game's sense of style when designing Joker's moveset and Mementos.
- Joker is the second character who originates from a PlayStation console, following Cloud Strife.
- Joker shares the same Japanese voice actor with Roy, being Jun Fukuyama. He also shares his English voice actor with for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U and Ultimate’s Announcer, Master Hand, and Crazy Hand, being Xander Mobus.
- Joker, Richter Belmont, and Steve & Alex are the only playable third-party characters to make their fighting game debut in Smash.
- Joker is one of three playable characters to come from an Mature-rated series, the others being Solid Snake and Bayonetta
- Coincidentally, all three use an alias or codename
- Joker is one of nine characters to come from a real-world location (Tokyo, Japan), the others being Snake (United States), Sonic (Christmas Island), Little Mac (New York, USA), Ryu (Japan), Simon & Richter (Transylvania, now modern-day Romania), Ken (California, USA), and Terry (United States).
- Joker is the most recently-created third-party character in Smash Bros. as Persona 5 was released in Japan on September 15, 2016.
- This also makes him one of three third-party characters to debut in the 21st century, alongside Bayonetta and Steve & Alex.
- Coincidentally, for both Joker and Bayonetta, they debuted in more than one console at the same time (but not counting later ports on Bayonetta’s case). For Joker, he debuted on more than one console from the same company, namely the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.