- For fighter info, see Joker (SSBU).
The protagonist is a second-year high school student who transfers to Shujin Academy in the spring of 2016 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.
Much like previous protagonists in the Megami Tensei franchise, Joker is a silent character with a blank slate personality, leaving his actions and decisions up to the will of the player, though it is always noted in the game that he has a strong sense of justice and a rebellious spirit. However, in other media such as the manga tie-in and the anime adaptation, he is depicted as a rather smart and cheeky yet stoic young man, though at times cocky and a show-off. Other characters in the game have also alluded to other parts of his personality; Sojiro Sakura notes his assertive nature, while Goro Akechi notices his courage and his freedom to choose his own path in life. He is the first and default character the player controls and the appointed leader of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. His main Persona is Arsene (based off Arsène Lupin, a character featured in multiple Maurice Leblanc books).
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.
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 game is told from the protagonist's perspective, under the setting of being interrogated by prosecutor Sae Niijima after being caught in a supposed crime. In an effort to lessen his jail time, he must divulge the events that unfolded that led all the way to this interrogation.
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 inside of a castle in a parallel reality known as the Metaverse, later discovering that the app is a conduit to said realm.
During their initial exploration of the castle, the pair break free a mysterious cat-like creature named Morgana, who fills them in on the location and its attributes; the Metaverse is where an individual's twisted desires have manifested into a fantasy-like area known as a "Palace", and in Kamoshida's case, he sees Shujin Academy as a castle where he is king and the students and faculty are his slaves. 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".
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, causing the castle to collapse. In the real world, he publicly confesses his crimes and turns 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, all while also going after less-severe cases in Mementos through requests from a public forum known as the Phan-Site created by fellow student Yuuki Mishima. As they continue to change hearts, the team gradually expands and gains new members, all of which were victims of those targets; these include aspiring artist Yusuke Kitagawa (codename: Fox, Persona: Goemon), student council president Makoto Niijima (codename: Queen, Persona: Johanna), introverted 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 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), who had suspected the teens of being the Phantom Thieves and divulges that he too is aware of the Metaverse, and go to infiltrate the Palace of Sae Niijima, who is Makoto's sister. After defeating Shadow Sae, law enforcement unexpectedly arrives. Joker decides to distract the police and allow the rest of the team to escape undetected, but is unfortunately caught and arrested, finally catching the story up to Sae and the interrogation. 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 plotted to fake Joker's death and gain secret intel about Akechi, who is revealed to be in league with someone. He eventually manages to escape with help from Sae and goes into hiding. The Phantom Thieves reunite and catch Sae and Sojiro up to speed on all that has happened so far. The group eventually deduce that the mastermind and Akechi's accomplice 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. He then attempts to fight the Phantom Thieves, but is swiftly defeated. Shido's cognitive version of Akechi suddenly appears, explaining that Shido was aware of his impending betrayal and planned to dispose of him after becoming Prime Minister. Shocked by this revelation, 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 in an attempt to change everyone's hearts. 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 and Justine begin to regain their memories. Igor tells him he has lost the game and orders the twins to execute him. The girls, however, feel this conflicts with their purpose and ask Joker to fuse them together instead. He then merges the two into their true, whole form; Lavenza. She reveals to him, as well as the reunited team, that the Igor Joker had been meeting with was in actuality Yaldaboath, the treasure of Mementos and the true mastermind who imprisoned the real Igor and disguised himself. 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 months-long incarceration, the team and their allies manage to gather sufficient evidence that proves his innocence and eventually overturn his conviction. In the end, a month after his release at the end of his probation, he bids farewell to his confidants and is driven back home by his new friends.
Persona 5 Royal
In the Royal expansion, the story is slightly altered with the addition of two new characters; gymnast Kasumi Yoshizawa, whom Joker meets in the Spring, and new counselor Takuto Maruki, who is hired by Shujin to help students personally effected by Kamoshida's action.
After the defeat of Yaldaboath, Joker is still suggested by Sae to turn himself in, though to this surprise, Akechi arrives to take his place instead. Joker then stays to complete a third semester, though he discovers that reality has been distorted; Akechi has been released without reason and each member of the team has suddenly had their deepest desires fulfilled, such as Morgana becoming a human or Ryuji becoming a track star again. Joker, Akechi, and Kasumi later discover a brand new Palace and investigate it. It is eventually revealed that Maruki himself is the owner of the Palace as well as 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. It is also here where Kasumi awakens her Persona, Cendrillon, and briefly joins the team as "Violet".
Maruki later reveals 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.
Royal ends much the same way as the original 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. In a post-credits scene, Joker sees a man resembling Akechi through the window of his train back home.
Persona 5 Strikers
Four months after the events of the original game, Joker and Morgana return to Yongen-Jaya to reunite with the Phantom Thieves for summer vacation camping trip. In preparation, the teens use a new app called EMMA; on the way to purchase supplies, Joker, Ryuji, and Morgana run into pop idol Alice Hiiragi, who instructs them to enter the keyword "Wonderland" into the app for a special event she is holding. After entering it, they suddenly find themselves in another alternate plane called a Jail and encounter its ruler named Monarch, who is Alice's Shadow. She disposes the boys into a dumpster where they encounter a sentient A.I. named Sophia, and they team up to fight their way out of Jail. Upon discovering that EMMA is another conduit much like the previous Metaverse app, the Phantom Thieves are reestablished.
They eventually return to change Alice's heart, but are approached by police inspector Zenkichi Hasegawa, who has been investigating into people's sudden bizarre change of behavior and suspects the Thieves. The group reluctantly strike a deal with him for an exchange of information and continue their camping trip while defeating several other Monarchs along the way. They also form an alliance with professor Kuon Ichinose, who accidentally discovers the group's identities. Under Zenkichi's request, the team also visit a presentation showing off the capabilities of EMMA from Akira Konoe, the head of an IT company known as Madicce. Konoe is supported by politician Jyun Owada, who they discover was a supporter of Masayoshi Shido as well being responsible for the death of Zenkichi's wife Aoi in a drunk-driving incident. Konoe has been using his position to pin the blame on the Thieves for supposedly hacking into EMMA.
At the same time, Zenkichi's daughter Akane is made a Monarch of Kyoto's Jail, later revealed to be because of her hatred towards the police as well as blaming her father for her mother's death. Zenkichi is later imprisoned for treason, and the Thieves (excluding Futaba) are imprisoned in the Jail. After eventually being cleared of any charges, Zenkichi teams up with Futaba to confront Akane, at the same time triggering the awakening of his Persona, Valjean, and joining the Phantom Thieves with the codename "Wolf". The team then successfully save Akane.
Later, with the assistance of Ichinose, the group eventually enter Osaka's Jail, with Konoe as its Monarch. After triggering his change of heart, EMMA is shut down and Madicce is disbanded. However, the app suddenly restarts and causes a blackout in Tokyo, inadvertently creating a new Jail. Upon entering, they discover that Ichinose was the true creator of EMMA, who sold it to Konoe and used the app to incapacitate users and determine humanity's true desire. She also reveals that she created Sophia as EMMA's prototype, but deemed her a failure; she orders her to attack Joker and the group, but due to the strong bond she's developed with them over the course of the trip, defies Ichinose and awakens her own Persona, Pandora. After defeating Ichinose, the app's true identity reveals itself to be the God Demiurge, who used the app to manipulate the people's hearts in order to take them to the "Promised Land", a world free of crime and wrongdoing. Futaba and Ichinose manage to hack into EMMA, sending a calling card to its followers, allowing the Thieves to confront Demiurge's true physical form and defeat it.
In the aftermath, EMMA is shut down for good and the Jails wiped from existence. Owada is arrested with the help of Konoe's testimony, Zenkichi returns to Tokyo to take care of Akane, and Ichinose and Sophia decide to travel together. With the summer vacation over, the Phantom Thieves disband again, but make plans to reunite again in the winter.
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.
A Fighter Spirit of Joker in his Phantom Thief costume with Arsene can be obtained after beating his Classic Mode route. An alternate Spirit of Joker in his Shujin uniform with Arsene can be purchased from the Shop for 300G after downloading Challenger Pack 1. As they are Fighter Spirits, they do not have their own Spirit Battles and cannot be used.
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- 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:
- Joker's debut on a Nintendo console is in the Nintendo 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 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, as well as mentioning him 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 one of three characters who originated from a PlayStation console, the other two being Cloud Strife and Sephiroth.
- Joker shares the same Japanese voice actor with Roy, being Jun Fukuyama. He also shares his English voice actor with 3DS/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 a Mature-rated series, the others being Solid Snake and Bayonetta
- Coincidentally, all three use an alias or codename
- Joker is one of four characters in the Fighters Pass to have their names be altered by the player, the other three being Hero, Byleth, and Steve & Alex.
- Joker is one of ten 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), Terry Bogard (United States), and Kazuya Mishima (Japan).
- Joker is the most recently-created third-party character in Smash, 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 both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.