Persona 3: Every SEES Member, Ranked - VRGyani News and Media


Sunday, September 5, 2021

Persona 3: Every SEES Member, Ranked

Persona 3 marked a number of firsts for the Persona series: the first game rendered in full 3D, the first to feature an animal companion, the first to be rereleased with additional content, and of course, the first time players could choose which characters to hang out with via Social Links. In many ways, it laid the foundation for what people think of when Persona comes to mind.

P3 is more than its legacy, however: it’s a nonpareil experience in its own right, full of life in spite of its thematic exploration of death. That has much to do with the members of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad, or SEES. They’re an interesting group, as several of them are already active during the Dark Hour (when Shadows come out to play) before the protagonist swoops in. Accounting for the original game, Persona 3 FES (a director’s cut), and Persona 3 Portable, let’s rank everyone in SEES from worst to best.

Minor spoilers for all versions of Persona 3 ahead!

9. Ken Amada

The idea of Ken is an intriguing one: unlike the majority of Persona party members, he’s not a high schooler, but an elementary schooler. No one should have to go through what Persona characters go through over the course of the games, but it’s somehow worse when it’s a kid so young, let alone one who suffers so much before the story even starts. That suffering is what leads Ken to join SEES, though we won’t delve any further to avoid spoiling one of P3’s biggest moments.

The problem is Ken’s execution. As he’s a bit younger than everyone else, he doesn’t mesh particularly well with them, despite his advanced intelligence for his age. The age gap also makes the potential romance between him and P3P’s female protagonist… weird, to put it lightly. Plus, Ken’s uncredited English voice actress in P3 doesn’t do the best job at portraying nuanced emotions, and is straight-up grating whenever she speaks loudly or yells. The P3 movies handle him much better than the games.

RELATED: Why Forging Relationships Is the Most Important Aspect of 'Persona' Games

8. Koromaru

Unlike Persona 4’s Teddie and Persona 5’s Morgana, Koromaru is an animal companion that doesn’t speak: he’s just a dog. But then, calling him “just a dog” undermines what a wonderful fluffball he is.

Yukari and Fuuka find him outside the dorm, and a passerby fills them in on the details. Koromaru belonged to a monk from Naganaki Shrine just up the road, and after the monk died in a car accident, Koromaru remained vigilant, awaiting his master’s return. That would never come to pass, of course, so SEES happily adopts the Shiba Inu.

Though he’s of minimal relevance to the main plot, Koromaru’s loyalty and fighting skills (yep, he has a Persona!) don’t go unappreciated. Taking him for walks and encountering others along the way, SEES members or otherwise, is always a good time. Koromaru even has his own Social Link in P3P.

7. Mitsuru Kirijo

One of the founding members of SEES and its de facto leader, Mitsuru commands attention wherever she goes and whoever she meets—no surprise considering her privileged upbringing, natural elegance, and frightening intelligence. Yet for the aura of near perfection she emanates, Mitsuru is as vulnerable and flawed as any other girl her age. Those vulnerabilities and flaws may be different than many of her peers’, but they’re there nonetheless.

When it comes to SEES, Mitsuru may be a leader (alongside the protagonist), but that doesn’t mean she’s always in control, or that she’s quick to get along with the other members. Building a team takes time and trust, as well as the ability to stay composed no matter what. P3’s group of misfits is arguably the most unstable in the series (in a good way, writing-wise), so it becomes Mitsuru’s job to turn her front of confidence into true stability. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg with her.

6. Fuuka Yamagishi

You can’t talk about Fuuka without bringing up her face. Her reserved nature belies the complicated girl beneath, so Persona character designer Shigenori Soejima compensated by giving her some of the most memorable facial expressions in the series. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Fuuka’s facial expressions are worth a million.

As SEES’ navigator, you’ll never see her duking it out with Shadows, which makes sense given her personality. With no real attachment to her parents, an affinity for technology, and having been bullied in terrible ways, Fuuka is happy to sit out battles in favor of doling out tactical advice. Her solitary tendencies don’t stop her from being empathetic, however, nor do they prevent her from bonding with her fellow Persona users.

Perhaps Fuuka’s most endearing trait is her capacity to forgive. It’s not an easy thing to do in real life, nor is it easy to make a forgiving character a compelling one. In Fuuka’s case, she wouldn’t be the beloved character she is without it.

5. Shinjiro Aragaki

There are tough guy acts, there are actual tough guys, and there’s Shinjiro. He fought on SEES’ original lineup of himself, Mitsuru, and Akihiko, though when the protagonist joins, Shinjiro is no longer there. The reasons are unveiled over time, and to spoil them—as well as what they lead to—would be a shame (the games have been out for years, but hey).

That’s the thing about Shinjiro: learning about him is a game of patience—not to mention which version of P3 you’re playing. In the original, you get the meat; in FES, you get the meat and the potatoes; in P3P’s female protagonist route, you get a full-course meal. It sounds annoying, but Shinjiro’s well worth the time and effort. Indeed, he’s a wholly unique character in terms of not only P3 itself, but all of Persona—an example of what it means not to have abundant screen time (he rejoins SEES pretty late in the game), but to use what screen time there is to the fullest.

4. Junpei Iori

“Bro” characters are done so often—in anime, video games, and beyond—that standing out is a near impossible task. You know they’re not going to be the brightest bulbs in the chandelier; you know they’re going to be irrepressible jokesters and/or womanizers; you know they’re always going to be there when the protagonist needs them most. Junpei fulfills all these tropes with aplomb, making him little more than a well-done version of a well-worn archetype.

At a certain point, however, things change. Junpei begins airing frustrations that have to do with his motivation for joining SEES. He meets someone that he treats differently than everyone else, and starts treating himself differently as a result. And, about three-quarters of the way through the story, Junpei is put through a hell that a kid his age should never be put through (no spoilers!).

All these disparate threads weave together to create a Junpei that even Yukari, who often calls his BS out, can respect. That’s a bro anyone would be honored to have at their side to the bitter end.

3. Aigis

As mentioned previously, Persona character artist Shigenori Soejima went all out on Fuuka’s facial expressions, but he went all out with Aigis’s overall design. He’s said himself that Aigis is his favorite character he ever conceived, so saying she looks amazing is more than just lip service. Not even P3’s washed-out PlayStation 2 graphics can diminish Soejima’s brilliant work.

Aigis isn’t merely a looker, though: she’s an android searching for meaning. Yeah, yeah, been there, done that, but two things. First, as with Junpei, tropes can be done really well or turned around to great effect, and Aigis does the former. Second, Aigis’s tropiness is elevated by the context of P3 as a whole. Without it, she’d be one of pop culture’s countless soul-searching androids (though again, one of the better ones), but we’re not here to look at her in a vacuum.

P3’s final act is something the likes of which you can’t and won’t experience in any other game—or any other form of media, for that matter. There are a lot of reasons for that, but Aigis is a huge part of it. She’d largely blend in with others of her character archetype without the benefit of P3, but P3 would pale in comparison to what it is without her.

2. Akihiko Sanada

It’s hard to get a read on Akihiko right away. That’s true of a lot of SEES members (except maybe Koromaru), but Akihiko is particularly elusive. Part of that is on purpose; you can’t get to know someone in real life right away, and that’s no less true in a nearly 100-hour long video game. The other part, however, has to do with how… cool he is, for lack of a better phrase. He’s not unapproachable, not cold like Mitsuru can be, but his determination, his focus, and his willpower may make you feel as if bursting his bubble would have dire consequences.

Inevitably, though, the more you learn about Akihiko, the more apparent it becomes that… well, not that he’s secretly a big softie (though he does have a soft side), but that he’s not as guarded as he first comes off. He can be abrasive at times, sure, and his sarcasm is biting, yet none of that stems from a place of cruelty. The guy’s just had a really, really tough life, and he comes off strong because of it. Mitsuru and Shinjiro have both known him for a while—have butted heads with him longer than anyone else—and they know that no matter what, Akihiko means well. Vicariously getting used to his demeanor and mannerisms through the protagonist slowly reveals a young man anyone would be lucky to befriend. And based on what happens to him as P3 progresses, he could really use a friend.

1. Yukari Takeba

Ah, Yukari. Perhaps one of Persona’s most controversial characters, party members or otherwise. Generally speaking, there are two camps when it comes to Yukari. The first camp considers her a walking attitude problem, often employing some… descriptive language when talking about her. The second thinks she’s the most realistically written character in P3, and possibly across the whole series. Based on where she is on this list, you can guess which camp this writer belongs in.

On the surface, Yukari is like a lot of other popular high school girls: pretty, well-liked, intelligent, all that jazz; she’s also not secretive about who she likes and dislikes, and is subject to mood swings on a dime. That alone is an incredible thing, as it’s all too easy to make characters in an anime-esque series like Persona stand out thanks to some personality quirk or other. Yukari does the opposite: she stands out because she’s normal.

There’s more to this normal girl than meets the eye, but even Yukari’s complexities are as grounded and realistic as they come. She’s integral to P3’s story, so whether you choose to do her Social Link or not, you’ll experience a lot of her growth as a Persona user, a member of SEES, and someone overcoming deeply ingrained trauma. It all puts her normalcy into a grand context we won’t spoil here, but camp two-ers will agree that makes for extraordinarily compelling and impactful character writing—the best P3 has to offer.

KEEP READING: 5 Great Moments From the 'Persona' Franchise

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