I am not an avid gamer. Or well, I’m not a good one. I’m sorry folks, 9 out of 10 times, your girl plays her video games on story mode. Until I stumbled upon the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona franchise. It was really fun to play through the JRPG/Dating Sim hybrid, considering how interesting all the romance options were. And then, the very next year, we got Persona 5. Aka the entry, I’m still obsessed with, 5 years later – with Kawakami and Ren stirring up trouble once again.
Okay, maybe the whole ‘having your teacher be in love with you’ thing was skeevy. Like, I’m sorry but Sadayo Kawakami is the one romance route I always avoided, specifically because it was just awful. First off, why was this grown adult woman actively trying to seduce a teenager? Secondly, who would even consider her over the likes of other characters like Haru Okumura, who were arguably better written?
But that’s the whole point of dating options. And I like the choices we get with Persona 5, where the female individuals have their character arcs and your character helps them work through it. Almost all of them are extremely interesting routes, but it’s the adult females like Kawakami that come off the most forced.
But then, who is the best option for someone like Ren Amamiya, the main protagonist of Persona 5? There are just so many great characters to choose from that could complement his default personality of the quiet but secretly mischievous ‘deviant’. However, there are only a few that I’d relegate to being an active love interest for our boy Ren. So, let’s discuss the best romance routes for Persona 5 and why none of them are Kawakami.
Casual Friendships Blossoming Into Love:
A part of Persona 5’s theme is about how the Phantom Thieves, our rag-tag group of friends, were simply just children who were failed by the adults in their lives. Arguably, none of them had much in common with each other besides that. But they’ve got each other’s back and are as thick as thieves. (I’m sorry it was right there!)
And it’s in those interactions with each other that you see the female members of your group showcase their personalities. In the anime, it’s less explored but their character arcs are incredibly well written in the video game.
For example, one of my favorite characters was Ann Takamaki. She is one of the first people your character, ren, meets when they arrive at Shujin Academy. At first, she’s secretive and isolated, but as she opens up you realize just how fun and colorful, she can be. She’s the heart of the group.
Alternatively, there is Haru, one of the last additions to the Phantom Thieves. An heiress whose father ends up being corrupted, you see her go from this meek and polite little girl to becoming a congenial woman with a wicked attitude.
Again, these romance options work well with Ren because they are roughly the same age, and their struggles are relatable to one another. Even if you end up rejecting them, it doesn’t feel inorganic.
Why The Adult Romances In Persona 5 Suck:
Here is the crux of the issue: I acknowledge this is fiction. But even fiction ought to hold some responsibility. And the adult romance options are just so unnecessary. Especially with Kawakami, who is Ren’s homeroom teacher that moonlights as a maid for a service.
You don’t need me to tell you why an adult shouldn’t be cozying up to a teenager, no matter how much they help them get through the trauma. It’s just weird and uncomfortable, with her character arc being a literal drag to get through.
All of the adult romance options are bad, but Kawakami being in love with Ren is just so forced. I can’t deal with it.
Bonus: Goro Akechi Is The True Love Interest!
So, I was serious about Ren having a legitimate love interest that suits him perfectly. And it’s no surprise that it wasn’t any of the girls.
To me, Goro Akechi and Ren are such a perfect dichotomy. Their dynamic is possibly one of the main reasons I keep replaying the game, even if Akechi was never a real romance option. They bounce off of each way more naturally than any other character in the franchise. And listen, I’m not pulling this out of thin air.
When the Persona 5: Proof Of Justice OVA came out, it was right before we got the extended version of the game called Persona 5 Royal. And that entire OVA is dedicated to Akechi and Ren’s relationship with each other, and how Ren mourns him when he’s gone. And then the actual game came out and we learned that Ren almost agreed to stay in a false reality because that would mean his secret wish of keeping Akechi alive would come true.
And I don’t know about you but that’s true love right there. Ren is in love with Akechi aka best waifu, period.