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Ann Takamaki From Persona 5 Was Exactly Who I Needed to See

Added 05-10-21 09:06:02am EST - “My community wasn't always accepting of my mixed Asian heritage. Turns out, neither was Ann's.” - Wired.com


Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Wired.com: “Ann Takamaki From 'Persona 5' Was Exactly Who I Needed to See”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

When playing Persona 5, I was instantly drawn to Ann Takamaki: biracial transfer student and fashion model by day, secret undercover superhero by night. Trapped between not fitting in at Shujin Academy and trying to save the world with a new power, Ann goes on a journey to discover herself, confront the labels society has placed upon her, and press the limits of her abilities.

Upon first meeting Ann, the player immediately sees other female students gossiping about her assumed promiscuity (Americans can sometimes be stereotyped as aggressive and lewd in Japan). Soon, the player learns that despite her traditionally Japanese surname, Ann is blonde, has green eyes—and is only one-quarter American. When the other students whisper about Ann and make assumptions about her due to her Western appearance, they never remember that Ann is mostly Japanese, like them. Her family remains out of the picture, traveling the world as fashion designers and hardly checking in with her, assuming Ann will somehow adjust to her new surroundings in Japan. Aside from one friend at school, Ann seems despondent and has no allies in her corner—until she meets a small group of other students who’ve been pushed out, just like her.

This group of teenage misfits soon discover they can enter a cognitive dream world called the Metaverse, which represents the greatest fears and desires of humanity. As the group explores nightmarish dungeons generated by the psyches of nefarious or cruel people, they find that they can steal treasures that cause the person to have a change of heart and confess their crimes in the real world. Dubbing themselves the Phantom Thieves, the crew embarks on a journey to reform a wide range of criminals, from art forgers to corrupt CEOs.

On the surface, I had almost nothing in common with Ann. I was a 39-year-old, geeky freelancer living in suburban New Jersey, far from the glitz and glamour of Tokyo. I was long past the carefree attitude of a high schooler and was a very, very far cry from ever belonging on a runway. Still, what struck me about Ann was that due to her mixed heritage, she’s frequently mistrusted and judged by students in her high school who make assumptions about her based on her background. The other female students accuse her of sleeping with the game’s protagonist and even a teacher at the school, when she barely knows them. One male student crassly calls her the teacher’s “bitch” just because he saw the two of them walking together, then asks if he might be able to get lucky. Her best friend, Shiho, tells the player, “They say terrible things about my friend, all because of the way that she looks.”

Ann lacks confidence from being teased at school and instead places her energy into her modeling career, her way of coping with how she’s treated because of her appearance. Even then, she remains self-conscious, flustered when men ogle. In the funniest scene of the game, she waddles into an artist’s studio wearing several outfits layered on top of each other when Yusuke Kitagawa, a future member of the Phantom Thieves, asks her to model nude. Despite being a model, she doesn’t really want to be seen, at least in a way that’s not on her own terms.


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