On Persona 5 Strikers and Building Resilience as a Writer

Life imitates art imitating life

On Persona 5 Strikers and Building Resilience as a Writer
Source: Press Kit.

As any creative professional will tell you, making art is hard. It can be especially hard when you don't believe in your artistic worth or lack a supportive circle. As a poet who has been trying to make up for lost time, it sometimes feels like I'm on a gravelly path with more stumbles than steps forward.

Recently, I decided to play Persona 5 Strikers because I wanted a hack-and-slash action RPG with a fun battle system similar to that of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. For those not aware, Persona 5 Strikers is a game developed by Omega Force and P-Studio, set after the events of Persona 5, and is a crossover between Koei-Temco's Dynasty Warriors franchise and Atlus' Persona series. In this game, teenage phantom thieves embark on a summer road trip to investigate strange happenings around Japan.

Potential spoilers ahead for Persona 5 Strikers.

Not only was I satisfied with the combat, but I found myself relating to the Sendai chapter of the game, which involves Natsume Ango, the grandson of famous writer Sougo Natsume. When The Phantom Thieves of Hearts arrive in the city of Sendai, they find the small town abuzz about Natsume Ango and his bestselling book "The Prince of Nightmares".

On the surface, this seems like an ordinary overnight success. However, the Phantom Thieves investigate and realize that the fervor is unusual since people are over-obsessed with the book to the point of spending an excessive amount on copies and starting fights with people who dress as the book's characters. Furthermore, they notice that the book itself is plagiarized from other works, including an anime from two years ago.

Whenever I hear about a writer who seemingly became successful overnight, it's hard not to feel jealous. This is often because of our capitalistic society that teaches creatives to base their worth on how much money our book deal is, how many awards we have, and how often we get published. None of that should define any writer's artistic worth, but it's how the world perceives writers and creatives in general. It is also the reason Natsume Ango develops a superiority-inferiority complex that is represented by his Jail, a psychological manifestation of his deepest desires.

Image is a screenshot of Persona 5 Strikers with the character Yusuke saying to Natsume Ango's Shadow form, "
Source: Press Kit.

When the Phantom Thieves traverse Natsume Ango's Jail, they find the secret room within the dungeon known as the Trauma Cell, which holds a person's trauma that has been locked away. There, they learn that Natsume Ango has emotional scars from being used by his editors to profit off his grandfather's name. Not only that, the editors didn't give him genuine feedback about his writing. As a result, Natsume Ango used an app called EMMA to manipulate people's hearts and make "The Prince of Nightmares" a bestseller.

While I didn't condone Natsume's actions, I empathized with him since I also experienced writing-related trauma. In 2015, a family member ruined a happy day in my writing career by criticizing how I read my poetry aloud, deeply impacting how I saw my writing. As I got the occasional poem published from 2015 to 2019, I started to doubt myself and feel stifled, like I only got published due to luck or by writing about certain things.

After 2019, I wouldn't write or publish another poem until 2022, when video games inspired me to write again. One of the games that inspired me to get back into poetry was another Persona game, Persona Q2 New Cinema Labyrinth. As I explained in another essay, it taught me to value my creativity even if not many people appreciate it.

Recently, I've only just managed to find the strength to keep writing and submitting poems to literary magazines amid a stream of rejections received over several months. Part of this is because I'm juggling a lot in my personal life. Another reason is that I'm still trying to recover my passion for creative writing and the sense of purpose it gave me. I started writing poetry again to try and heal old and new wounds inflicted on my soul and maybe someday, help heal someone else.

Source: Press Kit.

After defeating the Shadow form of Natsume Ango, Yusuke, one of the game's main characters, says, "To be able to continuously bring life to new works without giving up, however… That is perhaps the most exceptional talent of all." It is this statement that causes Natsume Ango to confess his crimes in the real world and promise to write a new book that isn't plagiarized. Like me, Natsume says he wants to write a new book that "saves someone's soul." Maybe the key to writing is building resilience which comes from writing no matter how hard it gets. Even if you only have one person who believes in your work, that one person should be enough for you to believe in yourself.


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