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|“||Have you finally pieced it all together? Case closed... This is how your "justice" ends.||„|
|~ Goro Akechi upon revealing his true colors to the protagonist.|
|“||Don't make me laugh! Justice? Righteous!? Keep that shit to yourselves! You and your teammates piss me off!||„|
|~ Goro Akechi's villainous breakdown.|
Goro Akechi is the deuteragonist of the 2016 videogame Persona 5 and its expansion update Persona 5 Royal. He was a detective who is investigating the mysterious Phantom Thieves of Hearts case sensationalizing Japan. Akechi eventually joined the Phantom Thieves, despite his negative stance towards them and their activities.
However, it was later revealed that Akechi was a member of Masayoshi Shido's conspiracy, who joined into the Phantom Thieves to orchestrate their downfall, but instead using this opportunity to get revenge on Shido instead when they outwitted his usefulness to eliminate his biological father. His true nature as a villain was not revealed until the climax of the game, although there are certain foreshadowing in his true nature after his debut in the story.
He was voiced by Sōichirō Hoshi in the original Japanese version, and Robbie Daymond in the English dubbed version, with the former also voiced Death Gun, Lio Shirazumi, and he also voiced Alan Sylvasta from the new TV series called BNA: Brand New Animal.
Akechi is an ace detective who boasts a sharp wit and high level of intelligence. His aptitude for solving cases has him named "The Second Advent of the Detective Prince".
Despite his popularity, Akechi is actually quite lonely and yearns for attention and validation. He was abandoned by his father, Masayoshi Shido, lost his mother to suicide (which he later claims was the result of him being a "cursed child") and never had any genuine friends.
Several years before the start of the game, Goro offered his powers as a Persona user to Shido, who asked Goro to eliminate several major political figures who stood in Shido's path to securing the chair of Prime Minister. However, this was an underhanded revenge plot to get close to Shido and murder him after he won the election.
During this time, he mastered the use of his true Persona, Loki, and took down important figures connected to Shido by inflicting psychotic breakdowns; it is implied that he even killed Wakaba Ishiki, Futaba's mother, who was researching the Cognitive world for Shido. However, Akechi appears troubled while sitting in Leblanc the day after he shoots Okumura's shadow, signifying that he feels guilty about the crimes he has committed.
After Akechi joins the Thieves in an attempt to capture and eliminate their leader, he experiences how it feels to be bond with a group of friends for the first time, particularly with Ren. This leads to Akechi experiencing ambivalent emotions about disposing of the Thieves per Shido's orders. Throughout the game, Akechi remarks that there's "something special" about Ren, and he notes that they have a few things in common. Akechi simultaneously admires and envies Ren, who he later comments could have been "a great rival" or "a friend" if fate had dealt them a different hand.
After the Thieves defeat Akechi, Shido's evil cognitive version of Akechi appears and reveals that Shido knew Akechi's true identity from the start and has planned to kill him after the election. The Cognitive Akechi demands that the real Akechi shoot the protagonist to spare his own life. Akechi redeems himself by sacrificing his life to save his friend - he shoots his Cognitive double, then seals himself and the double behind a steel barricade. Smiling sadly, Akechi asks Ren to take down Shido in his stead. With this, Akechi and the protagonist's "desires become one". Two gunshots then ring out, at which point Futaba is no longer able to sense his presence. Later, after Yaldabaoth's defeat, Sae tells Joker that Akechi is missing.
Persona 5 Royal
Akechi returns in Persona 5 Royal, an updated version of Persona 5 with new plots and features, and serves as the triangonist in the Third Term Arc. In the trailer, Akechi is somehow shown fighting with other Thieves in the new Palace as a playable character once more, dressed in his Black Mask attire and wielded Loki as his Persona, a feature which the producers of Persona 5 once considered for Akechi but is cut due to time constraints.
In Persona 5 Royal, Akechi's Confidant is optional rather than a function of story progression. As it is done, more and more of his Detective Prince facade falls away to reveal his true, cynical personality and he comes to admit a lot of his mannerisms are due to him being desperate for friends. His desire for the world to be just is shown to be genuine, but far more brutal than he normally lets show. Over time, he comes to genuinely view the protagonist as a friend, becoming deeply regretful over the role he feels necessary to destroy his father.
Should the third term be triggered, Takuto Maruki's wish-granting powers change the normal course of events so that he barely survives the battle with his Cognition and turns himself in to draw police attention away from Joker. However, due to the wish-fulfillment aspects, Akechi is mysteriously released for no good reason, which confuses and upsets him as he does not believe he should escape the consequences of his actions. This leads to him, Kasumi Yoshizawa, and the protagonist being the first to wake up from Maruki's illusion, and he rejoins the team to stop Maruki.
While he knows this will lead to the original timeline and his probable death being restored, he admits that even in a world where he has everything he wants, living only due to the abilities of another goes against his individualistic worldview, and he views Maruki as a coward. After Maruki's defeat, Akechi had vanished alongside the entire dream world with his original presumed death to be reverted back. However, in the game's final scene, a figure resembling Akechi can be seen as the protagonist takes his train home, ultimately leaving his final fate ambiguous.
Super Smash Bros.
In Super Smash Bros. Ulitmate, Akechi appears as both a cameo palletswap for Joker and a support spirit that gravitates items towards the player. His spirit battle is against Marth and a giant Pit (representing Robin Hood) that converts opposite controls on the fighter's movement. Only Marth has to be defeated to win.
- Despite being the game's traitor and red herring, as well as his polarizing receptions throughout the entire fanbase, Akechi placed 1st in a poll for the most popular member of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts.
- Akechi is the only major antagonist in Persona 5 that is a former playable character and a Persona user.
- The fandom often points out how Akechi bears a physical resemblance to Light Yagami.
- Unlike Light, who never atoned for his wrongdoings and died trying to escape imprisonment, Akechi expressed remorse for his actions and sacrificed himself for the Thieves.
- Contrary, he is more like L due to their beliefs that controlling the world to wipe out crime is wrong. Their role and stance with the protagonists are similar after their first meeting when they develop interest in them. This delves more when their past was revealed that they were orphans. Their deaths did share a similarity as the fan favorite. In the Third Semester, just like how Akechi opposed the Phantom Thieves, he opposes Maruki as much as L did to Light and would pass on to his successors Near and Mello stating that they rather go by their realistic beliefs than living in the world controlled by one person criticizing them to be childish.
- Akechi is often compared to Ken Amada, a party member from Persona 3. However, his guest party role is more similar to Shijiro Aragaki due to both sacrificing their lives saving their true friends from being killed by the main villains.
- Akechi's Arcana is Justice, but his true personality matches that of the Reversed Justice Arcana. Like Justice Rx, he is dishonest about his intentions, exhibits black and white thinking, and unfairly manipulates rules and authority figures to achieve his goals. On a deeper level, it also points to the injustices Akechi has faced as a victim of his father's neglect and Japan's corrupt foster care system, with these injustices leading Akechi to lose faith in society.
- Although not stated officially, it is highly implied that Akechi represents the sin of despair/emptiness (Latin: Cavum), also known as acedia, which was originally considered one of the deadly sins until it was merged with sloth. Akechi explains that he was born an illegitimate child to a mother who later committed suicide, and he grew up lonely and unwanted. As a result, he tries to assign meaning to his existence by being popular, successful, and 'special.' He obsesses over enacting vengeance against his father, whose rejection is a major cause of his emptiness, no matter the cost, even to the point of feeding into Yaldabaoth's game and committing murder.
- There are many instances throughout the game that foreshadow Akechi's role as the traitor:
- When first meeting the Phantom Thieves in June at the TV station, Akechi mentions overhearing them saying something about "delicious pancakes". The only one who had talked about pancakes in anyway was Morgana (he described the Dome Town Stadium as a "huge pancake looking place" that "looked delicious"), but only those who have heard Morgana speak in the Metaverse can understand him in the real world. This subsequently contradicts Akechi's later claim that he only discovered the Metaverse when he accidentally stumbled into Okumura's Palace in September, and this is what ultimately leads to the Phantom Thieves discovering his true intentions.
- During the Kaneshiro arc, during an encounter with Makoto, Akechi behaves uncharacteristically rudely towards her, calling her a "good girl type of pushover". While this is a minor incident, it is an early hint that he is more two-faced than how he presents himself to be.
- Although Akechi appears on the title screen and cover art, he is the only party member who doesn't appear in the opening beyond Persona 5 Royal. Metawise, he is also the only party member to not have their own commercial. He does not appear with the rest of the party on the reverse artwork for the game's Steelbook Edition or on the collector's box for the Premium Edition.
- The Phantom Thieves always refer to him by his family name. Everyone else who joined the group is addressed by their given name, signifying their distrust in Akechi.
- When Akechi runs into the Phantom Thieves at the school festival, the first thing he says is, "Oh, everyone's all here", as if he recognizes them, despite the fact he has only seen Futaba Sakura with the protagonist and has never met Haru Okumura. Futaba catches onto this.
- Akechi is the only party member who wears gloves while in civilian attire. His gloves are befitting of the elegant image he presents to the world, but they also proved useful for Akechi when committing crimes, such as attempting the staged murder-suicide of the protagonist (he succeeds in the bad ending).
- The phone chat icons used by the Phantom Thieves and the protagonist's confidants are coloured after the colours of the rainbow. Akechi's icon however, is depicted as light gray. His icon colour was changed to brown in Persona 5 Royal.
- Akechi's Persona, Robin Hood, was a rebellious figure like the other Thieves' Personas, but he is usually depicted as swearing his allegiance to the crown following King Richard's return. Akechi is later revealed to be the traitor and working for Masayoshi Shido, a powerful political figure. Similarly, Akechi's true persona, Loki, is near-universally portrayed as an amoral villain in mythological lore and media depictions; the Phantom Thieves' Personas are portrayed as anti-heroes, at worst.
- Robin Hood is almost universally portrayed as wearing green, yet Akechi's Persona wears white. While it does appear more fitting for the superhero's princely design, it also symbolizes Akechi hiding his true colours from the Phantom Thieves and the public.
- Akechi joins the Thieves near the time of the Casino Palace heist, where Joker is successfully apprehended. The heist is his idea, and he uses leverage to prevent the party from backing out.
- He insists the Phantom Thieves raid the Casino on a certain date, unlike every other Palace thus far, because he planned the ambush for that day.
- Shortly before the Phantom Thieves attempt to steal Sae's heart, the protagonist and Ann's homeroom teacher, Sadayo Kawakami, gives a lecture regarding crows, the namesake of Akechi's Phantom Thief codename. She describes them as cunning creatures that should never be underestimated.
- If the player fails to complete a Palace within the time limit, the protagonist incorrectly recalls what truly happened due to the high dose of truth serum he was administered in custody. After Sae Niijima ends the interrogation and leaves the room, the traitor appears and murders the protagonist. The traitor holds their gun in their left hand; Akechi is the only left-handed member of the party.
- While Akechi is speaking as a guest of honor at the school festival, Yusuke infers that if Akechi believes the Phantom Thieves are dangerous yet innocent of murdering Kunikazu Okumura (and others), then he must either know the true culprit's identity or the identities of the Phantom Thieves.
- Akechi catches on to how the Metaverse works very quickly while in Sae's Palace. The party pretends to write this off as a result of him being a detective, but even then, he seems far too comfortable for someone who claims to only have only ever been inside one other Palace previously. This is made more suspicious given how Makoto and Futaba, who are around Akechi's level of intelligence, still took some time to learn how the Metaverse worked and even needed guidance from Joker and Morgana.
- When the Thieves first enter Okumura's Palace, Akechi is secretly observing them in the shadows. Akechi claims he was following the Thieves and accidentally got sucked into the Metaverse, awakened his Persona, then obtained photographic evidence of the Thieves' existence after they returned to the real world. However, later revelations of Akechi being the Black Mask strongly imply that he had deliberately infiltrated Okumura's Palace in order to stalk the Phantom Thieves and assassinate Okumura once the Thieves had defeated him.
- Joker can use Shujin Academy's school library to borrow books about the characters and historical figures his teammates' Personas are based on, but a book about Akechi's Robin Hood is never available. This is a more downplayed example, as such a book, "The Hero with a Bow" exists within the game's code, but was not implemented due to a programming error. The book is made available to borrow and read in Persona 5 Royal.
- Several of Akechi's DLC outfits reference villains from other Atlus games; for example, his DLC outfit for Shin Megami Tensei if... is that of the game's main villain, Ideo Hazama. Additionally, his Persona 2 outfit is Jun Kurosu's Kasugayama High school uniform, while his Catherine outfit is the tuxedo worn by Boss (aka Thomas Mutton).
- Initially, after his boss battle, Akechi would have returned back to the party and helped the Thieves again by using both Robin Hood and Loki as his Personas (both playable), which could switch between each other like all of the protagonist's Personas. However, this idea was scrapped and Akechi's ended up sacrificing himself. Although, his apparent death scene was not presented onscreen, leaving his fate unknown. Additionally, if you fail Shido's Palace after Akechi's death, Akechi will still appear to kill the Protagonist like he does for all the other Palaces- however, the dreamy filter applied to this sequence leaves it ambiguous as to whether or not it's even happening.
- In spite of this, there are mods for the game to make Loki a playable Persona.
- In "Stars and Ours", the final episode of Persona 5: The Animation, Akechi made a voice-only cameo during the final arc, encouraging the Phantom Thieves to fight Yaldabaoth, "What happened? Pull yourself together. It's not the time to be checkmated.", possibly hinting he survived and overlooked the final battle somewhere.
- In the trailer of Persona 5 Royal, a special edition to Persona 5, Akechi made a voice-only appearance interviewing the new female character in the said trailer, and the latter was cynical over the Phantom Thieves' actions.
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