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|“||Trickster... Welcome to my Velvet Room.||„|
|~ "Igor" greeting the protagonist.|
|“||Was the human world worthy of salvation? Or destruction and rebirth? ...It was all a part of my game.||„|
|~ Yaldabaoth's true nature.|
|“||Preposterous... You dare rob the people's wishes!?||„|
|~ Yaldabaoth's villainous breakdown before getting shot by Satanael's Sinful Shell.|
Yaldabaoth, also known as the God of Control, Holy Grail, Malevolent God, Prison Master, and Warden, is the main antagonist of Persona 5. He serves as the story's overarching antagonist behind everything happening in the game's story. He is the manifestation of humanity's wish for order and control, considers himself to be a god, and represents all of the deadly sins.
He is also the posthumous overarching antagonist of the third semester during Royal although unintentionally, as it was him who caused Takuto Maruki's persona, Azathoth, to not only awaken but also go berserk and control him after Yaldabaoth merged Mementos with reality.
Residing in the center of Mementos while pretending to be Igor, Yaldabaoth is the one behind the Metaverse's origin, the conspiracy of Masayoshi Shido and his minions, as well as all the turns of events by granting the protagonist and Goro Akechi their Persona power. He manipulated the Phantom Thieves of Hearts and Shido to make them go against each other, while he himself would either destroy the world (if the conspiracy ensued) or enslave humanity (if the Phantom Thieves won) dependent on the outcome. Whatever the outcome is, humanity would eventually fall under his control.
He is voiced by Masane Tsukayama (who also voiced Zouken Matou) in the Japanese version, and by David Lodge in the English version.
Before the game
Yaldabaoth was created as the Treasure of Mementos, a manifestation of humanity's wishes to be ruled over. The public's cognition turned Yaldabaoth into a god. Yaldabaoth saw the corruption of humanity through the deadly sins and decided that humanity should be met with ruin.
Igor, the proprietor of the Velvet Room, disagreed, believing that humanity could be saved. Too prideful to allow himself to be proven wrong, Yaldabaoth absorbed the Velvet Room into Mementos, a large portion of another realm known as the Metaverse that is maintained by his presence and the public's cognition. From there, he imprisoned Igor and split Igor's assistant, Lavenza, into two twin wardens known as Caroline and Justine, who were taught that humanity should be punished. Yaldabaoth then decided to conduct an experiment to decide if humanity should be ruled over by him or allowed to live without him. He put two people against each other in a game. The first was Goro Akechi, meant to incite panic and chaos within the public with Shido's conspiracy ordering mental shutdowns and psychotic breakdowns of their opponents so Shido could become prime minister. This would ensure that Japan and then the world would be placed under brutal, authoritarian control of their own will, which Yaldabaoth would in turn rule over himself. Simply put, if Akechi won, then humanity would be met with ruin. The second was the protagonist, who would become a Trickster and rise up against the corruption of society. If he won, then humanity would be saved, but Yaldabaoth rigged the outcome by influencing the public's cognition into following his preferred outcome regardless of how much the protagonist was able to succeed, ensuring that he would rule no matter who ended up outsmarting the other.
Prologue - Final Heist: Mementos
Yaldabaoth installed the Metaverse Navigator on the protagonist and Akechi's phones so they could navigate through Palaces. The protagonist first meets Yaldabaoth when sleeping his first night in Tokyo. Yaldabaoth disguises himself as Igor, claiming to be Igor himself, which he does for most of the game.
Yaldabaoth observes the protagonist's process, which he calls the protagonist's "rehabilitation" as the protagonist forms the Phantom Thieves and takes down the rulers of each Palace, steadily providing the protagonist with more services of the Velvet Room. Once the Phantom Thieves defeat Akechi and Shido, they come to realize that the public is not concerned with punishing him for his crimes as they should be, and have become distorted in desiring a strong ruler to lead them no matter how cruel they may end up being.
Yaldabaoth, still disguised as Igor, declares that mankind's distortion may no longer be able to be fixed and that ruin is now inevitable; Caroline and Justine are noticeably disturbed by his declaration.
This turn of events inspires them to descend into the Depths of Mementos, the deepest part of the public's collective Palace. There, the Phantom Thieves find the Holy Grail at the core of Mementos. The Phantom Thieves try to fight The Holy Grail, but due to the distorted will of the masses, the Holy Grail is instead healed after they attack it, making it impossible to defeat. Yaldabaoth proceeds to fuse Mementos with the real world, causing the Phantom Thieves to disappear due to them not being relevant in the public's cognition in an unconscious effort to absolve themselves of all blame and carry on being blissfully ignorant.
After disappearing, the protagonist wakes up in the Velvet Room where Yaldabaoth informs him that he lost the game. Much to the surprise of even Caroline and Justine, Yaldabaoth sentences the protagonist to be executed, stating that the defeated must forfeit his life. The protagonist ends up standing up to Yaldabaoth and the twins, fully awakening his rebellion as shown by his prison door disappearing. Caroline and Justine end up fighting the protagonist, but before they kill him, they start to regain their memory and thus refuse Yaldabaoth's orders. The twins then tell the protagonist to fuse them together, which restores their true, unified form: Lavenza. From here, it is finally revealed that "Igor" was actually Yaldabaoth all along. Yaldabaoth tempts the protagonist with a world where the Phantom Thieves are loved and respected. Should the protagonist accept, it is implied that the Phantom Thieves have become no better than Akechi, and the public are doomed to be imprisoned by Yaldabaoth's control forever. If the protagonist refuses, this makes Yaldabaoth leave the Velvet Room, which in return frees the real Igor and cements the path to the game's true ending.
Yaldabaoth then returns to his temple in the now fused world, watching the ruin of humanity as all who aren't relevant to the public's cognition begin to disappear. The Phantom Thieves of Hearts, after having the truth of what happened revealed to them by Lavenza, restore themselves into the public's cognition and make their way to Yaldabaoth's temple. They battle each of his four archangels along the way, which is shown to loosen Yaldabaoth's grip on the public but it is still not enough to stop him completely. Upon entering the temple again, they fight the Holy Grail for a second time, now figuring out that they need to disconnect the tubes that sustain Yaldabaoth and prevent him from dying. The Phantom Thieves then defeat his giant Holy Grail form.
After being defeated as the Holy Grail, Yaldabaoth reveals his true form as a giant, faceless, mechanical angel and throws the Phantom Thieves into the final battle. While fighting him, Yaldabaoth releases the deadly sins onto the Thieves for his main attacks. After a long fight, Yaldabaoth ends up releasing a super attack that the Thieves stand no chance against, and they fall. A fervent protestation by Morgana rallies both the public and the Phantom Thieves to stand up again. This opens the public's eyes as they all start to remember the Phantom Thieves and all they've done. As mankind's hope is poured into the Phantom Thieves, the protagonist's initial Persona, Arsene, reappears as the protagonist is having his Second Awakening. Yaldabaoth mistakes this as the protagonist failing to harness power, however, he is interrupted as Satanael appears. Yaldabaoth tries to use the super attack on the Phantom Thieves again, but the will of the public protects the Thieves, making them immune to it. The protagonist then uses Satanael's Sinful Shell to end Yaldabaoth once and for all. After Yaldabaoth is defeated, he reverts back into the mindless form of the Holy Grail which Morgana steals. This erases Mementos and the Metaverse as a whole, preventing it from every being used for evil ever again.
Yaldabaoth in his true form appears as a large white mechanical angel. His central body resembles the Holy Grail by its shape. Above his head is a halo and on both sides of him are large red and golden wings.
As the Holy Grail, Yaldabaoth first appears as a large black machine in the shape of the Holy Grail. This form progressively turns into the color gold as the Public feeds its distorted desires into him.
Yaldabaoth talks about humanity in a cold, insensible, and undemonstrative way. He also treats everyone as below him, like he is the supreme being. Yaldabaoth is typically described as malevolent by Lavenza. Ryuji describes him as being "the perfect example of a pain-in-the-ass old man", with his arrogance and pettiness proving precisely why he should not ever be allowed to rule over humanity. In turn, Yaldabaoth's arrogance is what allows the Phantom Thieves to secure victory against him, firmly proving that he is not flawless as he believes.
- While disguised as Igor, Yaldabaoth is never referred to as Igor by anyone but himself. The twins simply call him Master. The Confidant Menu calls him the Prison Master. In the credits, his voice actor is listed to voice "Warden".
- Yaldabaoth's portrait (when disguised as Igor) was once shown like the real Igor's portrait, with widened eyeballs, but when his true nature was revealed, his left eye noticeably narrowed a bit, giving himself a malicious expression on his face.
- In Gnosticism, Yaldabaoth, also known as the Demiurge, is viewed to be the Evil God portrayed in the Old Testament. He is an entity unable to perceive other expressions of the divine, leading him to believe he is the supreme deity of the universe. In an attempt to create order from the perceived chaos of the cosmos, Yaldabaoth chained the soul and heart in mortal forms and punishes those who refuse to adhere to his rule. In some traditions, Yaldabaoth is eventually cast into the Gnostic equivalent of Hell, where he becomes the judge and torturer of wicked souls.
- When disguised as Igor, a few differences can be noticed between Yaldabaoth and the real Igor:
- The most noticeable difference is Yaldabaoth's deeper, more sinister voice when compared to the real Igor. This is less obvious in the Japanese version of the game, due to the passing of Igor's voice actor, Isamu Tanonaka.
- Yaldabaoth never fuses any Personas himself, instead having Caroline and Justine perform the executions.
- Yaldabaoth outright mocks the protagonist (and by extension, the player) upon receiving a game over.
- Yaldabaoth refers to the Velvet Room as belonging to him, something the real Igor has never done.
- Igor is always seen sitting with both feel on the floor in all of his appearances, yet Yaldabaoth sits cross-legged.
- The protagonist never receives the key to the Velvet Room from Yaldabaoth. Instead, he receives it from Lavenza during his last day in Tokyo if he maxed out his confidant with Caroline and Justine.
- Due to the original Japanese voice actor of Igor, the late Isamu Tanonaka, having already passed away before the game's release, the change of voice actor in the Japanese version was hardly regarded as a foreshadowing of the plot twist in the final chapter. When the real Igor was presented, all of his voiced lines were archive audio recorded by Isamu Tanonaka from his previous appearance, which was already deployed in all of the film adaptations of Persona 3 and the animated adaptation of Persona 4 Golden. Most of his new lines were either voiceless, or were assumed to be spoken by Lavenza in his stead.
- However, while the voice actor was also changed in the English version, the previous English voice actors of Igor, Dan Woren (for most of the series) and Vic Mignogna (Persona 4 Arena Ultimax only), are both alive. When the real Igor appeared, his English voice actor was yet another one; Kirk Thornton.
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