It has been revealed how Atlus US have altered the gay NPC scenes in Persona 5 Royal.
For those who missed our prior coverage, Atlus US stated they would be altering scenes for the western version of Persona 5 Royal.
In summery, Persona 5 featured two stereotypical gay NPCs who pursued both Ryuji and the protagonist- much to their horror. You can see those scenes here [1, 2] via a third-party video of those scenes.
While intended as comic relief, Atlus US representatives confirmed in two separate interviews that they would be changing the scene in the English localization. This was so as not to portray the characters in a “negative light“.
Even though they cited feedback from fans of the original game, it seems users of gaming forum ResetEra may have- at least in part- contributed to the complaints toward the scene.
Some of their users seemed to be motivated by a deep loathing of game director Katsura Hashino, feeling he was a bigot. Others were unimpressed with the game’s LGBT representation.
One user on the forum did share a link to an Atlus feedback survey. As such we cannot be certain how much “feedback” Atlus received came from genuine fans, or those from ResetEra who were focused on the game’s LGBT representation, or hatred of Hashino.
Now, GameSpot and YouTube channel GameXplain have revealed how the content of those scenes have changed. You can view GameXplain’s footage below:
The characters now believe Ryuji is interested in the “drag scene,” as he looked into a cross-dressing bar called Crossroads. This was where the protagonist had just met Ichiko Ohya.
While dialogue of Ryuj saying “lemme go” (now “Wait, hey, it’s not like that-“) the scene still finishes by cutting to black, and Ryuji screaming in in horror. This is after one of the two men offer to find him a dress.
While the characters were originally dubbed Scruffy Romantic and Beefy Trendsetter, they now call themselves Angel and Julian (“Julie, if you’re feeling saucy!”). It should also be noted neither of the men are cross-dressing, and still act in a stereotypically gay manner.
The later beach scene has not yet been revealed by either outlet, however Twitter user PK Gaming has posted the following screenshots. They also posted screenshots of the earlier scene, further adding to their validity. Once again, the two men offer a makeover to Ryuji. It seems Ryuji flees.
On ResetEra, the responses so far seem to be positive. None of the users who have spoken up thus far have accused the scene of being a negative stereotype of homosexual men or cross-dressers.
The thread’s creator states “Its definitely… better, but it still relies on harmful gay stereotypes to make an uncomfortable joke. I don’t get why they went to the effort of entirely recontextualizing this scene when they just swapped some harmful stereotypes for different ones.”
Other users share the thread creator’s stance, but a few others felt it was a genuine improvement.
“Well, no one sounds like a predator this time so…that’s something.”
“I thought it was definitely drastically improved. I don’t actually feel insulted by it.”
“It’s definitely less bad, comparatively, so there was improvement, but yeah…still not a good look.”
“I…don’t get what’s wrong with the second one? Like, I absolutely understand why the original is problematic, but, can you explain the problem with the revision?”
“Feels okay to me.”
“Like it may be better as far as Gay stereotypes… However it just feels like they threw the CrossDressing Drag Queens/Kings under the bus with them being so damn pushy.”
“There’s not a whole lot Atlus USA could do to improve this scene without new animations, models, etc. They can’t do that. This is probably more or less the best they could do with what they had available. But like. They could just… remove the scene. It literally exists for no reason other than to say ‘lol gays, amirite?’ ”
“Yeah the subtext changed from ‘gay men are pedophiles who prey on innocent straight boys’ to ‘gay men are wacky crossdressers.’ It’s an improvement only if you’re fine with crossdressing being played as something inherently odd again, like in P4.”
“While not even close to perfect, this is still a huge improvement. I don’t think it insults anyone specifically and it doesn’t involve an assault.”
“It’s a massive improvement, though I still think just cutting the scenes would be better.”
“they haven’t changed it enough to warrant a purchase in my opinion.”
“I’m completely ignorant on game development but how easy would it have been to just remove it? Like it doesn’t add anything to the game it’s a gross problematic joke and this revision just makes it less gross but still problematic. These characters have no place in this game other than a shitty joke and I don’t get why Atlus is so fucking anal about shitting on the LGBT community. You literally could have just not done this so why did you, Atlus!?”
“Big queer and drag fan here. this is much better. With what they had going for them (Atlus Japan being reluctant to even THIS change) I’m happy with it. Hardly sexual harassment like claimed above, drag does have a lot to do with sex and gender fluidity but it’s not explicitly that, drag is an art form and calling it inherently sexual screams the same bad argument conservatives use against drag story time. They are being pushy and awkward. Yes that can border on harassment, but not sexual.”
“It’s important to note that AFAIK the Japan release has not changed at all. It’s the localization team who did this for the western release. So I think it’s fine to applaud the localization team, but Atlus JP hasn’t really done anything to resolve, apologize, or atone for the presence of homophobic content in their game.”
What do you think of the change? Sound off in the comments below!
Persona 5 Royal is out now in Japan, and launches in North America and Europe on March 31st for PlayStation 4.