In a recent interview with Weekly Famitsu, Persona 5 director Katsura Hashino revealed details on the game's protagonist and what all the masked man stuff was about. "In this day and age, many people feel they don't know where they're going and carry personal problems, big and small." Hashino explained.
"You may not be able to achieve happiness by simply following the set rules or values, but at the same time, it's hard to work up the courage to take initiative and change the status quo." He added: "That sort of negative side of modern society serves as one of the backbones of this game."
The story of Persona 5 revolves around a young boy who has transferred to school in Tokyo. He lives at a café that belongs to a friend of his parents, and yet for some reason, he has lost his place in the world. The protagonist, while seemingly calm and mild-mannered, has an alter ego as a phantom thief. Once he dons his mask, he becomes someone else -- a "persona" change if you will.
"For this game, much like the previous games, the player is the protagonist, however, unlike Persona 3 or Persona 4, this protagonist carries his own issues and unless he resists in some way, he may be facing a very difficult future." Hashino said, "There was a scene where the protagonist was dressed as a prisoner, you could say that he was in a 'spiritual prison' of sorts." The name of the school the protagonist goes to, the Shujin school (秀尽学園), was named such because it's a homonym for the Japanese word for prisoner (囚人).
The other characters who join with the protagonist all carry their own problems and, like the protagonist, have apparently lost their place. While he would not divulge many details, Hashino did reveal that the cat character would play a pivotal role in the story. So, something like Teddie from Persona 4, perhaps?
The main character's initial persona will be named Arsène. What relation this has to the French fictional character, Arsène Lupin, or the main character's alter ego as a thief, has yet to be revealed.
Hashino did note that many of the game features that fans have come to love about the Persona series will be back, perhaps with some upgrades and alterations to fit with the new game's setting.
He confirmed that the community system and randomly generated dungeons will both be back in some form, although reportedly the main plot-related dungeons -- like the grand hall with the chandeliers the protagonist can be seen running around on in the trailer -- will be fixed dungeons.
Persona 5 is scheduled for release in Japan and in North America on the PS3 and PS4, and it can't come out fast enough.