Persona 5 Strikers has been out for a little more than a week, so I feel pretty comfortable saying this:
Thank God for Wolf!
Wolf (née Zenkichi Hasegawa) is the newest and only adult member of the Phantom Thieves. There are adults who help the Phantom Thieves and keep their secret, but until Strikers, there’s never been an adult persona user.
And I love him. A lot.
I worried about him when he first started coming around the Phantom Thieves. While there are some good grown folks like Cafe Leblanc proprietor Sojiro or Dr. Takemi, adults have always been the villians in the Persona 5 series. So when a new one, a cop no less, started hanging around in Strikers, I thought he was going to be trouble. Great, another character to get attached to only for the writers to turn him evil. This is Dr. Maruki all over again.
However, despite a couple of scenes where it looked painfully clear Mr. Hasegawa was playing the Strikers’ gang for his own benefit, he turned out to be one of the good guys. Aided by the spectacular voice talents of Tom Taylorson, Mr. Hasegawa has a bumbling charm about him. He’s not overly serious like most of the Thieves’ allied adults. When interacting with his young partners-in-crime, he takes their jokes about his age or uncoolness in stride. Finally, a persona user for grown folks!
The Persona 5 series presents the ultimate power fantasy: How much better could life be if the shitty people simply realised they were being shitty and stopped? In Persona 5 and Royal, this conflict was represented as adults vs. kids. The adults get carte blanche to be shitty, and the only people who realise or care are the helpless adolescents. Because of this, the Phantom Thieves are rightfully distrustful of them — adults are the ones who supposedly have the power to bring justice to arseholes, but they don’t. When Kamoshida was abusing kids in Persona 5, none of the administrators stepped in, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. It calcified this idea that adults are either clueless or complicit.
But Wolf’s presence on the team adds nuance. He helps the Phantom Thieves understand that even all powerful, make-all-the-rules adults can suffer under the yoke of oppression and manipulation, and that it’s better to work together than fight. When his own daughter turned against him for failing to arrest her mother’s killer, Hasegawa reveals that he compromised his sense of justice in order to keep her safe. Then, after awakening to his persona through closely working with the Phantom Thieves, he’s able to finally bring his wife’s murderer — who also happens to be responsible for all the change of heart shenanigans — to justice. Collaboration between adults and kids saved the day.
Also, man does Wolf look good when he fights.
The cowboy getup? Slinging those pistols? Swinging that fuck-off huge sword? Calling himself “Wolf”?? Whew! He’s hot, not in that smoulderingly sexy kind of way, but that single dad, crumbs in the bed, charmingly schlubby kind of way. And he’s got massive DBE — dad bod energy. Mr. Hasegawa is basically a Japanese version of Jim Hopper from Stranger Things. And thank god he’s grown, so I don’t feel bad about saying Wolf’s hot. Thank you Strikers, for finally letting me lust guilt-free.