The Persona 3 Protagonist is the only playable character in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. The player may name him freely at the start of the game, although in the manga adaptation, he is given the name Minato Arisato. Persona 3 Portable adds an alternative female protagonist.
Design and Personality
The protagonist was designed with dark blue hair, of somewhat short height, and with a light build. He is shown at almost all times with his hands in his pockets with leaned-back posture.
At school and in Tartarus, he wears the school uniform of Gekkoukan High, accented with a loose black bow tie, a neck-strap mp3 player, and clip-on earphones. On weekends off he is shown wearing a dark green double-breasted jacket, dark pants, and a khaki turtleneck sweater, along with his earphones. On summer days off he is shown wearing a blue-and-white t-shirt and jeans.
In-game, the character is a classic "secretive" silent protagonist. Perhaps to compensate for the player's freedom of choice, the manga adaptation characterizes Minato as somewhat laid-back, even passive, speaking only when addressed and generally "going with the flow". Even in audio drama CDs and radio plays, he says little beyond general statements.
He is voiced by Akira Ishida in the Japanese version and Yuri Lowenthal in the English version. Lowenthal also voices Pharos and Ryoji Mochizuki.
Unlike the other Persona users, the protagonist is the only one of the cast who possesses the "Wild Card" quality, the ability to summon and control multiple Personae. He also has the ability to fuse Personae and create new and more powerful ones in the Velvet Room, a place only accessible to a select few.
The protagonist's default weapons are one-handed swords, but he can equip any weapon type save guns and knives, which are only available to Aigis and Koromaru, respectively. He uses one-handed swords in the manga adaptation. In the original version of Persona 3 and in Persona 3 FES, he is the only character in the party that is under the player's direct control. The player can only issue general orders to the other party members in the form of tactical commands for the AI such as "Conserve SP" and "Act Freely."
As the main playable character, the protagonist attends school and other places to increase his academics, charm, and courage. He can also interact with other classmates and date girls to form Social Links. His initial Persona is Orpheus of the Fool Arcanum, while his "ultimate" Persona is considered Messiah of Judgment Arcanum.
The protagonist transfers to Gekkoukan High School and encounters a strange young boy, Pharos, who presents him with a contract to sign. Due to an assignment mixup, he is forced to spend the night in the co-ed dormitory, along with future team members Yukari Takeba and Mitsuru Kirijo. But, one night, while being attacked by enemies known as Shadows, he awakens his first Persona, Orpheus, who briefly transmogrifies into Thanatos, a foreshadowing of later events.
He discovers that his companions have similar powers, and is recruited in the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES). He also learns of the Dark Hour, a hidden hour that occurs during the minute between midnight and 12:01 AM. During the Dark Hour, Gekkoukan High School turns into a massive dungeon tower called Tartarus. Together with his classmates, they investigate the structure and attempt to solve the mystery revolving around the Shadows, the Dark Hour, and their connection to a disease called Apathy Syndrome, a condition rendering its victims immobile and completely disconnected from the outside world. The protagonist also spends his daily life in school. He meets new friends, dates girls, joins clubs, establishing and developing social links in the process.
Later in the game, the player meets more fellow Persona-users with their own stories of joining SEES. After meeting senior member Akihiko Sanada, Junpei Iori joins SEES, followed by Fuuka Yamagishi, Koromaru, and Ken Amada. Former member Shinjiro Aragaki rejoins after after a two-year absence. In recognition of his unique abilities, the protagonist is designated as team leader, responsible for deciding when to enter Tartarus and making decisions in battle.
The team finds that powerful "boss" shadows appear on full-moon nights, each boss representing one of twelve major arcana. Following the defeat of the twelve "Arcana Shadows", a new student arrives at Gekkoukan High, Ryoji Mochizuki. Aigis regards him as "dangerous," and cannot explain why. Suspicious, she confronts Ryoji at Moonlight Bridge during the Dark Hour, where they both recover their memories, revealing the protagonist's past.
Ten years previously, the Arcana Shadow representing the Death had managed to escape the labs of the Kirijou group, with Aigis in pursuit. Finding that she could not defeat the powerful shadow, Aigis was forced to seal a portion of Death within the psyche of a nearby boy, who possessed the potential to summon Personae. That boy was the protagonist.
As it turned out, Pharos had been an incomplete manifestation of that part of Death sealed within the protagonist. With the defeat of the twelve major shadows, Death had been reconstituted, manifesting as Ryoji who, during his time sealed within the protagonist, had been able to "copy" his human elements. Ryoji's restoration enabled the summoning of Nyx, an epic being destined to bring about The Fall, the end of the world.
During his final confrontation with Nyx, the protagonist is strengthened by the power of the bonds he forged with those around him, and Igor helps him form the Universe Arcana, which allows the accomplishment of even the impossible. With it, he sacrifices his soul to establish the Great Seal, locking Nyx away from the world.
Holding onto life until graduation day, the protagonist came with Aigis to the place where they and the other members of SEES had promised to meet, in case their memories were wiped following the final battle. As their friends approach, he falls asleep in Aigis' lap, with a smile on his face.
In "The Answer" an epilogue added with the FES expansion, it is revealed that the protagonist never woke up from his sleep, falling into a coma and eventually dying. One month after the events of "The Journey", the members of SEES come together one last time before the dormitory in which they lived was closed. Finding that they were trapped in an infinite time loop, unable to leave the dorm, Aigis discovers that she has inherited the protagonist's Wild Card power, as well as the ability to enter the Velvet Room and fuse personae.
Exploring The Abyss of Time , a dungeon which had opened up below the dorm, Aigis and the members of SEES, along with Metis, an android claiming to be Aigis' sister, the party encounters a shadow with an eerie resemblance to the protagonist. Eventually the group challenges the shadow, which is revealed to be a manifestation of the group's grief and anger at seeing their friend die, and their secret desire to see him one last time, to find out what "really" happened.
Traveling back to the point of the final battle against Nyx, the team witnesses the event firsthand. The truth was that the protagonist had not intended to seal away Nyx per se. Nyx herself was never malevolent or evil, but simply obligated to end the world upon the call of her herald (at the time Ryoji), which itself responds to the collective malice, sorrow, grief and apathy of humanity, its secret wish to simply "end it all". The waves of negative emotion had manifested as Erebus, a massive entity which strove to break the Great Seal and contact Nyx directly, once again bringing about The Fall.
The protagonist had sacrificed his soul to block the way, and had transmogrified into a statue, crucified and chained to the door holding Nyx. The party temporarily defeats Erebus, but knows so long as humanity wished for an ultimate end, Erebus would keep pounding on the door. They decide to help the protagonist bear the burden by making the most of their own lives in the hope that the rest of the world would eventually follow.
- The headphones the protagonist wears actually exist. They are the model ATH-EM700, designed by Audio-Technica, and were packaged with the Japanese limited "self-starting" edition Persona 3 FES. They are, however, smaller than the scale shown in the game, and do not actually cover the entire ear.
- The protagonist is briefly alluded to in Persona 4, during a conversation with Velvet Room staffer Margaret. She states that Elizabeth, her sister and predecessor, had left her position as Igor's assistant to find a way to unseal "that blue-haired boy".
- The song being played on the protagonist's MP3 player in the opening cutscene plays again as the final boss battle theme.
- The silhouette of Messiah shows as the protagonist's shadow during the credit roll, seeming to indicate that persona's status as his "ultimate" persona, and also reflecting his status as a kind of messiah, sacrificing his life in order to save humanity.