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Nightmare Fuel / Persona 5

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I am thou, thou art—HOLY CRAP!

While Persona 5 is ultimately an optimistic game about change and standing up to corrupt authority, it still manages to be the darkest Persona game in a long time, full of Adult Fears, abhorrent villains, and the Lovecraftian terror we've come to expect from the series.

WARNING: All spoilers ahead are unmarked, as per Nightmare Fuel guidelines!

  • The method for summoning Personas this time is even more graphic and disturbing than even the Evokers of Persona 3. While those used Bloodless Carnage, here the characters tear off masks which pull off part of their own face! The moments leading up to the mask rip aren't exactly pleasant either, Ryuji convulses in pain with horrifying bulging eyes, and Yusuke drags his fingers across the ground so hard they bleed. After forging a contract with their persona, they can remove the mask normally and summon the persona at will by striking a dramatic pose with one hand on the mask, but it doesn't do much to dull the horror of the original awakening.
    • Upon closer inspection of crit attack animations, where the camera views the Phantom Thief and their Persona from the front, it can be seen that the face behind their hand is completely black. This suggests that every single time a persona is summoned for combat, the persona user is still mentally ripping off their own face. This is similar to how in Persona 3, the Persona user has to shoot themselves every time they summon a/their Persona.
  • The leader of the Phantom Thieves is shown to be a powerful, charismatic, and overall badass individual during the opening act. Yet when he comes face to face with an army of policemen, he is taken down and arrested. He is then interrogated by being beaten to a pulp, injected with several drugs, and forced to sign a confession under threat of being crippled if he doesn't comply.
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  • The looming fear of someone mind raping you in the Metaverse is undeniably terrifying. With the exception of Persona users, anyone's shadow is vulnerable to attack. It's also possible to learn someone's deepest secrets or desires, either from their shadow or within a Palace. Shadow Madarame implies there's somebody running around doing just that, with Shadow Kaneshiro outright confirming it.
  • How the various Personas get fused in this game into newer ones. The ones you select appear, get put into bodybags and you can see them struggling, with their heads through the holes for guillotines. Yes. You behead several Persona to create a single fusion!
    • When a Fusion Accident happens, the guillotines get stuck, only for Justine and Caroline to pull out a chainsaw to complete the fusion.
    • Thankfully, if you know the truth of how this works it somehow becomes Nightmare Retardant; They are just being put inside the Compendium so you can pay The Twins to resummon them.
    • It gets even creepier when Caroline and Justine do this to themselves in order to retain their true form. Thankfully, we don't see the girls get beheaded; they turn into butterflies when the blades hit.
  • Like the previous game, you get a Non-Standard Game Over if you fail to complete a dungeon within the time limit. Unlike the previous games whose endings took place in the present, this game is a Whole Episode Flashback for most of the story because of the protagonist being interrogated after the Casino Heist, so the endings that come after the failed dungeon are really the protagonist misremembering how things went due to having been drugged. They all begin with the protagonist being approached by some officers at Leblanc. However, the description of what the police are there for from these false memories tend to be disturbing, terrifying and frightfully accurate to what probably would've happened if Joker & co. had screwed up. At the end of those it cuts back to the present-day interrogation wherein Sae realizes that the protagonist is too drugged to tell the truth, so she leaves to give him time to recover, but he is then shot stone dead by Akechi, while the guard outside calls for backup and asks what happened. Needless to say, the stakes for completing the dungeons are high.
    • For Kamoshida's dungeon, Kamoshida files a complaint against the protagonist. Based on his threats, it's implied Ryuji and Mishima will get expelled and Kamoshida will get away with his horrible deeds with nothing stopping him from preying on Ann next.
    • For Madarame's dungeon, it is implied that Madarame filed legal action against the protagonist, Ryuji and Ann. Not only do the three face very serious legal consequences, Yusuke will be forever stuck in a life of being exploited for his art.
    • All of the Bad Ends are horrible, but failing Kaneshiro's palace really takes the cake on how bad things get if you screw up: failing that dungeon will lead to Makoto being kidnapped, drugged, raped and pimped out as a sex slave before thankfully being found by the police, where her delirious muttering of your name gives the police enough reason to incarcerate you. Jesus Christ... and for even more fun, this Bad End becomes even worse when you realize the potential implications of it: imagine being in Makoto's shoes: you are kidnapped in the middle of the night, drugged, raped repeatedly by several unknown men, and no matter how much you cry out for your friends or Cool Big Sis to save you, they aren't coming to rescue you. Thankfully for Makoto's sanity, this scenario never actually happened, but it's still scary because it could've very well have had Joker and co. screwed up.
    • In Futaba's bad ending, the protagonist is arrested for blackmail and coercion as well as suspicions of being a Phantom Thief. One could originally assume that this was Medjed somehow hacking into his information and leaking it, but later parts of the game confirm that Medjed never planned to actually activate this "cleanse", and were planned to fake a defeat if the Phantom Thieves did nothing. So who sold him out? Well, keep in mind that Futaba was trusting the Phantom Thieves to help steal her heart, offering to help them if they succeed, but also letting them know that she can leak their whereabouts and identities if they fail. She also gets more and more impatient with them the longer they take. Because of this, it can be safely theorized that Futaba herself gave up on the Phantom Thieves and leaked their information if they don't meet the deadline.
    • In Okumura and Sae's bad endings, a tip was given to the police that identifies the protagonist as the ringleader of the Phantom Thieves, leading to his arrest. It's heavily implied it was Akechi, as he was present when the Phantom Thieves first entered Okumura's Palace and was part of the team during their venture into Sae's Palace. Even worse, the bad ending for Okumura leaves Haru to deal with an arranged marriage to a potential Domestic Abuser.
    • The Bad Ending shows the same end result as the Non-Standard Game Over, but this time you know what events led you up to this point and it happens if you forget about the plan you and your teammates forged and you sell them out. As per series tradition, it definitely delivers in this department, though while earlier ones went for subtle horror, this one is... less so. Akechi approaches the protagonist in his interrogation, puts on a Slasher Smile, and shoots him in the head. With a lot of blood. And makes it look like a suicide. Moreover, after offing the protagonist, he plans on murdering the rest of the Phantom Thieves one by one to make it look like an "accident."
      • It should also be noted that this scene plays even when you made the right choices, although there is a Foreshadowing that Akechi didn't kill you, which is the flash that happens when Sae shows him the phone.
      • The way the animated cutscene was built reminds you that despite the game's hilarious moments, you're playing a game from a series that employs psychological thriller.
    • Failing to complete the seventh Palace results in Akechi leading the police to your room and arresting you, since the police Never Found the Body (which can feel a bit Narmy since this takes place regardless of whether you defeated him in the Palace). One can only assume that this time, he'll make sure that the protagonist stays dead. And that glare cut-in when he says, "Game over" feels like he's staring directly at you.
    • There's an unused ending for failing to complete Mementos Depths, in which the police tell Joker that he has been "chosen by god" to be an inmate for an eternity, and that he "made the right choice". Sojiro says that he wishes he could've been an inmate. The man in the suit says that mankind will face ruin soon, but Sojiro responds with a resigned "We're ruined already..." It's bad enough to see ordinary people corrupted, but seeing Sojiro, the man who took you in, grew to care for you, whose daughter you helped to save, twisted so thoroughly by Yaldabaoth's power is just disturbing.
      • It should also be noted that Sojiro is a Confidant, which means every other one gets corrupted in the same way and forced to knuckle down under the status quo. Sae will become more and more corrupt as she rises to the top, Kawakami will keep working herself to death for Takase's relatives, Yoshida will become an underling of Matsushita, Mishima will remain a helpless loser, and on and on and on...
  • Morgana's nightmare during Rank 7 of his automatic plot-based Confidant. You see a formless, slimy mass in a deep red part of Mementos. It squirms around for a bit, then bursts in the same way enemy Shadows do, turning into a Shadow Morgana, with giant glowing yellow eyes. You see a second of this before jumping back into reality. There is no dialogue during this sequence except for beastly snarling. What makes this whole event so freaky is that it happens out of nowhere with no warning. Making it worse is that, in-context, this is what Morgana fears is his true form.
  • Principal Kobayakawa's death. He tries crossing the street, only to stop suddenly from a mental shutdown. His eyes go blank and stands completely still while a turning truck slams right into him.
    • Is Kobayakawa sweating because he's an out-of-shape man in a suit in the middle of summer, or is he sweating because he's terrified? Given that he's a member of the conspiracy (albeit a minor one), it's entirely possible that he knew what was coming and was just hoping that he could tell the police what was going on before the assassin got to him.
  • Kunikazu Okumura's death. He starts convulsing, then slowly rises up to reveal blank eyes and black sludge oozing out of his face: the player is treated to a good few seconds of him staring vacantly ahead, mouth agape and oozing sludge before the TV crew frantically cuts to Relax-o-Vision. Even worse, this is shown on live television. Where the man's own daughter gets to watch every moment of it. Needless to say, this breaks poor Haru's heart like glass being smashed with a brick, which just adds more nightmare fuel to the fire.
    • A couple of the comments that flash across the feed before the puppy screen is pulled up is 'wwwwwwwwwww'. If you're familiar with Japanese internet slang, that's people commenting on the scene of death with laughter.
  • The fact that someone managed to kidnap and replace Igor of all people, and subvert a Ruler of Power like Lavenza! Yes, the Big Good watching over you every time you entered the Velvet Room was really the Greater-Scope Villain, and has been playing you since the game began.
  • Kamoshida may just be the Starter Villain, but he's still a violent sexual predator who drives a girl to attempt suicide. One of the earliest scenes in the game has the protagonist watching as he offers Ann a lift to school, with him being none the wiser until Ryuji runs in yelling "Screw that pervy teacher!" And in his boss form, he heals himself by eating headless female torsos from a chalice. It also doesn't help that one of his dungeon's minibosses is a slime Mara.
    • The Stalker Shrine to Ann's friend Shiho in his dungeon is freaky as hell too, especially given all the torture gear that's present.
    • He taunts the Thieves during his boss fight to come at him and that he isn't going to let them sleep tonight. With the sight of Kamoshida's Shadow, being a grotesque demon with a massive tongue, slurping up legs in a chalice, and a cognitive version of Ann in a wine glass, one could imagine that at least one of the Thieves had to have taken his word and be at least a little rattled. Ryuji and Ann even mention having trouble sleeping during a safe room on the day of the heist.
  • Goro Akechi's Villainous Breakdown after you defeat him for the first time. He goes batshit insane, freaking out while screaming at the protagonist that he doesn't care about the Big Bad's plan anymore and just wants the thieves dead. He then proceeds to summon his true persona, Loki, all while screaming and Laughing Mad, complete with a Slasher Smile and Evil Costume Switch via his persona. Not to mention how as the battle goes on his screams become more and more deranged.
    • Before that, there's his entrance, which is terrifying for one simple reason: he's calm. You'd expect him to bust out some Large Ham gloating about his triumphs over the Thieves... but he barely raises his voice above a whisper, and even that sounds like he's barely holding back his rage. It's almost a relief when he starts screaming at you.
    • Oh, but we can't forget the very moment he loses it. Despite the Thieves' attempts to convince him that it's not too late in several respects, Akechi rejects every one of them and summons Loki, going from his Thief suit to the Black Mask outfit. The sheer rage and madness in his voice is terrifying, especially compared to how he acted when you first met him. And then there's what he says prior to going berserk, which is just chilling:
      Akechi: Hehe... oh, this is great. I'm surprised... this is actually a first for me. I might even have to try my hardest against you. You know... I just came up with a fun little idea... I wonder how far I can go with this. You wanted to see my powers, didn't you? Fine... I'll show them to you! Hehehehahaha! I'VE NEVER FELT LIKE THIS BEFORE! You're right! I don't give a damn about Shido's acknowledgement... All I care about now is KILLING ALL OF YOU... TO PROVE I'M BETTER THAN YOU!!
  • After defeating Shido and getting him to confess his crimes, the public STILL wants him to lead their country, while demonizing the Phantom Thieves who targeted him. And the whole reason they're doing so, is simply because those in authority - the remnants of the Conspiracy - are stating both these fabricated perceptions; to the public at large, it's so much easier to believe what those in authority say, no matter how absurd or contradictory it is, than it is to think for themselves and voice their own opinions. The Phantom Thieves are rightfully disturbed when they see this reaction.
  • The public's Sanity Slippage is almost insane in this game compared to previous Persona installments; They literally don't treat you as a human being from the very beginning, but after you best the impersonator Medjed they begin to worship you like gods while the government is trying to outright frame you. Once Okumura dies, all hell breaks loose as the public begin to believe that you are an Eldritch Abomination and an unforgivable criminal. Think that after you beat Shido it gets better? Wrong, as the public literally believes you don't exist, and the breaking point is that when Mementos causes a Reality Bleed, nobody seems to ever notice it; Once they see it after you kill off the Archangel Shadows, it's already too late.
    • In Persona Q2 the public's insane and senseless acts has resulted in numerous bycatch victims with a level of catatonic depression only seen on Futaba as far as the people you see on Persona 5 go...and a third party godly being is summoned to relieve their pain by heaping them with more depression. While this does not directly relate to this game, since Q2 is closely related to Persona 5 you should had been realized the potential consequences of the public's insanity.
  • When Yaldabaoth's puts his plan into motion, the Thieves arrive seemingly in normal Tokyo... then blood starts raining from the sky, and giant skeletal structures burst out of the ground. And no-one notices this apart from the Thieves and the Confidants. Then Ryuji notices his hand starting to disappear. One by one, they all vanish entirely, giving either tearful last words or painful screams. They all disappear mid-sentence or in the middle of their anguished screams too, making it all the more chilling. As the protagonist fades, the in-universe social media tracker, with the question "Do the Phantom Thieves of Hearts really exist?" drops to 0%. A player could be forgiven for thinking they'd hit a Bad Ending.
  • Guess what? The Reaper is back. Have fun! He's not a talkative sort either.
    The Reaper: Me no want to talk to you! Me just want to hear your screams!
  • Shadows in general compared to how they are in the previous game. The Shadows the Investigation Squad encountered are born from dissatisfaction and are mostly the desires of regular kids for acceptance, whereas in Persona 5 the Shadows the player runs into are the hidden desires of truly despicable people. The difference between Shadow Yukiko and Shadow Kamoshida is stark.
    • Their transformations in this game are a lot creepier than in 4, too: in that one, the Shadow simply surrounds itself in a dark cloud that hides it before clearing to show the monster. Persona 5's transformations don't skimp on the Transformation Trauma: Kamoshida's is off-screen, but we get some lovely fleshy twisting as he mutates and his shadow falls over the terrified Phantom Thieves. Madarame laughs insanely before his face stretches grotesquely and tears apart into the component portraits. Kaneshiro goes limp as he coughs up blood and twitches erratically, looking as if something is trying to burst out of him like he were a cocoon.
    • Kaneshiro's transformation is especially scary to anyone who has played a mainline SMT game; you'll be forgiven for freaking out at seeing him transform since it looks like Beelzebub is about to make an appearance.
  • The demons you fight can say some pretty creepy things in the midst of battle, giving them an intensity that 3 and 4 didn't have.
  • The last Mementos request you get that isn't tied to a Confidant is for Shiro Asakura, a corrupt idol manager who is by far the most wretched of your non-storyline targets, putting some of the Palace rulers to shame. How, you ask? He's been molesting his charges, succeeding where Kamoshida failed for god knows how long. His Shadow's transformation only reinforces the heinousness of his crimes, as he turns into none other than Mara. You may find yourself thinking how the hell this guy didn't create a Palace of his own by the time you beat him into submission. In fact, he's the only Mementos target that has an S rank!
    • An easy to miss fact about this man: You can find him in the overworld. Unlike Yumeko Mogami and Yohei Kiritani, who are very much out of place in the locations you find them, Asakura is just one of many sleazy men in Shinjuku. This means the player isn't going to blink twice when they see him talking up a woman who's interested in a potential singing career. You can walk past the two for months on end while visiting Confidants, yet it's only when the woman runs away from him in humiliation that Mishima gives you the quest to hunt him down.
  • Every one of the Palaces are frightening when you reach them, mostly because that's how the Palace's ruler views reality.
    • Kamoshida's Castle has the male students being physically abused in the dungeons while the female students are throwing themselves at Shadow Kamoshida.
    • Madarame's museum reveals that the man views his students as mere paintings that help fuel his ego and lavish lifestyle, and his sheer sense of entitlement to the point where everything is covered in gold leaf.
      • Just the way that Madarame goes on about how easy it is to steal the futures of children who can't fight back, comparing his pupils to livestock waiting to be harvested, and even that he let Yusuke's ailing mother die so he could obtain her painting.
      • Apparently, there is no way to know this from the real person since he is quite calm and humble by the surface. You need to either live with him and get extorted by him or meet his Shadow. Be noted that his Shadow acts completely different from the real person and so Madarame is actually Two-Faced; He blatantly flaunts all of his crimes and there's no hint of remorse or sympathy in any of it. In fact, he sounds absolutely proud of himself.
    • The people in Kaneshiro's Shibuya aren't even people, they're walking ATMs. And when they run out of money, they collapse and break down. And unlike the last two targets, whose Palaces were based on a single building, this is how Kaneshiro sees all of Shibuya.
    • It's implied in Futaba's Tomb that she views everybody outside of her pyramid as bandits who only want to steal her possessions or hurt her.
      • The fact alone that Futaba sees her home as a tomb says something about her crippling self-hatred.
      • Everything else outside of the pyramid and small town is an endless desert. Showing how isolated she is, seeing the outside world as barren with nowhere to go. The fact that the Phantom Thieves are miles away from the tomb when they entered her palace right next to her room shows how just how far away she sees the outside world.
      • There's also the main boss of the Palace, the Sphinx/Cognitive Wakaba, which is similar to its appearance in myth, but with Wakaba's own unchanged head. It's incredibly uncanny as much as it is absolutely terrifying. The Sphinx is also among one of the largest bosses in the entire game and rivals even Yaldabaoth in size.
    • Okumura's Outer Space is one big factory where every employee is a robot who keeps working 24/7 with breaks being only five seconds and lunch thirty seconds long. When the employee finally breaks down due to exhaustion, they're tossed into the furnace where they're burned for fuel.
      • It doesn't help that the dungeon's theme is literally called Sweatshop, which is a "pejorative term for a workplace that has poor, socially unacceptable working conditions"
      • During his boss battle, Okumura repeatedly orders his employees to sacrifice themselves for his victory, which they gladly will. He really sees them as disposable.
    • Sae Niijima's Palace shows that she views Japan's legal system as one big casino where everything is rigged in favor of the "house" and only the rich and powerful at the top are allowed to decide who wins or loses.
    • Shido's Ship shows that the man views the entire country of Japan as a city sinking into the ocean while a small elite chosen by him are living on a luxury ship where he's the captain steering the ship. Haru sums it up when the party first sees it:
      Haru: Even though this country may sink, he alone will survive... that's what his cognition is about huh?
      • Then, there's Shido's chariot of the masses before you fight him. It's a golden lion...made out of wailing human statues.
      • And then it turns out he's somehow become so close to four fellow conspirators that their cognitive versions have been replaced by true Shadow Selves... and then it's revealed that he plans to kill them anyway. It doesn't matter if you're his best friend, his backer, or even his most trusted minion, the moment that you have served your purpose, Shido will toss you aside to keep as few loose ends around as possible.
    • Mementos doesn't seem too bad at first, being little but a bizarre recreation of the Tokyo subway spiralling slowly downwards. The deeper you go, however, the clearer it becomes there is something fundamentally wrong about it. The first sign are the glowing red lines that can be found all over the place, eerily reminiscent of veins, and the Phantom Thieves occasionally comment on the fact that the wind sounds like screams. As you reach the middle floors you find that here the train tracks are made out of bones and the walls appear to be held up by giant ribs, along with other details like rows of tombstones in dead-ends. Things only get worse as you go lower, with the walls and floor taking on an unnerving shade of red that makes the entire area seem less like a subway network and more like the bowels of a gargantuan beast. Yet none of it compares to what waits at the bottom: The Prison of Regression, an impossibly large pit filled with unnatural, identical stone pillars and enormous spine-like structures stretching out of the red-glowing abyss below, all topped off with incredibly dreary and foreboding music. Even the place's calendar icon is a bit too unnerving. Needless to say, the entire area comes across as alien and wrong, even when compared to the likes of Tartarus.
      • And then there's the prisoners of the Prison of Regression; in short, none of them actually want to leave. Instead, they all ramble on about how much "easier" it is to stay prisoners, never having to think for themselves and allowing some higher entity to decide everything for them. The way they try and convince the protagonists to "just take a load off and come over to their side" gives the impression of a massive brainwashing cult, and later on it's revealed that this is what ultimately became of the Palace rulers you worked so hard to reform (in fact, it's heavily implied that you reforming them is what landed them there in the first place). Hell, it hurts just to listen to their voices because of how... spent they all sound.
      • Upon entering the Prison, one of the first things you'll notice is that those vein-like structures from earlier all appear to stem from a single point further down. As you make your descent, the veins become more and more tightly knit until you finally reach their point of origin: a giant, blood-red Panopticon with the veins sprouting out from within. So, what are they all connected to? Just what exactly is the core of this hellhole? Why, the Holy Grail, of course!
      • If you thought the prisoner's voices were unsettling before, try to listen to them during the fight against the Holy Grail. They scream at the Thieves to stop damaging it, and they sound utterly deranged, as if the prisoners are in immense pain. They chant for the Thieves to leave, sounding completely droning like a brainwashed cult.
      • And then it gets worse, the Grail fuses Mementos with the real world, leading to the above entry where the Thieves are erased from existence. When the Thieves begin making their way back to the Holy Grail, everyone gradually begins noticing the alterations to reality... and start getting erased. The visuals of the Phantom Thieves getting erased is EXTREMELY DISTURBING and you would really think that they are dead in the first place instead of simply getting "arrested" by the Grail.
      • It should be also noted that if either Akechi or the Shido Cabinet won, this will very likely be their fate. The Grail doesn't even care about who wins anymore; His pawns are not getting what they think will get. While you might think that they deserved it, understand that Akechi is just hapless prey in front of the Grail and the entire Shido cabinet suddenly writhing in pain is much more disturbing visually than in words.
    • The only other time that the Prison of Regression theme plays is if you achieved the Bad Ending during Sae's interrogation or accepted Yaldabaoth's offer to join him, as it becomes the credits theme. In the context of those endings, you've not only gotten yourself killed, you've also doomed all of your permanent party members and possibly all your Confidants to be killed off by Goro and Shido; yes, including your best friends, Morgana, your love interest, and possibly even people like Sojiro (your caretaker) and Shinya Oda (a young child who you meet at an arcade).
    • The other possible ending is that you've decided to become Yaldabaoth's right hand man, forever leaving the people of Tokyo unable to think for themselves. Sure, the Phantom Thieves might be popular and be recognized as heroes, but what's stopping Yaldabaoth from suddenly removing them from reality as a whole once they've outlived their usefulness? Not to mention the fact that the true Igor is permanently trapped, and his assistant Lavenza is left to watch the world fall into ruin. And no, there will be no more gods like Nyx or Izanami trying to terrorize humanity... Because humanity's desires are what exactly summons those gods. Yaldabaoth has basically stagnated any form of thinking and has created a real utopia of sloth that completely ENDS Persona history as we know it.
    • Just to add a cherry on top of the shit-cake, the scene where your friends all fade out of reality is the last time you see them in-game if you make a deal with Yaldabaoth. That's it, you don't see them after that. While that ending does imply that the rest of The Phantom Thieves are alive (in which case there's nightmare fuel there too - if you've become corrupt, then so have all of them), they aren't seen; all we see is the protagonist grinning at the news of his new power. For all we know, he could be the only one of the Phantom Thieves to even exist, and he's become so Drunk with Power that he doesn't actually care anymore.
  • The character portraits of some of the characters are startling, especially if one didn't expect them. In the scene where the SIU director has a mental shutdown, his portrait is suddenly replaced with one where he's bleeding from the mouth with his eyes rolled back. Of note is also Akechi's Traitor Shot, where he stares you down menacingly. Worse is his cognition's portrait in Shido's Palace, which not only uses the same portrait, but has an awfully unpleasant Psychotic Smirk, backed up by unnaturally enlarged eyes.
  • Morgana is injured a couple of times in his realistic cat form and falls limply to the ground. He turns out to be okay, but cat-loving players might cringe a little.
  • Similarly, one of the Mementos targets is any pet-owner's worst nightmare. A man who vents his anger by violently beating and even killing cats.
  • Hearing the Velvet Room, which is supposed to be a place to let you rest play anything other than Aria of the Soul, or more accurately, the danger theme Desire of all things, is just disturbing. Yes, it plays this at the last Velvet Room meeting at December 23 where "Igor" warns you of something that even a trickster cannot solve... And when he reveals himself to be Yaldabaoth.
  • The implication of just how disturbing stealing someone's heart is. It is, at its very core, brainwashing someone into being a good person. Yes, your targets are often depraved bastards hurting everyone around them, and removing their distorted desires might be doing their psyche a great deal of good, but the idea of basically mind-controlling someone into not being a criminal is something even the four founding members of the Phantom Thieves admit they don't want to resort to. The creepiness of it is played up for all its worth once you get to the bottom of Mementos. On your way through the Prison of Regression, you find the Shadows Selves of Kamoshida, Madarame, Kaneshiro, and Shido together in a cell. When you destroy a Palace, they just end up here. Plus, if you opt out of the Good Ending and strike a deal with Yaldabaoth, it's implied that the Phantom Thieves rule the city through fear of brainwashing their opposition, with even the police being afraid to take action against them.
    • Even worse, that good person the Thieves have turned their targets into must now live with the guilt and shame of what their old self did. Condemning a genuinely remorseful and changed person to spend the rest of their lives paying for what they did before, with no chance for redemption. Most of their major targets were arguably past redemption, but still.
    • There's a single exception to this rule; When the change of heart consists of removing the target's depression or self destructive impulses; They get magically cured of their depression and whatever lies are making that happen will be instantly denied by the target. It's a good use, but still.
  • A minor one in Kamoshida's palace. In the room where you fight the Mara slime, there are busts of Kamoshida that have darkened faces and glowing red eyes, whats more they explicitly follow and turn towards your camera wherever you move. Not Joker: you, the player.
    • Another example inside the tower, once you begin the climb: there are non-pillar busts of girl's butts sitting atop certain cover areas. At first, you might not give them a second glance, until you see that they too turn whenever you move around... "staring" at you (again, not Joker; you) despite not having eyes. It may not be as creepy as the Kamoshida busts, but taken all-together with the latter, it can give the impression that the dungeon itself is watching you.
    • The regular school where the Castle resides isn't much better. The worst of it all is the feeling and atmosphere whenever Kamoshida is nearby or brought up. Combined with some testimonies you get from the school paints a real fear over the school. It's not like nobody knows what Kamoshida is doing; but rather the inverse. Everybody knows what he's doing to the students and nobody's lifting a finger to stop it.
  • The demon form that Sae Niijima's Shadow takes on in its boss fight. Unlike the previous demons (a comical long-tongued devil, a series of paintings, a fly man), Leviathan is a giant Black Knight wearing spiked armor and wielding a combination rocket launcher/tommy gun/bazooka/etc in its right hand and a huge, rusty, bloodstained sword in its left that would put Pyramid Head's to shame. See it here. Her voice becoming even more distorted doesn't help matters either.
  • We never see Okumura's cognition of his daughter. Morgana has a few theories as to why this might be, but comments that Haru probably wouldn't like them. The most obvious answer is that Haru just isn't important to him. What matters to him is what Haru can get him - namely, political power through an arranged marriage to the aforementioned sexual predator. That's why he gets a cognition and she doesn't. The fact that the deadline states "days until Haru is sold off" (the Japanese version even flat out saying her body being sold) implies that even the team are well aware of the horrible fate that awaits her.
    • Haru's fiance is generally an awful man and part of this is because he almost gets away with forcing the marriage anyway. Haru's father died before he could cancel it and he takes advantage of this by convincing Haru that she's legally obliged to marry him, thinking that the company would go bust. How was he able to get away with that lie for so long? Because he's manipulated the board members into thinking that they were legitimately in love (or otherwise get along well), knowing that Haru would struggle to admit the truth. It forces poor Haru into this awful situation where he's smugly belittling her, while the adults who are meant to watch out for her are excitedly asking her about wedding preparations.
  • Looking at it, the Prison of Regression is a terrifying place. What makes it even worse is that it's based on a real concept for a prison, known as a Panopticon. It was designed in 1787 as a "humane" way to detain prisoners, with prisoners held in cells along a large circular building with a single warden watching them from a guard tower in the middle. The warden could see them all, but the inmates can't see the guard or interact with the other inmates, and are thus held in check by their own paranoia. This concept was so disturbing that it created an entire new social theory known as Panopticism, which refers to the systematic ordering and controlling of human populations through subtle and often unseen forces - a concept that Yaldabaoth embodies perfectly.


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