For well over a decade, the Persona RPG series has been nothing less than a cult favorite among its contemporaries in the industry. Persona rose from its lowly beginnings as a Shin Megami Tensei offshoot to become a well-known brand in its own right, apart from the franchise from which it was derived.
Because of the series’ widespread success, which consistently raises the bar with each new release, the soundtrack is a major draw for fans of the franchise. Persona’s signature sound, which fuses hip-hop, jazz, and pop music, is primarily due to Shoji Meguro’s contributions. Meguro’s contributions include the game’s soundtrack. Additionally, live vocal renditions of some of the Persona series’ most renowned songs are going to be a part of this event.
The music from these games is difficult to compare to that of other game series. These albums weren’t meant to be played on their own, but rather as a supplement to other games’ soundtracks. The complete soundtracks for both Persona 4 and Persona 5 were made available to the public. The albums published alongside Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Royal included entirely new music, blurring the lines between the two games.
In this article, we will go in-depth on OST in both the greatest JRPGs of all time: Persona 5 Royal and Persona 4 Golden. If you want to know more about the music in your beloved Persona series, make sure to keep on reading!
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What Is The Importance Of Music In Persona Series?
The category of the game, the style of game, and the way the music interacts with the gameplay all have a significant role in determining the nature of the music found in video games. The music that is used in video games might be unobtrusive or it can be obnoxious. In role-playing games (RPGs) and Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs), the music often ends up playing a significant role in the whole experience.
Epic orchestral compositions that accompany times of elevated passion, boss fights, opening screens, ending themes, and everything else in between enrich titles like Final Fantasy as well as Dragon Quest. These works can be found in videogames like Final Fantasy as well as Dragon Quest. In modern times, and notably since the release of Persona 5, the musical pieces of the Persona series are also capable of being placed within the same category as other iconic JRPG soundtracks.
There has rarely been a time when the soundtrack of the Persona series was more readily available as it is right now because several scores from the game are now accessible on Spotify. On the other hand, the environment in which Persona’s musical creations are heard is frequently more important than the pieces themselves when it comes to evaluating their quality. The soundtrack from the Persona series is often described as having outstanding orchestration, however the real lyrical songwriting may sound incoherent if it is taken out of context and listened to on its own.
These musical compositions only are brought to life and display their full potential when they are played in conjunction with specific gameplay situations in each game. If there is a single aspect of design that can be said to have consistently characterized the Persona franchise across all of its games, it would have to be the soundtrack.
Music As Thematic Element In Persona Series
Persona is not the first (nor will it be the last) JRPG to include poetic original music to the OST, however the game’s wide range of music styles that it draws influence from is undoubtedly something that sets it apart. The manner in which each unique soundtrack for a Persona game is constructed around a particular musical genre serves as a distinguishing thematic feature of all Persona games, not simply Persona 3 and later.
In all likelihood, the most noteworthy instances are Hip-Hop or Rock as well as Rap with Persona 3, J-Pop with Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden, and Acid Jazz with Persona 5. Even the original two Persona games, which are not as well known but are perhaps more conceptually akin to Shin Megami Tensei, included aspects of metal and heavy rock motifs in there.
Composer Shoji Meguro utilizes each style and subcategory as a medium to hammer home the central message that each game’s story is trying to convey.
The rock hymn “Burn My Dread,” which serves as the opening music for Persona 3, is a direct translation of the game’s more morbid themes, which include confronting mortality and making compromises.
The opening song of Persona 4, titled “Pursuing My True Self,” serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it serves as a song that symbolizes the game’s concepts of identity in youth. On the other hand, it serves as a song that represents the game’s search of facts around its crime story.
The introductory theme of Persona 5, titled “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There,” makes use of psychedelic jazz to serve as a more explicit stated mission of the game’s overarching themes of defiance and the pursuit of genuine justice.
Each Persona Soundtrack Benefits from Motifs and Repetition
Although the concepts of each Persona game are communicated in a manner that is more blatantly communicated during the introduction of each game, the remainder of the soundtracks continue to stress these themes. The application of leitmotifs, and particularly the usage of repetition, in various parts of the soundtrack works to drive home each game’s primary themes in an effective manner.
The leitmotifs from “I will Face Myself” as well as “Corner of Memories,” that can be found at various points throughout the music, are an example of how the fourth edition in the series, Persona 4, achieves this effect with its music. The uplifting and joyous “New Days” as well as the gloomy and melancholy “Heaven” both have the same reoccurring melodic motifs that are integral to the formation of those seminal musical masterpieces.
Persona 5 underscores this very same strategy even more, with the elevated strings pattern from “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There” making an appearance in the game’s fight theme “Life Will Change,” as well as in the final fight theme of “Rivers in the Desert.” “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There” is the title of one of Persona 5’s songs. These climbing strings might be interpreted as resolve or, more practically speaking and in keeping with the game’s overall theme of revolt, as an insurrection.
The musician Shoji Meguro also employs a motif that is similar throughout the songs “Swear to My Bones” as well as “Our New Beginning,” which represents the unbreakable relationships that form in between Phantom Thieves during the course of Persona 5’s story.
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What Makes Persona Series’ Music So Great?
The Persona games have stood out from the rest of the Shin Megami Tensei spin-off franchise from the beginning thanks to its exceptional visual style and distinct artistic inspirations.
In Persona 3, the filmmakers looked to French New Wave films for inspiration; in Persona 4, it was murder mystery books and surrealism; and in Persona 5, it was gentlemen thieves as well as street culture. Critics and players alike have lauded the Persona series for its consistently high quality and innovative presentation.
One of the primary ways in which Persona games do this is by placing a premium on music design, an area of video game development that is typically underappreciated. Despite the fact that games are replete with music that demonstrates the amazing abilities of composers throughout the world, very few creators make music a central part of their game’s personality. Shoji Meguro’s progression as a composer through 2012’s Persona 4 Golden towards 2019’s Persona 5 Royal merits more examination.
In contrast to other video game series, comparing the music from these games is more difficult. Because these scores were not designed to stand on their own, you should take into account the music from the original games they were designed for. Both the Persona 4 and 5 soundtracks were released in their entirety.
It was made evident that Persona 4 Golden as well as Persona 5 Royal were distinct from one another by the fact that their respective soundtrack CDs included entirely different music. Meguro departed beyond Persona 4’s traditional musical style with Persona 4 Golden, placing greater emphasis on J-Pop composition as well as brass instruments. Royal seems far more like a straight extension of Persona 5 unlike Persona 4 Golden did to its predecessor, and the two games’ musical scores are quite similar.
This makes perfect sense, as the extra material in Persona 4 Golden focused on enhancing the original game with more lighthearted, intimate themes, while the new plot in Persona 5 Royal is fairly similar in spirit to the original game.
What Does Persona 4 Golden Music Sound Like?
In order to properly evaluate the soundtrack in a video game, one must first determine what function it serves in the game’s narrative as well as the player’s overall impression of the game. The cheerful and vibrant aesthetic of Persona 4 Golden is reflected in the game’s musical selections, which draw from Shibuya-Kei, J-Rock, as well as J-Pop to support the game’s central premise that individuals hide the aspects of own selves they think others would reject in order to appear whole.
The joyful music is a reflection of the condensed version of oneself that each of us use to hide our flaws, as well as the strength that arises from accepting and embracing these opposing parts of oneself so that we may live more truthfully.
Persona 4 Golden generates an uplifting musical landscape for players to embody, offering them the optimism they will desperately need to traverse the game’s twisting murder mystery storyline, all via the use of types of music that invoke a feeling of mass commercial appeal as well as a sentimentality for innocent days (much the same as the retro 90’s TV’s the game seems to use as a theme).
What Does Persona 5 Royal Music Sound Like?
The plot of Persona 5 Royal, in contrast, focuses on defiance and rebellion as its protagonist seeks to find his or her place in a world that values convenience over truth. Influenced by the iconic French anti-hero burglar Arsène Lupin as well as urban culture, the game’s soundtrack draws significantly from Acid Jazz as well as the melodramatic string passages typical of action film compositions.
Meguro is expressing the sound of social struggle as he draws from Acid Jazz as well as street culture specifically. Young people in major cities created acid jazz because they wanted to find a new way to convey themselves musically. The characters’ underlying resistance to authority, symbolized by their preference for more “underground” musical forms, is reflected in the story.
How Do Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Royal OSTs Compare?
Having listened to the opening theme from every Persona game is a great way to get an idea of how differently each are scored. Every player should hear this track within the game’s opening sequence, and it’s most probably the same one they heard in advertisements before deciding to buy the game. In general, the introductory theme is a game’s means of introducing you to its setting and setting the tone for the remainder of the adventure.
A moody harmonica beginning sets the tone for “Shadow World,” which evolves into a buoyant, surging powerhouse song with the legendary Shihoko Hirata singing a lovely melody. The work covers an organ and has a very strong bass line, both of which are typical of funk music, which is another way in which it resembles Persona 5. Here, though, the parallels must end.
Like a majority of Japanese pop songs, Shoji Meguro’s music takes inspiration from a diverse range of sources and, through the synthesis of these, develops its own distinctive style. The jazzy and funky parts of the song are, thus, only a minor component of a much larger musical puzzle. In instance, Persona 4 Golden replaces the gloomy Rap-Rock influences of Persona 3 that were present in Persona 4’s initial opening theme “Pursuing My True Self” with such a cheerful blend of trumpets and christian piano performing traditional J-Pop-style composition.
Colors Flying High:
In contrast, “Colors Flying High” creates an atmosphere of tension and drama with an epic scale that approaches operatic proportions. The track is a powerhouse waltz in the same vein as the last example, but with a strong rock drum rhythm underscoring the arching strings, amplified groove guitar, as well as electronic piano that would be characteristic of Funk and Jazz. The song’s orchestration is substantially more sinister, with angry synths and percussion sounds sprinkled throughout the background to underscore the defiant musical universe of Persona 5 Royal.
Although “Colors Flying High” has a similarly upbeat tone, it does so to encourage players to be ready for the protagonists’ upcoming battle against civilization. The soundtrack alludes to the cliches of traditional thief tales while also sounding thoroughly contemporary; this serves to reassure you that we are transferring the cunning schemes of a classic TV crook into the current day to deal with contemporary issues.
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What Does The OST In Persona Series Highlight?
These tracks are great examples of how each game has a unique focus on art. The beginning of Persona 5 Royal is meant to make the player feel energized and capable of taking on the world. While the colorful ensemble of Persona 4 Golden is living in constant fear of a terrifying serial murderer, the opening sequence focuses far more on presenting the positive and humorous interactions the player can discover among them.
The emotions stirred by these introductory tunes are consistent with the rest of the music. Both introductions’ upbeat tone serves the important function of training participants to thrive in a dangerous environment. What makes the music from both Persona games so wonderful and different is how effectively it conveys the characters’ principles and the methods they employ to overcome hardship.
Without actually playing the game, you may listen to any of the Persona soundtracks on YouTube or Spotify.
Main games soundtracks:
- Persona 5 OST
- Persona 4 & Golden OST
- Persona 3 & FES OST
- Persona 2 Sound Collections
The Composition Work In Persona Series Is Amazing
Thanks to Shoji Meguro’s superb character and setting design, each Persona game features several instances where a musical score adds to the emotional impact of the scene.
This is why the soundtrack in the Persona series is so iconic: the fight tune in Persona 1, the game world music in Persona 2, the combat theme in Persona 3, the overworld tune in Persona 4, the game world song in Persona 5, and so forth. There are several outstanding tracks out of each Persona game’s music that stand out.
Even if these tunes are enjoyable all on their own, the true power of the soundtracks comes from how they are juxtaposed with key events in the games. The soundtrack in Persona is an integral part of the enjoyment, as it is in many JRPGs, but franchise composer Shoji Meguro goes above and beyond by building a whole universe around his orchestral arrangements.
Persona is perhaps unparalleled in its use of several genres and subgenres to define characters, concepts, and situations. Fans of the Persona series love Shoji Meguro’s stories because he is so skilled at building to dramatic climaxes, both musically and emotionally.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about the music and its impact in the Persona series. It is definitely one of the more significant things about the Persona series and each OST carries a theme and vibe of the whole game.
The composer Shoji Meguro has done an amazing job with his music work and it will definitely remain one of the best OSTs ever in this growing world of JRPGs.