Each entry in Atlus’ Persona series has an identifiable theme, and Persona 3 sees ancient Greek mythology take centre stage. Persona 3 Movie #2: A Midsummer Knight’s Dream introduces us to a new slew of Persona, each of which reflects the state of their user’s hearts.
Ken, the youngest member of the S.E.E.S squad, is seeking revenge against the person who murdered his mother. With this burning determination, he awakens to his Persona, Nemesis, the mythical Greek goddess of Divine Retribution. Ken’s intense desire to bring justice to his mother’s murderer is made apparent in his summoning of Nemesis. His Persona links directly to Shinjiro’s and Akihiko’s too, as whilst the three of them do not share a connection bound by blood, their Persona do.
Akihiko and Shinjiro consider each other to be brothers, although in reality they’re not related. Their persona also derive from Greek myth, the “brothers” Castor and Polydeuces, who in some versions of Greek myth are the children of Nemesis. No mother wants to murder their own son, and Ken’s inner turmoil on whether or not he truly wants to see his mother’s murderer dead is a vital plot line in A Midsummer Knight’s Dream narrative.
The references to Greek myth go further into spoiler territory for the movie, but knowledge of these myths breathe further life into the Persona who never speak or act for themselves. Greek myth is riddled with death, and this is also shown in Koromaru’s Persona. Koromaru may be a dog, but his desire to protect his owner’s grave grants him the ability to do so once the Shadows attack. Fittingly, Koromaru’s Persona is the guardian to the gates of the underworld – Cerberus. Generally depicted as a giant dog with three heads, Koromaru’s and Cerberus’ link is far more obvious than others in the Persona series. Koromaru, like Cerberus, wants to prevent the dead from being disturbed, and to stop those who are unwanted from entering the dead’s domain.
Our last hero introduced in this movie, Aigis, is an incredible android who can also summon a Persona. Vowing to protect protagonist Makoto Yuki from harm, Aigis’ Persona, Palladion, reflects her desire to protect her friends from harm. This also stems from Greek myth, with a statue of Goddess Pallas being a symbol of the safety of Troy. Aigis has a deep connection to Makoto, and much of his safety relies on her incredible abilities as both an android and a skilled Persona user.
However, it’s not only people on the side of hope and justice who can summon Personae, as antagonist Strega team member, Takaya, summons Hypnos multiple times. Hypnos, as the name implies, is the God of Sleep. Using the Dark Hour’s intense night as cover, Strega use this hidden hour for personal gain and runs a service where people can request various illegal acts of them with little chance of being caught. Takaya has no issue with killing, and this iteration of Hypnos is grossly disfigured because of it. Hypnos is usually portrayed as an attractive young man, but in Persona 3 he’s a suspended, limp body with wings attached to his protruding, dangling spine. This change in appearance says a lot about Hypnos and Takaya because Hypnos, who’s believed to be a gentle God who helps humans and other deities to sleep peacefully, is having his powers used to instead to kill people.
Hypnos’ brother, Thanatos, is the God of Death, who appeared in the first movie when Makoto summons his Persona for the first time. Thanatos plays a crucial role in upcoming movies, so the parallels between these two Personae are made clearer at a later date. Many of the Personae that appear in this movie link to another Persona in some way but, again, the best example is how Ken, Akihiro, and Shinji’s connect. You can enjoy Persona 3 without any knowledge of the Greek myths that inspired it, but knowing adds more depth to the characters, and how they all come together.
Persona 3 Movie #2: A Midsummer Knight’s Dream delves deeply into death, with it being one of the film’s main themes, and Greek myth makes for great inspiration. No matter how powerful or revered you may be, death comes to all, and this movie doesn’t shy away from that harsh reality.
Persona 3.2: A Midsummer Knight’s Dream is available in the UK from Anime Limited.