"How do you think it is that I became a god to begin with? The freedom not to choose...The freedom not to think...If every person pushed the burdens of their lives upon others, nobody would have to act for themselves. And who should be there to receive the burdens?"
The Antisocial Force (
Initially, there was no official term referring to this organization. However, during the epilogue of the Japanese version of Persona 5 Strikers, it was referred as an "Antisocial Force" by Miyako Kaburagi.
"Antisocial Force" is a term used by the Japanese government, referring to organized crime groups or syndicates (such as the yakuza), any cooperative or political party that is sponsoring the groups (or was being sponsored by them), as well as revolutionary groups who have the potential to induce violence or social unrest. It might also refer to organizations of serial fraudsters.
All of these descriptions match the group as seen in Persona 5 and its related merchandise, as it consisted of politicians, yakuza, con-men, revolutionaries and corporations.
The Antisocial Force, which has not been named by and under protection of the mainstream media as of then, is a treasonous group consisted of corrupt high-publicity figures that control Tokyo with the backing of the general public and the Metaverse's ruler "godly being". Their ultimate goal is to have politician Masayoshi Shido implement his self-centered political beliefs via being elected prime minister, which would turn Japan into a dictatorship that feeds and delights on its citizens' suffering. In order to ensure they are unopposed conventionally, Shido's Antisocial Force quickly brought (or blackmailed) the media, the Yakuza, the police force and the current government to serve them solely. The Phantom Thieves of Hearts formed two years after their arisal, and soon began to fight against their conquest by stealing the Treasures of their high profile members in order to reform them. Once the Phantom Thieves caught the conspiracy's attention by unknowingly dismantling several of their financiers, the Antisocial Force decided to hunt them down and put them on death row under the premise of treason.
In order to achieve their goals, the Antisocial Force has a mysterious black-masked assassin, Goro Akechi, trigger mental shutdowns and psychotic breakdowns to specific targets in order to discredit the current government administration and call for a general election, while Shido increases his personal popularity by calling out the government's supposed incompetence, and promises to create a greater Japan for all of its citizens. Usually, Shido will order Akechi to target anyone who sides with the current government, opposed him or displayed incompetence or disloyalty, and the killings will be used for his profit, such as additional connections and money. Members who know too much and pose a danger for their goal will also be executed by Akechi this way, such as Shujin Academy's Principal Kobayakawa, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit, and Kunikazu Okumura when they no longer served a purpose as members.
Shido screens his associates carefully, and he was capable of seeing if a person was a genuinely obedient lapdog to him just by observing them. Contrary to his empty promises during his speeches, only those who sport top down obedience towards him are allowed to live a luxury in the country, should he reform it. For this reason, if the rigged election went well, Shido had secretly planned to dispose of Akechi as well in spite of his competence and the benefits that Shido gained using him as a tool, as he would have outlived his usefulness and Shido knew of his dealings.
Before the formation of the Phantom Thieves, Shido also personally attempted to seize and ruin the lives of cognitive psience researchers. One such researcher was Wakaba Isshiki, who was executed by Akechi per Shido's orders and ordering an IT company president to encrypt the research without telling him what it actually is, then out of an unnecessary act of cruelty, read a forged suicide note out loud to her daughter Futaba to break her spirit.
The group itself starts to become hostile after Ichiryusai Madarame is discredited and Junya Kaneshiro is arrested, as they were primary financial backers of the group, and their confessions deeply hurt the group's bottom line and resource base. Initially, a tech firm CEO (the same one who encrypted Wakaba's research) poses as the online hacker activist group Medjed to threaten the Phantom Thieves into compliance, although the threat was actually blank, and their ultimate plan was to increase the Phantom Thieves' popularity and make them ideal scapegoats. After Futaba Sakura successfully breaks into his server and defangs him (which didn't matter for them anyway since it's just bait,) they decide to try a more subtle approach, using the story of how the Phantom Thieves destroyed an international hacking front to raise their popularity to abnormal and outright suspicious levels, then using it to artificially kick off a heist request on Kunikazu Okumura to the top of the list. The Thieves, although doubtful of the public, only got in to save his daughter Haru Okumura from being sold to her abusive fiance. In reality, the conspiracy had planned to assassinate him to kill two birds with one stone; after the Thieves steal his Treasure, Akechi would kill Okumura's Shadow Self upon Shido's orders, which led to Okumura dying another night during a live press conference. This allows Shido both a free getaway from a potential opponent that he might lose his prime ministership to, and frame the Phantom Thieves in fear of them encroaching onto his way. Before the Phantom Thieves's trip to Hawaii way before, Principal Kobayakawa became an enemy of the Antisocial Force due to his failed investigation of the Phantom Thieves. Akechi faked a Phantom Thief murder by planting a false calling card in Kobayakawa's office, then killing his Shadow, which caused a mental shutdown.
With these two cases combined, the Phantom Thieves' reputation has made a steep drop, with their sudden treatment from saviors to murderers from the public. This is when the Antisocial Force's true attack against the group began, using Goro Akechi as a mole to lead them into Niijima's Palace so they can all be arrested. Thankfully, this was foiled as the Phantom Thieves were aware of Akechi's status, and had a plan to foil him and have the protagonist evade his untimely death; although for it to be pulled off, he had to willingly shrug off the truth serum's effects, as he was drugged during his interrogation, with the interrogators making use of that as they attempt to gaslight him into believing he's a criminal. If the protagonist actually pulls this off, Shido would then order Akechi to kill the SIU Director, having outlived his usefulness. Afterwards, the Phantom Thieves initiate a counterattack against Shido, who had begun to receive abnormal approval of the public, far beyond any sort of rationality.
Lesser members of the Antisocial Force appear as cognitive existences in Shido's Palace, but Shido's knowledge of his associates was so innate, that some of them turn out to be their actual Shadow selves who did not form Palaces of their own. He and his close associates had transformed Mental Shutdowns into a business, having him carry out the assassinations and paying him with money and connections in return. Ooe, in particular, ordered the subway accident on April 10th to dispose of a diplomat and a CEO who sided with the current government.
When Akechi was dispatched into the Palace's Boiler Room to personally end the Phantom Thieves, he reveals that despite being a member of the Antisocial Force, Akechi was not loyal to them at all; and simply worked for both the Antisocial Force and the Thieves for his own agenda. After the confrontation which ended in his defeat, Akechi was gravely assaulted by a cognitive copy of himself created by Shido, who views him as an obedient hitman. He seemingly sacrifices himself for the Thieves trying to fight against his cognitive self, and his fate was left unknown. Once the Thieves reach Shadow Shido, he reveals that he knew about Akechi's plans to dispose of him simply because he resembled his mother too much, and is prepared to dispose Akechi himself if things ever begin to go wrong.
After Shido is defeated and experiences a change of heart, he confesses everything he's done live on election day. As such, the Antisocial Force was greatly weakened and rendered impotent politically. The remnants, consisting of a Shido crony appointed to SIU Director, a psychiatrist and a legislator started to scurry for plans, and the public began to doubt Shido's credibility. However, Yaldabaoth begins to take action on his own, having seen the protagonist's rehabilitation game complete. He manipulates the public into inversely supporting Shido, increasing his popularity to uncanny cult-like levels, and the Antisocial Force's remnants plan to use it for even more sinister plans, like ensuring both the control of Japan and to eventually take over the world. In order to make sure their plan ensues smoothly, they also manipulate the media to make the public believe that Shido is simply in poor health, and that there is no evidence that the Phantom Thieves actually changed people's hearts; then fire prosecutor Sae Niijima who was nearly successful in indicting him.
In order to defeat the remaining members of the Antisocial Force and reform the public, the Phantom Thieves reach the depths of Mementos; only to find that the "reformed" Antisocial Force members are merely made one with the public, and the Holy Grail that Yaldabaoth manifests as is indestructible since it feeds on the people's apathy to endlessly regenerate itself. Once the Thieves can no longer fight, it exiles them back into the real world, and then merges Mementos with the real world and further manipulates the public to believe that the Phantom Thieves don't exist, causing all of them to be exiled from reality. Yaldabaoth now reveals himself to be impersonating Igor and to have been compromised the Velvet Room and transformed it into a prison where all of the Thieves are imprisoned in after they were exiled by him. Once exposed as an impostor courtesy of the protagonist restoring the Twin Wardens back to their original form Lavenza, Yaldabaoth offers the protagonist a chance to join him, so everything outside will revert to normal and the Phantom Thieves will gain the fame they deserve. However, the people in Tokyo will still remain as "distorted masses." If the protagonist accepts this offer and has confirmed to seal the contract with Yaldabaoth, Lavenza will be disappointed at him, and it will lead to a bad ending where the protagonist starts using the Metaverse to sabotage people indiscriminately, and his teammates presumably remaining imprisoned in the Velvet Room forever. Should the protagonist refuse, Lavenza praises his resolve while Yaldabaoth promptly expresses disgust at being denied and retreats, which returns the real Igor and awaits confrontation on top of the Distorted Tokyo.
Throughout the exploration of the Depths of Mementos, the true purpose of the so-called "Antisocial Force" is revealed to be in fact, chaotic elements implanted into society by Yaldabaoth in order to prove that if humanity are left to themselves, they will give away their future to the corrupt and incompetent out of sheer ignorance. Thus, they do not deserve freedom and the only way for them to be saved is for Yaldabaoth himself to be in charge of them, ignoring the truth that he is the one who manipulated the public into supporting an Antisocial Force to extreme heights of popularity. Supposedly, this is a "game" for Yaldabaoth to see that if the protagonist's desire for change or Akechi's desire for destruction is stronger by deliberately arranging the most foolish and corrupt of people into power for one of them to take down. In reality, Yaldabaoth had no intent to hold his own end of the contract; and regardless of whoever wins by dismantling the chaotic elements he set up, Yaldabaoth will enact his plan to make the public "distorted masses" who only desire safety and stagnation, so he can prove that the public do not deserve a free society for their sheer ignorance. That way, the only way there will be no more corrupt and foolish conspiracies like those is when he solely guides humanity.
The members of the Antisocial Force with a personalized Palace, are those whose desire for free will and control independent from the Prison of Regression are so strong that they broke out from their confines and locked themselves in their own Palaces. Said personalities also watch over the public who are still in the prison to keep them from escaping. Yaldabaoth also subconsciously manipulates the public into worshiping or enabling the undesirables as god-like entities on ever increasing severity to prove his point.
When the Thieves were freed from their Quarantine Cells, they return to Shibuya to climb the Qliphoth World and announce their true rebellion, one that is not orchestrated by Yaldabaoth behind the scenes. They successfully destroy Yaldabaoth and erase Mementos from the surface of the world. Due to the source of all distortions being removed, people's opinion of Shido changed to an unanimously negative light and thus dissolving the Antisocial Force once and for all.
Persona 5 Royal
Near the end of the game, Takuto Maruki was revealed to be another cognitive psience researcher whom Shido also personally attempted to have robbed and ruined. He seized his research and forced his university to cut the funds for his lab in Odaiba using a petty excuse, with a stadium constructed on it instead. Again, just like the IT company president, after he seized Maruki's research, he gave it to his fellow researchers for analysis without telling them what it actually is for. However, unlike with other victims, Shido left Maruki alone without any follow up action, inadvertently allowing him to complete his cognitive research.
Persona 5 Strikers
While not actually having anymore power by themselves, the Antisocial Force's remnants still remain, namely Jyun Owada, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of the ruling party and a former supporter of Shido, and enlists the CEO of Madicce, Akira Konoe to defeat his political opponents with EMMA so he can become prime minister. Two years prior to the events of the game, Owada was responsible for the death of Akane Hasegawa's mother by running over her while drunk and its subsequent cover-up. Proper police investigation was prevented due to Owada's ties to Shido and his sphere of influence on the government, and the crime was pinned on Owada's subordinate, who eventually committed suicide out of shame. Inspector Zenkichi Hasegawa was also blackmailed with a death threat on his daughter's life when he tried to investigate (considering Shido's ruthlessness during his reign of power, this was most likely not an empty threat.)
Throughout the game, Owada accepts bribes from Madicce in the form of having Konoe changing the hearts of his opponents through the use of Jails, arranging from corrupt politicians attempting to compete with him, to high-ranking police officials who stepped their foot into Osaka (where the Madicce headquarters and Konoe's Jail are in.)
In reality, Konoe is only using Owada. He would quickly take him down once he began his anti-crime crusade, and he does not see Owada as anything but vermin. He also attempted to cause the Phantom Thieves of Hearts' arrest by bribing Commissioneer Miyako Kaburagi, only to fail because of Zenkichi Hasegawa and Sae Niijima's efforts.
At the end of the game, Owada is promptly arrested by Kaburagi and Zenkichi, who already planned to arrest them as soon as Konoe was taken down by the Thieves. He was charged with accepting bribes from Madicce, tax evasion, murder and its cover up, and all of the police officers who participated in the cover-up were promptly arrested alongside him. Suspicions also arose that he actually killed his secretary. In the Japanese script, Kaburagi also now properly labels the political conspiracy orchestrated by Shido as an Antisocial Force, preventing it from actually resurfacing once again and granting the Hasegawa family the justice they deserve.
Members and Accomplices in Persona 5
- Yaldabaoth: Conductor, influenced the public to support Masayoshi Shido.
- Masayoshi Shido (Samael): Leader, abruptly rose to fame a few years ago.
- Goro Akechi: Assassin and profit source. In reality, he's using Shido for the purpose of blackmailing (and most likely assassinating) him.
- Junya Kaneshiro (Bael): Financier, funds Shido's campaign with money earned from his drug trafficking scams.
- Ichiryusai Madarame (Azazel): Financier, funds Shido's campaign with cash earned from selling forged "Sayuri" copies.
- Kunikazu Okumura (Mammon): Used the Black Mask's services and donated to Shido.
- Principal Kobayakawa: Associate, implied to have obtained his status due to Shido's Antisocial Force.
- SIU Director: Associate, orders Sae to rig cases in favor of Shido, and planned on covering up the Mental Shutdown cases.
- Yakuza cleaner (Ongyo-Ki): Joined Shido just because he was the highest bidder.
- IT Company President (Oberon): Kickstarted the Medjed cleanse false flag threat.
- TV Station President (Hanuman): Protected Okumura from potential scandals under Shido's orders, until Shido began to turn on him for his scandals and his political campaign, in which he broadcasts his death for more views instead.
- Former Noble (Forneus): Requested Shido for Mental Shutdowns in exchange for introducing more connections to him.
- Politician Ooe (Yamato-no Orochi): Requested Shido to induce a Mental Shutdown incident last spring targeting an engineer in order to take down a diplomat and a CEO siding with the current government.
- Real versions of the cognitive guests in Shido's Palace: Shido knows these connections well enough to make many of these come to life in his Palace.
- Proxy SIU Director: Successor of the previous SIU Director.
- A Psychologist: One of the remnants accompanying the Proxy SIU.
- Shido-leaning Legislator: Accompanies the proxy SIU.
Possible accomplices by action
- Suguru Kamoshida (Asmodeus): The principal knowingly enabled his behavior regardless of the suffering he brings upon the students of Shujin, making him possibly an indirect member of Shido's Antisocial force by proxy.
- Sae Niijima (Leviathan): Working for the SIU Director and thus being a part of Shido's cabinet by accomplice, against her own will.
Members and accomplices in Persona 5 Strikers
- Jyun Owada: A Chief Cabinet Secretary who was involved in lobbying Shido's campaign and ran over Aoi Hasegawa while drunk driving a year ago prior to Persona 5. He was promptly arrested at the end of Strikers.
- Akira Konoe: Assisted Owada to remove his political opponent via Changes of Heart and attempted to capture the Phantom Thieves for terrorism. In reality, he was just using Owada for his own ends.
- It's implied that nobody took Shido seriously until two years prior to Persona 5, where he was merely a corrupt politician with an overinflated ego. This implies that he only got that far due to Yaldabaoth making the public think that he was a brilliant leader and having Akechi on his side to execute his enemies.
- As no name or classification for this group existed publicly prior to Strikers, fans would often refer to them as "the Conspiracy," based from "Conductor of The Conspiracy" being one of Yaldabaoth's nicknames.
- The Antisocial Force is comparable to the New World Order from Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. Both have members in the government, police and entertainment circles, are backed by the Mafia, and are ultimately being used by a malevolent deity to justify total world destruction.
- However, while both are villainous social orders, their goals are completely different. The New World Order attempts to use false mysticism and prophecy to create a delusional utopia where only they live while the Antisocial Force is a more realistic portrait of a corrupt social system, whose sole purpose is to put a corrupt politician into power and remove all opposition.
- The Antisocial Force is likely based on a corrupt modern government system or a coterie based on a corrupt politician (in this case being Shido), especially the ones seen in modern Japan. The actions carried out by the members of the Antisocial Force, such as blackmailing and assassinating opposition, holding extremist views and trying to achieve ruling status regardless of means, plagiarizing the works of others and abusing workers are in fact, not uncommon in real life political, corporate and entertainment circles.
- In the English script of Strikers, the organization was never referred to by any name or term, for Miyako Kaburagi's speech was cut short after announcing suspicions about Owada killing his own secretary.