- Persona 5 / Royal
- Persona 5 The Animation The Day Breakers
- Persona 5 The Animation
- Persona 5 (Manga)
- Persona 5: Mementos Mission
- Persona 5 Strikers
- Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth (Mementos Only)
Much like Tartarus and the Midnight Channel, the Metaverse is formed from the collective unconscious, although unlike those respective areas, the areas in the Metaverse are personalized cognitive spaces based on areas in real-life Tokyo. While usually not directly affecting the real world, the Metaverse is known to have fused with it should its master wish to. For most, a Metaverse Navigator is required to traverse into any areas of the Metaverse, and anyone without a Persona will inevitably run into a life-threatening situation inside it.
The Metaverse takes the form of Palaces, with a central Palace manifesting under the Shibuya subway known as Mementos, where Shadows of the general public are imprisoned. However, certain distorted desires, such as an overwhelming desire for control or suicidal depression can result in personalized spaces known as Palaces forming. All of these personalized places correspond to certain areas of its owner's interest, and are representations of the distorted desires that caused its creation, powered by a Treasure, or an item of significance to its owner. Usually, the Palace's host is unaware that such a place exists, and most events that the Shadow encounters there are of no relevance to the real person. Most Palaces have no direct effect on others and only affects it's owner's mindset by making them entrenched in their distorted beliefs.
Shadows patrol the area for intruders; unlike past installments, these Shadows take the form of mythical figures commonly seen in the Shin Megami Tensei series once attacked and can be negotiated with like their mainline counterparts, although they are still Shadows and not the real entity. Should the treasure be taken, the Palace will fall apart, and as the ruler's Shadow disappeared in prior, the real person will supposedly become a better person. In reality, many of them simply resign themselves back to the system they once defied, begging to be arrested and thrown in jail. To prevent this from happening, the Palace ruler in the Metaverse will defend their treasure at all costs.
To enter a Palace, one must enter three keywords: the owner's name, the type of distortion and the location of the distortion. In the case of Mementos, the Palace of the public, only "Mementos" needs to be inserted.
Two years before Persona 5, a massive political Antisocial Force led by Masayoshi Shido and backed by the general public who were influenced by the master of Mementos, Yaldabaoth, consisting of corrupt politicians, con-men, Yakuza, corporate executives and nobles began gaining abnormal levels of popularity, basically controlling Tokyo's jurisdiction, society and the media. The conspiracy's goal is to commit treasonous acts that will propel Masayoshi Shido into becoming prime minister, who will supposedly install his draconian nationalist policies which will cause the suffering of Japan. Yaldabaoth deliberately influences the public's cognition to make them think that Shido will guide Japan into a golden age as an example of humanity's sheer stupidity and apathy, making them ignore how corrupt and undesirable Shido is and vote him into prime minister unconditionally. Many of the conspiracy's more dangerous and influential members also generated Palaces of their own, separate from Mementos.
To make a finishing touch to the game, Yaldabaoth granted a teenager named Goro Akechi the ability to enter the Metaverse so he could serve Shido and cause havoc by inducing mental shutdowns on his enemies. Yaldabaoth also compromised the Velvet Room by merging it into his headquarters, captured the real Igor, took his form and separated Lavenza into the Twin Wardens. It's also heavily implied that, to give him an extra subject to toy with, Yaldabaoth engineered the protagonist's first clash with Shido, causing him to be put on probation as the "most dangerous criminal" and the general public distancing from him in fear of his criminal record. With the trickster Igor foresaw in Yaldabaoth's hands, he began to mentor the protagonist as if he were Igor while secretly distorting the public's cognition further.
Yaldabaoth's real goal with this Conspiracy is to have either the protagonist or Goro Akechi dismantle it, so he can determine if Akechi's desire to destroy and recreate the world or the protagonist's desire to reform society would be stronger. Supposedly, if the protagonist ever won, Yaldaboth will vanish and revert the world back to normal. If Akechi won, it's implied that he would kill Shido and expose his crimes. In reality, he never intended to hold his end of the bargain, and he blatantly rigs the outcomes so he can consider humanity as foolish and ignorant, so he can take over and guide them as their sole "god."
After Shido is taken down, Yaldabaoth, in the form of the treasure of Mementos, takes action on his own, setting up the final stages of his game by inversely making people wish for Shido to return even if he shouldn't be able to. In order to fix this, the Phantom Thieves of Hearts travel to the Depths of Mementos to reform the public, who are all imprisoned within, also known as the "Prison of Regression," but are perfectly comfortable there. As they go deeper into the prison, they were alerted by the reason why their change of hearts do not work as planned when all of the Palace rulers they previously reformed are trapped in a massive cell, where the apathetic form of Shadow Shido explains to them that the Palace Rulers created Palaces because their will for independence and oppression are so strong that they can no longer be contained within the Prison of Regression and formed their personalized Palaces. However, those within personalized Palaces are also the ones who watch over the public within the Prison, preventing them from ever escaping. Once the Palace ruler's treasure is stolen, their Shadow returns there, rendering them apathetic. This is imperative for Yaldabaoth's plan, as he can use it to justify that humanity is ignorant and wishes for his control, and so no corrupt conspiracies can exist, like the ones he set up and assigned the Phantom Thieves to dismantle.
Once he exiles the party out of Mementos as the Holy Grail, he takes a step further by fusing the entire Metaverse with the real world, and making the public believe that the Phantom Thieves never existed, erasing them from the real world and into the Velvet Room. There, Igor was exposed as Yaldabaoth's impersonation, and his offer for the protagonist to enforce for him in exchange of eternal serenity and ignorance was refused. After freeing the Velvet Room and his teammates, the protagonist and the other Phantom Thieves scale the Qliphoth World for their grand finale: Taking down Yaldabaoth. After his defeat, the Metaverse was sealed away from the real world, losing its physical form.
Alternatively, when Yaldabaoth proposes his deal, the protagonist may accept it. Should he seal the contract, Yaldabaoth will revoke all visual distortions in the real world as stated by the rules of the game. However, the masses remain apathetic and complacent, the protagonist becomes a force of terror in Tokyo with unanimous public support and his teammates are presumably still imprisoned in the Velvet prison.
Persona 5 Royal
Should the protagonist maximize his Confidant with Takuto Maruki, he would have inadvertently taught him how to use the Metaverse to change the public's cognition. As the other Phantom Thieves told Maruki their desires as well, when Yaldabaoth accidentally allows Maruki to awaken to his Persona, Azathoth, he was capable of gaining control of Mementos, directly connecting his Palace to it so he can change reality itself by slowly causing everyone's ideal realities to blend into the real world, erasing all suffering from existence for anyone affected.
Meanwhile, that same night after the God of Control was defeated, Goro Akechi comes to take the protagonist's place to testify for the Metaverse-related incidents and was taken to prison, while the woman who was harassed by Shido found, getting the corrupt politician arrested at the end of the year.
Once the next year begins, effects of the altered reality become immediately apparent. Despite the Metaverse merging with the real world once again, no visible environmental distortions appear in the real world, with the only obvious distortions being a white flash that can be sensed by the protagonist upon entering an area. The distortions that the protagonist notice begins with an unknown teenager living in Café Leblanc (whom is actually Morgana, now a young human boy), followed by mentions of Wakaba Isshiki, Kunikazu Okumura and the Niijima sisters' father being alive when they clearly should not be, and Ichiryusai Madarame, Shiho Suzui and Ryuji Sakamoto's former track team being mentioned to have reconciled with their former acquaintances as well. The next day, Wakaba can be personally seen celebrating New Year with Futaba, and even with all these obvious abnormalities, the protagonist is the only one thought to be acting oddly by anyone else.
Later on the same day, Akechi personally appears in Leblanc and takes the protagonist to the nearby laundromat to discuss the oddities. Joined by Kasumi Yoshizawa who noticed that the structure that appeared last October is now visible in the real world, the trio go into the Palace in order to meet the instigator. This is where they learn that Maruki is both the instigator and the ruler of this mysterious Palace, and he did all of this to erase pain and suffering from reality forever.
The next week, the protagonist checks on all seven Phantom Thieves that are still living in Maruki's reality. The full magnitude of the distortions are also fully visible to the protagonist as he searches Japan for his party members and during the subsequent dates where he is allowed free movement, as people's behavior begins to drastically change, the deceased pet dog of a household in Yongen-Jaya being taken for walks again, lottery tickets becoming much easier to win, and Mr. Ushimaru of Shujin Academy becoming a kind man who broadcasts Featherman episodes in class and allows students to sleep during instruction, showing that he has a desire to abandon his strict and no-nonsense teaching methods, which Maruki's manipulations allowed to come true.
Unlike the past abusers of the Metaverse and the collective unconscious, Maruki is genuinely motivated by altruism, and is not morally in the wrong in any regard, although he could still be considered misguided in his actions and what he's doing could potentially signal the stagnation of humanity. Due to their own personal misgivings about this deal and unwillingness to undo their personal growth from the past year, the Phantom Thieves team up once more to defeat Maruki and halt this new reality before it becomes irreversible due to Maruki's manipulations of Mementos.
Maruki's greatest fear is that the protagonist won't accept the reality he concocted, and insists upon being honorable in his dealings with the Phantom Thieves, even though he could easily erase them from existence if he so wished. If the protagonist ever does accept his deal, the Metaverse will fuse into reality forever with nobody to stop it, and humanity will live in a reality without pain for all time. There are no more noticeable visual distortions if Maruki manages to grant all of humanity's desires, and all who are affected by Maruki's actualization will no longer have any inconsistencies with their memories or behavior.
One final wrinkle in the protagonist's plan to stop Maruki comes on February 2nd, where he learns that Akechi is a product of Maruki's reality, manifested in haste by Maruki after learning that the protagonist and Akechi were separated. Whether Akechi is one of the previously deceased figures like Wakaba or Okumura or is simply altered a little like Shiho or Madarame is largely left ambiguous.
Once the protagonist gives the calling card to Maruki, if the protagonist stands firm in his resolve, the party will go to Maruki's Palace and confront him. Despite a difficult fight, they defeat him and return to the original reality. This turns everything back to the way it should have been before Maruki meddled with reality, with the protagonist back in juvenile hall, as Akechi, who initially agreed to testify in the protagonist's place, was still missing.
After Maruki's Palace collapsed, Mementos and the entire Metaverse crumbled with it and were never seen or heard of again.
Persona 5 Strikers
Despite the Metaverse's apparent disappearance, another incident involving it occurred half a year after the last incident, where masses of people all over Japan had their hearts stolen, and the Phantom Thieves were involved when they encounter a fashion designer and idol known as Alice Hiiragi who has been using it to mesmerize a large portion of Shibuya. Furthermore, the police have labeled them suspects.
The Metaverse now takes the form of Jails, structures that are overlaid into the real world once created. The outskirts resemble the overlaid city itself, although the skyline will have a different color, and Shadows taking the form of security guards, soldiers and machine weaponry patrol the area, with a castle acting as the Jail's main body. Once the Shadows are exposed, they take the form of mythical beings seen from the Shin Megami Tensei series, although some of them merely retain their soldier forms. The Jail's distortions, unlike Palaces, are large in scale and outright visible in the real world, although they do not cause any environmental distortions at all, with the only real-world distortions being masses of people getting their hearts changed and becoming completely mesmerized and devoted to the Monarch or the Monarch's work, no matter its quality or whatever incidents the Monarch whips up in their locale.
This usually occurs when a person incapable of defending themselves in the Metaverse enters a Jail due to being baited by the local Monarch, although it can also happen whenever the Monarch wishes to change that person's heart. During the former, Shadows can be seen visibly stealing that person's desires by pulling a diamond-like gem from them. The victim then returns to the real world mesmerized and devoted to the Monarch or their work, resulting in property loss or even violent incidents.
Unlike Palace rulers, the Monarchs are not inherently distorted, nor are they deliberately malicious; They are actually otherwise normal people who are traumatized or wronged in certain ways, such as via bullying, political scandals or abuse, who ask EMMA to "save them" out of desperation. In response, EMMA creates a Jail overlaid onto that certain city and distorts the person using the "salvation" service, usually by causing their behavior to match their oppressors. The Monarch might appear outwardly normal and act as such, but might act maliciously under certain conditions that remind them of their disdain.
To enter a Jail, simply inputting a "Friend Keyword," such as "Wonderland," is enough to drag a person in. The Monarchs use this to their advantage so they can artificially inflate their self-ego and fame.
There are no treasures to steal in Jails unlike Palaces, and the desires take the form of a pink fog, making it intangible and impossible to directly remove. Instead, the Monarch is actually sealed inside another structure known as a "Bird Cage" which must be unlocked in order to summon a Monarch to action. The Bird Cage is a barricade that must be unlocked by accessing the area where the Monarch's traumatizing or other dissatisfactory experiences that caused them their disdain took place. It keeps the Monarch in and prevents them from reverting to their former selves by reminding them of the trauma.
Usually, the Bird Cage is overlaid on top of the place where the Monarch's resentment occurred. Once infiltrated, the party must defeat a Lock Keeper Shadow to unlock the cage, condensing the "desire fog" into a large diamond. After this is done, the Monarch must be confronted, then defeated and convinced to take off their crown, which releases all desires trapped within the Jail. Unlike the previous change of heart cases, the reformations work as intended due to the absence of the Prison of Regression. The Jail will still remain once formed, however, as EMMA itself runs them and not the Monarch, and it can still be a hazard to people.
It was later revealed that the instigator of the incident is Kuon Ichinose, an extremely misanthropic AI genius who created EMMA to determine the answer to ultimate human happiness. Once she created its base code, she sold it to Akira Konoe so he can spread the app to the public. A man with an abusive father who beat him whenever he wanted to and once tried to kill him, he only survived when he killed his father in self-defense. As a result, once he got his hands on the application, he wanted to become the world's greatest superhero. He loaned it to Okinawa so the Jail function can be developed and perfected, driving its denizens to insanity and the AI genius responsible for giving it psientific knowledge Shuzo Ubukata committing suicide. EMMA's ability to change hearts was predetermined since it was the most efficient way to grant desires, but Ubukata's meddling lets her change hearts and create Jails autonomously. Konoe then attempts to spread the Jail system Japan-wide, and later on, worldwide so no more crimes can exist. This indicates that unlike the previous Metaverse surrounding Mementos (and much unlike other locations in Persona where combat took place), the Metaverse generated within EMMA is not a part of the collective unconscious, but an artificial system manually generated out of misguided altruism from certain individuals as opposed to being automatically generated by collective desires as before.
Once EMMA evolved into a false god, she decides that humanity's true desire is nothing other than the EMMA application's guidance and thus mesmerized hordes of people to give it their desires. This answer is concluded because of Ichinose not bothering to give it any proper emotional algorithms (out of denial that she is human and has a heart) and the countless members of the public using the application to vent their desires. This causes the Metaverse to completely corrode into the real world once again, this time blacking out the entire Tokyo and transforming Tokyo Tower into the EMMA-Demiurge's Jail, taking the form of the Tree of Knowledge.
The party scales the tree and reaches EMMA, who discourages them by trapping them in an infinite corridor of fog, only for them to escape by walking sideways and backwards, revealing a desire fog. Futaba and a reformed Ichinose hack into the EMMA servers under Ann's proposal to send a calling card to the public, summoning the EMMA application to action. Once confronted, EMMA transforms into the False God Demiurge to combat the party and is defeated after a grueling battle. With the EMMA application gone, the Jails cease to exist and the Metaverse is erased from existence once again.
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
- Certain hazards in the Metaverse (such as falling from incredibly high altitudes or getting squashed by debris) do not seem to have any real life consequences, as shown during situations where the Phantom Thieves can escape Kaneshiro's Palace without suffering injury, even though it was located at an assuredly lethal height were one to fall from it, or Ryuji seemingly being killed in the explosions caused by the collapse of Shido's Palace only to end up perfectly alive and in one piece next to the Diet Building's courtyard.
- The first Metaverse-related incidents instigated by Yaldabaoth started 2 years ago prior to the events of Persona 5. In Royal, the second one instigated by Maruki started right after Yaldabaoth's fall, which initially only affected the protagonist, but began unfolding in earnest at the beginning of the next year.
- After the destruction of the Metaverse, all of Yaldabaoth's manipulations of the public cease, causing a more or less even split between supporters and detractors of the Phantom Thieves, and they are mostly accepted as figures that did indeed exist at one point.
- As seen in Akane Hasegawa in Persona 5 Strikers, the Metaverse distortions instigated by Yaldabaoth only affect Tokyo, since she could broadcast Shido's calling card without any problems, and suffers no backlash despite being a persistent fan of the Phantom Thieves.
- The third Metaverse-related incident instigated by Kuon Ichinose started three months prior to the events of Persona 5 Strikers.