"To live is the duty of those who are given life..."
Zen is a major character from Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth: Playable Character
Zen is a young man with short, dark-brown hair, lime green eyes and a dark complexion. He wears the standard school uniform of Yasogami with a spiked black collar, along with a worn out black cape. He wears a blue wristwatch on his left wrist.
As Chronos, he wore a black hooded robe with pocket watch with dark chains around his neck.
Zen is calm and silent. He is overprotective of Rei and loses his collected facade when she is in danger, going so far as to threaten Teddie with his crossbows when he believes he is insulting her. Most of the others treat Zen's dedication toward Rei as mutually platonic, taking it as a given that they are in a friendship. Teddie, in contrast, compares the protectiveness to a father/daughter relation, saying that it is often heart-wrenching for a father to see his daughter grow up so quickly. However, neither dynamic is confirmed or denied by Zen himself. Despite ultimately wishing for Rei's happiness, he is willing to sacrifice it for her greater good.
As Chronos, he was originally cold and unemotional, however after interacting with the human girl Niko, he became interested as to why she was unable to speak, going so far as to create the school she wanted to go to, only to later be filled with heart ache when he heard her say that she wanted to die since she thought she had nothing to live for. In present time, Zen regrets his decision, considering locking away Rei's memories as "covering up a mistake."
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Twelve years prior to the game, Zen was originally a being from the Sea of Souls named Chronos, an avatar of Death created by the collective will of humanity. In the course of his duties, he appeared to the ghost of a girl named Niko, informing her of her demise and her need to come with him. To his confusion, however, Niko was silent, neither struggling against him or welcoming his presence. On a whim, he delved into her memories to see if he could make her speak, and after seeing her despair, used a fraction of his power to create an alternate Yasogami High for the sake of hearing her voice. However, as she examines a group of items she was buried with, she grows more and more distressed; a toy ring given to her by her mother, a lock of hair preserved from her cranial surgery, a stuffed rabbit given to her by a nurse, and a handwritten note from a friend of hers who recovered from her own illness and left the hospital alive and happy. Niko experiences a mental breakdown, and exclaims that she had nothing to live for, and didn't have a reason to exist since she achieved none of her dreams.
At this point, Chronos was overwhelmed by this, and when Niko demanded to be killed, she was about to gouge out her eyes before him, without even thinking, he locked away her memories. Shortly afterward, Niko awakens, incapable of remembering herself, nor who Chronos is before asking for her own name. He calls her Niko, but then says that she deserves a better name, settling for Philei, or "Rei" for short. She asks for his name and he calls himself "Zhn" (Greek for "living"), but is lost when she asks which kanji he uses to write it before suggesting it might be (善, Zen)?, because he seems like a good person. Chronos, having never experienced human emotions before, was confused as to why he felt so sad when he heard Rei tell him that, so long as she is with him, he won't be alone. Wanting to give Rei an answer to her question as to what her reason for living was, Zen separated his power into two parts and locked away one half in a clocktower, and sealed away his own memories inside treasure boxes that contained Rei's Personal Belongings. To ensure that Rei's items would remain untouched, Zen created guardians that would look after them in labyrinths and deployed them to the attractions of the false Yasogami High School which acts as the Labyrinth of the game, and they will not let even Zen take the items.
The method required for the members of SEES and the Investigation Team to return to their respective timelines lies with Zen and Rei, however both have lost their memories. In the P4 Story, Zen and Rei encounter the party inside You in Wonderland, considering them hostiles at first before realizing that they are friendly. In the P3 Story, Zen and Rei stop SEES from entering the labyrinth, warning them of the presence of Shadows, though later accompany them under the speculation that whoever trapped them within the alternate school is also the one who took their memories. Even losing his memories, due to being a deity, he possesses innate combat powers, but transferred his healing skills to Rei. Over the course of the game, Zen openly displays his feelings of protectiveness towards Rei, though he is dense and unaware that Rei harbors feelings for him, and is often clueless towards the group's jokes. He also grows to trust the group a great deal, placing his faith in the protagonist in protecting Rei alongside him.
However, whenever Zen opts to open one of the chests that contains Niko's belongings, he is stopped by Rei either through reluctance or yelling for him to stop. Zen is undeterred by these attempts, however, and slowly regains his memories. Eventually, after having regained them, he falls into despair once more after recalling his true identity as Chronos, having been unable to find the answer to Rei's question for living, even openly distraught when he informs the party that Rei is, in truth, the soul of a deceased girl named Niko. Once his other half captures Rei in an attempt to force Zen into resuming his role, he opts to save Rei himself, and tells the group to go back to their world, otherwise their existence will be erased completely, however he is shocked to see that they will not leave without retrieving Rei. Zen thanks them, and they enter the tower.
He gains all her healing skills after revealing they originated from him and bestowed them on her so she could fight. At the top of the tower, they face the Clockwork God, who vows to bring an end to all of time after making Zen see the error of his ways. Defeated, Zen releases his other half from its burden, then convinces Rei that she had purpose in her short life along with the others. After spending a final time together at the Culture Festival, now free of Shadows, they go to the Velvet Room one last time, and Zen and Rei depart together for the Sea of Souls. During the credits, they are seen walking together, and as the credits end, they fade away as a cloud of golden sparks.
- Zen and Rei share the same skill pool. Therefore, even if Rei permanently leaves the party after defeating Best Friend, all of Rei's skills remain intact on Zen, and he may still learn them when leveling up to the appropriate level. For more on the skills from Rei, see Rei (Persona Q) → Stats.
- All low tier skills are automatically replaced by their higher tier counterparts upon obtaining them, if possible.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
- "I won't let you harm Rei." (Battle start)
- "Give me orders and I'll attack." (Battle start)
- "I will protect Rei!" (Battle start, F.O.E)
- "Buff? Are we going to 'buff?'" (Battle start, fighting Beastly Gigas, responding to Rei)
- "We can focus on the Queen at last." (Battle start, fighting Queen of Hearts)
- "Stay back, Rei." (Battle start, fighting Merciful Clergyman)
- "It's all right, Rei! Calm down!" (Battle start, fighting Kind Doctor, responding to Rei)
- "I promised you, Rei, I will protect you!" (Battle start, fighting Best Friend)
- "Ha!" (Attack)
- "Hugh!" (Attack)
- "Ta!" (Attack)
- "Out of my sight!" (Skill)
- "It's all mine." (Skill)
- "Here I go." (Skill)
- "Take this." (Skill)
- "There." (Item)
- "Are you all right?" (Item, on Allies)
- "Here, have this." (Item, on Allies)
- "Don't panic, Rei. We'll find a way." (Strength/Magic Bind, responding to Rei)
- "Stop... Rei... don't... leave..." (Sleep, responding to Rei)
- "Me too." (Paralysis, responding to Rei)
- "What are you talking about?" (Low HP, responding to Akihiko)
- "Ngh... I can't lose to this!" (Low HP, responding to Teddie)
- "Ngh... I'm low on energy..." (Low SP)
- "Nghh... h-how c-could this...?" (Dies)
- "We need to bring him back." (P3/P4 hero as Leader dies, responding to Rei)
- "Stay calm, Rei! Protect yourself!" (P3/P4 hero as Vice Leader dies, responding to Rei)
- "I can still do more." (Follow-up Attack, prompt)
- "'Rock?' I don't understand, but I'll do it." (Follow-up Attack, accept, responding to Rei)
- "Naturally." (Follow-up Attack, accept, responding to Rei)
- "Of course." (Follow-up Attack, enemies defeated, responding to Rei)
- "This one's tough." (Follow-up Attack, no enemies defeated, responding to Rei)
- "Our morale is quite high." (All-Out Attack, prompt, responding to Rei)
- "I'll finish them off!" (All-Out Attack, prompt, accept)
- "I've cleared them all out." (Battle end)
- "Yes... Exactly..." (Merciful Clergyman battle, vow lifted, responding to Rei)
- "She seems to be his healer." (Kind Doctor battle, Calm Nurse supports Kind Doctor, responding to Rei)
- "Just the red one and the doctor left." (Kind Doctor battle, Caring Nurse defeated)
- "Rei... are you not feeling well?" (Kind Doctor battle, 50% HP)
- "It planned for this well." (Best Friend battle, taking damage from Rabbit Foot)
- "Ngh... why won't Rei's Shadow go down?" (Best Friend battle, Best Friend uses Endure)
- "Yes, let's try to keep it going." (One enemy defeated in less than 3 turns, responding to Rei)
- "Good. Let's keep wearing them down." (One enemy defeated in more than 3 turns)
- "You're the same as always, Rei." (Result, responding to Rei, Enemies defeated in more than 3 turns)
- "Don't be scared, Rei. I will protect you." (Result, responding to Rei, fighting high-leveled Shadow)
- "I succeeded in bettering myself." (Level up)
- "And I will continue to grow with you." (Rei learning a new skill, responding to Rei.)
- "Yes. This power is to protect you." (Rei learning a new skill, responding to Rei.)
After Inaba Pride Exhibit
- "Give me orders and I'll fight!" (Battle start)
- "Don't get in my way!" (Battle start)
- "Let's go!" (Battle start)
- "This is barely a threat to us now." (Battle start, fighting low-leveled Shadow)
- "Hmph... I won't let you act so big." (Battle start, fighting low-leveled F.O.E)
- "Just don't let it escape." (Battle start, fighting Hand Shadow)
- "Tch... A tank Shadow..." (Battle start, fighting Turret Shadow)
- "A jotun..." (Battle start, fighting Jotun of Power)
- "A minotaur..." (Battle start, fighting Minotaur Shadow)
- "There are even building Shadows?!" (Battle start, fighting King Castle)
- "I'm sorry, everyone. I need your help." (Battle start, fighting Captor Spider)
- "I'll go!" (Skill)
- "It's all mine!" (Skill)
- "Here goes!" (Skill)
- "Take this!" (Skill)
- "My turn now!" (Skill, Support)
- "Seems I'm up." (Skill, Support)
- "I'm using this!" (Item)
- "Here, use this!" (Item, on Allies)
- "Are you all right?" (Item, on Allies)
- "Easy!" (Miss, Enemy)
- "Rei... I'm... sorry..." (Sleep)
- "I'll shoot... and shoot, and shoot, and SHOOT!" (Panic)
- "Then I'll win without taking a hit!" (Agility Bind)
- "I must find other methods to fight!" (Strength/Magic Bind)
- "It's nothing. I'll be fine." (Low HP, responding to P3/P4 hero as Vice Leader)
- "Rei... Rei...!" (Dies)
- "They've taken out our leader!" (P3/P4 hero as Leader dies)
- "Are you all right?!" (P3/P4 hero as Vice Leader dies)
- "Perfect timing. It won't escape me." (Follow-up Attack, prompt)
- "I can attack now!" (Follow-up Attack, prompt)
- "Leave this to me!" (Follow-up Attack, prompt)
- "I'll show you my resolve!" (Follow-up Attack, accept)
- "This weapon isn't for show!" (Follow-up Attack, accept)
- "That was too simple." (Follow-up Attack, enemies defeated)
- "A persistent adversary." (Follow-up Attack, no enemies defeated)
- "I wasn't strong enough." (Follow-up Attack, no enemies defeated)
- "Our morale seems high. We can all attack!" (All-Out Attack, prompt)
- "Charging in!" (All-Out Attack, prompt, accept)
- "I'll keep them in my sight until the end." (One enemy defeated in less than 3 turns)
- "Who's the next enemy?" (One enemy defeated in more than 3 turns)
- "Stay calm! Let's not let our guard down." (One enemy defeated in more than 3 turns)
- "The battle's over." (Battle end)
- "Well done." (Battle end, P3/P4 hero as Leader finishes)
- "The battle has ended." (Result)
- "Then let's exploit those weaknesses!" (Captor Spider battle, head shielded)
- "There, we have our chance!" (Captor Spider battle, head exposed)
- "I'm moving on to the next leg!" (Captor Spider battle, one leg defeated)
- "Attacking the legs isn't truly damaging it!" (Captor Spider battle, one leg regrows)
- "Each leg has the same recovery time!" (Captor Spider battle, two or more legs regrow)
- "Ngh... Rei!" (Captor Spider battle, 25% HP)
- "Damn... my count is already at 1!" (Clockwork God battle, count at 1)
- "I won't let you kill them!" (Clockwork God battle, 75% HP)
- "Now is the time to settle the score!" (Clockwork God battle, 25% HP)
- "It shows I am growing too, I suppose." (Result, fighting high-leveled Shadow)
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
- Persona Q (Manga)
- PERSONA 20th Anniversary Festival
The kanji "善" serves as the syllable for many phrases which are mostly related to "good" and is the direct antonym of "bad" (悪). The name contrasts Zen's merciless counterpart.
- Zen mirrors Nagi from the game's sequel, being the caretaker of a girl who has fallen into despair. However, their actions are exact opposites; while Zen uses his duty to help Rei face the truth and assists the party in escaping the fake Yasogami High, Nagi uses her duties to indirectly manipulate Hikari into being trapped in her depression and apathy and acted against the party when they discover her manipulations.
- Zen is the only playable character in the Persona series to be a deity.
- Zen has gone through seven redesigns, much like Rei. Many of his initial designs also make him much shorter than he is in the actual game.
- When fighting the Festival Dudes, Zen does not qualify as one of the "grown men" that can prevent them from casting Diarahan or Maragidyne.