Waifu Wednesday: Haru Okumura (Persona 5)

I enjoyed Persona 5 as much as the next person, but the fact that I have yet to make that apparent here at Rice Digital makes me think that I should correct that sooner rather than later. So while plenty of its lovely ladies have had the spotlight so rightfully shone upon them within this very weekly column, my very own favourite lass from the game has only actually been mentioned once before in Trent’s Persona 5 Royal Waifu Review piece if my memory serves me correctly.

And so it gives me the absolute pleasure to let you all know that I will now start raving and gushing about the gorgeously splendid Haru Okumura. She’s way too underappreciated otherwise.

Spoiler section marked below.

Who is Haru Okumura?

Haru Okumura, one of the last additions to your party in Persona 5 depending on which version you are playing is yet another fellow and awfully troubled student of Shujin Academy. Since she becomes important late-game Haru happens to understandably be not that popular of a party member or waifu when it comes to this Persona instalment.

It’s safe to say that there tends to be a lot of catching up to do when getting to bond with and see everything that her character has going for her, but it’s certainly worth the wait and effort in finally being able to do so when you have so many reasons; she has such a heart-breaking storyline, experiences an incredible turnaround as a character and is an overall joy in making the Phantom Thieves group all that more memorable – even if you’re not looking too deep into her involvement here. But that’s why we are here, so let’s get into the discussion part of this piece already.

Why you will love her

Haru basically has a greatly satisfying character arc for such a latecomer to the Persona 5 storyline. Firstly, she learns to be honest with herself and therefor all the more open and honest with those around her. It’s the exact breaking point she needed to summon her own Persona and is the climax of her Confident link plot-line. She grows exponentially across the game. It’s doubly impactful if you pursue her romantically since her later involvement with her family’s business alongside her coming to terms with grieving and accepting the loss of a loved one is powerful to say the least.

But what is also just as important is the prevailing themes of her growing ability and acceptance in breaking away, grasping at freedom and delivering her own sense of justice by the time her story related moments run its course. At the same time as her development she always manages to remain extremely self-aware. She knows that she lives a privileged life and does not take any of it for granted but she also has to come to terms with knowing that she needs to take control of her life if she is to live it for herself.

You are actively rooting for her and as a result, Haru’s storyline is the most empowering character focused arc of the entire game if you ask me. In a nutshell she eventually learns to stand up to two wildly different adversaries that prevent her from reaching her potential. Let’s now get into the finer details.

Why we love her (spoilers below)

Being both sheltered and naïve, Haru’s upbringing has her feeling like an outcast and is deemed as merely a person to be used by those both inside and outside of her father’s company. Said father who willingly gave away his only daughter to marry an abusive man comes with his own fair share of problems that shaped Haru into the person she is today. It’s all very tragic which is highlighted within the Dancing in Starlight spin-off game that revealed that Haru used to be passionate about ballet up until her father failed to attend her recitals. This instead confirmed to her that he was using her developed skills as talking pieces to interested parties for business means.

But at the same time Haru is undoubtedly the kindness soul from within Persona 5. It’s more than apparent by her quick adopting of expressing her immediate affection towards the Phantom Thieves, addressing everyone with honorifics regardless of age differences. That’s despite her growing up and developing trust issues due to never knowing if those who approach her throughout her lifetime are being genuine and sincere due to her family’s wealth and father’s well-known status. She has instead always been empathetic. It’s no surprise really when she was inspired to grow up like the female heroes she watched as a kid on TV – protectors of others and leading a happy, content life.

It is something Haru actively works towards since the very first moment we see her. She is evidently not perfect. She tends to be quite clumsy and fumbles often, such as messing up her introduction in front of the Phantom Thieves despite it being rehearsed, and she’s absolutely not the fair maiden she appears to be. The reason for this is to better illustrate the two sides at odds in Haru representing and proudly showing who she is as a person.

This fact alone is highly relatable on many levels. If she isn’t already busy indulging herself with a horror/slasher flick then she is showing her more vulnerable side by expressing how much self-doubt she experiences. The lovely lass really thinks her own value within the Phantom Thieves is gardening at one point. It’s also one thing that her dark side is played up for comedy – see how she behaves behind a steering wheel for such an example. It’s another that she clearly lets out much of her internal rage and heartache onto her enemies during battle, evidently blowing off steam with bloodlust taking over.

Seeing as her Phantom Thieves costume design portrays Haru as a Three Musketeers sort of deal her Persona appearing more like Milady De Winter is even more on the nose to further illustrate this opposition Haru is always internally battling, especially with how said Persona hides the scariest arsenal of weapons underneath her skirt. Let’s not forget to mention how Haru herself uses a god damn grenade launcher and can pull off an unsettling death glare if you really upset her. That’s one messy Valentine’s Day to remember, right?

That’s so much more I could bring up about Haru, but it goes without saying at this point that Haru may not be to everyone’s liking (by that we mean preference), but she certainly was the clear winner of Persona 5’s best girl in my eyes. Her sheer optimism, relatable flaws and impactful storyline was without a doubt a highlight of the game to me. But maybe you can be the judge of that.

Lilia Hellal
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