Akira Kurusu Guide

Akira Kurusu Guide: Joker’s Canon Name Explained

For many Persona fans out there, their first bout with the series was Persona 5. This game was, in many ways, the title that popularized the series on a mainstream level for video games, partially because of the star of this Akira Kurusu guide.

I would consider my jumping on point in the series to be Persona 3 (though I played the previous games just before that). I have never seen an influx of new fans like when Persona 5 came out.

It is solely due to Persona 5 and the plights of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts that Atlus is enjoying such success these days. Part of this comes from the iconic nature of the main characters, such as Joker, the leader of the Phantom Thieves.

But what is his real name? Is it the one I will focus on in this guide: Akira Kurusu? Or is his full name something else entirely? That is what I am to answer in this guide.

Bottom Line Up Front

Joker is the main character that you play in Persona 5. I would even argue that he is easily the best protagonist in the entire series in terms of character design and how you are able to mold his story to your own with relationships and the like.

But one of the most confusing parts about Joker is his canon name. We know that Joker is only his codename on the team, but what is his real name? I can tell you from the start that it is not Akira Kurusu, which is only his name in the manga adaptation of Persona 5.

Akira Kurusu Overview

Akira Kurusu

From the moment that Persona 5 and Joker were first teased, I knew that I was in for something special. I mean, come on, we are talking about the anime version of Harry Potter, after all. There is a lot to love about his character design and the bits of personality that we can see come out in his character.

Joker is the star of the Persona 5 team known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. While most fans and people online know him as Joker, that is not his real name. It is only the codename that everyone gives him for when they wear their masks and infiltrate Palaces in the Metaverse.

Everyone in the Phantom Thieves has their own codename, and Joker has stuck as what most people refer to him as. It makes it a lot easier since it appears that not everyone can agree on what his real name is, hence the need for this particular guide.

One of the possible names for Joker is Akira Kurusu. I will admit that the name itself is fairly cool. I like the name Akira, both because of how it sounds and the famous anime film named as such. Kurusu is also kind of interesting since it sounds a lot like the Japanese words for crow and the verb to kill.

But, at the end of the day, Akira Kurusu is only one possible name for Joker in Persona 5. If you are wondering whether or not this is the real name for him, you are in the right place.

I will reveal in this Akira Kurusu guide what Joker’s real name is and the origins of this particular version. It just so happens that Joker does have a canon name outside of the Metaverse adventures.

Appearance Explained

Akira Kurusu’s appearance is one of the most iconic parts of the Joker character. As a mostly silent protagonist, his appearance has to sell his character, and it does so quite well. He has two different looks, depending on whether or not he is attending school or if he is in the Metaverse.

His school uniform is nothing too special, being like almost everyone else in his class. But I really dig the style of this uniform, with it being skinny plaid pants with red, white, and black. There is something so suave and intriguing about these compared to the standard Japanese school uniforms.

On top, he has a school blazer that is black with red buttons. It has the symbol for his private high school on the left side and a white shirt underneath. Nothing too crazy here, but the blazer gives off classic boarding school vibes that are pretty different from what is usually seen in Japan.

He wears glasses most of the time and has somewhat messy black hair. It covers his forehead, and the bangs are pretty long. He doesn’t have super long hair, but I can appreciate the longer locks as someone who prefers to have longer, messier hair sometimes.

When in the Metaverse, he trades in his eyeglasses for a white and black mask. This signature mask is so hot, giving off that masquerade feel. His outfit changes, too, to a trench coat and dark shirts and pants. Meanwhile, his red gloves offer a nice little accent to the rest of his Joker outfit.

There are some other clothing options that players have in Persona 5, but these are the two that most players will see the majority of the time.

There are even some DLC outfits that you can equip, many of which are included in Persona 5 Royal. These give him the looks of past characters and the like, but the two original outfits are more than enough on their own.

Overall, I would say that Joker has the best character design in all of the Persona series. That is a bold statement, I know, considering that there are so many memorable and lovable characters throughout the games. But there is simply no one that compares to Joker’s appearance.

It is why he is my favorite protagonist in the series and part of why he appeals so much to merch and other items outside of the games.

Akira Kurusu Origins Explained

Ren Amamiya

Akira Kurusu is the name for Joker, but only in one particular instance. The origins of this particular name come after the release of Persona 5. You see, if you’ve played the game before, you will know that you have the option to select the name that Joker has throughout the 100+ hour adventure.

You have the option to pick his first and last names, so you can make it whatever you like. You can give him a joke name that is meant to be funny or a reference to a famous character in another game or series. Heck, you can even give him your own real name if you’d like to.

There was no canon default name option that was given in the original Persona 5 and even its Royal expanded version. You basically have to give him some name, and Atlus was not willing to provide a canon name at the time. This is a recurring issue that we’ve seen in the past.

It happened with the Persona 3 protagonist, too, with his canon name being established long after the release of his game. In the case of Akira Kurusu, this one popped up after the release of Persona 5. This name was given to Joker in the official manga adaptation of the massively popular JRPG.

Of course, Atlus wants to expand beyond the Persona 5 game and make as much money as possible on this singular storyline. That is understandable, and it is something that the developer has done for quite some time, ever since Persona 3.

The manga adaptation of Persona 5 was first released in Japan only a short period of time after the game’s release in 2016. Though it would not come here until 2020, it offered fans of the game or characters another chance to check out the excellent story.

There are currently nine volumes and counting, but the manga is not finished at the time of creating this guide. Since the series came out so soon after the initial game’s release, it meant that the manga creator had to come up with his own name for Joker.

in that case, he chose Akira Kurusu as the real name for Joker. This is used throughout the manga volumes, and, for some fans, especially those in Japan, this was seen as the canon name for Joker for a long time. But the fact of the matter remains: is Akira Kurusu his canon name?

Joker’s Real Name Revealed

Unfortunately, I have to reveal to you that, no, Akira Kurusu is not the canon name for Joker at all. This is a similar situation to exactly what happened with Persona 3. In that case, the manga adaptation came soon after the game’s release and introduced a non-canon name.

The real name for the Persona 3 protagonist was revealed much later and used from then on in marketing materials. It is exactly the same for Joker. Though the manga came so soon, Akira Kurusu is not his real name. Atlus, instead, went for a different name for the Phantom Thieves leader.

His real name is one that you may have heard of before. Joker is officially known as Ren Amamiya. I will be honest that I have never read the Persona 5 manga, despite being interested in it, so I was not aware of the Akira name. Ren Amamiya is what I have known Joker by for a few years now.

The origins of Ren come from the Persona 5 anime adaptation from A-1 Pictures. The anime came out not too long after the release of the game, similar to what happened with Persona 4. Of course, Joker needed a name in this adaptation, too, and Ren Amamiya was chosen.

Like the situation with Persona 3 once again, this anime-exclusive name eventually became the canon name for Joker. Soon after the release of the anime, Ren Amamiya caught on. It is likely due to the fact that the anime version of Persona 5 is much more popular than the manga form.

In the end, Atlus chose Ren Amamiya as the canon name quietly, and it has been like that for years now. We can see that this is the canon name through later releases, such as Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. The music rhythm spin-off game was officially made by Atlus.

In that game, Joker is referred to officially for the first time in an Atlus title as Ren Amamiya. This makes it clear that this is his real canon name. To this point, I even used Ren Amamiya when I played through Persona 5 Royal for the first time at its release.

At the end of the day, though, the whole canon name thing doesn’t matter all that much for Ren Amamiya, in my opinion, since Atlus will continue to mainly refer to him as Joker 99% of the time anyway. It is catchy, easy to remember, and what everyone already knows him as.

Stage Play Names

Joker Persona

Oh? You thought I was done introducing you to the various names that Joker can have? Jokes on you, I was just getting started. The reality is, the manga wasn’t the only place where Joker’s name had to be made up. Hilariously enough, the stage play adaptation of Persona 5 took it to a whole new level.

Instead of picking a single-stage play name for Joker, they opted for the ultimate chaotic evil choice. They selected a different name for Joker for every single day of the stage play’s performances. That wouldn’t be too bad if the stage play was around for a weekend or maybe seven days.

But, no, this was an intense stage play time period that happened for quite some time. In total, there are around 42 different names that were used for Joker in this adaptation. I am not sure how the actors handled dealing with a different name each time, honestly. That is insane.

Rather than list all 42 out for you, here are just a handful of the names that I particularly liked from the list:

  • Hinato Ashida
  • Hiro Mikage
  • Riku Takara
  • Kanada Fudou

The names were selected from fans and changed with each day, despite the fact that the Joker actor remained the same.

Key Moments

There are significant spoilers for Persona 5 that follow. As the main character in Persona 5, Akira Kurusu is involved in literally everything that happens in the JRPG. But I will keep it relatively short and leave out some details for you to find out when you play the game (which you should do!).

At the beginning of Persona 5, Joker is in trouble with the law for helping a woman being harassed but gets blamed for it in the end. He ends up in Tokyo with a family friend, Sojiro, who takes care of him. Soon after moving there, he meets Morgana, the magical talking cat.

Together with Ryuji and later Ann, Joker finds out that he has the ability to enter the Metaverse and wield a Persona. The four of them defeat Kamoshida, the first enemy that they target. After stopping the evil school coach, they form the Phantom Thieves.

Over time, they help others with their problems, like Yusuke and his art master/guardian. This leads to Yusuke joining the team. Then they assist Makoto, the student council president, and take down a crime boss. From there, they help Haru Okumura in dealing with her horrible father.

After this, the Phantom Thieves are complete with the arrival of Goro Akechi, the genius boy detective. As a team, they try to take down their greatest targets yet but are betrayed by one of the members. This leads to Akira being captured by the police.

He eventually gets out and helps his team to stop the threat that is hurting their world. In Royal, his story expands a bit, and he, Goro Akechi, and a new party member, Kasumi, take down the final Palace along with the help of the others. This is the best part of the Persona 5 story, so don’t miss out on it!

Special Abilities

Joker Special Abilities

Joker, or Akira Kurusu, has several special abilities up his sleeves. He is the leader of the Phantom Thieves, so he has a level of influence that no one else has. He can affect the entire world by changing the hearts of anyone he wishes. Thankfully, he uses this power for good.

He is also a Persona user, of course. This means that he is able to wield different Personas in the battles to take down his enemies and the shadows in the Metaverse. Furthermore, he is a protagonist, so this means that he is a wild card, too.

As the wild card, he can command more than one Persona and switch between them at will. This also allows him access to the Velvet Room, which is more of a Velvet Jail than anything else in this game.

Lastly, this is less of a power but a notable skill Akira has. There is a charisma and passion that he has that is unlike anyone else in the Persona series. It draws people to him, which is why he can be such an effective leader and gather together such a talented team.

Voice Actor

Though Akira/Joker doesn’t have many lines in the series, even in the anime, he does have a voice actor. I am partial to the excellent English dub for Persona 5 since I played it like that first. In that version, Akira’s few lines are voiced by Xander Mobus.

He is an up-and-coming voice actor with some already impressive roles outside of Joker. For instance, he was both Aoi Todo and Toge Inumaki in Jujutsu Kaisen, two very different characters. Some of the underrated roles for him that I love are Dagda in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse for the Persona fans out there and Stocke in the underrated Radiant Historia.

On the other hand, the Japanese voice actor for Akira is also extremely talented. His credits are extensive and insanely impressive. Some of the roles I’d like to highlight are Lelouch in Code Geass, King in The Seven Deadly Sins, and Teruteru in Danganronpa 2.

Key Relationships

Joker Key Relationships

Akira Kurusu is the leader of the Phantom Thieves and the protagonist you play as, so it should come as no surprise that he is at the center of the entire game. Every character that you meet has some connection to him, and this is doubly so if they are a Confidant.

I could go through and list every person that you meet as Akira. Still, I’d rather focus on the few relationships that I think are the most important or special. First off, there is Morgana. He is the best friend of Akira and his cat companion that stays by his side no matter what. There is no greater friend for him than Morgana.

Another best friend, though, is Ryuji. The first friend that he has outside of Morgana, Ryuji, is that classic best bro character for Akira. He is loyal to the max, always there for his pal. After that, I would consider Futaba and her father, Sojiro, to be two excellent relationships.

Futaba is like his cousin or younger sister; they grow together by helping one another. And Sojiro is like that uncle that is hard to deal with but comes to love Akira over time. Lastly, the last two relationships are my favorites for Akira.

There is Goro Akechi, who is the most complicated friend of his. The genius detective has a fascinating and beautiful storyline that hints at rivalry, hatred, adoration, and possibly even love for the Phantom Thieves’ leader. This is best experienced without knowing much.

Finally, there is Kasumi in Persona 5 Royal. If there is anyone who I would consider the perfect romantic match for Akira, it is her. Their personalities and backgrounds mesh so well with one another. Their chemistry is unmatched, and she is the only one worthy of being his partner for life, in my opinion.

FAQs

Question: Is Joker’s Name Akira or Ren?

Answer: Joker’s name depends on what you are doing. If you are reading the Persona 5 manga, his name will be Akira. Anything else, though, and his canon name is Ren.

Question: Are Ren Amamiya and Akira Kurusu, the Same Person?

Answer: Yes, Ren Amamiya and Akira Kurusu are the same people. They both are possible names to represent Joker, the main character of Persona 5.

Question: What is Akira Kurusu’s Personality?

Answer: Akira Kurusu’s personality is intriguing since he is a silent protagonist. But we can see through his interactions and cutscenes that he is a quiet but confident hero. He has a playful personality and perhaps even a bit of arrogance in his character. That said, he cares about his friends more than anything else.

Conclusion

My boy, Joker, is one of the greatest video game characters of all time. You can’t go wrong with his stylish design that somehow manages to stand out and be better than everyone else in the Persona series. There is just no one like Akira Kurusu, Ren Amamiya, or whatever you would like to call him.

I apologize if you like the name Akira Kurusu since it is not his canon name at all. Still, it doesn’t matter all that much since almost everyone just calls him Joker these days.

If, for some reason, you haven’t experienced Joker’s story in Persona 5, you are missing out on one of the greatest video games of all time. You seriously need to learn more about the gameplay of Persona 5 and then play Royal right afterward.

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