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Step aside, Teddie and Morgana, the original Persona animal mascot, are back with this Koromaru guide. Koromaru is the endearing and one-of-a-kind mascot character who is somehow a Persona user.
With no tricks or twists to find here, unlike in the cases of Teddie and Morgana, Koromaru is simply a lovable pup who can summon Personas and fight in turn-based battles, for whatever reason.
Nothing totally strange to see here at all, as Koromaru is just a magical dog, basically. I’ve mentioned this many times before, but the Persona 3 cast is the number one in the series so far; no questions asked. A considerable part of the reason for that is that it still has the most novel mascot character in the series yet.
While I certainly adore characters like Morgana, especially, there is something so iconic about a regular animal with no ability to talk or anything that just so happens to wield a Persona.
Bottom Line Up Front
Koromaru is the classic animal companion for a JRPG and the embodiment of a human’s best friend. The now-trendy nature of having a mascot in each Persona title began with this lovable dog. There are no gimmicks or twists to find here; he is just a dog who can access the Dark Hour and summon a Persona.
But what he does have is a tragic backstory that allows him to connect with Ken Amada and the other Persona 3 SEES members on a deeper level. Beyond the original Persona 3 and its version of games, Koromaru is featured in other media, including a playable fighter in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.
Even to this day, after six mainline games and numerous spin-offs, there is still no party member like Koromaru. Try all you want, Atlus, but there is nothing as tremendous or exciting as the original animal mascot in the series. Persona 3 made waves with a lot of fascinating new mechanics and ideas when it came out.
The systems that it put in place have prevailed for more than 15 years now. But, still, even to this day, you can fight me on it, but there is no implementation that is more important than the introduction of Koromaru.
Sure, human and robotic party members can be alright, I guess, but an animal companion to fight alongside you? It doesn’t get any better than that.
There is nothing like having a canine companion by your side in the real world as you play a game like Persona 3 where you have a dog party member, too. That is the role that Koromaru filled in Persona 3, helping the game to have such personality and intrigue.
And if summoning a Persona was not enough, Koromaru even has a social link. Yes, you can totally spend time with and build a bond with the character over the course of the game, just like everyone else.
This is all despite the fact that Koromaru can’t even communicate directly with the player, with only Aigis able to understand him.
Persona 3 developers have noted in the past that it took quite a long time to nail down the appearance of Koromaru. The team went through several iterations of dog breeds in order to land on the one it did. Despite being based on the legendary Japanese dog, Hachiko, Koromaru himself does not share the same species.
Instead, he is a Shiba, a much smaller breed of dog that looks similar to that of Hachiko’s species, the Akita. Specifically, Koromaru is a beautiful gray and white pup with a curved tail at the end. I love these curved tails as it reminds me of my puppies, which are mini-Australian Shepherds with the same iconic style.
Koromaru has pointed ears that are almost always standing up straight and tiny adorable little eyebrows over his deep crimson red eyes. They are just the cutest little eyebrows, giving such personality to a character who never speaks. His claws are relatively sharp, too, which would make sense for battle purposes.
However, he does not use his claws in fights. Instead, he hilariously carries around a knife or other sharp weapon to slash at foes in battle. Yes, he is one of those iconic dogs wielding a knife type of character. He even wears clothes if all of that personality is not enough for the cute Koromaru.
There is a little white vest that he wears. When taking trips to Tartarus, he has the red and black SEES armband, too. By far, the most adorable accessory is one that some of the party members give him, which is the tiny angel wings on his back.
Lastly, there is his Evoker collar, which allows him to summon his Persona at will without using a gun-like Evoker like everyone else, which would be, understandably, hard to accomplish.
Connection to Hachiko Explained
Koromaru might be an excellent dog companion that is welcome in a moody and sometimes even depressing game like Persona 3, but he was not chosen for that purpose alone. There is a massive piece of inspiration that is behind Koromaru and his own, admittedly, tragic backstory.
That inspiration is the real-life story of Hachiko, the most famous dog in Japan’s history. Before I tell this story, I should note that it is pretty sad on multiple levels, especially for pet owners, so be aware of that.
With that warning out of the way, Hachiko is the story about a natural Akita dog who was unbelievably loyal to his owner in an unfathomable way.
The owner of Hachiko was a worker in Tokyo who would use Shibuya Station to travel to work every single day. Hachiko would wait at the station every day at the same time for his owner to come home from being one of the professors at the Tokyo Imperial University, known today as simply the University of Tokyo.
Unfortunately, when Hachiko was still relatively young, his owner died on the job in the middle of one of his lectures. This resulted in his owner never coming home that day. To this point, Hachiko returned to Shibuya Station every single day for around ten years in hopes that his owner would show up.
This unbelievable loyalty became famous around the area and eventually the world. He continued doing so until his death at the age of 11 years old. From there, his legacy lives on in Japan around the world, like a statue near Shibuya Station. He also inspired many movies, stories, and, of course, the Persona 3 party member.
Koromaru directly takes the idea of the real-life Hachiko and translates it into a slightly different version. But it is roughly the same idea. In this way, Koromaru is not only a beloved animal party member but a character with a tragic backstory.
Since Koromaru’s backstory is rooted in real life, it is unlike any other party member in the Persona series to date. Of course, going over this backstory will include some spoilers for Persona 3, so I recommend turning away now if you don’t want any.
Persona 3’s story is the best in the series, in my opinion, so I highly recommend against spoiling yourself before playing the game.
Prior to the start of Persona 3, Shinjiro Aragaki, a former member of SEES, is known to have been an excellent friend to Koromaru, who would spend a lot of time with him. Unfortunately, we do not get to see much of their relationship in the main game.
Within the main game, it is, instead, a couple of other party members who find Koromaru and feed him at times. In the midst of this, the player character finds out that the dog sticks to Naganaki Shrine, remaining at his home where his owner worked.
Unfortunately, his owner, one of the monks at the shrine, passed away many months before. Because of this, Koromaru was, sadly, waiting for an owner to come home that was never going to happen. If that tragedy was not enough on its own, Koromaru also had the ability to experience the Dark Hour.
Because of this, the party eventually encounters Koromaru in the Dark Hour when he is injured after fighting a shadow. The group rescues him and adopts him into their group. He becomes a valuable party member and can even be a social link character for the female protagonist.
Over time, he continues to be a valuable member of the group and helps them investigate Tartarus and the Dark Hour. Along the way, his new best friend in the group becomes Ken Amada, who he fiercely protects from any harm that could come to him.
He plays a significant role in The Answer epilogue and in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, where helps Ken to rescue the other Persona 3 protagonists.
Koromaru is not just any dog; he’s a magical, superpowered dog who can command gods (or, well, pets of gods?). I wish I were joking about that, too. Koromaru has the same fascinating ability that other SEES members have where they can enter the shadow world.
In the case of Persona 3, this means that Koromaru can effectively experience the Dark Hour. Few people or, well, animals, in this case, are conscious during the Dark Hour as they are usually frozen in time. During this mysterious hour, the shadows roam the planet and devour those awake.
Koromaru is (un)fortunately one of the (un)lucky few who can experience the Dark Hour and all of its madness. This ability also means that the loyal canine can summon a Persona.
His Persona is known as Cerberus, the legendary Greek mythological guard dog of the underworld. Hades seems to loan Cerberus to an otherwise normal pup to take on the shadows and Tartarus.
With the Cerberus Persona, Koromaru is able to compete in battle. He is one of the frailest but most potent in the group at the same time. Koromaru commands not just fire elemental skills but dark ones, too. At the same time, he has almighty attacks and the ability to cause ailments against enemies.
He is also one of the only party members in the Persona series who resists nearly all status ailments. He is a valuable member of the party and a great asset on the battlefield in Persona 3, so long as you take his slight drawbacks into account.
Koromaru is everyone’s best friend, so he is one of the central points of the entire SEES organization. However, some relationships are more crucial to his storyline than a few others are. This starts, of course, with you, the player. Well, that is if you are playing the female protagonist.
The male protagonist can enjoy some benefits of a relationship with Koromaru, but there is so much more offered for the female MC. If you play the girl in Persona 3 Portable, you can build a social link with Koromaru, which is both hilarious and awesome.
Another party member that is close to Koromaru is Shinjiro Aragaki. It was later known that he was close to Koromaru and would spend time with him before the puppy joined the group. When Shinjiro left the team, characters like ci and Fuuka took it upon themselves to fill that role of spending time with Koromaru.
There is also Aigis, who surprisingly has a lot in common with Koromaru. For one, they are both the unique members of the group and Persona as a whole as a robot and dog, respectively.
They also are the only members who do not use the traditional Evoker. And Aigis is the only one who can genuinely communicate with the puppy and understand his dog language.
But, above all else, there is one more relationship that is both heartwarming and the most important to Koromaru’s character. That bond is with Ken Amada, the youngest member of the team. They grow close to one another instantly and spend a lot of time together.
The two are inseparable, and their relationship is one of the cutest and best parts of the otherwise dark and sometimes depressing Persona 3.
Their relationship is so strong that it leads to their appearance together as a single-player fighter duo in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. They are the family the others need, and it is simply beautiful.
Social Link Explained
When it comes to the social link that Koromaru has with the player, this is the tricky part. I think it is an absolute shame that Atlus did not think to let the male protagonist build a direct relationship with the puppy party member.
The developer should seriously fix this in the upcoming return of Persona 3 Portable (though I know it won’t, sadly).
As the male player character, you can only take him for walks. As the girl, though, you can build a social link as he takes the place of the Strength Arcana. Your social link with him begins on August 15. Or, at least, that is the soonest date that players are able to build the social link.
Unfortunately, though, there is a prerequisite that some players may not know about. In order to unlock the Koromaru social link, you must first progress through another party member’s relationship.
You need to reach only the first level with Fuuka, and she will provide you with the dog food necessary to unlock the canine companion’s link.
Once this is done, you can give it to him to start the bond. Players can find him in the shared space of the dorm that the main character lives in. As for when you are able to find him there, it is only at night. You are able to build your relationship with him every single night of the week, barring only a few exceptions.
You will unlock the Dirty Collar item if you hit rank 10 in the social link for Koromaru. With this, the player will be able to fuse for the Siegfried Persona, which is the ultimate member of the Strength Arcana.
How to Play Koromaru in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Koromaru is playable outside of Persona 3 in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Yes, believe it or not, a dog is one of the playable fighters in the beautiful anime-style 2D fighting game. The catch, though, is that he is a dual-character fighter in the veins of Ice Climbers and the like. Koromaru is paired up with his best bud, Ken Amada.
Since they are the only two fighters to work together, this means that some benefits and negatives come along with this. For starters, they are rather tricky to learn how to use in battle since you are dealing with effectively two different Persona users at once.
In this way, Koromaru and Ken are not the best for beginners. I will note that I am still learning how to use them myself as a noob fighting game player, but I like what I see so far. The benefits far outweigh the challenges of learning these two, as they can overpower enemies in insane ways.
As you might expect, having two characters at once means you can beat opponents over and over relentlessly. Better yet, they are incredibly versatile and great at short and long ranges. Together, they show that we are better with friends by our side and Koromaru and Ken are two of the toughest fighters to take down.
Fun Facts about Koromaru
Here are some fun facts about Koromaru that you may not have known about before:
- Rather than be a single playable fighter, Ken and Koromaru are duo fighters together in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.
- As mentioned above, Koromaru is based on the legend of Hachiko. They have roughly similar appearances but are different dog breeds. Hachiko was an Akita dog, much larger than the Shiba breed on which Koromaru is based.
- The reference to Hachiko gets even clearer in Persona Q. If Koromaru gets petrified in that dungeon-crawling RPG, Elizabeth will note that he looks like he should be outside a train station. This directly references the famous Hachiko statue outside of Shibuya station.
- Koromaru is the only animal companion party member to be only an animal and not have any other twists involved with him.
- Speaking of unique features, Koromaru and Shinjiro Aragaki are the only party members in the current era of the series since Persona 3 only has one Persona, and that is it.
- Another personalized feature for Koromaru is that he and Aigis are the only party members in Persona 3 not to need a traditional gun-like Evoker to summon their Personas.
- Not only that, but he is the only playable party member ever in the Persona series to represent the Strength Arcana to date. This is somewhat ironic since the game is all about fighting shadows.
- There is concept art for Persona 4 Arena Ultimax that shows a puppy family that Koromaru has had since the events of Persona 3. Unfortunately, this is only in concept art and was never referenced or revealed in the actual game. Even still, I will choose to believe that he has a happy little family of his own now.
Question: Does Koromaru have a Persona?
Answer: Yes, Koromaru has one Persona in Persona 3, and it is Cerberus. Unlike the other party members, he does not gain another, even after maxing out his social link.
Question: Is Koromaru in Persona 3 Dancing in Moonlight?
Answer: Oddly enough, Koromaru is not a playable character in Persona 3 Dancing in Moonlight. Come on, Atlus, it would have been hilarious! Interestingly enough, though, there is data in the game’s backend that hints that Koromaru was initially planned to be a dancer.
Question: What Kind of Dog is Koromaru Persona 3?
Answer: Koromaru is a Shiba, the iconic Japanese breed of dog.
Whether you’re a dog person or a cat person (I, technically, lean more towards cats, but I love both almost equally), there is no denying that Koromaru is one of the cutest and best party members in the history of the Persona series.
There is something so refreshing about an adorable party member who has no baggage like the others, like annoying personalities or frustrating development.
Koromaru is just there for the ride to stop the Dark Hour, and that is enough reason for him to be part of SEES. His loyalty to the group, especially Ken Amada, is heartwarming and a sorely missing feature in the series these days.
While I still love Teddie and Morgana, I would love to see the series get back to this type of mascot party member in the unannounced but inevitable Persona 6. Let’s hope that Atlus gets back to its roots this way when that next groundbreaking JRPG releases.