Ever since it was first released in the mid-1990s, the Persona series has been filled with various secrets and the like. There are still some parts of the older games that fans do not entirely have their heads wrapped around.
I will admit that even after having played every game myself, there are still some elements that I am confused about. One particular part is the star of this Philemon Persona guide.
For a long time now, there has been so much intrigue and mystery surrounding the Velvet Room. Who really are the denizens that are bound there? Why are they even there in the first place? And who is the source of it all? It turns out that Philemon provides many of the answers to those questions.
So, suppose you’ve always wanted to know the origins of the Persona series and the strange powers these teenagers have. In that case, you are in the right place with this Philemon Persona guide.
Bottom Line Up Front
Philemon is a mythical being based on a couple of different sources. His stature and placement in the Persona series come as the guide for the realm of the subconscious and unconscious in which the series is based.
He grants his powers to those he deems worthy through the Velvet Room and his servants that attend to matters directly for him there. He plays a significant role in the first three games in the Persona series.
He then disappears from there, only appearing as a simple blue butterfly. Since then, he has appeared in some form in every single Persona game to date.
Philemon Persona Overview
There is so much more than meets the eye to the Persona series. Even if you’ve played one game or even several games, it can be hard to nail down some of the background themes that are happening. For one, the Persona series is about the Jungian philosophies that the famous psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung, created.
He introduced so many ideas about the subconscious and unconscious, about the different realms of thought that exist out there. I won’t divulge into psychology class in this guide, but the gist is that there is so much that may connect us all as humans.
There could even be another realm of personality that is hidden that we can only somewhat tap into at times. It weaves in between the minds of every living person, bridging us together like a loosely connected beehive of spiritual essence.
This is complicated stuff and exactly what the Persona series is based on. The video game series might seem all innocent and fun at first. Still, there is an element of philosophy guiding the entire journey. It is all about the subconscious and the inner self that each of us apparently has.
Philemon is the epitome of this idea, presenting it in the most straightforward possible for the games. He is a recurring Persona character who appears in every single mainline Persona game to date. Though his appearances are not always obvious, he constantly works behind the scenes.
So, it is possible to play several games and not even know who he is, but rest assured that it is all thanks to Philemon that you can wield Personas and traverse places like the Dark Hour, the TV World, and the Metaverse.
Admittedly, Philemon played a much larger role in the Persona series in the first three games. Once Persona 3 came out, he took a backseat and has been mostly an implied existence in the modern 3D JRPGs.
However, he is crucial to understand to explain many of the ideas and themes of the Persona games. Plus, I think he may return to a significant role someday.
As already mentioned, the origins of Philemon as a character come from Jungian ideas. There is the idea that not only is there another realm or two of the conscious, but that there are spiritual beings that could even reside in those places possibly.
These beings, such as Philemon himself, could be gods, spirits, or even aliens (I threw that last part in myself). The gist is that they have some power over this realm, almost entirely invisible to the naked eye and conscious.
Philemon is the embodiment of that sort of god that resides over this realm of unconsciousness. But there is more to his origins than just being a herald of the Jungian beliefs and theories. He has some other possible origins that derive from religion.
His name is possibly from the Bible, coming from the story of the apostle Paul writing to a Christian named Philemon. There is an entire book in the Bible named after the letters that Paul wrote to Philemon.
I won’t dive too much into this, but there are some themes there that could indicate why this person’s name was chosen for the Persona character.
The general idea of this very short book is that Paul is asking Philemon’s forgiveness for Onesimus, a possible slave who wronged Philemon, the leader of a local church. The Persona series is familiar with the themes of forgiveness, second chances, spiritual guidance, and even chains and prisons. Perhaps this is why his name was chosen.
After all, Philemon is like a spiritual leader, guiding the player and others who may be in need of forgiveness, like in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Or a second chance and freedom from chains, such as in the case of Joker in Persona 5.
It will be intriguing to see how these themes play into the inevitable Persona 6 someday.
Philemon himself comes in a couple of different forms, depending on the situation. He has a more humanoid form recognizable to us but also a spirit form that he appears in. For the most part, though, the human form is what we are interested in here.
He first showed up in the original Persona game, where his appearance is mainly similar to that of Persona 2. There are some slight changes, but I like how he looks in the PSP remakes of Persona 2. In these games, his outfit is all black and straightforward.
There are no special patterns, designs, or anything of the like. The all-black style with the long collar that goes up the majority of his neck gives me some serious vibes of the everyday cleric clothing that Catholic priests and the like will wear. This could be intentional given his likely name origins.
Though his clothing is quite plain, his face is anything but. It appears that Philemon is quite handsome, having long brown hair that is flowing and put up in a ponytail to keep it tamed. He wears a glorious mask that covers all but his eyes and, for some odd reason, the bottom right corner of his face.
The mask is extravagant, partially looking like the simple theatre masks used in plays. But the left side is also changed to look like a yellow butterfly, a reference to the other form of Philemon. He has thin but attractive eyes that stare into your soul.
This is slight spoilers here, but we do see Philemon without his mask at one point in Persona 2: Innocent Sin if you get a certain ending. His appearance (spoilers!) ends up looking like Tatsuya Suou, the main character of that game. This could just be for fun, though.
Outside of the prominent appearance that he has in the first three games in the Persona series, he has another look. This is of a tiny but beautiful blue butterfly.
The effervescent glow that the butterfly has is ethereal and stunning, perhaps even being his true form. This is the form that he appears in for the more modern Persona games.
Philemon has moments throughout the Persona series, but some are just minor appearances and roles that you could blink and easily miss. Others, though, are massive parts of their storylines so please keep in mind that there are going to be some spoilers here. This is especially true for the first three games.
In the original Persona, Philemon is the person who grants the party the ability to summon their Personas and access the Velvet Room. He plays a minor role throughout the story, appearing at times to give guidance.
He concludes the game, too, helping the player to reflect on everything that happened. It is also here that we first see him in his butterfly form, though it is gold, interestingly enough.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin is even more of a central role for Philemon. He doesn’t appear until the end of the game, but we find out a lot here about the origins of the Persona universe. It is because of Philemon and the god Nyarlathotep’s bout with one another that all of this is even happening.
It appears that Philemon is on the side of humanity, believing in the latent power that we have in us, while Nyarlathotep is against humans. Their battle against one another culminates in the reveal of it to Tatsuya and the gang at the end of Innocent Sin.
Philemon unveils his true nature and helps the party in resurrecting Maya Amano. He is a significant part of creating a new timeline and world where everyone can live, including Maya, who would have died at the end of Innocent Sin.
Philemon returns in the follow-up game, Eternal Punishment, where he is once more a guide for the party. This time around, though, he seemingly defeats Nyarlathotep for good and becomes the winner of their battle. With this, he retreats to oversee the protagonists in the future.
This is exactly what he does in Persona 3 and onward, simply appearing as a blue butterfly that guides the wild card Persona user. After his central role in Persona 2, he has not had much of a position in the series, only playing a cameo role of sorts in modern games.
Related reads: Comprehensive Nyarlathotep Persona Guide.
The special abilities that Philemon has are far beyond that of what the human mind can comprehend. He is likely some sort of god or alien being that exists in the Persona universe. As such, I can’t honestly begin to know or describe all of the powers that he has.
But what I do know is that Philemon is seemingly the source of every single thing in the Persona series. The ability to wield Personas, the Velvet Room that you can visit, and everything else is apparently because of him. It doesn’t mean that he directly created every part but that his immense power led to it.
For instance, I’m not entirely sure that Philemon is responsible for all of the shadows in the world. Still, he perhaps twisted that to create the Personas. In addition, specific elements like the Metaverse and the TV World are unlikely to be his direct result.
However, his powers are unfathomable. Because of him, characters like Joker, Yu Narukami, and so many others can wield Personas in the first place. In addition, he is the overseer and creator of the Velvet Room, employing some of the popular characters throughout the series like Igor, Elizabeth, and so many others.
In the PSP remakes, Philemon finally gets a voice of his own. Admittedly, there aren’t many lines for him that he speaks vocally, so there is not much to look forward to there. That said, there is some serious star power that is behind the voice of basically the mastermind behind the series.
The Japanese voice of Philemon is Kenyu Horiuchi. The older actor has many dubbing roles in the past when it comes to voice-over for American movies and TV shows. But he’s done plenty of video games and anime, too.
A couple of my favorite roles that I’d like to point out are his role as the horrifying villain, Artorious, in Tales of Berseria and Fourchenault recently in the Endwalker expansion of Final Fantasy XIV. Seriously, those are two of my favorite JRPGs of all time; don’t miss out on them!
Meanwhile, another legend voices Philemon on the English side. The unmatched Travis Willingham plays his character. Willingham has been in a bunch of stuff, so I will just focus on the roles I recommend. Mushishi is one of the most underrated anime series of all time, and he nails playing the lead character, Ginko, in it.
There is also his role as K in Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward. This is seriously one of the greatest video game stories of all time. If you like the character-driven nature of the Persona series, the first two games in this series are must-plays. There is still nothing like them to this day.
Boss Fight Explained
There is a way to actually fight Philemon in Persona 2. The way to do this is through the EX dungeons in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. These act as the endgame for that experience, similar to the challenge bosses in later games.
There is a series of dungeons that you can take on that are insanely difficult. The high level of the enemies there and the annoying puzzles you have to take on can make it one of the most challenging parts of the entire Persona series.
And your reward for completing them is facing off against Philemon in the ultimate boss fight for Eternal Punishment. Oddly enough, I can speak from experience by saying that this is one of the most disappointing final bosses in a Persona game.
He is far from the level of difficulty of other similar challenge bosses out there. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, since the boss fight is a breeze compared to the dungeons that come before Philemon.
If you somehow make it here, I don’t think you’ll have a problem with this fight. Just don’t waste your time on using the Armageddon ability because that will lead to an instant game over for this fight.
Where is Philemon Now?
Many fans may be wondering where exactly Philemon is now. If he is so vital to the main plot, then why isn’t he in a main role these days? That is a fantastic question that I honestly don’t have the answer to since I don’t work at Atlus.
That said, I think the general idea for what Atlus was going for was to give him some background and story in the first three games. With the conclusion of those games, it was pretty much time for the end of his tale. At least for then.
His story drew to a natural close where he simply watches over the players in the later games. He doesn’t need to intervene in the affairs of men anymore, so he can play the role of the observer in the world. That is why he is simply flying around as a butterfly, subtly influencing the events of later games.
I think he has played some larger roles in the past, though, such as the case with Marie in Persona 4 Golden. I think the game hints that he played a decent role in bringing her to the human world and crossing her paths with the main character, Yu Narukami.
I am also certain that Philemon had a part in orchestrating the powers for the other two main characters from Persona 3 and 5. However, outside of that, he is just a spirit of sorts that is always watching. And, perhaps, sometimes guiding.
Will Philemon Return to a Main Role?
I think the idea of Philemon is fascinating, and he works as a nice mastermind type of character. That is why I wish for Atlus to bring him back in a true way. Unfortunately, the problem with this is that there aren’t too many players who checked out the original three titles.
This isn’t an Igor situation where he has been around forever, so they can do fun twists with his character and the like. He hasn’t made a direct appearance in more than 20 years in the series if you exclude the remakes. However, I think he should still come back.
One way to do this is by re-introducing him to the next main character in Persona 6. Have him greet the player and reveal his nature from the start, essentially recapping his story in a very quick manner. From there, he can continue to guide the protagonist in their journey.
Philemon could offer an intriguing mentor role and perhaps finally play a larger part in the Velvet Room, too. There is plenty of room for some interesting developments with his character, like finding out more about the origins of Personas and everything else.
Above all else, though, I think that Philemon would make for a solid social link relationship, too. I’m not sure if you should be able to romance him, given his god status, but at least finding out more about his past would be exciting and unique. He is a valuable part of Persona history, and it would be a shame to completely forget about him.
Question: Is Philemon the Blue Butterfly?
Answer: Yes, Philemon is represented by the blue butterfly in the modern games, starting with Persona 3.
Question: Is Philemon Igor?
Answer: No, Philemon and Igor are two different people. Though the specifics of who or what Igor is are still unknown, we know that Igor is at least the servant of Philemon.
Question: How Strong is Philemon Persona?
Answer: Philemon is insanely powerful, far beyond anything you’ve seen or experienced in the Persona series to date. He is on the level of a god. In terms of when you fight him in Eternal Punishment, he is actually not super strong. There are harder bosses out there in the series.
Philemon is the hidden mastermind almost behind everything in the Persona series. Though he is a kind soul with positive vibes who wishes for nothing but the advancement of humanity, he is also apparently the source of everything as well. All of the Personas, the ability to wield them, and all of that are because of him.
It can even be argued that his fight with his fellow god or spirit is the reason for much of the conflict in the Persona series, too.
I am fascinated with Philemon from my time with the earlier games in the series, but I feel that it doesn’t do him justice. I’m still holding out hope that he will return with a much larger role in Persona 6 in the future.
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