The OG Phantom Thieves roster has a soft spot in my heart. Captain Kidd, Arsene, Zorro, and Carmen were my first real introduction to the world of Persona, which is why I’ve decided to put together this Carmen Persona 5 guide.
Over hundreds of hours across multiple saves, on multiple systems, Carmen has been something of a staple party member for me. I don’t use her all of the time – but I do tend to favor her over other, arguably better options.
I’m going to explain why in this Carmen Persona 5 guide. She’s not the best Persona in the world, but her flexibility and adaptability let her fit into pretty much any role your team needs, and that’s something I value.
Bottom Line Up Front
Carmen is based on a fictitious femme fatale written by French novelist Prosper Mérimée. As an early example of the femme fatale trope, Carmen used her beauty and wits as a serial seductress, never settling with one man for too long. She was eventually killed by a scorned ex-lover, a fate she was aware awaited her, and yet one she did not try to avoid.
Carmen’s first SMT appearance was in Persona 5. She served as Ann Takamaki’s Persona and was the third Persona to awaken in the game – completing the first full Phantom Thieves roster. Since then, Carmen has appeared in every Persona 5-relevant title alongside Ann, including Persona 5 Royal, Q2, and Strikers.
- Location: N/A.
- Key Skills: Blazing Hell – Deals Severe Fire damage to all enemies with a small chance to Burn.
- Traits: Mastery of Magic – Gives you a 20% chance to decrease the SP cost of allies’ Magic skills.
- Resistances: Fire.
- Weaknesses: Ice.
Carmen’s stats at level 99 are as follows:
- Strength – 55
- Magic – 78
- Endurance – 55
- Agility – 56
- Luck – 61
Carmen is one of the heaviest hitters in all of Persona 5 Royal – at least when it comes to your party members. Her access to Blazing Hell makes her the single strongest Magic Persona of the bunch, with damage that rivals Goemon and Captain Kidd.
However, she lacks the kind of synergy those two Personas have with your other party members, which results in her falling off pretty hard on higher difficulties.
Despite that, Carmen is still well worth running – especially during the early game. In this Carmen Persona 5 guide, I’ll be going over everything you could ever possibly need to know about her. She’s not the strongest Persona in the world, but she’s well worth running during your regular playthroughs of Persona 5 Royal.
Carmen is an incredible-looking Persona that suffers from being over-designed. When you have a look at a still picture of her, you really get to appreciate just how phenomenal her design is.
Everything from the roses on her hips to the almost flower-like design of her flamenco-inspired dress looks incredible. However, there’s so much going on with her design that it gets lost in translation in-game, which is a shame.
She’s based on a fictitious femme fatale of the same name, and her design pays clear homage to that. Her generous corset and high-heeled boots maintain this beautifully contrasting black and red color palette, complete with a heart pattern that really hammers home the seductress inspiration.
While her black, spiraling pigtails are noticeable, her lacey black mask and shoulder coverings dominate her upper body, displaying a not-too-modest amount of cleavage. Interestingly, she has a cigar in her mouth – a reference to the fact that the Carmen she’s based on worked in a tobacco factory.
Of course, the most noticeable part of Carmen’s appearance is the fact that she seems to have two rather unfortunate, or fortunate (I don’t judge), gentlemen on leashes made from thorny vines connected to her belt of roses.
This is a staple part of Carmen’s appearance, as well as the appearance of her awakenings. They represent Carmen’s femme fatale origins and make for some interesting visual flair that none of the other party Personas can lay claim to.
Carmen is based on a literary character created by French writer Prosper Mérimée. Mérimée was a Romanticist and a pioneer in popularizing novellas as a story format, most notably with his work “Carmen” which is, of course, the novella that Carmen the character debuted in.
Carmen was an early example of the classic femme fatale. She would use her looks and charm to seduce men, having fun before growing bored and moving on to whoever was next.
Eventually, Carmen’s story comes to an end as she is killed by a scorned ex-lover. While she was aware that this man was destined to kill her, she professed that she would rather die than be bound to the will of another.
While that is the first instance of the Carmen character that we see in literature history, there have been dozens of adaptations since – the most well-known of which is the opera of the same name composed by Georges Bizet.
While Carmen isn’t overly-representative of Ann Takamaki, their stories do share similarities when it comes to their victimization at the hands of men. Both Carmen and Ann overcome this, but otherwise, the two characters share little in common.
Carmen’s Key Moments
Carmen was designed for Persona 5. She hasn’t appeared in any Persona or Shin Megami Tensei game that doesn’t include the P5 cast, so she doesn’t have a massive list of key moments or accolades. Despite that, she’s still the third awakening in Persona 5 and a major part of the game’s first palace.
Carmen’s awakening scene signifies Persona 5 giving the player a bit more agency after their first few hours with Morgana and Ryuji. She’s the first Persona that lets you make up a full four-person party, cementing her importance as an early-game Persona.
She awakes in Kamoshida’s Palace, a fair bit after Captain Kidd and Arsene both awaken. At this point, Ann had made her way into the Metaverse and was about to be executed by Shadow Kamoshida – Carmen’s awakening stops that.
Kamoshida is arguably the most detestable villain in the entirety of Persona 5, and this scene serves as a key point in his downfall.
As I mentioned, Carmen hasn’t appeared outside of a P5-cast-driven game. She’s had no SMT appearances and no appearances in any of the other mainline Persona games. That’s not to say she’s only appeared in Persona 5 and Royal, though.
There are a handful of P5 spinoff games that have seen Carmen and the rest of the Phantom Thief Personas make a reappearance.
The four Persona games that Carmen appears in are:
- Persona 5
- Persona 5 Royal
- Persona Q2
- Persona 5 Strikers
Carmen looks incredible – she is one of the most visually engaging Personas I’ve ever seen. It would be a massive shame to limit that to just these four games – so fingers crossed we get her in a future Persona game somewhere down the line, even potentially as DLC.
Carmen is Ann’s Persona, meaning you’ll need to spend time working on her Confidant to bring out Carmen’s true potential. Given that you gain access to Ann’s Lovers Social Link early on, that’s not the most difficult thing in the world.
When you finish her Confidant, Carmen will transform, or awaken, into Hecate. Interestingly, Hecate is one of the few Persona 5 party Personas that have made an appearance in other Persona/SMT games. While we hadn’t seen this Persona in a while, she was present in the very first and second Megami Tensei games.
Upon reaching Persona 5 Royal’s third semester with Hecate, she will awaken once again into Célestine. This is an original P5 Persona and is named after the woman to play Carmen in Bizet’s opera adaptation. Célestine bears striking resemblance to Carmen, granted more modern to represent Ann’s growth as a character.
Trait and Skills
Mastery of Magic
Carmen’s trait is called Mastery of Magic. It gives you a percentage chance to decrease the SP cost of any Magic skill used by Carmen’s allies. That percentage chance equates roughly to 20%, while the SP cost reduction ends up being around 30%. So, you’ve got a 20% chance to save 30% SP on a Magic attack, which really isn’t all that on paper, but it can make a difference in-game.
SP management, especially in vanilla Persona 5, is one of the most difficult aspects of any given playthrough. There are very few consumables or skills that save or regenerate SP, especially early on, making Mastery of Magic actually quite valuable at the beginning of more intense runs.
However, this ability falls off quickly when you start dealing with Magic skills that can cost upwards of 50 SP, but at that point, you should have other avenues to manage your SP more effectively. Unfortunately, this contributes to Carmen’s lack of late-game potential.
While her damage does start the ramp-up dramatically towards the final few Palaces, her utility falls off, as does her ability to synergize with other members of your party.
In terms of Skills, that’s where Carmen really shines. She hasn’t got the same kind of support that Johanna does, but she has enough tech to add a bit of nuance to her skill set.
While Carmen’s true potential lies in her Blazing Hell ability, which she learns as she begins to fall off in the late game, she does still have value as a substitute member of your team whenever you need a specific role filled.
Here are the skills that Carmen will learn naturally throughout your run:
- Agi – Innate: Light Fire damage and a low chance to inflict Burn on one enemy.
- Dia – Innate: Slightly restores the HP of one party member.
- Dormina – Level 7: High chance to inflict Dleep on one enemy.
- Tarunda – Level 11: Decreases one enemy’s Attack for three turns.
- Maragi – Level 13: Light Fire damage and a low chance to inflict burn on all enemies.
- Dekaja – Level 16: Negates all -kaja buffs on all enemies. Does not negate boss-specific buffs.
- Agilao – Level 22: Medium Fire damage and a low chance to inflict Burn on one enemy.
- Fire Break – Level 25: Suppresses enemies’ Fire resistances for three turns.
- Diarama – Level 28: Moderately restores the HP of one party member.
- Lullaby – Level 30: Medium chance to inflict Sleep on all enemies.
- Ambient Aid – Level 33: Passive skill that greatly increases your chance to inflict an ailment on enemies whenever there’s a rainy day or weather warning.
- Maragion – Level 35: Medium Fire damage and a low chance to inflict Burn on all enemies.
- Fire Boost – Level 38: Passive skill that strengthens Carmen’s Fire attacks by 25%.
- Matarunda – Level 41: Decreases all enemies’ Attack power for three turns.
- Agidyne – Level 46: Heavy Fire damage and a low chance to inflict Burn on one enemy.
- Burn Boost – Level 50: Passive skill that increases Carmen’s chance of inflicting Burn.
- Maragidyne – Level 54: Heavy Fire damage and a low chance to inflict Burn on all enemies.
- Diarahan – Level 57: Fully restores the HP of one party member.
- Concentrate – Level 62: Carmen’s next Magic attack inflicts 2.5x damage.
- Fire Amp – Level 68: Passive skill that strengthens Carmen’s Fire attacks by 50%. This stacks multiplicatively with Fire Boost.
- Blazing Hell – Level 74: Severe Fire damage and a low chance to inflict Burn on all enemies.
Best Carmen Build
Carmen is a mixed bag in terms of how you want to build her. She can hit very hard – but only toward the end of a playthrough. At that point, her utility and synergy have already fallen off, so it’s difficult to justify using her when she’s at her best.
When you’re leveling through Persona 5 Royal, I would recommend focusing your build around a little bit of utility, splashed with Fire damage. You gain early access to Tarunda – a very important skill for Merciless runs in the early game, as well as some additional healing to help Morgana out with keeping your party alive.
When you do have Carmen at max level and you’re looking for a proper end-game build, this is the skill loadout I would recommend:
- Blazing Hell.
- Fire Amp.
- Fire Boost.
- Burn Boost.
There are a couple of key skills competing for Carmen’s limited eight-skill build. She has just enough utility to allow for some flexibility in terms of how she’s played, so don’t feel like this build is the be-all and end-all of Carmen.
That being said, I would argue it’s the best build for Carmen in Persona 5 Royal. Blazing Hell, Concentrate, Fire Amp, and Fire Boost are all mandatory skills. That’s how you’re getting damage out of Carmen. So much damage, in fact, that no other Magic-based party Persona can top it.
Concentrate gives you a 2.5x boost on Blazing Hell, which stacks with Fire Amp and Fire Boost for some nuts damage that hits every enemy on the field.
I’ve included Burn Boost on top of those four skills because I’m a big fan of passives. You don’t have to do anything to activate it, and the passive increase to burn chance is nice to have in your back pocket.
I’ve splashed Agidyne in there for some single-target damage when you want to conserve the SP Blazing Hell costs, as well as Dormina and Matarunda to give Carmen some utility that goes beyond simply hitting something very hard.
Carmen is an awkward Persona to truly take advantage of. Once you do, though, you’ll get access to the best global damage your party can deal.
Other heavy-hitting party Personas tend to output a decent amount of damage early on, despite really ramping up toward the end of the game. That includes both Captain Kidd and Goemon, but the same cannot be said for Carmen.
Carmen unlocks Blazing Hell at level 74, but she doesn’t have anything particularly powerful to carry you to that level. She has access to your typical global and individual Fire attacks, but that’s about it. This means she isn’t much of a damage dealer until the end game, dramatically changing her playstyle throughout your run.
When it’s early days into your time at Shujin Academy, Carmen is actually a remarkably powerful debuffer. She unlocks both Dormina and Tarunda quickly – giving you access to two powerful support skills from as early as the first Palace.
During the early portions of Persona 5, this is going to dominate Carmen’s playstyle. Use her as support – keeping powerful enemies debuffed and inflicting Sleep whenever possible.
Once you get access to Queen and Fox, you might want to consider swapping Carmen out. Her support skills fall off during the mid-game, leaving Carmen in limbo as you level her up to 74 to access Blazing Hell.
Once you do manage to get Blazing Hell onto Carmen, her playstyle shifts completely to that of a primary damage dealer. At this point, you’ll want to use her as an offensive Persona alongside someone like Captain Kidd, while the rest of your party acts as a support to keep their damage numbers up.
Carmen is an awkward Persona, but once you get over that mid-game slump, she’s capable of outputting some of the highest damage in all of Persona 5 Royal.
Best Team Composition for Carmen
With Carmen acting as early-game support and late-game DPS, her best team composition changes depending on how late into your playthrough you are. Up until around level 40+, she’s best optimized as a support Persona. This means pairing her with harder-hitting party members, something that’s unnecessary once you start hitting those higher levels.
That being said, there are two other Phantom Thieves that work relatively well with Carmen regardless of what stage you’re at in your run. She doesn’t have the greatest synergy in the world, especially with the other party member’s Personas, but her ability to offer both support and offense means she can fill in whatever your team is lacking at any given time.
This won’t be the most optimized party composition possible, but it’s a solid option to take Carmen through all of Persona 5 Royal without ever needing to switch out for a significant amount of time.
Queen is arguably the best party member in Persona 5 Royal, all thanks to Johanna’s incredible support skills. Johanna has access to phenomenal healing options, nullification skills, and cleansing options that allow her to keep her party healthy at all times.
From the point you get access to Queen, to around level 50, she’s a great supplementary support character for Carmen. She doesn’t gain access to any decrease Attack skills at all, which allows Carmen to focus on debuffing while Johanna acts as a healer.
Once Carmen starts hitting for high enough damage to become an offensive Persona, Queen’s role remains largely the same. You’re going to need support to keep Carmen healthy while fighting, and that’s what Johanna is best at.
In truth, Queen and Johanna fit into pretty much any Persona 5 Royal party composition, but her ability to synergize with both of Carmen’s playstyles is worthy of note.
Like Carmen, Captain Kidd is capable of incredible late-game damage. Unlike Carmen, he’s still able to pump out impressive numbers before reaching the end-game, making him another Persona to build and play Carmen around.
In the first few Palaces, Carmen is going to be a support for Captain Kidd. He, alongside either Joker or Fox, will be your primary offensive Persona, while Carmen and your final party member are there to act as support – keeping Captain Kidd healthy and hitting hard.
Once you start doing high damage with Carmen, Captain Kidd’s role as an attacking Persona remains the same, while your other offensive party member should be switched out in favor of more support.
This leaves Carmen and Captain Kidd as your damage dealers, covering both Magic and Physical with some of the strongest attacks in Persona 5.
Question: Can You Get Carmen in Persona 5?
Answer: No, Carmen is not an obtainable Persona in Persona 5. Like the other party Personas, she’s exclusive to one of the Phantom Thieves and cannot be obtained in the player’s Persona Compendium.
Question: Who is Carmen Based Off in Persona 5?
Answer: Carmen is based on a femme fatale written by French writer Prosper Mérimée for his novella of the same name. While that is the first iteration of the Carmen character in literary history, she was popularized by Georges Bizet in his opera, again bearing the same “Carmen” title.
Question: How Do You Evolve Carmen in Persona 5?
Answer: To evolve Carmen in Persona 5, you need to reach rank 10 with Ann’s Social Link. Once you do, Carmen will transform into Hecate. If you then go on to Persona 5 Royal’s third semester, Hecate will then transform into Célestine.
Weakness and Resistances
Like other Phantom Thief Personas, Carmen resists her affinity element – Fire. This isn’t the most impactful thing in the world, but it does make a difference against certain, troublesome early-game Shadows that hit hard with Fire attacks. That’s all dependent on what Palace you’re currently exploring, though.
Carmen’s Magic stat sits at 78 when you reach level 99 – giving her quite good defense against Magic attacks of all elements, except for Ice.
Ice is Carmen’s one weakness, and that hurts more than other elements. Ice-type attacks become common enough once you start progressing past Madarame’s Palace, resulting in Carmen and Panter getting hit quite hard relatively often.
That’s where Carmen’s weaknesses and resistances end, though. She’s neutral for every other element beyond that, which works well considering her high Magic stat.