The persona series is absolutely fantastic. The games blend classic dungeon crawling gameplay with Life-Sim elements to make it truly feel unique. However, what really sets Shin Megami Tensei and Persona apart from many other games is their use of real-world mythologies. The personas you collect and the shadows you fight aren’t just made up — they’re a part of our world with their own history to them.
It’s this basis that creates the foundation for a lot of the fan favorites like Arsene, Lucifer, and Mothman. All of the most memorable personas in the franchise have a massive basis in real life that bleeds into their iconic design. And throughout all of Atlus’ many games, there is perhaps no design more noticeable than Mara’s. It stands tall, piercing the heavens as a bastion of pure power and virility. If you haven’t gotten the joke by now, the star of this Persona Mara Guide is literally a giant penis.
While that may seem stupid, there’s actually a lot of thought that went into everything about the Persona, which makes it one of the best.
The Punchline Behind Atlus’ Favorite Joke
I’d be remiss not to talk about its design, and yes, Mara is just a giant green penis with tentacles, riding in a golden chariot.
While that does seem- and is- positively insane at first glance, it’s actually a stroke of brilliance on the part of the creative team at Atlus because Mara is based on the concept and demon of the same name from Buddhist lore.
As a concept, Mara represents what stands in the way of reaching enlightenment. This can generally be broken down into four different kinds of Mara.
- Kleśa-māra stands for unskilled emotions, like greed and hatred.
- Mṛtyu-māra stands for death as a finality.
- Skandha-māra stands for the trials and tribulations of existence.
- Devaputra-māra stands for the demon that tempted Buddha as he reached enlightenment.
According to legend, before the Buddha was the Buddha, he was Siddhartha Gautama. A prince who had renounced his place of peace and privilege instead to seek a life of asceticism. After a series of trails that I won’t get into now, he meditated under a fig tree. These would later become known as bodhi trees in honor of his enlightenment.
Mara makes his appearance during Siddhartha’s meditation. He tempted and taunted Siddhartha, notably sending his three daughters to stoke the lust within him, but Siddhartha would have none of it. In fact, it was during Mara’s temptations that Siddhartha finally reached enlightenment. He placed one hand on the earth as it trembled in shook, bearing witness to Siddhartha finally becoming the Buddha.
Mara’s connection to temptations, particularly sexual temptations, makes his design more sensible. The fact is only reinforced by Mara being everyday Japanese slang for penis.
So while the design is one of the strangest things Atlus has ever created, it is a stroke of brilliance, blending a slew of different sources into a single cohesive design. It’s even pretty funny, which is a nice bonus.
Every Time Atlus has Stuck it in Their Games
I’d be hard-pressed to name a persona that has shown up in more games than Mara. Mara’s never been integral to any plot. He rarely surpasses more than minor boss status, but Atlus always goes ahead and shoves him into any of their games as deep as it can go.
Specifically, on the Persona side of things, Mara has made an appearance in Persona 3 FES, Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4, and Persona 4 Golden, both Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth and Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth. Mara even got the chance to be a pretty prominent side-boss in Persona 5 and Persona 5: Royal.
This is usually accompanied by as many dick jokes as Atlus can manage. It’s always worth going out of your way to fuse Mara just to see what kind of unique dialogue you earn.
In Persona 3: Portable, your velvet room attendants say this:
- Elizabeth says,” Oh, my… Tee-hee… It’s very manly. That much is certain.”
- If you picked the female protagonist and got Theodore as your velvet room attendant, he says,” Wh-Why do you have that… thing… equipped? It’s very… unladylike.”
Since Mara is never really a character in and of itself, just a standard enemy or tool for you to use, it doesn’t have any key relationships.
Mara has two different appearances in Persona 5. One is a smaller enemy resembling the slime with a distinctive tip you should recognize and the name “Torn King of Desire.” You’ll find him as the golden night standing guard towards the end of Kamoshida’s palace.
If you’re playing Persona 5: Royal, it will have been moved to guard one of Kamoshida’s Will Seeds. It resists every element, from fire to even psychic, which you shouldn’t even have yet. Its novelist is pretty tiny, much like the boss.
- Assault Drive – Heavy Physical Damage to 1 foe.
- Dia – Restores a small amount of HP to 1 ally.
- Not a skill, but every so often, he’ll waste a turn staring at Ann.
The boss shouldn’t be that challenging. It’s got the glass cannon set up where it can dish out damage but not take it. Ryoji is good here since he specializes in physical attacks, which it doesn’t resist. Ann is the MVP here for two reasons.
First, the boss will just straight up waste a turn doing nothing. Second, the Torn King can be put to sleep for a technical attack. If you really want to play it safe, bring a persona with a media or marakukaja to buff your defense and keep your party’s HP topped off.
You can also find the Torn King of Desires in mementos, but it’s the only shadow in the game you can’t negotiate with to get on your side. It resists fire, nuke, and curse. It’s weak to ice, elec, and bless. Its skills are as follows.
- Bufu – light ice damage to one foe. Low chance of inflicting freeze.
- Sukunda – Debuff agility to one foe for three turns.
It’s pretty weak as standard enemies go. Its skill list isn’t even a funny joke this time, so just hit with weaknesses and move on.
In the Royal version of Persona 5, the normal enemy version of the Torn King of Desires has a different skill list.
- Assault Drive – Heavy physical damage to 1 foe
- Tarukaja – raises one ally’s attack for three turns
- Rakukaja – raises one ally’s defense for three turns
- Sukukaja – raises one ally’s hit/evasion for three turns
- Rebellion – raises the critical rate of all allies for three turns.
This one’s not that threatening either. It’s got an excellent debuff load out for how early in the game it is, but the fact that you can’t make it a persona really rubs salt in the wound.
The next time Mara appears is in his proper form for the side quest “The Head Honcho of Showbiz.” You’ll find the Shadow of Shiro Asakura in Sheriruth of Mementos. It drains fire, resists curse, and is weak to nuke, so bring Makoto to have an easier time. Its skills are as follows:
- Lunge – light physical damage to 1 foe
- Rampage – light physical damage to all foes hits 1x to 3x
- Maragidyne – heavy fire damage to all foes.
- Tarukaja – raises one ally’s attack for three turns
- Sharp Student – lowers odds of being hit by a critical attack
- Charge – Next physical attack will do 2.5x damage
While the skill list may be intimidating, the boss fight isn’t that hard. Asakura has a predictable pattern where he uses tarukaja, charges, and then lunges at a female party member. This is exclusively the strategy he will use in that specific order.
He will refuse to attack and instead go for using tarukaja all over again. Just bring Ann, Makoto, or Haru, and pack dekaja yourself, and the fight will barely be a problem.
As an everyday shadow, Mara can be found in two areas following the other. The Depths of Momentos and the Qliphoth World. It nulls gun, resist fire and bless, and repels curse. Its skills are as follows.
- Mariagon – Medium fire damage to all foes. Low chance of inflicting burn
- Maeigon – Heavy curse damage to all foes.
- Heat Wave – Heavy physical damage to all foes.
- Megidolaon – Severe almighty damage to all foes
- Fire Boost – Strengthens fire attacks by 25%.
The lack of weakness makes fighting pretty annoying, and its damage is nothing to sneeze at. I’d go for pursuing criticals if you have to fight it. Since you can’t use One Shot Kill, I’d try using Morgana’s Miracle Punch skill to try and kill it quickly, but be warned, Miracle Punch’s accuracy is absolutely awful.
Its version in Persona 5: Royal is even better, or I suppose it’s worse because this is an enemy. It retains all the same resistances but gets the addition of a much better skill list:
- Brain Buster – Heavy physical attack with low chance to inflict brainwash on all foes.
- Psycho Force – Severse psy damage to all foes
- Mapsiodyne – Heavy psy damage to all foes
- Brain Jack – medium odds to inflict barainwash to all foes
- Psy Amp – strengthens psy attacks by 50%
The joke about the dick-shadow specializing in psychic attacks, especially with Brain Buster, isn’t lost on me. The fact that this is probably the best psy-shadow in the game is actually kinda terrifying. Unless they hit someone who nulls or resists Psy, like Haru, Psyco Force is probably going to kill in 1 shot. Be very careful.
The shadow even makes an appearance in Persona 5 Strikers as the Throbbing King of Desires. A very on-the-nose title, even for Atlus’ standards. It appears as part of the request “The Writing Nightmare Rises.” He’s in the Cage of Desolation area in the Okinawa Jail, so he’s not hard to find.
The Throbbing King of Desire boss nulls gun and curse, drains fire, resists nuke and bless, and is weak to psy, so bring Haru for some extra damage. It’s a pretty scary boss with some strong moves on its skill list:
- Heat Wave – Heavy physical damage to a wide range
- One Shot Kill – Severe gun damage to an area of foes with a very high chance of critical
- Maraagidyne – Severe fire damage to a wide range. Rare chance of burn.
- Maeiagon – Heavy curse damage to a wide area of foes
- Charge – Next physical attack deals double damage
The fact that he has a lot of moves with a wide range makes him dangerous. He can easily catch two party members slipping, and even all of them if you aren’t careful. Psy works best against him, so stock up on that and SP items for good measure.
Your Very Own Mara
Since Mara is a proper shadow, you can negotiate with and even fuse it if you really want it on your side. And why wouldn’t you? It’s hilarious. Comedy aside, it’s consistently a pretty strong persona, specializing in various things depending on how Atlus wants to joke around.
In Persona 3, Mara is a level 77 persona of the Tower Arcana. It reflects fire, absorbs pierce (hah!), and is weak to ice. Its skills are as follows:
- Myriad Arrows – Cost 19% HP, 1x to 3x hits of medium pierce damage to all foes. It knows this skill by default.
- Maralagidyne – Cost 32 SP, deals severe fire damage to all foes. It knows this skill by default.
- Primal Force – Cost 21% HP, deals severe pierce damage to 1 foe. It learns this skill at level 79.
- Power Charge – Cost 15 SP, doubles the damage of the next physical attack. It learns this skill at level 80.
- Tetrakarn – Cost 55 SP, reflects physical damage for one time for one ally. It learns this skill at level 82.
- Absorb ice – passive, drain damage from ice attacks.
Not a bad pierce persona with primal force and power charge. The fact that it gets Maralagidyne is pretty neat too, and that’s even its skill card making it worth fusing even if you’re not too much of a fan of pierce damage.
Mara is also obtainable in Persona 4. He’s a level 62 persona of the Tower Arcana. He likes to inherit fire, resist wind, reflect dark, absorb fire, and is weak to light. This makes him pretty risky because you’ll forget about the weakness until you get one shot after not saving for two hours. Its skills are as follows:
- Agidyne – deals heavy fire damage to 1 foe. It knows this skill by default.
- Blight – Cost 16% Hp, deals heavy physical damage to all foes with a chance of poison. It knows this skill by default.
- Power Charge – Cost 15 SP, the next physical attack will be boosted by nearly 3x
- Makarakarn – Cost 36 SP, reflects magic damage to 1 ally. Does not include almighty attacks.
- Absorb Physical – Passive, turns damage from physical attacks into HP.
- Fire Amp – Passive, strengthens fire attacks by 50%.
Sorry to say that Mara isn’t particularly good in Persona 4. Its skills aren’t unique, and it doesn’t have a good blend of synergy with itself. Absorb physical is pretty neat, and you might want to pass it on to another persona, but that’s about it.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
In Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, it’s a level 56 persona of the Tower Arcana. You can extract the skill Stagnant Air from it. Its skill list is as follows:
- Absorb fire – Passive, absorb damage from fire attacks. It knows this skill by default.
- Myriad Arrows – Cost 130 HP, 6 – 8 light stab attacks at random with low accuracy. It knows this skill by default.
- Tentafaroo – Cost 12 SP, medium chance of panic to all foes. It learns this skill at level 57.
- Stagnant Air – Cost 24 SP, extend timers on all binds and ailments for all foes. Doesn’t stack. It learns this skill at level 58.
- Maragidyne – Cost 64 SP, heavy fire attack to all foes. It learns this skill at level 59.
- Fire Amp – Passive, raises damage of all fire attacks. It learns this skill at level 60.
- Demon’s Stab – Slightly raise stab attacks strength. It learns this skill at level 61.
Overall, a persona cursed with mediocrity. It has a decent damage output if you want to specialize in fire, but it can’t do much else. It has some decent ailments with stagnant air and Tentafaroo, which is useful for basic mooks but don’t expect it to be too helpful with bosses.
Next up is the version of Mara you can get in Persona 5. It’s a level 73 persona of the Tower Arcana. It likes to inherit fire skills, reflects curse, absorbs fire, blocks gun, resists bless, and is weak to ice. It’s a pretty good resistance spread, for what it’s worth.
- Maragidyne – Cost 22 SP, heavy fire damage to all foes with a low chance of burn. It knows this skill by default.
- One Shot Kill – Cost 17% HP, severe gun damage to 1 fore with high critical rate. It knows this skill by default.
- Tetra Break – Cost 18 SP, remove tetrakarn shields from all foes. It knows this skill by default.
- Charge – Cost 15 SP, next physical attack deals 2.5x damage. It learns this skill at level 74.
- Maeigaon – Cost 22 SP, heavy curse damage to all foes. It learns this skill at level 76.
- Heat Up – Passive, random chance to restore 5% max HP and 10 SP during battle. It learns this skill at level 77.
- Firm Stance – passive, half damage taken in exchange for losing all evasion. It learns this skill at level 78.
The persona is, once again, not that good. It’s got a lot of valuable skills but has very little synergy with itself. It doesn’t have any amps to make its elements better. Nor is Tetra Break valuable enough to justify fusing it. Other personas with better resistances have the same skills as Rangda with Maeigaon, who reflects all physical attacks, and Seth, if you want a One Shot Kill persona.
When put in the electric chair to extract an item from it, Mara will give you the Maragidyne skill card, which isn’t super useful.
Persona 5: Royal
In Persona 5: Royal Mara got a vastly changed skill list. It lost its weakness to ice and gained the ability to reflect, which makes it much better. Its skill list is as follows:
- Maragidyne -> Mapsiodyne – Cost 22 SP, heavy psy damage to all foes. It knows this skill by default.
- Maeigaon -> Brain Buster – Cost 22% HP, heavy physical damage with a low chance to inflict brainwash to all foes. It learns this skill at level 76.
- Heat Up -> Psy Amp – Passive, strengthens Psy attacks by 50%. It learns this skill at level 77.
- Firm Stance -> Psyco Force – Costs 48 SP, severe psy damage to 1 foe. It learns this skill at level 78.
Its persona trait is Mighty Gaze, which boosts multi-target attacks like the Ma-magic skills by 20%. The items that are given when it’s put in the electric chair are Mapsiodyne under normal circumstances and during a fusion alarm Psyco Force.
Mara got a much-needed improvement. It gained access to Psyco Force, the strongest Psy attack, with Psy Amp to improve its damage. It also managed to keep its One Shot Kill and Charge, meaning it can do magic and physical attacks without a problem. That’s on top of losing a weakness to ice and gaining a reflection to psy. This Mara is certainly worth whipping out as soon as you can.
The items it gives you are really good, especially Psyco Force. If you don’t feel like waiting for an alarm, just enter and exit the velvet room over and over and over again until you hit the RNG jackpot. I’m not even sure you’d want to do that because Mara is already a stacked psy persona on its own. There’s no need to put in extra effort for it.
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
In Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, Mara is a level 60 persona of the Tower Arcana. You can extract Fire Amp from it, and its skill list is as follows:
- Miracle Punch – Cost 49 Hp, medium physical attack to 1 foe with a high critical rate but low accuracy.
- Maragion – Cost 26 SP, medium fire attack to all foes.
- Matarukaja – Cost 18 SP, raises the entire party’s attack for three turns.
- Fire Boost – Passive, slightly raises fire attack strength.
- Death Needle – Medium phys attack, with a high chance of poison.
- Maragidyne – Cost 52 SP, heavy fire attack to all foes.
- Fire Amp – Moderately raises fire attack strength.
Not a bad persona. It’s not super good with physical, but miracle punch is useful when getting criticals. Its fire output is pretty good, but it’s held back by not having any single target fire spells. It seems like not a big deal until you end up blasting yourself in the face because one of the enemies reflects fire.
Persona 5 Strikers
In Persona 5 Strikers, Mara is level 72 Persona of the Tower Arcana. Mara likes to inherit fire skills, absorbs fire, blocks guns and curse, resists nuclear and bless, and is weak to psy. Its skill list is as follows:
- One Shot Kill – Cost 30% HP, severe gun damage to an area of foes with a very high chance of critical. It knows this skill by default.
- Maragidyne – Cost 26 SP, heavy fire damage to a wide area of foes with a low chance of burn. It knows this skill by default.
- Maeigaon – Cost 26 SPm heavy curse damage to a wide area of foes. It knows this skill by default.
- Charge – Cost 26 SP next physical attack deals 2x damage. It knows this skill by default.
- Defnese Master – Passive, autmatic rakukaja on the unser at the start of battle. It learns this skill at level 75.
- God’s hand – Cost 25% HP, colossal physical damage to a narrow range. It learns this skill at level 78.
- Firm Stance – half damage is taken by sacrificing evasion. It learns this skill at level 80.
This persona can really put the work in when it comes to physical skills. It’s got One Shot Kill for area-wide damage and God’s Hand when you need to kill something specific. If the boss doesn’t resist physical skills, Charge and then God’s Hand to get them dead pretty quick. Definitely worth having.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How do I get Mara?
Answer: There are no special requirements for Mara’s fusion. You just have to meet the required level and have personas of the correct Arcana like Temperance and Magician that are within Mara’s fusion range.
Question: How do I beat Mara?
Answer: In Persona 5, the strategy really lies in exploiting the fact that Asakura’s shadow and the guardian of the Will Seed will primarily target women. Even if you don’t counter by using dekaja, you can counter by setting whichever women you bring, be they Ann, Haru, or Makoto, and order them to block.
This should leave your other party members free to damage the boss. It doesn’t have much HP, so if you’re at a decent level, you should be able to get through without the woman dying.
If you’re fighting the regular shadow version, use physical attacks to try and crit, or better yet, run away.
Question: What is Mara based on?
Answer: Mara is based on a similarly named demon from Buddhist mythology alongside a principle concept. The demon was the one responsible for trying to sabotage Buddha’s enlightenment, and the concept is used to refer to things that try and get us to stray from our path towards enlightenment.
Question: Where did Mara’s design come from?
Answer: It’s honestly a very liberal interpretation of the source material. The design itself only borrows the golden chariot. The Mara design we know and love first showed up in Shin Megami Tensei 2 way back on March 18, 1994. It’s kind of crazy how long the design has lasted.
Mara is by far one of my favorite personas. More often than not, it’s good, but ignoring how viable it is as a persona, it’s just a giant green penis. That’s just funny.
The references to a bunch of different cultural aspects a pretty cool too. I’m impressed by the way Atlus managed to blend Buddhist mythology into Mara and have a bit of fun with Japanese slang. The jokes that come along with it are always appreciated. It learns thrust moves and sometimes even ailments to remind you to use protection. It’s never been too close to the story in the Persona games, which I suppose is for the best. If the giant penis monster was front and center, I’m not sure the ESRB would be fine settling with just an “M”-rating.