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I have said it before on our site, and I will say it once again: if you have not played the Persona 4 Arena duology games, you are truly missing out. Atlus knew exactly what they were doing when they created these pseudo-sequels to both Persona 3 and Persona 4.
If you’ve always wanted to know what the main cast of those games is up to after their respective games, this is the place to be. And if you want to find out about new characters in those games, like the one in this Sho Minazuki guide, you’re also in the right place.
Sho Minazuki is one of the latest Persona characters introduced in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. He is the main villain of the game and a generally bad dude. I wouldn’t say that he is the greatest villain in the series by a long shot, nor is he even the best new character in these games.
But, honestly, his presence is crucial, and his attitude is pretty different for a villain. Also, it’s not too often that players get to spend so much time with a bad guy, and it is refreshing in this way. Here’s what you need to know about him in our Sho Minazuki guide.
Bottom Line Up Front
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is required reading for players who enjoyed Persona 3 and/or Persona 4. These monumental JRPGs are all about the characters and the stories within them. Understandably, you should check out the two fighting games to find out more about what’s happening with each main character. Also, the second game, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, is where Sho Minazuki is introduced.
A Persona user and the mastermind behind the events of these two games, he is a fascinating villain who makes his presence known early on. As such, I find the solid amount of time spent learning about his character while knowing he is the villain is fascinating compared to the last-minute villains of some other games in the series.
Sho Minazuki Overview
While I appreciate the deeper story that Sho Minazuki gets in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, he is, admittedly, one of my least favorite villains of the series. This is contrary to the “villain,” Labrys, in the previous Arena game. I find him to be that typical obnoxious loner anti-hero character that does not differentiate himself that much.
But what is most unique about Sho that I appreciate is that he is one of the only villains in the Persona series that you spend so much time with. Sure, the *redacted* main villains in both Persona 4 and 5 are ones that you spend a lot of time with. And, honestly, that is the case in 3, too. However, you do not know their identities at the time.
It takes until the very last minute of most of those games that you find out that they are traitors, in a sense. That is what makes Sho so interesting, as the literal opening moments of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax makes it clear that he is the bad guy that the members of 3 and 4 are trying to take down. Therefore, you spend a lot of time listening to his motivations, finding out about his backstory, and understanding what his goals for the world are. Sadly, in the end, Sho is not that intriguing or well-written character to me, unlike Labrys.
Like the other main characters in the Persona series, he is a Persona user and has immense power, unlike anything else. As someone who was experimented on from a young age, there is also a lot of trauma and bitterness that is built up within him. Over time, he gets to know the members of the Persona 3 and 4 games and resents each of them for the seemingly better lives that they had.
In the end, his goals for the world are devastating and dangerous. He is an unhinged person and a danger to not only everyone but himself too. While I’m not a massive fan of his character, I do acknowledge that he makes for a good story nonetheless.
While I’m not a fan of his dialogue, backstory, and writing, there is one thing that I dig about Sho Minazuki: his appearance. There is something so suave and unique about his looks that are so different from everyone else in the entire Persona series. He almost looks like someone from a different game series entirely.
Much of this comes from the stark red hair that he has. We have seen characters with blue hair, purpleish hair, and, sure, Mitsuru’s red hair, but even hers is nothing like this. Sho’s hair is as bright red as it can get, and it is almost painful for my eyes to look at sometimes.
Other than the color of his hair, there is nothing too special to the actual style that he has going for it. He has long bangs that cover his entire forehead, and it flairs up in the back, giving that classic anime boy look. But that is pretty much since the main sticking point is the intense color.
His outfit, on the other hand, is seemingly based on a military soldier look but tweaked some. The green shirt that he is wearing reminds me of a casual soldier style but with an anime twist going on. There is the pointy collar and jacket tied around his waist Kanji-style that gives off an anime villain vibe.
He wears matching black pants that appear to be in the same outfit set as the jacket that he is not wearing. The colors of his clothing are pretty tame, which is likely there to not take away from his hair, which is the main star of the show. But he does wear yellow shoes for some reason.
The other notable aspects of his appearance are the two dual-wielding swords that he carries around and the terrifying expression that he almost always has on his face. It doesn’t help that there is a massive X-shaped scar on his face that has unknown origins. In the end, though, his entire body and appearance scream, “this is the bad guy, in case you didn’t already know!”
As always, this is your courtesy spoiler warning for the next section of this guide. I get that it might be weird to have a dedicated warning for a fighting game spin-off of the series, but it is necessary. The story is surprisingly good for a spin-off and well worth jumping into without knowing anything at all.
With that out of the way, your edgy metal head villain, Sho Minazuki, grew up being one of the many children experimented on. In his case, though, he has a relatively unique situation since he was close to Shuji Ikutsuki, who you might remember from his time in Persona 3.
Minazuki grew up with no friends and no relationships outside the one with his father figure Ikutsuki. His life was miserable, being nothing but testing, experimentation, and fighting. Unlike others tested, Sho’s entire identity was based on fighting. Everything that he learned and did came from fighting his opponents. In the end, he experimented with some of the same items as the robots like Aigis and developed a second personality known as Minazuki. This resulted in the hospitalization of Sho Minazuki for much of his life.
Eventually, he broke free of the hospital in Inaba and began to stalk the members of the Investigation Team from Persona 4. This led to him capturing the Persona 3 Shadow Operatives and forcing everyone to converge in the TV World. Sho’s ultimate goal was to destroy the world and everyone in it, leaving him and Minazuki as the only ones around.
To this point, he enlisted the help of Tohru Adachi, the villain from Persona 4. Little did Sho know, though, how alone he was. To make matters worse, even he was being manipulated without realizing it. In the end, the true mastermind is defeated, and Sho lives on without Minazuki. Though he does not entirely turn from his evil ways, he finds a new purpose in life.
Easily the most exciting part about Sho Minazuki is the special abilities that he wields in battle. As one of the experimental children, he gained the ability to summon a Persona. But this Persona was unlike anything else as it was like another personality simply living inside of him. Eventually, he does awaken to his true Persona and wields it much like everyone else. But within his nature, we see the more powerful ability. Sho Minazuki, like many protagonists before him, is the first villain to have the wild card ability.
This allows him to make a contract with the Velvet Room (though he refuses) and harness multiple Personas. There has been no villain in the series until this point that could do something like that. In this way, it is clear why he despises and admires Yu Narukami so much. Both of them are wild cards capable of seemingly limitless power.
I dogged on Sho Minazuki quite a bit, so here are some positive parts about the character that I dig. I am a massive fan of both leading voice actors for Sho Minazuki in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Atlus never fails to impress with it comes to both the Japanese and English voice casts. On the Japanese side, Sho is played by the legendary Kenichi Suzumura.
Outside of Sho Minazuki, some of my favorite anime and game characters include Rogue from Fairy Tail, Obanai Iguro from Demon Slayer, Shin from Gundam Seed, and even being one of the Uta no Prince-Sama members. My favorite role of note is Yang Wenli, the main character of the criminally underrated The Legend of the Galactic Heroes reboot.
For those of you who prefer the English dub for Persona games, which surprisingly includes me, you’ll be happy to know that the English voice of Sho is Todd Haberkorn. I would consider Haberkorn the most famous and prolific male English anime voice actor of the modern-day. There are just too many games and anime that he has voiced in, and his acting is synonymous with so many different iconic characters.
Just a handful of some of the best and most famous roles for Haberkorn include Natsu from Fairy Tail, Ayato in Tokyo Ghoul, Teruteru in Danganronpa 2 plus the anime, and Korekiyo in Danganronpa V3. These days, he is mainly in the behind-the-scenes director’s chair, but he was the voice of my childhood.
How to Play as Sho Minazuki
Despite the fact that Sho Minazuki is only from Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, which is a spin-off game, he is playable in a couple of titles. This is even despite the fact that he is a villain in his game. The most important title that Sho is playable in is Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. He is one of the new characters introduced in that game as a playable fighter.
In my opinion, he is not only one of the best fighters in that entire extensive roster but one of the simplest to control as well. This is due to the fact that he has a non-Persona form where he is the only fighter without a Persona to summon.
This is, admittedly, a massive negative since he does not have access to the skills and abilities of some other fighters. But, at the same time, this puts the focus solely on the melee combat capabilities that Sho has. In this way, he is one of the most powerful fighters and most traditional, too.
For those who are more used to other fighting games without the Persona gimmicks, Sho Minazuki is a great starting point. He is a very straightforward and aggressive fighter, albeit one that is not too strong in terms of statistics alone.
He makes up for his lack of raw strength in the aggression that he has. He has a versatile moveset, able to counter almost anything thrown at him and dice up foes with a flurry of attacks using his two swords. His defensive techniques are impressive, while his combos, movement, and flexibility are uncanny.
If you are someone who is a fighting game fan who is looking for something more similar to other games that you are used to, I recommend checking out Sho Minazuki. He is welcoming to almost everyone, but the true masters of his fundamentals will be hard to take down in a fight.
Persona Dancing Games
The other two games that Sho Minazuki is playable in are literally on the other end of the spectrum. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight are the only other games you can play as this character. Both of these spin-off games are rhythm titles that are all about dancing the night away to the beautiful soundtracks from their respective JRPGs. Of course, this is all the while playing as your favorite character from those games.
Atlus was grateful enough to include Sho Minazuki in those games, but you can only play as him if you purchase his DLC. He is playable in both games, which is rather odd, too. After all, he is only connected to the Persona 3 cast of characters of these two games and has nothing to do with the Persona 5 members.
This is likely to make up for the fact that he is not present in the original Persona 4 dancing spin-off game. As for his actual playstyle in that game, there is nothing special to note. He plays the same as everyone else, dancing around and requiring the right button presses at the indicated time to perfect his dances.
Fun Facts About Sho Minazuki
- For starters, his name is rather punny in Japanese. Not only does it reference the moon with the kanji characters used in his family name, but also the sun, too, in his given name. This is on purpose due to his switch between the Sun and Moon Arcana in the title.
- This is furthered by the fact that his name’s meaning is similar to his adopted father from Persona 3.
- If that was not enough, the Persona that he awakens to is Tsukiyomi, which you may also know to be like the moon god or goddess, depending on the interpretation.
Fascinatingly enough, he is the first and only character to date to be invited to the Velvet Room and dismiss the offer to become an official user of that place, allowing for fusions and all.
- Speaking of connections, there are some interesting parallels between the English and Japanese voices of Sho Minazuki. Both were in Fairy Tail, one voicing Natsu while the other voiced Rogue. There are some direct parallels between those two characters already.
- To make matters more interesting, both the English and Japanese voice actors played the role of Korekiyo in Danganronpa V3.
- Sho Minazuki is one of the few (though they are certainly increasing in number these days) wild cards in the Persona series.
- Furthermore, he is one of the only wild cards not to be a party member in a mainline game, though he is, technically, still playable but in a different way.
- Finally, Sho Minazuki was the very first villainous wild card Persona user. Though there had been Persona user bad guys in the past, notably with the similar Strega in Persona 3, he was the first evil wild card. However, that is, of course, if we do not consider Tohru Adachi not to be a wild card, which we honestly do not know about.
- While Sho was the first villain wild card Persona user, he would not be the last.
Question: Is Persona 4 Arena Ultimax a sequel?
Answer: Yes, it is a direct sequel to the original Persona 4 Arena. In turn, P4A is a direct sequel to Persona 3 and Persona 4.
Question: Who is the best character in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax?
Answer: In terms of literal characters, I think that Labrys is once again the best character in the game, even though her role is diminished quite a bit, sadly. However, shout out to Tohru Adachi for his fantastic performance and role, too. If you mean best fighters, though, that’s a different topic entirely. Yu, Mitsuru, and Sho are all really good. My main, though, is Rise.
Question: Does Sho Minazuki have a Persona?
Answer: This is a slight spoiler, but yes, he does. He has multiple Personas in a way, lending credence to his possible wild card nature. But his primary Persona in the end that he awakens is Tsukiyomi.
I said it at the beginning of this Sho Minazuki guide, and I will say it one last time here: go play the Persona 4 Arena Ultimax games! If you are a Persona fan, and I’m assuming you are since you’re here, do not miss out on these highly recommended titles. I will be clear that I love to play and review just about any game genre. The one exception, though, has to be fighting games. I will gladly even play a sports game before I play a fighting game (no offense, Madden and FIFA).
But even if you are like me and not a fighting game fan, these are must-plays. The stories within them and the reappearances of fan-favorite characters are well worth checking out. While I do not love Sho in Ultimax, other parts of that game make it worth playing. For instance, Labrys returns from Persona 4 Arena, which is the best thing to happen in this duology. With the modern re-release of these games on every central console and PC, there is no excuse not to play them now.