The previously announced changes to “homophobic” scenes in the Western release of Persona 5 Royal have now been discovered, with the localization changing the two men hitting on Ryuji into crossdressers.
The original release of Persona 5 featured two scenes wherein the protagonists encounter two flamboyant gay men, the aptly named “Scruffy Romantic” and “Beefy Trendsetter,” who take an interest in Ryuji and proceed to make the young man uncomfortable by aggressively hitting on him:
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However, following complaints that these scenes were homophobic and borderline pedophilic (given Ryuji’s age), Atlus stated they were taking the opportunity given by the rerelease to “go through some of the lines that players may not have received as well” and update them “for the current generation.”
In the ‘updated’ versions of these scenes, the two men are now crossdressers, and have had their names changed to ‘Angel’ and ‘Julia.’ And rather than hitting on Ryuji they attempt to encourage him to join the ‘drag scene.’
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The original version of the first meeting between Ryuji and the men in Shinjuku, the men forcefully whisk Ryuji away for a night in order to “party it up!”
Beefy Trendsetter: Gwahahaha! I’m the naught troll of Shinjuku! I’m gonna eat you up!
Ryuji: H-Hey, wait…Lemme go! Dude, help! You can hear me, can’t you? You just gonna leave me here like this!? C’mon, your best friend’s in trouble here!
Beefy Trendsetter: Hehehe, what an energetic studmuffin. I’ll give you all the freebies you could ever desire!
Scruffy Romantic: The night is young, and so are you! Let’s party it up!
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In the updated scene, the two men instead force Ryuji into a receiving a ‘drag’ makeover:
Deep Voice: Ooh, you’re right! He really WOULD be a natural! But, a graphic tee with plaid pants? Ugh, kill me now.
Ryuji: Whoa, who the hell are they!?
???: Oh, hell has nothing to do with it, honey. I’m Angel-straight out of heaven!
???: And I’m Julian. Julie, if you’re feeling saucy!
Angel: What a cutie! You’d never guess he was into the drag scene… I say we show him the ropes!
Julian: You can’t deny it! We say you peeking into Crossroads! Well, sweetie, if you’re curious, we’ll help you look DIVINE!
Ryuji: Wait, hey, it’s not like that- Dude, help! Tell them we were just investigatin’ or something!
Ryuji: The mission’s over! We don’t even have a cover anymore!
Julian: Oh, honey, you’ve got the chutzpah. And those cheekbones- I LOVE it! That’s what it takes to be a star!
Angel: Just follow my lead, stud! We’re gonna put your name in lights! And I know just the dress for you…
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Later, at the beach, the original script saw the two men continuing to hit on Ryuji, this time flirting by attempting to get him to take off his clothes:
Deep Voice: See, I told you they’d be here! I could sense it deep within my lions!
Brawny Voice: Those lovely boys look like they’re just begging to be hit on!
Ryuji: Y-You’re those guys from Shinjuku…! What’re you doin’ here!?
Scruffy Romantic: Oh my! I can’t believe we’ve been reunited in such a stunning place!
Beefy Trendsetter: Smells like destiny to me!
Scruffy Romantic: We’re the fashion police! If you don’t answer our questions, we’ll take you away!
Beefy Trendsetter: So, which of us you think is more manly?
Ryuji: Wh-What’re you talkin’ about?
Scruffy Romantic: Oh dear, your time is up! Sorry, but it was a trick question. The correct answer is… We’re both lovely!
Beefy Trendsetter: You interfered with our duties by not answering the question! I sentence you to… stripping! Oooh, my fashionista skills would be perfect for this! Hands behind your head!
Beefy Trendsetter: The suspects are escaping! Catch them!
In Persona 5 Royal, the two further encourage Ryuji to join the drag scene, stating that “everyone’s nervous when they first start out”:
Deep Voice: O-M-G. It’s the golden boy himself!
Brawny Voice: And he’s already got his own little entourage! We really did teach him right, didn’t we?
Ryuji: You!? Oh no…What are YOU guys doin’ here!?
Angel: Sometimes we just gotta get out of the city! Forget the nightlife, breathe fresh air, enjoy some eye candy…
Julian: We thought we’d lost our protégé! Who would’ve guessed our vaycay was actually the call of fate?
Angel: Aw, what’s with the look? Don’t believe in fate? Or did you really not have fun last time?
Julian: You gonna tell us you saw yourself in all that chiffon and felt nothing?
Ryuji: I-I don’t think I felt what you guys were hopin’…
Angel: Aw, honey, I get it. Everyone’s nervous when they first start out, but trust me. You’ll make their jaws drop!
Julian: Just an hour at the vanity, three hours at the boutique, and we can just pick up where we left off last time. So…are you ready to steal some hearts?
Ryuji: Uh, we gotta go! Sorry!
Julian: Was it something I said…? Ugh, what a tragedy. Another starlet slips through our fingers.
These changes would still not satisfy members of the ResetEra forums.
Following the changes, one member wrote, “These characters have no place in this game other than a shitty joke and I don’t get why Atlus is so f****** anal about shitting on the LGBT community.”
Another added, “Yeah thats still bad as its still stereotyping and still making fun of gay folk. Should have just removed it entirely.”
Another also wanted the scenes entirely removed. They wrote, “It’s nice that they took out the implied sexual harassment, but the entire scene should have been cut.”
And yet another called the two characters “extremely problematic.”
Persona 5 Royal releases in the West for the PS4 on March 31st.