|“||I am a shadow, the true self...||„|
|~ Shadow pre-battle quote (Persona 4)|
In Megami Tensei's Persona series, Shadows are physical manifestations, or also referred to as a Jungian archetypical being of a humans' subconscious, which explained why they had aggressive behavior. Shadows are generally hostile towards their human counterparts. Had anyone encountered his/her Shadow and accept their existence, the entity evolved into stronger and tamed version called Persona.
In Persona Series
Megami Iburonku Persona and Persona 2
In Persona 2 Innocent Sin, the Shadows (Shadow Selves) were created by the protagonist's subconscious during events after King Leo's defeat. Even if the heroes accept their flaws and understand their own weaknesses, they will still fight the heroes. In Eternal Punishment, Nyarlathotep creates them when the protagonists arrive in Monado Mandala. In the Persona 2 duology, the Shadows use the Reverse version (Palette Swapped versions) of the protagonist's main Personas each using the signature attacks the protagonist's personas use.
In events of Persona 3 the Kirijo Group's discovery of the Shadows' existence and subsequent experiments on manipulating them, ostensibly as a power source and means of time manipulation. Shuji Ikutsuki was among those who started the experiment. Unfortunately, it resulted in a catastrophic accident at their laboratories, killing hundreds. They have been appearing due to the Kirijo Group's experiments, during the Dark Hour, a hidden twenty-fifth hour that takes place every midnight, during which the world comes to a stop and humans reflexively contain themselves in coffins, obliviously "playing dead" to protect themselves from the attention of the Shadows. Occasionally, a human will not transmogrify in this manner, and will quickly become prey of the Shadows, having their minds devoured and becoming vegetative (Apathy Syndrome) and in some cases even become a shadow as their physical form dissolves, reducing his or herself to become a shadow a shadow. Only those with Personas, even if they can't be successfully summoned, are immune to this effect and function normally during the Dark Hour.
In Persona 4, major Shadows that encountered in the game, Shadow Selves, represent the heroes doubts and hidden thoughts about themselves become manifest upon entering the TV World. They will try to kill the heroes if they are not accepted. Major Shadows encountered are Shadow Selves from Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Kanji, Rise, Teddie, and Naoto. There's also twist where Teddie, the inhabitants of TV World, actually a unique entity evolved from Shadows that developed deviating traits including true humane emotions of his own and presented himself as hollowed bear-themed mascot costume. As his friendships with Yuu and co. grew, he developed his own human body that he initially lacked, much to their surprise.
Though they initially only appeared in TV World, the world that actually dimensions formed by humans' subconscious, the heroes realized that its influence began to sleep through the real world and it's become apparent that Tohru Adachi's nihilistic view of the world has directly misguided two true masterminds of the events, Ameno-Sagiri and Izanami, to fuse TV World and real world. With Ameno-Sagiri and Izanami's defeat, as well as Adachi was taken by authorities, the merging of two worlds eventually prevented.
In Persona 5, Shadows are Personas that are born in the sea of human souls, they can be recruited through negotiation by the protagonist.
Shadow Selves are a manifestation of a human's distorted desires that rule over a palace which reflects off his or her desires. They hold a treasure which is the origin of their distorted desires. Upon taking that treasure, the palace would disappear and the owner of the palace would experience a change of heart. The person's shadow would then relocate to the Mementos Depths.
Much like majorities of monsters in Silent Hill, shadows are physical manifestation of everyone's repressed memories, the things they don't want to say out loud nor think about, deepest desires, fears, and emotions. Strong-willed Shadows attract lesser Shadows, which later create stronger Shadows. This made them aggressive and dangerous monsters, especially in their monstrous forms.
As confirmed in Persona 4, Shadows actually neither truly evil nor malevolent, but rather chaotic being that when confronted humans whom subconscious created them, they sneered his/her repressed feelings and begged to be accepted for it. Had the person too evil, insane, or ignorant, the Shadow will either absorbing nearby Shadows to evolve or disappeared. But if the person acknowledged his/her shadow as part of him/her, the Shadow will obey him/her as his/her Persona, evolving to more majestic appearance.
It's actually possible if the Persona devolved to its former Shadow form had their human selves suffer mental breakdown, but due to their previous evolution to Persona, these devolved Shadows are far more deadlier than their pre-evolved form. As seen in Persona 4: The Animation, Yuu's mental breakdown for losing his friends who banished by Izanami has dangerously devolved his Izanagi Persona into monstrous Shadow in form of mass of television-like creature. Fortunately, as his devolved Shadow' current form is his pain and fear of losing his loved ones, he managed to snapped himself out of it by realizing that his bonds to them won't be destroyed by their disappearance, allowing his Shadow Self to re-evolved to its Izanagi form before caused any damage and later, evolved it further into Izanagi-no-Okami.
List of Shadows and representations
Magician Arcana is the first Shadow Arcana as well as the first one to be defeated. It represents the inverse values of its respective tarot card. The Magician Arcana represents concentration, resourcefulness, action, and creativity. The Shadow has no face to wear its mask, and as an extension, no head to guide its actions. Composed entirely of arms and hands, the Arcana Shadow has no purpose other than the relentless desire to manipulate the world around it. Aside from holding more power, it is no better than any other Shadow, mindlessly dogging Akihiko to the dormitory even as he ran away. The Shadow's full potential remains unrealized as it has no reason to direct its efforts towards enlightenment. Unlike the rest of Shadow Arcanas, it not fought as the first boss, as when protagonist summoned his Orpheus, the said Persona suffer a transformation into Thanatos who killed Magician before reverting to Orpheus.
|“||I was afraid of a future without my friends, afraid of leaving everyone behind and moving forward on my own...I don't want to be alone again, I've been alone, and I won't go back!||„|
|~ Shadow Yuu|
Shadow Yuu is Yuu's Shadow Self that made his debut at the end of Persona 4 The Animation. His devolution from its Izanagi form was triggered by Yuu's unease surrounding his relocation from Inaba, which at first, caused a single day keeps repeating itself in a time loop. When Margaret attempted to snap him out of it through battling him, Shadow Yuu made his presence known. Appearing as a pile of televisions sets with Yu's image on them, this Shadow is not fought and is quickly accepted: Shadow Yu states that he was afraid of "a future without my friends," and that he would have to go on without them. Yu quickly agrees with his Shadow, stating that all he wants is to be with his friends, whether this fantasy is real or not. By then, Shadow Yu lifts into the air and re-evolves to Izanagi who delivers the final blow to Margaret's Persona.
This Shadow Self is only one who not directly fought and weakened before turned into Persona as Yuu already aware with his nature, unlike his friends who refused to do the same to their Shadow Selves at first.
|“||You just came because you thought it sounded like a good time! What else is there to do out in this shithole?||„|
|~ Shadow Yosuke|
Shadow Yosuke is the first Shadow Selves encountered in TV World. He appears in the ruins of the Midnight Channel's version of Saki Konishi's family store, openly stating Yosuke's motives in joining the Protagonist were purely self-gratification and indulgement in something new and exciting. He also dismissed the death of Saki as Yosuke's excuse for the excursion into the Channel, an unimportant event that led to something far more interesting. Yosuke's rage at the Shadow's words led him to deny it, prompting the Shadow to power itself up and try to kill him.
Shadow Yosuke appears as an animated frog with a whimsical body on top, an allusion of a proverb "frog in the well". Yosuke's Shadow represents his animosity toward living in a confined country town, as well as his wish for something of interest to happen. Shadow Yosuke, like the rest of the shadows to come, represents the reverse of his Arcana, the Magician. The reversed Magician represents one with power, but who is cruel and misuses that power. Shadow Yosuke has the power of insight into Yosuke's motives but uses that power to mock and humiliate him. Upon transformation, it also tries to destroy the protagonist with its new strength, describing him as "(something) that bores me".
|“||*chuckles* That's right. I'm the one who can't do anything alone... I can't win as a girl, let alone as a person... I'm pathetic. But Yukiko... She depends on me...*chuckle* That's why she's my friend... I'll never loosen my grip on her... She's too important to me."||„|
|~ Shadow Chie representing Envy|
In the midst of their rescue mission where Chie, Yosuke, and Yuu attempted to save Yukiko in TV World, Chie ran off on her own ahead, and encountered her "other self". A voice over of a saddened Yukiko is heard, stating how useless and worthless she is and how Chie is always by her side to save her, a remark to which the "Other Chie" scoffs at, stating (the real) Chie herself is obsessed with dominating over Yukiko. When the "Other Chie" continued to taunt Chie on her negative traits and hidden thoughts, Chie refused to accept it, which empowered the Shadow and caused it to reveal its true self. The Shadow became enraged and confirms that things are different now and that after the battle, only the Shadow will be left standing. The Shadow hopes Chie wouldn't mind: "After all, I'm still you."
Shadow Chie represents the reversed Chariot Arcana The reversed Chariot symbolizes envy, addiction, low self-confidence, and abusive control. These qualities come from her relationship with Yukiko: she is jealous of Yukiko's beauty and addicted to how Yukiko depends on her. While her bond with Yukiko may not be physically abusive, Chie emotionally controls the friendship; this is the reason the dominatrix theme brings physical form to emotional bondage felt by both Yukiko and Chie.
|“||Historic inn? Manager training!? I'm sick of all these things chaining me down! I never asked to be born here! Everything's decided for me! From how I live, to where I die! I'm so sick of it! To hell with it all!||„|
|~ Shadow Yukiko|
As Yosuke feared due to he and Chie has met their Shadow Selves due to entering TV World, when they finally found Yukiko, they found her with her Shadow Self already manifested. Yukiko's Shadow Self appeared as a flamboyant "princess" searching for her "Prince", someone to whisk her away from Inaba and leave the life that had been drawn for her since birth. Particularly, she acknowledges her dependency on Chie, calling her "a strong prince" - until the realization she could not help her leave Inaba. She also exaggerates her own helplessness, making fun of not being able to do anything about her lot in life.
As Yukiko represents the Priestess Arcana, Shadow Yukiko represents the reversed Priestess. Being unable to make decisions and having a conflict of intellect are two things that are represented by the reversed Priestess. Shadow Yukiko represents Yukiko's inability to be independent. She wants to get out of the town, but insists on someone helping her do it. Her instinct and intellect conflict as, while she wishes to be saved from her life, she runs from the party upon their first and second encounters. One who wants to be rescued keeps running from what she really wants.
Suguru Kamoshida was a perverted and abusive teacher at Shujin Acadamy. His Palace reflected off how he believed that he is the king of Shujin Acadamy.
Ichiryusai Madarame was an artist who abused his pupils and forced them to give him their art under his name. His Palace reflected off how he thought of his shack as a museum of greatness and huge success.
Junya Kaneshiro was a mob boss who tricked juveniles into blackmail so that he could generate great money from them. His palace reflects of how Shibuya is a bank generating all of his money.
Futaba Sakura was mentally ill, believing that she had driven her mom to suicide. This led her to become a shut in. Her palace reflects how she believed she would live and die in her home. Futaba is the only Shadow in Persona 5 to not be hostile towards the real world coutnerpart, this is due to Futaba's desires not being evil
Kunikazu Okumura was the CEO of Okumura Foods. He did anything he could to make Okumura Foods into a Super Company, planning to eventually rise into the political world. His palace reflected on how he saw his company as a mere stepping stone for his victory
Sae Niijima was aa prosecutor who did anything it took to win a court case. Her palace reflected on how she thought the courthouse as a casino, a game of luck that she must rig to win
Masayoshi Shido was a diet member who was pursuing to become the prime minister of Japan where he would execute many wicked plans for his own benefit as opposed to Japan's benefit. His palace represented how he saw the Diet Building as his safety net for his rise, even if Japan falls.