Is JRPG a good word? Persona 5 director and character designer weigh in ahead of their new game Metaphor ReFantazio: "You can call this a JRPG if you want"

Metaphor: ReFantazio red eyes and hair
(Image credit: Sega / Atlus)

Director Katsura Hashino and character designer Shigenori Soejima, both Persona 5 veterans now filling the same roles on Atlus' new game Metaphor: ReFantazio, don't mind if you call these games JRPGs. In fact, Soejima says the term is a "positive" for him.

The term JRPG, commonly used in the West as a shorthand genre descriptor for Japanese RPGs generally featuring mechanics and aesthetics and other design sensibilities common to and first incubated within Japan, has seen some re-evaluation in the past few years. Many Japanese developers, from Final Fantasy 14's Yoshi-P to Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's Tetsuya Nomura to former Platinum Games director Hideki Kamiya, have had their say, with mixed views across the board. It begs the question our own Dustin Bailey explored last year: If developers don't like the term JRPG, what do we use instead?

I recently spoke to Hashino and Soejima at Summer Game Fest after getting some hands-on time with Metaphor: ReFantazio and absolutely falling in love with its UI (the rest of the game looks great, too). This is a question I always like to ask Japanese developers whenever possible - earlier this year, I put the question to the solo Japanese creator of one of the weirdest RPGs in recent memory - so I was eager to get their thoughts with Persona being one of the biggest JRPGs of today. (There it is again!) 

"I apologize if this is a really basic answer," Hashino tells GamesRadar+ via interpreter. "Some people think JRPG is a good thing, it's a good genre, they're positive about the concept. Some are negative about the concept. I think that's up to the individual. It's up to each person to determine what they like and what they want. For us, we don't think about JRPGs, we don't think about RPGs. We just want to make a fun game. That's all we're trying to do. You can call this a JRPG if you want."

Soejima was even keener on the term. "For a character designer, when you add the J to the RPG, it kind of embodies the entire movement of what pop culture from Japan is," he argued. "It means they're not just a creator working on a game, but they're part of the anime and manga and style that exists in Japan. They're a Japanese creator giving to the world. For me, as a creator, it's a positive that I can be considered to be making a JRPG." 

Metaphor: ReFantazio boasts over 40 jobs that will transform your characters over the course of the huge RPG.

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.