|“||This world is so messed up! The weak are left to fight for themselves, while rotten adults get away with whatever they want!||„|
|~ Ryuji Sakamoto|
Ryuji Sakamoto, also known as Skull, is one of the main protagonists and party members in the video game Persona 5. He is a second-year student at Shujin Academy, where he is seen as a delinquent due to his bleached hair and aggressive nature, and one of the founding members of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. Formerly, he was the star of the track team, before he got his leg broken by Suguru Kamoshida after he was provoked into hitting him, which resulted in the team getting disbanded. His initial Persona is Captain Kidd and his Ultimate Persona is Seiten Taisei.
He is voiced by Mamoru Miyano in the Japanese version of the anime, and by Max Mittelman in the English version of the anime.
Ryuji has short spiky dyed blond hair and dark brown eyes. According to Sadayo Kawakami, his hair is naturally black. He has a noticeable widow's peak and his eyebrows are unusual in that he lacks the outer sides. He is shown to be muscular.
He wears his winter school uniform a bit modified. It consists of the standard black blazer, unbuttoned to reveal a yellow t-shirt with a comic style star symbol and the word 'ZOMG!'. He has plaid trousers rolled up to reveal his ankles. His pants have black suspenders that hang down instead of being worn on his shoulders. He has a white belt. His white sneakers have a rising sun flag motif. His summer school uniform is the same as his winter's, except his yellow t-shirt is replaced with a red one reading 'NO MO RULES' and he no longer wears his blazer.
His burglar outfit consists of matching black jacket and pants with knee pads, a red ascot, combat boots, a pair of yellow gloves, and a skull mask. Due to his injury, he walks and runs with a slight limp, and occasionally trips if he overexerts himself.
In Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, he retain his Shujin Academy uniform except he wears a yellow with a black "X" design and a red tattered scarf, and yellow and light blue sneakers with matching laces. He wears sunglasses on his head, a golden chain bracket on his right wrist and a metal bracket on his left wrist.
Ryuji is known as a disruptive "problem student" at school whose bad behaviour causes all sorts of trouble for the teachers. He is quite proud of his status as a self-proclaimed "troublemaker" and his rebellious, mischievous and disobedient nature are the perfect qualities to be a Phantom Thief. He is very vulgar and aggressive, using by far the most foul language of the group and often tearing into people with no concern for their feelings, as shown in his early interactions with Yusuke and Makoto. He is also rather short-tempered, easily taking offence from even the slightest of comments and can sometimes even resort to violence. He tends to be very blunt about his feelings without showing any hesitation, especially in regards to his hatred of selfish adults and authority figures who abuse their power. It gets to the point where simply listening to the protagonist's story of how he got arrested makes him extremely angry. As a result of all this, Ryuji is by far the most belligerent of the group, with Haru being the only member he doesn't argue with on a regular basis.
Ryuji can be clumsy and overly energetic sometimes; he has a habit of yelling constantly, despite frequent warnings from Morgana to keep his voice down, which usually results in loud outbursts that often includes accidentally revealing himself and his friends as the Phantom Thieves. This consequently helped Makoto to identify him and the others when she was tailing them. This, combined with his frequent density, causes him to be viewed as an idiot by his peers, Morgana in particular. Ryuji also occasionally has a hard time accepting blame for things, though it's less he doesn't recognize when he's at fault so much as he hates being held solely responsible for an incident when he feels he isn't the only issue, or if it was simply beyond the group's control. When Yusuke scolds him for carelessly exposing them as the Phantom Thieves to Makoto, Ryuji points out that Ann got recorded as well, ignoring the fact that he was much louder than her and the one who implicated them by name-dropping the Phantom Thieves. He also never gives a real apology for repeatedly calling Morgana useless, which resulted in him briefly leaving the team; when he does apologize, it's rather half-hearted, and when Morgana returns, it's for his own reasons and for Haru. This is somewhat justified, given how Morgana had been insulting Ryuji from practically the moment they met, and two ultimately seem to consider themselves even by the end.
Beneath his seemingly delinquent-like behavior, Ryuji is actually a kind and altruistic person who is still trying to cope with his inability to continue becoming an athlete after the injury he suffered at Kamoshida's hand. He deeply cares for his mother and takes fervent effort as an athlete to relieve her worries; he reveals his father was an alcoholic who beat him and his mother and then left, so his mother is the only family he has. When he tells the group about the aftermath of his confrontation with Kamoshida, he sounds broken when he admits that, following a meeting with the school authorities, she apologized to him for being a single mother and not giving him a strong father-figure in life. He even calls himself a "bad son," due to him messing up his efforts to make things easier for his mother. He's generally friendly and on good terms with everyone in the Phantom Thieves (despite frequent bickering), particularly Ann, with whom he shares somewhat of a love-hate relationship. When Yusuke mentions that he's ignored at school, Ryuji immediately offers to take him out for ramen.
Ryuji cares a great deal for the well-being of others around him, such as when he attempts to help end the abuse of the volleyball team. He has a strong sense of right and wrong; when Morgana warns him and the protagonist that stealing Kamoshida's treasure may result in his death, Ryuji is shocked and reluctant to take that risk, believing that he and the protagonist going around secretly doing whatever they wanted would make them no different from Kamoshida. He changes his mind after Shiho Suzui's attempted suicide, but even after it's done, he wonders if it really was for the best. After a chance encounter with Shido, however, Ryuji comes up with the idea to continue as the Phantom Thieves, in order to get rid of adults who have gone unpunished for so long and give courage to all those who need it. Ryuji is also a rather forgiving person, as evident by his willingness to help out his former teammates on the track team despite them viewing him as a traitor, as well as being the first to forgive Makoto for getting the team blackmailed, despite having despised her up until then. He even tells Natsuhiko Nakanohara that someone treating you like dirt doesn't give you the right to do the same to them.
Hobby-wise, apart from being on the track team, he also does muscle training. He can drink a 500mL bottle of carbonated water in one go which he did as training during his track and field club days. When he was active, he could also do 1000mL bottles. He is often impatient and has a habit of tapping the ground with his toes when he's bored, and prefers to get "straight to the point" during conversations. He claims he never reads, and his artbook profile claims he only reads manga. When it comes to food, he's particularly fond of ramen, to the point of being fussy about the flavor and texture of the noodles. Though not a cook by any means, Ryuji displays some versatility in the kitchen, as he mentions a recipe involving combining of honey and sliced lemons as a way of restoring stamina, something his mother taught him. Ryuji is also quite perverted, such as when he stares at Ann in the Mona car while the group were travelling through the desert in Futaba's Palace. When Ann confronts him about this later, he doesn't even try to deny it, saying that "it was a great view."