|“||A breathtaking sight... Imitations they may be, but together, they make a fine spectacle... Though the flowers of evil blossom, be it known... Abominations are fated to perish!||„|
|~ Yusuke after awakening to his Persona|
Yusuke Kitagawa, also known as Fox, is one of the main protagonists and party members in the video game Persona 5. He is an art student from Kosei High School and a member of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. Introduced as a student of the famous painter Ichiryusai Madarame, Yusuke joins the Thieves after the truth behind his mentor's success comes to light. Having known for some time, Yusuke wishes to atone for not facing reality sooner. His initial Persona is Goemon and his Ultimate Persona is Kamu Susanoo.
He is voiced by Tomokazu Sugita in the Japanese version and Matthew Mercer in the English version, both of whom also voice Alvin.
Yusuke has dark blue hair with parted bangs slightly covering his left eye and gray eyes. His in-game character model is noticeably taller and thinner than those of other male characters. His fellow Phantom Thieves Ann and Ryuji both describe him as a "pretty boy."
Yusuke does not wear Kosei High's regulation uniform, unlike his fellow student Hifumi Togo. His winter-variant uniform consists of a white gakuran-style shirt embroidered with a fleur-de-lis, fitted black pants, and black loafers. A silver key ring with multiples keys is attached to his belt loop. His summer-variant uniform replaces the white dress shirt with an ultramarine colored button-down which Yusuke wears with the sleeves pushed up to the elbows.
His thief outfit consists of a traditional kitsune-style half mask, a black high-collared, puff-sleeved jumpsuit with a white fox tail attached to a striped sash worn across his hips, white motorcycle boots, and bright blue gloves.
In Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, he retains his summer school uniform, but with the addition of a black spike-studded blazer, bright red fingerless gloves, and silvery metallic sneakers.
Yusuke’s entire life’s passion is comprised of and surrounded by art. He searches for the aesthetic everywhere in his surroundings, from people to places. He sees every opportunity or challenge presented to him as a way to broaden his horizons, and primarily considers how it will benefit him greatly as an artist. He is captivated by the painting of “Sayuri,” and seeks to capture the sense of beauty that it portrays. This passion extends to his mentor, Madarame, who he believed created the painting and who took him in when he was young. As such, Yusuke greatly admired and respected him to the point that he vehemently denied any of the rumours surrounding Madarame. Even when he knows the rumours are true and finds actual proof supporting it, Yusuke claims that the abuse he faced was consensual as a means of keeping a roof over his head, though he eventually sees reason and helps the group defeat his former teacher and guardian. His passion for art is admired and respected by the group, though they also view him as rather strange. At one point, Ann claims that he is "on a different wavelength than other people." However, Yusuke is well-aware that his mind operates differently from that of most people's, to the point of admitting that he's eccentric, and is shown to be downright offended whenever someone makes fun of him for it, or even points it out.
Despite his eccentricities, Yusuke is incredibly level-headed and, in many ways, is the most mature of the group. He sees no use in panicking or getting nervous, as it does nothing to help the situation at hand. However, he tends to be more sincere when dealing with subjects he admires from an aesthetic standpoint. For example, he is very direct and respectful when he approaches Ann out of a desire to paint her. However, this sincerity can make him appear pushy, showing that he has a very stubborn, headstrong side, which comes out when he is very inspired. Yusuke also occasionally displays somewhat cold and haughty behaviour towards people which are behaving in what he deems as an unseemly manner, or in ways that are against his personal aesthetic. This can be seen especially during his initial encounters with Ryuji and the protagonist, and during an encounter he has with two women who attempt to flirt with him. Additionally, he can be very sharp with people who make mistakes, such as when he calls out Ryuji for getting caught or when he chastises Makoto for being reckless. This even extends to the rest of the group, as when they're framed for murder, he angrily states they shouldn't have rushed into things.
Although he can be blunt at times, Yusuke nevertheless tries his hardest to be a gentleman and is overall one of the kinder members of the team. He is usually polite when dealing with others, particularly when compared to the vulgar Ryuji, condescending Morgana and passive-aggressive Akechi. He is also very considerate regarding Futaba's slow growth, as he knows that deep-rooted issues like hers are not something that can be fixed in a few days, and despite arguing with her from time to time, he is also one of the first members to have a normal conversation with her. Yusuke also worries about his classmate, Naoya Makigami's, behaviour, suspecting family problems are the cause. His sincerity and willingness to point out what he truly thinks, despite what others' reactions may be, makes him a very loyal, honest ally. Yusuke also claims he donates blood, calling it a "hobby."
Having been unhealthily sheltered for most of his life, Yusuke acts with pure intentions, but ultimately is unaccustomed to many of society's norms. The naivete born from it shows more times than not, he in particular being unaware when he is coming off as intrusive until being directly informed. At times, he can cause trouble for other team members, such as being energetically pushy when asking for Ann to be his art model, when he remodels Futaba's Phoenix Ranger Featherman R figurines without her permission. A running gag in the game is how Yusuke spends all his money on things that capture his attention without any foresight, such as on art books or lobsters at the beach because they are aesthetically pleasing. Despite his naivete when it comes to social situations, Yusuke is highly intelligent and his wisdom is evident during Phantom Thief meetings and heists.
Over time, Yusuke’s disconnection from reality and his blunt introduction to his mentor’s vain and evil nature becomes a source of internal struggle to him. He wishes to paint purely for the sake of passion and capture the essence of the human heart, but detests that it becomes for the sake of gaining money, shelter and recognition. He realizes that the beauty he began to portray in his paintings became corrupt by society's expectations of him, deeming it as superficial without any meaning. The protagonist eventually helps him understand his calling on a deeper level and also helps him to convey his feelings on canvas properly.
As an art student, Yusuke is knowledgeable of and admires other artists as well, as he suggests that "Da Vinci" be his Phantom Thief code name, a reference to Leonardo da Vinci. In his Confidant, he compares the protagonist to Theo, the brother of Vincent van Gogh, who was his greatest supporter. Yusuke is talented at economical dining, using his own self-taught method that thoroughly calculates cost-performance. He likes going for walks (as a bonus, it also saves on travel expenses) and frequently watches people for artistic inspiration. His knowledge of the aesthetics of food, including information about ingredients, cooking methods and servings, is vast, and he’s committed himself to it. However, his monetary situation does not allow him to practice as much as he would like to in reality. Additionally, whenever Yusuke can cook, he tends to get creative with the ingredients, which can result in bizarre meals.
Yusuke is an honor student in an art course at the Kosei Public High School. Orphaned at a young age, he was found to have artistic talents and he is currently a live-in disciple of a famous Japanese painter by the name of Ichiryusai Madarame.
Yusuke approaches Ann before being misunderstood as a stalker by the protagonist and Ryuji Sakamoto. He asks Ann to become a model for his next art, inviting her to go to his master's art exhibition to consider his offer. Hearing Madarame is a fraud, the Phantom Thieves decide to accept Yusuke's offer so they can investigate Madarame. They directly ask Yusuke about this, which angers Yusuke who continuously defends his master. After hearing about Madarame's doing from his former disciple, Matsuhiko Nakanohara, and locating his Palace, Ann and Morgana try to find the proof of Madarame's deception by once again accepting Yusuke's offer to become his model while the protagonist and Ryuji enter Madarame Palace. Ann sweet-talks Yusuke to let her enter Madarame's studio where they found the evidence of Madarame's deception. When Madarame threatened to call the police, Ann and Morgana run away, and Yusuke follows them as well, leading him to enter Madarame Palace. Even after seeing the proof earlier, Yusuke still wants to believe in his master, so he decides to follow the Thieves to find out the truth.
Meeting Shadow Madarame, his master's Shadow reveals that to him, Yusuke is an art slave. He admits that he has been indeed stealing his students' artwork and declares it as his own. Once Yusuke learns of this truth, his desperation to find any decent goodness in his mentor turns into that of complete and utter desire for Madarame's retribution. Yusuke awakens his Persona, Goemon. Retreating to the real world, Yusuke asks to be allowed to join the Phantom Thieves, which is permitted by Morgana.
Confronting Shadow Madarame along with the Phantom Thieves for the last time, Shadow Madarame reveals his real treasure, the real Sayuri that Yusuke's mother had painted. From this, Yusuke deduces that his mother's death was not a simple accident. Shadow Madarame confirms this, revealing that when Yusuke was a little boy, all other disciples of Madarame began to distance themselves away from him after learning of his true nature, leaving only Yusuke's mother, Sayuri. Around the time Yusuke was born, Sayuri created an art piece of herself happily holding her newborn son in her arms. When Madarame came across this beautifully constructed work of art, he made a deal with Sayuri in which he'd agreed to let Yusuke become a new member of the family in exchange of holding on to the artwork. One tragic day, Madarame witnessed Sayuri having a seizure in front of him, and instead of easily offering medical support, he let her die in vain and made duplicates of her last piece dedicated to her son to sell to the public, which granted him the fame and credit he has today. In order to give it "mystery," Madarame altered the art by removing the baby from the picture completely. Since he was just 3 years old, Yusuke receives no credit or recognition for his brilliant work; Madarame uses them to take the credit for his own, just like he did to Sayuri, Natsuhiko and his other disciples many years ago.
Now knowing the whole truth, Yusuke thanks his former mentor because now he no longer has any reason to forgive him. Eventually defeating him and stealing his heart, Yusuke retrieves the real Sayuri painting that his mother had painted for him. Back in reality, Madarame confesses to his crimes and is swiftly punished and discredited for it. Yusuke sadly recalls the "happy family" he lived in when Madarame's other disciples were around and how as he grew older, he never lost the hope that they would come back and they all could be happy once again. Now that he is part of the Phantom Thieves, he feels like he has another "happy family" again. Wanting to let go of the past, Yusuke gives the Sayuri painting to the protagonist who then displays it at Cafe Le Blanc.
- Yusuke's last name and the design of his Persona Goemon are references to Utamaro Kitagawa (喜多川 歌麿), one of the most highly regarded practitioners of the ukiyo-e genre of woodblock prints, especially for his portraits of beautiful women, or bijin-ga. As an adult, he was known by the given name Yūsuke (勇助).
- Futaba Sakura would often refer to Yusuke as Inari. Although the name itself comes from Oinari, the Japanese god of foxes, Futaba herself cites the inarizushi, a fried sushi dish that foxes had a fondness for according to Japanese folklore, as the origin of the nickname.
- When Yusuke fiddled with Futaba's Phoenix Ranger Featherman R figures, the poses of the figures are reminiscent to the Ginyu Force from the Dragon Ball series.