Persona 5: The Animation – Episode 2 – “Let’s Take Back What’s Dear to You.”

Greetings and salutations, everyone. Josh here, doing the dawg gone thing once again, with Episode 2 of Persona 5: The Animation! As always, I wanna thank you guys for all your feedback and for just reading the first episode review! It means a lot to me and I always look forward to hearing what you guys think! I humbly ask that you please keep it up! Make me a better writer! MAKE ME WORK DAWG GONE IT!!

So yeah, we got episode 2 today, and honestly… just like the first episode, this one felt like it swept by REALLY fast. I mean, it felt like I had only hit the Play button before the ending credits started rolling. This show definitely has a fast pace, but I have to wonder if it’s absolutely necessary; after all, this show does have 26 episodes to work with. I mean, a fast pace can be good, but I really hope that it doesn’t move TOO fast causing stuff to be lost.

Ah well, let’s get into the recap. I’m coming to steal your heart… or, barring that, a few minutes of your time. This is episode 2 of Persona 5: The Animation.

Last time on Persona 5: The Animation (which I’ll sometimes shorten to P5A for easy reference… and because I’m lazy), we meet Ren Amamiya, a convicted juvenile delinquent who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, trying to do the right thing (like a black man in Starbucks), and is forced to live with a family friend in the big city to serve out his probation. However, his world got flipped and turned upside down when he and a loud mouthed blond boy are transported to a weird castle where they are threatened with death by a guy who looks a lot like the school volleyball coach, Kamoshida. However, a voice inside him beacons Ren to act, and hey presto—the rebel desires of his heart are made manifest in the form of a Persona—Arsene. All caught up? Good. Let’s get started.

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We pick up right where we left off, with Arsene granting Ren the power to start some shenanigans, and get himself and Ryuji out of trouble. The bad guys are quickly dispatched with Darkness attacks, and Ryuji takes advantage of King Kamoshida’s daze by knocking him flat and locking him in the cell while the two boys dart off and reemerge back into the real world. However, Digimon Adventure rules don’t apply here, time kept on moving and it’s now the afternoon. Ruh-roh. As they approach the gates, Kamoshida stands waiting, glaring at the two boys.

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We then cut to the OP which, while it is a bit more subdued than its game counterpart “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There”, it still captures the overall feel of the series. Actually, this OP reminds me of the one used for Persona 4: The Animation. That OP was noticeably different from the FIRST one in the video game, but it still fit with the overall series. I say “first one” because Persona 4 was the cash cow of Atlus for a while, and there’s been SEVERAL iterations of the game with their own OPs; do yourself a favor and fall down the rabbit hole and check them all out, you will NOT be disappointed. The comic book effect, a staple of Persona 5, works REALLY well, here, and when paired with “Break In to Break Out” it works REALLY well.

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So anyway, after the OP and title card, we return to the present with Ren and Sae, the prosecutor. She doesn’t buy the whole king in a castle thing, but she does concede that Kamoshida did act like he was the big man on campus, indulging himself in all things criminal and deprave. One wonders if he’s ever been to Russia? She then asks again what happened at the school that made their paths cross…

Back at the school gate, Kamoshida doesn’t seem to remember the two boys being in his palace, however he does seem to have a bit of history with Ryuji, giving him a real hard time as he goes up to class, clearly hitting a nerve when he mentions how different he was back on the track team. Kamoshida recognizes Ren from earlier when he picked up Ann, and feels the need to remind him about being on probation… because he’s a douche canoe. Ren wordlessly goes up to class. He’s a better man than I. I would’ve gave Kamoshida a couple words… in fact, in the game, you can make Ren a smart aleck and it is glorious.

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Later, Kawakami introduces our bespeckled bro to the class, offering up the excuse that he wasn’t feeling well and had to miss the morning classes. However, when he takes his seat behind Ann, she calls shenanigans on this as she saw him earlier. When Ren decides to offer a friendly greeting, this gets the class gossiping. Later at lunch, Ren meets up again with Ryuji and the two go up to the roof to compare notes about their adventure inside the castle. Ryuji explains that it’s not unusual to be loved by anyone for Kamoshida to seem like a king in a castle as he gets a pass in the school due to his fame as an Olympic medal winning athlete, and the fact that he has a friendly demeanor. Ryuji tries to convince himself that their whole adventure was a dream, but Ren’s expression says that he doesn’t buy it.

That evening, back at LeBlanc, after getting told by Sojiro for the umpteenth time (or at least it feels that way in the game) that he’ll be kicked out if he causes any trouble, Ren thinks back on the events of the day and drifts off to sleep, only to wake up in the Velvet Room cell in front of Igor. Igor seems rather delighted about the events of the last twenty-four hours, and tells Ren that he was the one who bestowed the app, the Metaverse Navigator, on his phone. He tells Ren that he won’t escape the ruin if he continues on the path he’s traveling unless he masters the Navigator, and Ren then passes out.

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The next day, Ren gets pummeled by volleyballs in gym class by Kamoshida. I mean, brother man is getting knocked around like a rag doll while the others are just looking on, probably silently thankful it’s not them… for the time being. However, after a particularly hard hit to the head, Ren gives a sharp glance to Kamoshida, causing him to hesitate and shift to another target, a boy named Mishima who looks as though he’s already been beaten eight ways to Sunday. Afterwards, while eating the customary anime boy lunch of plain bread, Ren overhears a confrontational conversation between Ryuji and a few other boys. More on this later.

Back in class, Kawakami notices that some of the kids in her class aren’t exactly welcoming Ren with open arms. After class, she tells Ren that she didn’t tell any of the students about his criminal background. She then offers him some advice: keep away from Ryuji. Just as she goes to explain what went down between him and Kamoshida, Ryuji strides up. After some back and forward about Ryuji dying his hair black, he sulks away, whispering that he wants to see Ren up on the school roof. Down, yaoi fangirls…

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Up on the roof, while enjoying grape “Monta” Sodas, Ryuji speculates that Kamoshida is likely behind the rumors being spreading about him, as the Douche Canoe did the same to him. Ryuji then has an idea that they should go back to the castle and try to get some secret dirt on Kamoshida. Ren agrees and the two boys end up traversing through the Metaverse back to the castle, with Ren sporting some very dapper looking clothes and newfound confidence.

Meanwhile, Ann is having a talk with her friend (and Precious Cinnamon Roll) Shiho. Baby girl is a little nervous because volleyball nationals are coming up and she’s less than confident in her skills. Ann, best girl that she is, gives her some much needed encouragement, saying that she deserves the top spot as she’s been great at volleyball since Middle School. However, Kamoshida walks up, interrupting the pep talk, and invites Ann to stick around and watch practice. Ann decides to bolt leaving a very frustrated and angry Kamoshida alone with a very terrified Shiho. WHAT… A… FRIEND. Though, in a way, I don’t blame her. So, Kamoshida hauls Shiho into a back room and begins beating her.

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In the Metaverse, Ryuji and Ren are watching as several members of the volleyball team are having balls shot at them from a cannon while they hang helpless from the ceiling. The whole thing is like a torture chamber in a dungeon and sadly, it corresponds to rumors going around school that Kamoshida uses physical punishment on team members to get results. Ryuji OBVIOUSLY wants to help the guy out, but a voice in the background scoffs at the idea, saying that the humans in the palace are not real and are only puppets. The voice seems to be coming from the dungeon next door… and it’s coming from a completely unlikely source—a bipedal black and white cat wearing a mask. The neko in question, named Morgana, bargains a proposition with the two boys: let him out his prison, and he’ll provide information about their surroundings. Ren agrees rather easily and lets Morgana out of jail… and then he immediately begins petting Morgana. Admittedly, I would do the same given the chance. Don’t look at me like that.

However, it’s not all sweetness and lightning; as several guards run up, Ren removes his mask to try and summon his Persona, but it doesn’t work. The group bolts, but they end up in front of Shadow-Kamoshida. The douche canoe then begins taunting Ryuji about his fall from the top of the track team, and how his violent nature ruined track for the entire team. During practice, Kamoshida was his typical abusive douche canoe self and Ryuji decided to take a stand against him. Kamoshida broke Ryuji’s leg, and got the existing track team coach, who he was subbing for, fired. The track team was disbanded after the incident, and Ryuji was labeled as a troublemaker from then on, ostracized from his former teammates because their beloved Track Team was no more. After more taunting from the Douche Canoe, Ryuji then decides that he’s going to stand up to Kamoshida and bring him down.

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Suddenly, a voice rings out in Ryuji’s head, urging him to use the power he seeks to raise your flag hoist the flag of rebellion and raise all sorts of holy hell. And with a rip of a mask, Ryuji awakens to his inner trickster—Captain Crunch Sisko Kidd.  With the opening chords of “Last Surprise” playing epically in the background, the battle sets off, with Morgana summoning his own persona, the legendary swordsman Zorro. The trio makes quick work of the shadows, dispatching them with flair and awesomeness.

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Just as the group turn their attention to Shadow-Kamoshida, a familiar looking girl walks down the stairs and cuddles up to him, wearing a very skimpy pink bikini with cat ears. This girl looks like a carbon copy of Ann, but Ren quickly sees through the charade–this is another puppet. Morgana on the other hand is quite taken with Shadow-Ann (and no, I’m not going to make that joke…) before Shadow-Kamoshida’s guards have a chance to attack. Ren grabs Ryuji and scrams out the Castle, promising to meet up later with Morgana, who still has some work to do in the Castle.

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Outside the Metaverse, while enjoying a nice bowl of ramen, Ryuji asks Ren about his probation. In flashback, we see that Ren was trying to help a lady out who was being abused by her boyfriend. Punches were swung, and the abuser called the cops. Ren was brought before the court and sentenced to 1 year of probation. Ryuji tearfully sympathizes with Ren, going on about how unfair it is that he got arrested for doing the right thing. After gorging himself with food, Ryuji formally introduces himself, and gives Ren the nickname “RenRen”… which our bro quickly rejects.

We then get our ending credit sequence which is… kinda weird… but I mean that in a good way! It gives us a sneak peak of the next episode along with the title, and it features our main cast in their Metaverse Gear walking… in place… slowly. Look, trust me, it’s weird, but it’s cool, and the ending song “Infinity”, also performed by Lyn, matches it very well.

After the ending credits, we get a moment with Sae (in the past) and the Detective Prince from earlier. They’re talking about the recent events of mental breakdowns, with the Prince suggesting that someone is actually using their force of will to make these events happen.

And so that’s the end of episode 2 of P5A. So far it’s pretty good. I know a lot of times, these adaptations can be really hit or miss, but so far, this has the makings of being a solid show, much like its predecessor Persona 4: The Animation. Granted, we’re only two episodes in and I could ALWAYS be made to eat my words, but having seen my share of anime to video game adaptations, this one has the same feel of all the good ones I’ve seen.

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I’m glad we actually got to see a battle in this one… even though it wasn’t EXACTLY what I thought it would be.  I also enjoyed the back story we got with Ryuji, even though sometimes it can come off a little confusing. I also liked the fact that the scene with Kamoshida beating Shiho made me genuinely uncomfortable. I know that sounds funny, I mean, who WANTS to feel uncomfortable? But it shows just how well this show decided to do this moment. In the video game, we only hear about the abuse, but to actually SEE it go down is unsettling, and I like that.

Some of the moments during the second battle and Ryuji’s awakening rocked my socks off. Of course, the use of “Last Surprise” was awesome, but the fact that they used some of the graphics from the game, like the all-out attack and the victory pose was really cool. I had a feeling they would find a way to incorporate those into the anime, and I was not let down in that regard.

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That being said, I was disappointed with Ren’s first battle at the start of the episode. I mean, all he did was use one attack to destroy the guards and that was it. I felt really let down. This is the premiere battle of our protagonist; it should be epic! The first battle in Persona 4: The Animation was PERFECTLY done. It happened in the first episode, and we got to see different attacks and moves all while the song “Reach Out to the Truth” blasting in the background. Yu Narukami, the protag of Persona 4, OWNED that moment and it was SO SATISFYING and brought back memories of playing the game. Ren’s battle… was really lackluster by comparison, and that’s a crying shame. This is the first battle of our new protagonist in a new anime based off a (relatively) new video game; this should’ve been his moment to shine–a chance to set him apart from his predecessors and make a bold declaration: “We’re here, we’re not going anywhere, we’re going to steal your heart.” Heck, I would’ve even been happy if they used “Last Surprise” for that first battle instead of using the generic boss battle/awakening music. Heck, in Persona 4: The Animation,  Yu had “Reach Out to the Truth” for his first battle and it was GLORIOUS. This…was really lackluster.

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Even the second battle, when Ryuji awakens to Captain Kidd and we see Morgana’s Persona, was on the weak side. While I do appreciate the little touches I mentioned earlier, I think the battle itself could’ve been a bit better. Also, I think it was wrong how they heavily included Ren into Ryuji’s first battle immediately after he got Captain Kidd. That was Ryuji’s moment and I would’ve liked to had seen him get a few attacks off before Ren and Morgana jumped in.

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So yeah, too long didn’t read, this was a good episode, but there is room for improvement. However, it’s only the 2nd episode, and seeing as how this show is slated for a full 26 episode run, it has plenty of time to become the show that I know it has the potential to be. Much like in the game, the status quo needs to be established; we’re still in the boring tutorial stuff.

Oh, you’re actually reading this. Cool. Well in case you forgot, Persona 5: The Animation is currently being streamed on Crunchyroll with new episodes dropping every Saturday at 1:00pm EDT/12:00PM CDT. You can also stream the series on Hulu, but I can’t say exactly what time each episode will drop. Also remember that the game, Persona 5, is readily available for the Playstation 4 and Playstation 3 if you wanna check it out. 

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