Persona 5: The Animation – Episode 3 – “A Beautiful Rose Has Thorns!”

Hey guys, Josh here, back again for another episode of Persona 5: The Animation. As per usual, I need to take a minute to thank you all for all your support and feedback on my reviews. It’s because of you guys that I have any kind of confidence as a writer and it’s because of you all that I actually keep writing. So, yeah, thanks again!

So, yeah, initial reaction for this episode: it was AWESOME. This episode is exactly what I hoped P5A would be—a well animated story that pays due homage to the source material while speaking with its own voice. I can honestly say, throughout my initial watch through, there was not a single time where I felt the need to compare this show to Persona 4: The Animation… and that’s a good thing!

That being said, I’m Josh, and I’m not a robot AI challenging you.. I’m not a phantom;
I’m in your face and I’m here to see it through… or rather, see you through. This is Episode 3 of Persona 5: The Animation!

Last time on P5A, Ren and Ryuji decide to get some dirt on their Douche Canoe teacher Kamoshida, the self-proclaimed “king” of the “castle” who spreads rumors about students he doesn’t like, and is not above physical abuse of those under him on the volleyball team, all with the adults and parents in the school turning a blind eye. The two return to Kamoshida’s Castle in the Metaverse where they meet up with Morgana, a bipedal talking cat that was locked up by the guards. When the group is cornered by Shadow-Kamoshida and his guards, Ryuji decides that enough is enough and he awakens to the trickster residing within him—the notorious Captain Kidd, complete with pirate ship. Along with Morgana’s Persona, the legendary masked fighter Zorro, the group dispatches the guards and manages to escape, but not before seeing a scantily clad version of Ann throw herself over Shadow-Kamoshida. Back in the real world, Ren tells Ryuji his background and the two decide to become friends. Get it? Got it? Good. Let’s get going.

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Instead of the standard opening this week, we’re actually start out in the Velvet Room with Igor and the twin wardens. Igor congratulates Ren on finding a new confidant and the success of his “rehabilitation.” He then goes on to explain the nature of a palace; it’s a manifestation of the creator’s heart based on their (twisted) desires. In Kamoshida’s case, since he’s the big man on campus, he sees the school as his castle and the students as slaves. Igor explains that in the palace, all the students are simply illusions, “silhouettes of reality” for Kamoshida to play with. Fade to black…

Later, at the train station, Ren tells Ryuji about his dream, and Ryuji (rather loudly) muses about what they saw the last time they were in the palace—specifically, Ann in that skimpy bathing suit. The two boys agree to ask the volleyball team members about the abuse when they are at school; all the while, the Second Coming Detective Prince notices the two boys, and recognizes Ren…

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After the volleyball rally (which is pretty much a teachers vs. students game with Kamoshida the star attraction), Ryuji and Ren go around asking the different players about the rumors involving Kamoshida’s abuse. Even among the kids that have OBVIOUSLY been beaten eight ways from Sunday, not a negative word is spoken against Kamoshida. They all over excuses like “he’s just being tough because we’re trying to get to Nationals.” Frustrated with both the stonewalling and the whispered rumors passing about him and Ren, Ryuji comes up with the idea to “ask the girls.”

Meanwhile, Ann and her friend Shiho are having a little chat. Shiho expresses concern about how the whole school seems to be gossiping about Ren and spreading rumors that are increasingly being blown out of proportion. Ann compliments Shiho on her caring nature and, noticing the bandages and bruises on her arms, asks about how practice is going and suggests that maybe she needs to take a break. Shiho says while it is tough, she’s a freshman starter and she can’t slack off. Before the conversation goes further, Ryuji and Ren walk up and Ryuji, tactful bro he is, just outright asks Shiho about the abuse on the volleyball team. Ann quickly jumps to her defense, but Ryuji doesn’t give in, asking her if it is really okay for everything to continue as they are, even with the abuse. Before she has a chance to reply, Ann drags her off. Ryuji reveals that he’s actually known Ann and Shiho since middle school, and Ann is still as stubborn as she was then.

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Later, on his way home, Ren stumbles across Ann in the train station on a photo shoot. Shiho is clearly still on her mind, causing her to lose focus as her manager tells her to go on home and that another model will be used. Later, Ren sees her on the phone talking with Kamoshida; he wants a booty call, but Ann ain’t having it. However, the power of boners is strong with Kamoshida and he threatens to cut Shiho from the starting position and hangs up on Ann before she can reply. Enter our protagonist, whom Ann initially brushes off, but then decides she could use a friendly ear and the two go off to a nearby cafe.

Screenshot 2018-04-21 13.18.38.pngAnn unloads about everything that’s been going on. While rumors around the school are spreading that she and Kamoshida are seeing each other, Ann states that they are just rumors. As it turns out, Kamoshida found out how close Shiho and Ann were, and he used that relationship to manipulate Ann into being his arm candy under threat of cutting her as a starter on the volleyball team. However, it all came to a tipping point as Kamoshida wanted Ann to come to his apartment alone (uh-huh…) and she declined. This puts Ann in a severe dilemma; she’s sick of Kamoshida, but she wants to stay loyal and support Shiho, who has always been there for her.

Meanwhile, Kamoshida, still looking to get his rocks off, decides that, since Ann is playing “hard to get”, he’ll go for the next best thing. Later, we see Mishima meet up with Shiho in the gym; Kamoshida wants to see her…

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That night at home, Ren thinks back to how things went down after Ann left with Shiho at school. Morgana, now in the form of a regular house cat (a form he takes while in the real world), tells the boys that if they help him out with something, he’ll show them how to reform Kamoshida using his own palace. However, there’s a chance that, if they do it the wrong way, Kamoshida would die. Meh, sounds like a win-win to me!

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The next day, while in class, Ryuji messages Ren about what Morgana talked to them about; while they want to hold Kamoshida liable for what happened, they don’t want to be responsible if they KILL him. Suddenly, there’s a ruckus outside. Shiho, having reached her absolute breaking point, has jumped from the top of the school roof. An ambulance is quickly dispatched, and Shiho, somehow still alive after her jump, manages to tell Ann exactly what happened before being loaded up. When the paramedics ask who can come along with Shiho on the ride to the hospital, the other teachers standing around prove they are as useful as Sakura from Naruto and make up excuses. After getting some silent affirmation from our Silent Protagonist, Ann rides along with Shiho. Meanwhile, Mishima, horrified at what happened, runs off, but Ryuji catches up to him.

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Later, the three of them confront Kamoshida in his office, with Mishima having told them everything about the physical abuse. Kamoshida hand waves it away, but Mishima says that Kamoshida did, indeed, send him to call Shiho into his office, saying that he looked really irritated at the time. Kamoshida continues to brush this off saying they have no proof. However, Kamoshida cements his position firmly as an Eternal Douche Canoe saying that the hospital called, and said that Shiho is in a coma and only has a slim chance of recovery, meaning any proof of what he did would be lost. This enrages Ryuji and he lunges out to deck Kamoshida, but Ren holds him back, telling him not to give Kamoshida an excuse to do anything. However, Kamoshida says that he’s going to recommend expulsion for Ren, Ryuji and even Mishima, who leaked Ren’s criminal records online and started the rumor mill turning. Mishima is crestfallen, saying that Kamoshida was the one who pushed him to do it. With the target now painted big and bold on their backs, the three of them walk out the office.

Outside, Ryuji and Ren contemplate their next move. Ren postulates that while he doesn’t want to kill anyone, there has to be another way to reform Kamoshida and bring an end to his evil reign at the school; this can NOT continue. Ryuji agrees and the two of them decide to go into the Metaverse… not realizing that Ann has been listening to them and is within transporter range of the Meta-Nav.

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Back in the palace, while Ren, Ryuji and Morgana traverse the depths of the castle, Morgana explains how they can go about reforming Kamoshida. As Igor stated earlier, a palace is a manifestation of the creators heart based on their twisted desires. What happens in the real world is connected to what goes on in the palace without the person in the real world knowing it, and vice versa. If the palace were to disappear, then that would trigger a change in his cognition and his personality in the real world will change with no memory of what has happened in the palace. In this case, since Kamoshida sees himself as a king and the school as his castle and all the students as his slaves, if that part of his cognition were destroyed, he would be a decent human being—or in other words, there would be a “Change of Heart.” And no, I’m not talking about that 90’s show on Fox. And of course, since no decent human being could bear to live with those crimes they committed, they would rightly confess them. However, in order to destroy a palace, you must get the core of his twisted desires—the “treasure”. Eventually, Morgana leads the group to the treasure room, but there’s no treasure to be found—only a shapeless, formless blob. Morgana explains that the treasure must materialize before they can steal it.

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However, before Morgana has a chance to explain how that works, alarms go of in the castle—INTRUDER ALERT! It’s Ann, of course, and she’s all tied up with nowhere to go. Shadow-Kamoshida confronts her with Puppet Ann fawning all over him. Shadow-Kamoshida decides to eliminate the real Ann after he has a little “Fun” with her. However, just as Kamoshida is about to make me use several expletives that I do not normally use, Ren, Morgana, and Ryuji bust in to save the day! Ann doesn’t quite remember Ren’s name, but our bro is polite enough to reintroduce himself, much to the chagrin of Ryuji. Morgana declares that they have come to save her, to which Ann expresses shock at the talking “monster cat.” It’s okay, neko-bro. It’s okay. You need a hug? C’mere, bring it in, man. Bless your little heart. We still love you.

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Anyway, Kamoshida admits that because Ann didn’t put out for him earlier when he called, he turned to Shiho. What makes this even worse is the fact that he doesn’t even remember her name and he states that if she dies, it’s all Ann’s fault. Ann is racked with guilt over this, realizing that all this stems from the phone call from earlier. However, Ren gives her a push, reminding Ann of her friendship with Shiho and that she should pay Kamoshida back for all he’s done to the two of them.

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Ren’s pep talk is enough to snap Ann out of her self-doubt and guilt and a voice echoes in her head that she is the only one to avenge Shiho. The force of her will breaks the restraints that bound her, and after ripping away her mask, her inner trickster manifesting itself; the ULTIMATE femme fatale, the woman men want and the woman other women wish they could be: “Lady in Red,” the operatic heroine Carmen. Not to be confused with another lady in red whom I’ve spent the better part of the 90’s trying to find in the world and in time.

Screenshot 2018-04-21 13.38.57.pngWith the swiftness of a cheetah on the plains, Ann kicks a sword out of the hands of one of the guards and uses it to slice through Shadow-Ann, declaring that she’s not just some cheap ‘ho on the street to be toyed with. Joined with the others behind her, Ann vows that she will make Kamoshida pay and steal everything from him, just as he did with Shiho. Obviously Shadow-Kamoshida doesn’t take nicely to this, and his guards manifests themselves into today’s boss fight: a couple low-level shadows and the main attraction, Belphegor…. complete with toilet. Japan, I really don’t get you sometimes. Ann quickly gets the upper hand on Belphegor as he’s weak to fire attacks… and Carmen primarily USES fire attacks. Convenient, huh? Ryuji and Morgana are both in shock at Ann’s whip action, wondering out loud if she’s a cougar or “something else.” No, bros, she’s too young to be a cougar and as far as her being a dominatrix… that’s… questionable. She DOES have a whip, and her Persona is clearly seen dominating over some poor sod, resting her pointed heel on his back, and Carmen WAS known for using various means to her ends… you know what? Lemme stop thinking about this, otherwise this review will never get done. Ahem… moving on.

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Our group fights the good fight, with Morgana revealing his trademark weapon in game—a freakishly large slingshot that fires steel balls, and with an all-out attack, Belphegor and his cronies are dealt with stylishly. Shadow-Kamoshida runs away for backup, and Ann starts out after him, but is clearly too tired to continue on. The group decides to head out of the Metaverse for the day.

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In the train station, over generic sodas, Ren, Ryuji and Ann have a chat about what happened. Ann insists on joining up with the boys to change Kamoshda’s heart, as she wants to atone for what happened with Shiho and get the Douche Canoe to pay for his crimes. She feels that, with the four of them working together, their mission could be successful. Ren, Ryuji and Morgana agree and they all exchange information, noticing that they all have the same app on their phones… honestly, I think this was just a sly way for the creators to get in a plug for Sony. Just saying. Ren asks Morgana how are they going to change Kamoshida’s heart without a treasure to steal. Morgana clearly has the answers. Roll credits!

After the ending credits, Mishima walks sadly down the hall and notices a group of people gathered around the bulletin board. Upon closer inspection he sees a weird letter made with newspaper and magazine clippings:

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“Sir Suguru Kamoshida, the Utter Bastard of Lust:
We know how s**tty you are, and that you put your twisted desires on students that can’t fight back. That’s why we have decided to steal away those desires and make you confess your sins. This will be done tomorrow, so we hope you will be ready.
The Phantom Thieves of Hearts”

So, yeah… this episode stepped the game up. I mean, REALLY stepped the game up. Normally, I require a little time between actually watching the episode and writing out the review so I can have a chance to let it settle in and offer up my commentary, but this time, honestly, I didn’t need to. This episode was AWESOME and everything I hoped this series would be. Everything I felt while playing the original game for the first time came back to me in spades this time. From Ann spilling her guts to Ren in the café, the shock of Shiho’s attempted suicide, the confrontation between Ryuji, Mishima, Ren and Kawashima when he threatens the boys with Expulsion, and finally with Ann’s awakening to her Persona and the ensuing battle. Everything was done dang near flawlessly.

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It was a bit of a shock to not have an OP this time around, but you know what? The extra time gained by cutting it was put to good use. I know a lot of anime use this tactic, but a lot of them don’t really take advantage of the extra few minutes. P5A, at least on this occasion, actually used the extra time perfectly.

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While I’m on the subject of music, I have to say, while the music they used here was really good (I don’t recall if this track was used during the game itself) this would’ve been a good place to use “Last Surprise.” Yes, I know I said in my last review that they should’ve used it in Ren’s first battle, and I do stand by that, but this would’ve been a perfect place to use it too—after all, this is when our core group gets established and this is their first battle together. We’re witnessing the birth of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts; and if there’s one song that I would equate with this group, it would have to be “Last Surprise.” But hey, we all can’t get what we want, and the song they did use was really good.

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One thing I didn’t point out in my last two reviews is regarding the Ending Credit sequence; while I do love the song and I think the animation is great, I REALLY wish they wouldn’t have put ALL the characters in there—specifically the ones we have yet to meet. It would’ve been better if they had started with Ren, then add in Ryuji after the 2nd episode, and Ann for this one. Let us see how this group comes together instead of just throwing everyone in at the beginning. I mean, now we know exactly who is going to be part of the group, more or less and for those who haven’t played the game, it’s a spoiler. Ah well, it’s still a cool ending sequence.

So long story short, I think this show is finding its sea legs, so to speak. Much like the video game, you have to get through some dialogue and tutorial fights to get things established, and right now, I think we are pretty much through all that and we can really get into the meat of the story. Granted, I could eat those words next week… doubt it, though.

Time for reminders! 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.

Finally, if you are interested in the game, but don’t have the means to play it, check out YouTuber Kagato the Final Boss. He’s doing a Let’s Play of Persona 5, and has done Let’s Plays of Persona 4 (Original and Golden) and Persona 3. He’s by far the funniest and genuine gamer on YouTube and you owe it to yourself to check him out!

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