Greetings everyone! Josh here, saving you from the boredom of everyday life with another review of Persona 5: The Animation! Once again, thank you one and all for your feedback and kind words… heck, I appreciate it when you just take time out to read my long ramblings! In any case, thank you one and all.
So, episode 8 pulls double-duty, this week. It brings an end to the Madarame Palace arc, and it also gives us a little backstory into our characters and formally establishes the raison d’etre for The Phantoms (no, not THAT raison d’etre), the reason for them to exist and do that sweet voodoo that they do so well. How does this all play out?
Let’s start the Trickster Game. I’m Josh, and this is my review of Persona 5: The Animation, Episode 8!
Last time on P5:A, after committing to changing Madarame’s heart, The Phantoms decide to begin infiltrating his palace; a heavily guarded and heavily gaudy art museum containing Madarame’s pirated art works. However, the group is stymied by a large, well secured door. The group concludes that to open the door in the Metaverse, they must open the door in the real world. Ann is then press volunteered to go into the belly of the beast, seemingly agreeing to let Yusuke paint her in the all together while Morgana cracks open the lock, timing it so it would open in front of Madarame’s eyes. The plan is successful, but more secrets are uncovered. As it turns out, Madarame was lying about the painting “Saiyuri” being stolen, in order to sell the “Real” painting to unsuspecting art lovers; Madarame is still in possession the authentic painting. When the crooked artist threatens to call his security team to arrest Yusuke and Ann, our frisky kitty opens the Meta-Nav app and transports herself and Yusuke into the Metaverse. However, there’s no time to fully explain what’s going on as the group is captured by Shadow-Madarame and his goons. Shadow-Madarame then decides to tell everyone his dastardly plan; he plans on working Yusuke LITERALLY to death, stealing his artwork all the while. This is enough to trigger Yusuke and he awakens to his persona—the Japanese Robin Hood Goemon Ishikawa…complete with Space Dandy-Approved pompadour. Yusuke dispatches the guards, but Shadow-Madarame escapes. Later Yusuke asks to join The Phantoms, and of course the group accept him with open arms and gives him the appropriately simple code-name of “Fox.” Caught up? Good. Let’s do this thing.
We pick up with Madarame getting ready for “his” big art exhibit. All looks like it’s going well for him, until some poor lackey runs up with some bad news. It seems as though someone has been posting some very stylish calling cards all over the exhibit and elsewhere:
Naturally, Madarame doesn’t take too kindly to this and orders their removal. In the shadows of the art gallery, The Phantoms compliment Yusuke on the updated Calling Card as it’s more stylish and well written than their first attempt. Sorry, Ryuji-bro. Morgana reminds the group that they only have one day and one shot to get the treasure that has now materialized in the Palace. The Phantoms get themselves psyched up for the upcoming heist! Roll Credits!
After the credits, the plan goes into effect for the heist. The treasure is surrounded on all sides by lasers and guards, so the first step will be to disable the lights by shutting down the power. However, the security room is heavily guarded, so of course, our big-mouthed boy Skull creates a distraction, allowing Panther to go in and kill the lights. Once that’s done, Mona, with the help of Joker and Fox, is lowered down on a crane from the ceiling allowing him to pluck up the treasure and escape. The plan goes off without a hitch and The Phantoms run off with alarms blaring behind them. The perfect caper, right? Umm… wrong.
As it turns out, Mona, bless his heart, has a thing for treasure and he just can’t wait to check out the goods once they’re outside in the courtyard. They fling the cover off the treasure to reveal… a gag picture. Well, dang. It looks like The Phantoms got the old bait and switch, as Shadow-Madarame and his guards catch up to the group to gloat over their brilliant plan of switching the real treasure with a fake.
Shadow-Madarame, stupid bad guy that he is, decides to give The Phantoms a look at the real treasure… it’s the “Saiyuri,” but there’s something different about it. Instead of the female in the painting looking down wistfully into blue mist, she’s now holding a little baby. Madarame gloats that this self-portrait was the last one done by one of his more talented pupils years ago and has since garnished him so much fame and fortune. Yusuke soon puts two and two together—“Saiyuri” is a picture of himself and his mother. Madarame stole the picture and painted over baby Yusuke simply to add mystique and drag in fans who were curious about her mysterious gaze, much like the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile.
Oh, but it gets worse. When Yusuke asks if his mother tried to stand in his way, Shadow Madarame reveals something horrific. As it turns out, Yusuke’s mom was very weak, and one day she had a seizure right in front of him… and Madarame did nothing to help. Absolutely nothing. He just let her die so he could steal the artwork she literally put her life into, and he kept Yusuke around so he wouldn’t realize the truth and so he could train and milk artworks out of Yusuke from a young age.
Naturally, Yusuke doesn’t take to kindly to this; all incentive to forgive Madarame goes out the window, and our Artist Bro is ready to raise all kinds of holy hell. Shadow-Madarame gives into his greedy twisted desires and transforms into several freakish paintings consisting of two eyes a nose and a mouth. Meh, I’ve seen better on DeviantArt. Anyway, our group summons their Personas and the battle begins in earnest. However this one is different. Magic attacks are useless against the eyes and nose, and the mouth is immune to physical attacks; in addition, Shadow-Madarame is able to spit out black paint that’s able to sap the strength out of anything it comes in contact with. The Phantoms take cover to avoid the paint and come up with a plan. Ren spots several pots of energy-sapping paint and Mona comes up with the idea to use the paint against their enemy. So while Skull, Mona and Joker run interference, Yusuke runs in and paints over Shadow-Madarame, weakening him. Summoning their Personas once more, The Phantoms dispatch the demonic shadow, with Fox getting the well deserved final blow.
Now weak and impotent (hee-hee… “impotent”), Shadow-Madarame pleads for his life and argues his case that he is in fact the victim. Yusuke doesn’t buy it and demands that Madarame return to himself and confess all his crimes and evils. As the garish palace crumbles around him, Fox takes his painting and demands that Madarame, for once in his life, uses his own artwork.
That next day, during a live press briefing, Madarame, in an excellent example of ugly crying, confesses all of his crimes including the theft of “Saiyuri”, abusing his pupils and stealing their work for his own personal gain. It’s also revealed that the police are investigating further into this, and that the Phantom Thieves had posted calling cards around the area advertising what they were going to do. Both Akechi and Mikoto take great interest in this. Meanwhile, The Phantoms, watching on in interest, enjoy a celebratory fist bump.
After school, the group meets up at their hangout for a postmortem. Ryuji is psyched that the Phantom Thieves are getting loads of attention due to the change of heart. Yusuke is very appreciative and thankful to have his mothers painting back, and, once again, formally requests to join the team and join the crusade to change hearts; the only condition is that all plans he participates in are beautiful. Well, that’s good enough for Ren, and he approves of the newbie. When Ann asks why Yusuke happens to have a suitcase with him, he states that he has moved out of the atalier as he can no longer create artwork there. Also, moving into the student dorms is out of the question because his creative juices can’t flow there. He has decided, therefore, that his juices can best flow with Ann at her place. He’s even bought some very expensive snacks as gifts of thanks for letting him stay over. Ann, of course, is COMPLETELY against this. Shacking up might be okay with her persona Carmen, but not with her. Morgana then suggests that Yusuke should camp out at Leblanc with Ren. Ann doubles down on this, suggesting that they have a party to celebrate the change of heart and Yusuke’s addition to the group. While the others plan on what to cook up for the party, poor Ren is left literally holding the bag with Morgana trying to figure out how to get Sojiro to let Yusuke stay.
However, all is not as bad as it seems. Sojiro seems to be non-plussed with the new house guest, so long as they don’t make a ruckus late at night. Down, yuri fangirls, down. Anyway, the group decide to chow down on some hot pot up in Ren’s room.
Hot pot 🙂 We used to have a place that did that and it was so good <3
— Kitsune @ MS Comic Con (@DragonFoxStar) May 30, 2018
Just off the one image and nothing else, I'd say hot pot.
— MarcFBR (@MarcFBR) May 30, 2018
Food or Foo. Or perhaps Hot Pot.
— 🌐Calumon🌐 (@Solid_Snivy) May 31, 2018
By the way, shout out and thanks to my friends on Twitter who helped me figure out what exactly to call this particular dish. I wasn’t sure if it was a stew or a hot pot or what… I know I’ve seen it countless times before, but my mind was drawing a blank. It always helps to have friends who actually know what they’re talking about to help whenever the moment arises.
Anyway, the group relaxes after the meal, with Ann napping on the couch and Ren finishing up the leftovers. Yusuke decides to ask how exactly Ryuji knows Ann as they seem real close. Ryuji explains that they both went to the same middle school and that Ann was pretty ostracized among her classmates due to her foreign looks and heritage; popular kids hated her because she was so pretty, and quiet ones stayed away because they were too shy. Yusuke then asks about Ryuji, saying that it’s only fair as the group already knows plenty about Yusuke. Ryuji explains that his dad left when he was young and that he tried to get a track scholarship to help out his mom who was raising him as a single parent. However, the incident with Kamoshida sank all those hopes and the teachers gave his mom a real hard time for it. But Ryuji’s mom didn’t blame her son—she actually apologized to him for their family circumstances. Ryuji then passes the baton to Ren to let him tell his own story…
Of course, the boys are pretty upset over the events. Morgana suggests that they go about changing his heart, but Yusuke logically deduces that finding out who the guy is would prove really difficult and that the world is full of really crooked adults. TELL US ABOUT IT, RYUJI! However, Yusuke then suggests that they show the world true justice and continue to secretly deal with all the crooked people in the world as Phantom Thieves using their powers, and all this excitement rouses Ann from her food coma. She comments that, because they all have similar backgrounds, it feels as though they’ve all been together for longer than they actually have. When Morgana comments sadly that he doesn’t even know his background as he has no memories of his past, Ryuji reiterates the group commitment to get his memories back in Mementos. Ann then seriously states that they should continue on as Phatom Thieves as long as they possibly can in order to reform society, punish evildoers and give courage to the weak, all under Ren’s leadership.
As the credits roll the next morning, Yusuke has a cup of coffee downstairs with Sojiro. It seems as though our boy has decided to pack up and move into the student dorms after all as he needs more experience with dealing with real people in the real world. As he goes to leave, Yusuke decides to leave a special gift in LeBlanc: “Saiyuri.”
And that’s the end of episode 8! I have to say, we got a LOT done this particular episode. It was a good one, of course, but it crammed a whole lot into it’s 24-minute run time. We got a good heist scene, a nice battle, some great comedy moments, and some much-needed backstory on some key characters. All in all, this was a really good one.
I have to say, even though I’ve played through this particular palace in the game, and I knew what was coming up with regards to the death of Yusuke’s mom and the circumstances surrounding it, it still packed a decent punch. I mean, we knew that Madarame was a thief. We knew he was an abuser and a user. But to think that a human being could just watch another human being die like, steal and alter her painting (depicting her and her infant son), make a fortune out of it, and then use and abuse her son is messed up to the highest degree. Only an inhuman monster, or Donald Trump, would be capable of something like that.
The heist and the subsequent battle was done really well, and I do like the small cutaways between Ren being interrogated by Sae and the action we were seeing. That was pretty creative. Yes, it was a little choppy, but I have to admit, it was pretty cool. Also, I love the little beat we get with Nakanohara, the one who formally made the request to The Phantoms to change Madarame’s heart in the first place. It was nice to see him get his closure and it was a great way to finish up this arc as it was Nakanohara who actually started this whole ball rolling in the first place. Great job, bowl cut. Crying shame we may not see you again, bless your heart.
The only real problems that I have with this episode is that it felt like the battle ended a little TOO quickly. I mean, it would’ve been nice to see Joker go through and use different personas throughout the battle trying to figure out what works and what won’t, much like a player would do in the game. Also, while I do like the cool down we get in the second half of the episode, it did feel a little too much like a video game info-dump. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the fact that Ryuji actually told us his backstory completely, but it just felt like it was clumsily done. I wish it were done just a bit smoother. Finally, that dawg-gone episode title. I think they’re getting longer and longer with each passing episode! It’s actually borderline ridiculous. I really hope this is the end of the long titles.
But other than that, and the obvious misspelling of the word “Security” on the door inside the palace (ah, you didn’t think I was going to mention that, didn’t you?), this was another solid episode. The next episode looks like it’ll focus more on setting things up for the next palace, with some emphasis on developing secondary characters. I look forward to seeing how the show handles “Operation Maid Watch.”
Seriously? You don’t remember this? We’ve done this eight times already. You should know this. Anyway, 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.