Hey guys, Josh here, once again bringing you the belated awesomeness that is Persona 5: The Animation! Yes, I am really behind with this week’s review, and I would like to offer my apologies. I recently started a new job and my work schedule has completely flipped. I went from working 5AM to 2PM, to working noon to 8PM. It is a great job, though, but the change has caused me to fall behind on many things. Thankfully, Azure is a forgiving editor who was gracious enough to give me time to get this hammered out, so thanks to him and thanks to all of you for bearing with me!
Anyway, Episode 9 of P5:A, and this time we get something COMPLETELY different. We get some character development, and we actually get to see our protagonist turn into a real person instead of being a living dry-erase board. This episode is pretty much the answer to the question: “What would happen if I picked all the gag answers in the game?” And the answer to that question is… this episode… which is awesome.
Time to find yourself in the debris… I’m Josh, and this is my review of episode 9 of Persona 5: The Animation!
Last time on P5:A, The Phantoms commence their operation against the art thief Madarame with a good old-fashioned art museum heist! The calling card is sent and the group storm the castle, executing a flawless plan, only to be tricked by the old switch-a-roo! The treasure this time is the true painting of “Saiyuri,” a self portrait of Yusuke’s mom holding Yusuke as a baby. The secret is also revealed that Madarame allowed Yusuke’s mother to die in front of him of a seizure so he could steal her works; the battle kicks off, and while it seems as though Shadow-Madarame has the upper hand, The Phantoms turn the tables and defeat him, stealing the treasure and leaving him and his career in utter ruins. Madarame confesses to all his crimes in the real world and The Phantoms enjoy a celebratory fist bump and hot pot. Got it? Good. Let’s get started!
We start our episode after a battle with Ren acquiring a brand new Slime Persona. However, Fox’s artistic “erection” has reached critical mass as being inside Mementos gets his creative juices flowing. Ah, the power of youth, Rock Lee would be proud. Anyway, because The Phantoms have gotten more fame and notoriety since dealing with Madarame, another pathway has opened up leading further into the depths of Mementos. But the group decides to go ahead and call it a day. Skull asks what they’re supposed to do with all the “spoils of war” which looks remarkably like dirty laundry. Joker then makes the logical suggestion that they go and wash them. Roll Credits!
After the credits, we see where Morgana is sitting watch in the laundromat near Leblanc while Ann and the boys go for a bath…
…Peace and a have mercy. Umm… wow. Not used to seeing THAT in Persona 5, either game or anime! Yes indeed. Ahem… did it get hot in here, or is it just me? Alright. Let’s move right along. Anyway, The Phantoms decide to go for a bath, with our boys jammed into one communal tub dealing with… ahem… other things… while an old guy decides to make Phantom Soup by turning up the hot water, much to Ryuji’s annoyance. Hey, some like it hot.
Anyway, after the bath, the group check out the Phan-Site and discover a survey has been posted up: “Do you believe in the Phantom Thieves of Hearts?” However, judging by the low approval ratings and some of the more disparaging posts on the forum, the answer is mostly “nope.” But on the bright side, The Phantom’s approval numbers are higher than Donald Trump’s approval numbers in the black community, so that’s something to celebrate. While this news inspires Ryuji to jump up and seek out the next big target, Morgana wisely advises patience; since Madarame was a much larger fish than Kamoshida, the police are a little more than interested in finding the Phantom Thieves to find out what’s up, so it would be wise if they laid low and continued to behave as regular high school students and study up for their midterm exams to keep up appearances. Looks like the laundry is done, and Yusuke suggests selling it at the shop for money… apparently the phrase “Starving Artist” is not just a euphemism, it’s LIFE. #FeedYusuke. On the way home, Ryuji checks the mailbox and sees something… interesting…
The next day passes without incident for Ren, and we see him go about his day to day–buying bread (as all high school boys tend to do…), checking out books from the library, passing by a female student dangerously obsessed with her crush… same old same old. As it turns out, the whispers and rumors about him are still going on, but they’re not as venomous or spiteful as they were during the Kamoshida days. During class, Ryuji messages Ren and asks to meet up with him after class without Morgana or Ann knowing. Uh-oh… I smell shenanigans.
After class, Ryuji shows what he got in the mail last night; it’s a flyer for a Maid Service. Pretty much, a cute girl in a maid uniform will come to your house and do ANYTHING for you. Ryuji fills Ren in on the plan he has in mind, call the maid over to one of the vacant apartments in Ryuji’s building and… well… see where things go. And, of course, it’s only natural to relieve some pressure from the upcoming exams, so what better way, right? As Ren is being seduced over, Mishima walks up and proclaims he wants to get in on this too. His reasoning? This is simply an investigation into what kind of “Services” this company offers, are they legal, and whether or not the maids look as advertised. This seems to be excuse enough for Ren as he is now all aboard for the plan which has been dubbed “Operation Maid Watch.”
Later, after changing his clothes and getting his requisite checkup from Dr. Takemi, Ren meets up with Mishima outside a bookshop. It seems our best bro is gathering information for the Phan-Site as it’s popularity has been gaining in popularity since Madarame’s downfall. Mishima seems determined to make the site the best it possibly could be. Good man. Ryuji soon joins the pair and Operation Maid Watch is initiated!
At the vacant apartment, Ren is delegated the task of making the phone call to the maid housekeeping service. Suffice it to say, our boys aren’t picky about what kind of maid they’re going to get; they’re horny and they want a peek. After a few minutes, the doorbell rings, and dang, you gotta love Japan! In less time than it takes to get a pizza here in the states, you can get a housekeeping maid (complete in uniform) to do WHATEVER you want! However, Ryuji and Mishima’s bodies are not ready and they opt to hide on the veranda, leaving Ren to his fate. Some friends! The maid decides to come on in and gives her whole spiel. Her name is “Becky” and she’s laying it on thicker than chunky peanut butter, offering to do many different services like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and… umm… other “services”. However, when Becky studies Ren closely, it turns out our Phantom Thief is too young to be sampling from the Adult Menu, and “Becky” decides to roll out. Ryuji, big mouth that he is, bless him, voices his indignation from the veranda. When “Becky” goes to see what’s up, having recognized the voices, Ryuji and Mishima bolt. Ren then puts two and two together and “Becky” confesses. She is, in fact, Kawakami-Sensei, Ren’s homeroom teacher moonlighting as a maid. Quick to hightail it out of there, Kawakami suggests that they both forget the whole thing ever happened, and she’ll treat this as just another cancellation.
The next day, at Morgana’s insistence, Ren decides to ask Kawakami about her part-time hustle, however, Chouno-sensei has caught her first, bawling her out for skipping faculity meetings and leaving work early, creating a hardship for the other teachers… though I really don’t see how. Besides, who is Chouno to berate another teacher? That’s not her job. And to do it in broken English too? Oh, come on… Kawakami is a better teacher than I, that much is certain… Chouno-sensei would be learning a few… not so nice words if she had gotten in MY face like that. I’m just saying. Anyway, Ren comes up and saves the day acting as though he had yet another question for Kawakami. Kawakami decides to build on this, saying that she helps him out at night with any questions or issues he might have. This is enough to earn praise from Chouno who leaves the two of them be. Kawakami thinks that Ren is doing this to get something out of her, but Ren brushes it off, saying that it looked as though she needed some help. Ren then gets a message from Ryuji apologizing for bolting out and suggests that the two of them turn over a new leaf as a life of crime is not for him… ironically enough.
As it turns out, this new leaf involves exercising… lots and lots of exercising. As Ren and Ryuji recover from a particularly hard session, two students, Nakaoka and Takeishi, confront Ryuji. They think that Ryuji is planning on joining the newly formed Track Team, and they want no part of him. Ryuji however hasn’t even heard that the school was rebuilding the team, but before Ryuji can get more info, the two boys trudge away. When Ren questions his blonde bro, he brushes it off, but Ren then remembers that Kawakami seemed to know a lot more about what happened to the track team… so he gets an idea on how to get info from her.
That night, Ren calls the Maid Serivce and requests Kawakami to come over to his attic in Leblanc. At first, Kawakami is annoyed to be called by one of her students for maid service, but instead of cleaning, Ren decides to get some info from Maid-Sensei about Ryuji and his relationship with the track team; if you recall, Ryuji was provoked by Kamoshida to the point where he decked him, ending his track career. Kawakami speculates that what really pushed Ryuji over the edge was Kamoshida’s talking about how badly his mom was raising him as a single parent, which would natrually cause anyone to throw some blows. Ren suggests that Ryuji endured a lot of Kamoshida’s foolishness up to and including the abuse in order to protect the track team and only snapped when Kamoshida brought up his mom. Ryuji is a hot head, yes, but only when it comes down to other people and never just for the sake of being angry. Kawakami admits that she never realized this about Ryuji and that she misjudged him. As she gets ready to leave, she provides Ren some interesting information… as it turns out, the track team is being reformed and Yamauchi-Sensei is the adviser. The problem? He’s one of Kamoshida’s lackeys and doesn’t know a dawg gone thing about track. DUN-DUN-DUN…
Later, Ren and Ryuji stake out a restaurant that Yamauchi is heading into. Ryjji is grateful that Ren is going to such lengths, but is curious as to why his Phan-Bro is going through all this for him. For Ren the answer is simple; a mopey Ryuji is no good for this world. So the plan is for Ren to go in the restaurant (as Ryuji is too well known) and find out why exactly Yamauchi is interested in the team.
Once inside, Ren sits nearby two drunk guys talking, one of which is Yamauchi. They discuss the plan in detail; in order to move Shujin forward after the Kamoshida incident, the volleyball team is being broken up and the track team is being brought back with Yamauchi as the adviser and all the original team members that was under Kamoshida. Their plan is to make this look as good as possible for the newspapers; after all, we all love a good comeback story, don’t we? As for the troublemakers on the team like Nakaoka, Yamauchi decided to leak some dirty information Kamoshida gave him a while back to the other players… this peaks Ren’s interests…
The next day, Ryuji, with Ren behind him, confronts the track team who are in the middle of giving Nakaoka a piece of their minds. Word got out that he told Kamoshida loads of dirt in order to avoid getting hazed. Before they can really lay into him, Ryuji interrupts and tells the group everything about how they’re being played. When Takeshi asks for proof, our Blonde Bro says that because the information came from Ren, he trusts it completely. Takeshi then tells Ryuji that he should be upset because it was Nakaoka who spilled the beans about Ryuji’s mom, but Ryuji takes it in his stride, not caring that the information got out as Kamoshida has already been dealt with. Ryuji suggests that instead of getting mad at each other, they should go ahead and run the new track team their own way without Yamauchi. However, Takeshi is one of these stupid hot-headed types that just HAS to be the best for his proud father, so Ryuji then makes the team an offer—as they are probably no doubt still upset at him for inadvertently breaking up the track team, Ryuji offers to let the track team use him as a punching bag to work off frustration, thinking that they wouldn’t actually do it…
…however, Ryuji grossly underestimated how angry a group of hormonal high school boys can be as they take him up on the offer, taking a couple swings at our bro. In the shadows, overhearing the conversation, Kawakami smiles at this resolution.
After the beat down, the track team seems to be all smiles and Ren congratulates his bro on a job well done and the two go off to eat some ramen. Ryuji comments that although the punches hurt, the track team seems satisfied so all is well. Our blonde bro admits that he was scared the whole time of facing the group, but because Ren was there, everything ended up being alright. The two boys celebrate the restoration of the team over two bowls of ramen, and Ren gets a souvenir ramen bowl for his shelf. Happy days.
The next day, Kawakami tells Ren that Yamauchi is out as the Track Team adviser and the original coach is coming back. She then tells Ren to feel free to call the maid service and request her services again including cleaning, laundry and…massages…that she is really good at. So what does our Phantom Thief Leader decide to have our maid-teacher do?
…laundry, of course. Roll credits!
After the credits, we find ourselves in the velvet room in the middle of a fusion. Igor compliments Ren on his rehabilitation and his forming of new binding contracts with his confidants. He openly questions which one he’ll uncover next. The two guards warn Ren to be careful…great change is approaching. Ren awakens and goes downstairs where Sojiro is watching the news. Seems as though a seemingly healthy food service worker went straight up cray-cray behind the wheel and killed four people early that morning. Fast forward to the jail cell and Sae continues theorizing about the incident and asks Ren about the next target the Phantom Thieves of Hearts; a big fish named Junya Kaneshiro…
So, that’s the end of episode 9, and honestly this episode feels like a breath of fresh air! I know I’ve been really digging this series so far, but this episode I particularly love. Finally, FINALLY we get some humor in this one. Genuine, relatable humor from beginning to end. These are the characters and situations I fell in love with during the video game, and I like it.
Okay, I’m gonna say right now that I really liked Ren this episode. He’s no longer just a blank slate… his personality, much like when playing the game, is being developed and formed by the people around him. Ren is much more expressive this episode, and you can tell he’s more comfortable around the group just by looking at his body language and the way he speaks to them. This is always one of my favorite moments in the Persona anime series; when the protagonist stops being boring and starts becoming his own person. It’s always fun to see in what direction the creators take the protagonist in the anime with each episode. For example, when it came to Yu Narukami in Persona 4: The Animation, they kept some of the deadpan aspects of his personality, but gave him a lot of snarky and gag replies. In Persona 5, we’re starting to see that Ren has a bit of a weakness for the ladies. An aspect that we will, no doubt, see more of as the show goes on. Speaking of, I love the fact that when Ren is left alone with “Becky”, he pretty much gives all the gag answers to the questions. It’s real funny, and it gives Ren something to do other than standing around and adjusting his glasses.
While I do like the development of Ryuji as a character in this episode, and I do appreciate the explanation of why Ryuji is the way he is, as he sometimes gets a bad rap for being just this brash, hotheaded bigmouth, I do feel that the whole thing with the Track Team was a little complex and boring sports shounen anime stuff. Admittedly, this is not the fault of the anime, as I found this part of Ryuji’s confidant social link in the game boring as well.
So, yeah, this episode was really fun! It’s great to get these episodes that focus on developing the characters and having a little fun the whole time. Some might call this a filler episode, but they would be wrong—it’s all about the social links, baby.
Time to remind you where you can watch this… as though you didn’t already know. 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.