Hey guys, Josh here back in stride again with my review of Persona 5: The Animation. I’m making slow and steady process to catch back up, after my burn-out a few weeks ago, and I think I’m doing a fairly decent job! I again thank you all for your patience as I get back in the running, and I also thank you for your kind words and critiques! It’s greatly appreciated.
We’re now officially in the 2nd half of the series, guys! Episode 14! And this episode, in particular, feels like a mid-season episode. I don’t say that in a bad way, mind you, this episode was really good, it’s just that there were some things that the episode does to refresh the viewer and bring them up to date about what’s going on. Sometimes it seamlessly flows into the core story of the episode, other times it feels like we’re being hit by a sledge hammer with “HEY, REMEMBER THIS?! THIS IS A THING THAT HAPPENED!” Oh, and we also get a new OP, which is always prodigious. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Time to get spun in by the net you didn’t capture in time! I’m Josh, and this is Episode 14 of Persona 5: The Animation!
Our episode starts off in the present day, with Ren under interrogation by Sae. A mob of reporters ambush Akechi in a car and ask him about his involvement in the investigation of the Phantom Thieves; Akechi doesn’t offer a comment and is spirited away, with our Detective Prince requesting the driver drop him off in Sakuradamon. We then get a voice over of Sae explaining the premise of the show up to this point—The Phantoms, a group of renegades who change the hearts of bad guys through various mysterious means, got caught up in one of their capers, leading to the arrest and abuse of one of the members. Al l this we know, of course, but what’s new is that Sae says that she actually believes all of Ren’s story up to this point. Roll Credit—Ooooh, what’s this?
Yes, with the start of the 2nd half of Persona 5: The Animation, we get a new OP which has to be one of the most stylish and stylized OP’s I’ve seen in a long time! While I did love the first OP, “Break in to Break Out,” “Dark Sun” by Lyn is downright drool-worthy. Put Lyn in front of a microphone and baby girl can DO NO WRONG. That orchestral kick in the beginning with the violins rocks my socks to no end. And those visuals… those GORGEOUS visuals. The creators clearly went full-on comic book with this one, and it’s much needed. This OP really seems to go with the overall feel of both the video game that came before it and the anime that came after. The whole thing moves and flows, which is weird considering that quite a few of the shots we see are static. That last shot of The Phantoms’ logo on the school chalkboard is perfectly done and it serves as a notice to the viewers; “For the next 20 or so minutes, you belong to us.”
After the credits, we return to the stupid open-air walkway meeting place where our team is talking about their next target; a net stalker at Shujin who has gone off the deep end and started a blog where she fantasizes about her boyfriend. Baby girl is worse than a Vic Mignogna fangirl in the early 2000’s; trouble is… she doesn’t HAVE a boyfriend and she talks about killing people on it. And you thought Ann Coulter and Donald Trump were the only delusional ones online. Anyway, the group decides they have to do something and, with the chords of “Last Surprise” blasting, The Phantoms enter Mementos to deal with the problem.
It seems as though the shadow of our net stalker has really gone off the deep end and transforms into what can only be described as a large demonic teddy bear, so in turn, our group fires off their trademark blasts with their Personas, reintroducing themselves to the viewing audience. No, REALLY, they each have their own name cards that flash up on screen after their attacks and trademark catchphrases that, if you’ve played the game, you’ll recognize IMMEDIATELY. Yes, it’s corny, but dawg gone it, you put “Last Surprise” in front of anything and it automatically makes it cool. It’s the law. Besides, the name cards look pretty stylish and if you’re quick with the PrtScrn key, you can get some great wallpapers. In any case, the battle is won, the treasure is stolen, and the next day, in the real world, our stalker apologizes to her crush, who takes the whole thing in stride, suggesting they be friends to start off with. Change of Heart: Accomplished.
Later at school, after getting lucky with scoring the last yakisoba at the school store, he runs into Makoto and has a chat. After a discussion about finals and grades, she recounts how The Phantoms were able to affect so much change before she arrived with regards to Kamoshida, while she just behaved and did as she was told like a puppet, not being of use to anyone. And yes, this is just a recap of the first couple episodes before she joined in. Like I said earlier, half of this episode is recapping the first 13 episodes, so it’s to be expected. Awkward, yes, but it’s to be expected.
Anyway, Makoto asks Ren for a favor. Baby girl wants to expand her horizons a bit more and get an understanding of what her female classmates might go through when they go to Shinjuku’s Red Light district with Ren behind her for backup. Of course, our protag agrees and the plan is set into motion. Almost immediately, thinking she’s alone, a guy working at a host club approaches her and offers her a job. Makoto, pretty naive about the world, just sputters, not offering up any resistance as the sketchy guy drags her off. Ren sees where this can be trouble and immediately drags her off, and as the two catch their breath, they spot a girl in a Shujin uniform walking into a sketchy looking establishment called “After School Salon.” Makoto recognizes her immediately as a girl in her grade…
The next day, Eiko Takao is called into the student council room. She explains that the place she works is just a regular old café with the twist being they serve customers while wearing their school uniforms. Yeah… umm… that sounds VERY suspect… but then I realize this is Japan… there’s a café for every taste, and I’m not talking about food. Anyway, Eiko asks what Makoto and Ren were doing in that part of town themselves. While Makoto, bless her heart, is clueless as to what she could be insinuating, Ren immediately catches on. Ah, Makoto, so pure. Anyway, Eiko is amused at Makoto’s daring, and even more amused at her pencil case, Buchimaru-kun, which she’s had since she was in elementary school. Eiko, also the connoisseur of may Buchimaru-kun things, swaps ID’s with Makoto so she can send her pics of her collection.
That night, Ren heads back home to find Yusuke in the shop, wanting to see “Saiyuri.” When Sojiro leaves, Yusuke begins his own flashback sequence about his relationship with Madarame. Yeah, I’m not going to waste too much time on this as we’ve already seen this in the previous episodes. Suffice it to say, this is one of the clunkiest and random segues into a flashback I’ve seen since King’s Game: The Animation; this scene could LITERALLY be anyone else stopping by LeBlanc to spend time with Ren.
Back in the present, Sae continues to stew over the fact that her sister was a member of The Phantoms, wondering what obvious signs she could’ve missed. She admits that while she did get her sense of justice from her father, ignoring others for that justice will only lead to self-destruction, something she says Makoto doesn’t understand because she’s just a child. Oh, how she underestimates our Queen…
Back in the past, Makoto and Ren are playing a skeet shooting game in the arcade with shot guns. Makoto tells Ren that her mock exam rating has dropped. When he questions if this has anything to do with her work with The Phantoms, she states that while her studying has been consistent even with the Phantom Thief shenanigans she is starting to wonder if all her hard work is really worth it. Once upon a time, she had a vague desire to go into law like her sister and her father because it was expected of her, but now that she has her freedom from those expectations, she begins to question what SHE wants to do with her life. And this is something that’s absolutely understand, and something that I’ve seen and gone through first hand; I could go into a long dissertation about how I feel that kids these days are pushed into higher education instead of guided, but that’s a conversation for another day. We got some Persona to talk about.
That night in Shinjuku, Mishima finally meets up with Ichiko the reporter… and baby girl is delightfully sloshed. She drunkenly demands all the details from Shujin that Ren promised her earlier, and suffice it to say, Mishima is not too happy with this and angrily blows up Ren’s phone while he’s watching a foreign high school soap opera. Ren, brother man, you can do so much better than the crap we have on TV! Heck, WE watch YOUR stuff for entertainment! Morgana comments that “foreign high schoolers are way ahead of us,” and on that I disagree! Dude, have you seen what your high schoolers are capable of?! Have you not seen Toradora? Lucky Star? Daily Lives of High School Boys? Nichijou? Ouran High School Host Club? AZUMANGA DAIOH?! Japan has the market for high school series on lock-down! Anyway, Mishima text blasts Ren about his relationship with Ichiko, however Ren ain’t got time for that and turns the phone off. Morgana then blasts us into a recap about how they met Ichiko, who led them to Kaneshiro and got them a new team member in Makoto. Speaking of, she messages Ren and asks him for another favor…
Meanwhile, Eiko and her boy toy, an older Host Club guy named Tsukasa, are getting their fortunes told, and it doesn’t look too promising. The fortune teller offers a bleak outlook on the future, but offers a special trinket to help avoid the future that awaits. Before she has a chance to reply, Eiko gets a message from Makoto which Tsukasa finds very interesting… or rather, he finds Makoto’s candid picture in Eiko’s phone interesting…
The next day, after picking out some pricey jewelry with Ann’s help, Ren meets up with Makoto, Eiko and Tsukasa, under the guise that it’s a group date. Tsukasa is pretty… well… sleazy. He either ignores or disses Ren, and when Eiko goes to the restroom, he asks for Makoto’s messenger ID. Ren offers up his instead, but Tsukasa blows him off as he’s more interested in Makoto, stating that he already got her phone number from “Princess,” and now he just wants the messenger ID. After all, a friend of “Princess” is a friend of his, right? As the host and Eiko walk off, Makoto wonders if her new friend is going to be alright…
Next day after school, Makoto expresses her concern to Ren in the Student Council room, and she feels that Eiko might be getting played by Tsukasa as she’s heard rumors of host men milking women for money and then forcing them to sell their bodies for more money once they get into debt. When Ren asks about her suspicions, Makoto explains that before he died in an accident, her father investigated a similar case of young girls being taken advantage of by a criminal group. She then asks for Ren’s help to help find what exactly she’s supposed to do with her life. Geeze, no pressure. Makoto explains that Eiko asked her for money because Tsukasa dropped a bottle of sake and the host club is making him pay for it. Makoto is certain this is a lie, and eventually, she learns the truth after doing some asking around in Shinjuku with Ren.
Later, Eiko meets up with Makoto and Ren and tells her the truth; her boy toy Tsukasa is playing her like a fiddle, and has played others in much the same way—tricking them into debt and making them pay for it. Eiko is in denial of course and when Tsukasa arrives, she confronts him with it, and of course, he denies it. Makoto then confronts him with some damning evidence; in their whole time together, he has never called Eiko by her name; he’s always referred to her as “Princess.” Tsukasa, having had so many different “Princesses” under his belt (not literally, I hope), and he can’t seem to remember his girlfriend’s name, calling Eiko “Makoto”. However, this was a trap setup by Makoto as she was the one who texted Tsukasa to meet up making the text look like it came from Eiko, emojis and all. However again, Eiko is angry with Makoto for getting in her business and lashes out. However again again, Makoto proves that she’s a graduate of the “The Mrs. Kamiya School of Slapping People Even When They May Not Need/Deserve It.”
What IS “The Mrs. Kamiya School of Slapping People Even When They May Not Need/Deserve It”? Allow me to fill you in!
“The Mrs. Kamiya School of Slapping People Even When They May Not Need/Deserve It” is an illustrious academy founded by one Yuuko Kamiya, the mother of Tai Kamiya from Digimon Adventure. While she may seem like a nice and gentle housewife, don’t be fooled. That hand of hers glows with an awesome power; its burning grip tells her to slap people whether they deserve it or not. The founding of the school occurred many years ago, when, upon hearing that her young son took his ailing little sister out to the park, and said little sister got even sicker, Mrs. Kamiya introduced her five fingers to the side of her young son’s face and thus, the school of slapping people when they really didn’t deserve it was created. There have been many illustrious graduates of the school, and it seems as though Makoto Nijima is the latest graduate. Congrats ma’am.
Anyway, Makoto puts five across Eiko’s face and tells her to wake up get up get out there; Tsukasa has been playing her, and she should know better. Eiko breaks down, saying that nobody but Tsukasa cares about her or looks at her. She then lashes out, saying that Makoto, the studious student council president who only goes along with others expectations of her, wouldn’t understand where she’s coming from. Makoto says that this has nothing to do with being a member of the student council and everything to do with being her friend. Overcome, Eiko dashes off. When Tsukasa threatens Makoto for getting rid of his meal ticket, Ren finally steps in and is all like “Yeah, no bro. You don’t want none of this.” Tsukasa scampers away. That’s right, run away, little boy. You have NO idea who you’re dealing with.
Later, Ryuji messages the group about something interesting on the Phan-Site. It seems as though a lot of women have been complaining about one particular host club member. Interesting… the group come to a consensus—it’s time to roll out!
So we go to Mementos, and, of course, it’s Tsukasa! Now it’s Fox, Queen, and Joker’s chance to get their cool name cards! After the fight, Queen tells Joker that Eiko apologized and invited her over to show off her Buchimaru-kun collection. She then tells Joker that she has figured out what she wants to do with her life. Baby girl wants to be a police officer and help others just like her father did. However, it would be kinda awkward arresting herself, so in the meantime, she’ll continue down the path of a Phantom Thief. ROLL CREDITS!
Back in the interrogation room, Ren tells Sae that Makoto isn’t the dumb kid she thought she knew. Sae is shocked at this, but maintains her cool, wanting to move on to the next case. This time, their target had no face, but still managed to get the jump on The Phantoms and declared war on the team. The targets name? MedJed. Sae demands answers on how they managed to escape this predicament.
And that’s the end of Episode 14. Plain and simple, this is the creators way of saying “Allow myself to introduce… myself.” While yes, there are a few moments when it feels a little forced, and yes, some of the flashbacks were a little awkwardly placed, I have to say, on the whole, this reintroduction episode was well done. It could be argued that in this day and age, with the rise of streaming services like Crunchyroll, and shows coming out on a once-a-week schedule, recap episodes are redundant, but my thoughts are, if the episode is done right and it doesn’t feel hokey, you can get away with it, and this episode was done right… for the most part. It wasn’t full on clip-show flashback, and it wasn’t just obscure references thrown about. This is an episode with an actual character-developing story that’s also functioning as an introduction to any late-entrants into the Persona 5 world.
The story with Eiko and the Host was kinda boring, but it gave Makoto some great development, so it ended up being okay. Honestly, I think the creators really favor Makoto more than any other character, as we are given two episodes devoted to her development. I’m not complaining, as I am a fan of Makoto, but it’s just interesting to see how this character is, so far, getting a lot of screen time after her premiere. Also, teaming her up with Ren is double-awesome because anytime Ren gets teamed up with anyone, he develops a little more too.
I have to say, I LOVED the two battles we got this time around! Yes, the name badges and poses with the quotes was corny, but dawg gone it, it was STYLISHLY corny! And the fact that the first battle used “Last Surprise” gave me SO MUCH LIFE. It’s been a while since I heard the song in the anime, and hearing it for this half-way episode was just the shot I needed! Also, I love the attention to detail with the name cards and how Joker, the Wildcard of the series, doesn’t have a Persona assigned to him–instead there are just three question marks where the persona’s name would be.
One more thing before I go, I think it goes without saying that this anime will be dubbed, and hopefully, they’ll get the video game V/A’s to reprise their roles for the anime. I absolutely can’t wait to hear Amanda Winn-Lee play drunken Ichiko! Having heard her play Yukiko “drunk” in Persona 4: The Animation, I have no doubt she’ll knock it out the effing park… for real.
So yeah, this episode was really good. Yes, it was a semi-clip show, and yes some of the clips were hokey and the lead-ins were a little clumsily done, but it was a clip show with a legitimate story and really, that’s the best kind of clip show. The new OP is a treat for the ears and eyes, and we’re moving on into our next Palace with the promise of adventures and challenges the likes of which The Phantoms have never seen. We’ll also be introduced to what has to be the cutest little sister character in anime since Nanako Dojima in Persona 4. Don’t @ Me.
(Actually, feel free to @ me… I’m @KhakiBlueSocks on Twitter)
Welp, since we’re recapping everything else, may as well recap this. 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.