Persona 5: The Animation – Episode 18 – “I’ll Guide You To Victory”

Good Morning, Good Evening, Good Afternoon one and all and welcome to my pontifications about the prodigious prose that is Persona 5: The Animation! Yes, I know this review is about three episodes behind, and once again, I am so very sorry about the delay, however, as I mentioned in my previous review, MechaCon + rain – rain jacket = sick Josh. But I’m well on the road to recovery, and I’m determined to get all caught up once again so I can be back on top of this series for the final series of episodes. Once again, thank you all for your patience, and thank you all again for your commentary and support through this series. I have to admit, this is the longest series of reviews I’ve ever done. I’ve done 12-13 episodic reviews before, but nothing quite like this. I’ve given Rob the explicit permission to smack me upside the head the next time I decide to do a multi-season anime.

So, episode 18 is a continuation of the previous episodes, continuing on with the Futaba Sakura arc, as well as setting the groundwork for the next story arc… and I have to say, it was… alright. Things are getting set in place for the next story arc, but we’re still milking out some more character development for our newest character. However, there is a great concern looming over the horizon, dear friends, one that I will address after this write-up.

People walking around everyday playing games and taking scores… trying to make other people lose their minds, be careful you don’t lose yours! I’m Josh and this is Episode 18 of Persona 5: The Animation!

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We start off in Ren’s room with our little hacker perched on Ren’s bed, communicating with the others through chat. Yeah, we haven’t quite gotten those social skills setup just yet. Makoto asks Futaba if she would like to join The Phantoms, and of course, baby girl agrees quickly, especially since she needs their help as she discussed with Ren in the restaurant last time. As Ryuji celebrates their newest member, Futaba decides now is a good time to check on her ramen cooking downstairs and leaves without saying a word. Morgana expresses concern about Futaba, but Ren offers up a simple suggestion; they should get to know her. Makoto expounds on the idea, suggesting that if each of them spend the whole day with her, she’ll get used to them and open up a little more. Also, this will have the added benefit of enhancing her social links skills. Ryuji suggests they all go out to the beach, since, well, it’s summer vacation after all, and this anime really needs a beach episode. It’s a transition, after all. Roll Credits!

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We open up to see Ren getting a job at the flower shop in the mall; being a Phantom Thief is nice and all, but it doesn’t pay the bills. Afterwards, he visits Futaba in her room and opts to clean up for her as she does her hacking duties. Later, Makoto and Yusuke stopping by for a visit, but Futaba is still a little shy as she dons a large mask. Oddly enough, Yusuke seems to like the avant-garde look. Oh, who am I kidding, this is Yusuke we’re talking about—for him, this isn’t odd at all. The montage goes on with the group trying to help Futaba socialize by working in Leblanc (while wearing the mask), playing video games, and having nice chats with the others in the group. So far, so good.

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Later, Sojiro decides to pull Ren aside and show him how to make curry so he can help out in the restaurant should the need arise. During this time, he actually compliments Ren, saying how earnest he is. Wow… Sojiro actually being nice. Miracles can happen. The next day, Ryuji and Yusuke come in and Sojiro suggests that Ren give some of his curry to them. Unfortunately, Ren must’ve been following the Cajun recipe as he made it prodigiously spicy. However, despite the five alarm fire in their mouths, Ryuji and Ren keep eating, enjoying the torturous fire in their mouths. Boys, I got some bad news for you… that curry may be good now, and it’s awesome that you are eating that so as not to make your bro feel bad, but heaven help you later this evening when you get on the toilet. For your sake, I hope you are within reach of a bidet. You’ll need it.

Anyway, Futaba comes in and Sojiro immediately covers for Ren, saying they’re fresh out of his curry, and offers her some of his. Good save, Sojiro! Ann and Makoto walk in later stating that they got Futaba’s swimsuit. Futaba expresses some hesitation at first, but is determined to go all out and enjoy an offline summer with her new friends. The girls then go upstairs to try on the swimsuit, much to Futaba’s terror as the swimsuit doesn’t cover all that much. The boys are naturally… ahem… embarrassed.

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Anyway, it’s beach time, and our group are all decked out in their swimsuits, including Futaba who is still a little embarrassed, having wrapped her entire head in bandages. However, Team Mom Makoto helps her out and unwraps the adorable mummy. Ren voices his approval of his newest team member’s swimsuit which breaks the ice a little, and Morgana, of course, only has eyes for Ann, bless him.

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And so, the group go about doing beach shenanigans like playing volleyball, eating crappy beach food, and just overall goofing off. When Futaba expresses interest in renting a banana boat to ride on (get your minds out the gutter, please), Ren says that it’s okay as he just made mad bank at work. Meanwhile, Yusuke has been balling out of control himself, buying two lobsters on sale due to their unique shape. However, our artistic bro once again proves that he should not be allowed within five of a debit card, as he does not have the money to get back home. D’oh!

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After a few more beach shenanigans, our group meets at the shore for a bit of a sunset exposition dump chat with Futaba. She’s talking about her mom and how hard she worked balancing her research into cognitive psience, and raising a young precocious girl who always found her way into her notes. Futaba then talks about the part of her mothers research involving palaces, and it’s pretty much the scientific version of what we already know; someone with particularly distorted desires can create a cognitive world that causes the person in the real world to behave erratically, and the only solution is to remove the core of the cognition, the “treasure,” in order to cause the person to revert back to normal. Even though Futaba had the knowledge of her mother’s research, due to her own issues, she was too deep in her own thoughts to do anything about it, hence the reason she asked The Phantoms to steal her heart. She goes on to mention that, right before she died, Wakaba experienced the symptoms of a mental shutdown. Remember that? It’s when the person in the cognition dies and the person in the real world loses consciousness. Futaba remembers that her mother didn’t actually JUMP into the road when she was hit by a car; she collapsed, and soon after her death, all her research suddenly disappeared. Futaba admits that she is not interested in the whole “change your heart” thing, she’s simply out to get the truth about what happened to her mother, who wanted her research so badly that they would kill her for it. She admits that it’s a personal reason for her to join the group, but the others won’t hear of it and welcome her in with open arms, with Morgana finally admitting that Futaba has what it takes to be a great thief.

The next day, Ryuji decides to drag Ren and Morgan to a fishing pond. Why? Well… because it makes it seem like they’re talking some shady business, of course. Yeah, I don’t get it either. However, something seems wrong with Morgana, because our little cat burglar had a nightmare a few scenes back, and apparently hasn’t been sleeping well. However, before anyone has a chance to address it, who should they bump into but Kawakami-sensei, fishing her youth away. She’s naturally flustered at seeing two of her students at a fishing hole, and I have a feeling she’s particularly flustered to see Ren as he, once again, has discovered something new about his very attractive teacher. While they’re fishing, Futaba sends a message to Ren, and apparently our little hacker is going to Akihabara to buy a game, and wants to meet up with Ren and Ryuji, confident in her abilities now that she was able to catch the train to the beach with no problems.

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However, our precious cinnamon roll has run into a bit of an error. She made it to Akihabara just fine, but when she realized that she was around so many people, Futaba panicked and froze up, causing people to stop and stare and the police to be summoned to see what the problem was. Thankfully, Ren and Ryuji arrived on the scene to clear everything up, and Ryuji, clearly enamored with a massaging chair (I know how you feel bro. The massage chairs at Brookstone are heaven… or I should say “were”), tells Futaba that if she ever gets in trouble like that to just call them. She agrees, but it’s clear by her leaning in on Ren that she already has someone specific in mind to call upon for help. Ryuji points out that the two of them look like brother and sister, and actually, he has a great point—the two do look like they could be related… especially since they both wear glasses… which makes the romantic route you can take in the game with Futaba all the more… cringe-worthy.

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Later, Futaba gets a crash course in Mementos, and The Phantoms decide to contemplate her new code name. After shooting down several obvious suggestions, Futaba picks the moniker “Oracle,” promising to use her abilities to lead The Phantoms to victory. With that laid out, the newly christened Oracle summons Necronomicon and tells the group that there’s something more directly below them in the depths. The Meta-Nav app announces that more areas below them have opened up. The group theorizes that the popularity of The Phantoms has grown, causing more and more of Mementos to open up, expanding the overall palace, and Morg is shocked at himself that he didn’t realize this.

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Fast-Forward, and Sae tells Ren that around the time Medjed went down, popularity in the Phantom Thieves skyrocketed—the Phan-Site was being inundated with requests to change hearts, Phantom Thieves merch has been appearing in various places, and in general, The Phantoms were as popular as Vic Mignogna at an all-girl anime convention in the early 2000’s. The group were riding an all time high.

Back in the past, and Michima also seems to be quite proud of the success of the Phan-Site he created, bragging to Ren in the fancy hotel restaurant. When Ren rightly asks why are they in such a swanky place, Mishima says that he arranged a bit of a meet-up with a girl he’s “compatible with” from the Phan-Site. So, yeah, Mishima is trying to run game through the Phan-Site. Hey, far be it from me to hate on anyone’s game… or lack thereof. However, some time passes, and Mishima wonders if he’s been stood up, leaving Ren and Morgana alone while he goes to see if he’s gonna get some virtual booty. Morgana ruminates sadly at how everyone has changed since the beginning and how by comparison, he’s remained the same. Ren points out that he’s noticed Morgana doesn’t have much of an appetite and tries to whet his appetite by pointing out some of the available foods, but Morgana just slumps back in the bag.

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Later, Ren just so happens to bump into Ann on a photo-shoot with another model. The new girl, Mika, seems to be completely enthralled with her asking for advise on dieting and exercise. However, Ann tells her that she really doesn’t give much mind to these things, and that, she’s still considering if she wants to keep modeling. This seems to set off the bitterness alarm in Mika who then, loud enough to where the photographer and other high end people in charge of the shoot could her, suggests that Ann told her that she’s not really serious about the job and that she had complaints about the people in charge. And of course, since all the adults in this show are as dumb as lead, they decide to go with Mika and cancel Ann’s shoot. Ren sees how all this goes down and takes her to Big Bang Burger for a chat. When Morgana offers to help her, she turns him down, telling Morgana that he’s more like the mascot of the Phantom Thieves. This is CLEARLY the last thing Morgana needs to hear right now.

Back in Leblanc, Sojiro is pouring one out for Wakaba—today is the anniversary of her death. But, because our favorite barista doesn’t have a 40 to pour on the curb, he opts for his own special brew. Sojiro ruminates about how much Futaba reminds him of Wakaba; a smart girl who knows where she wants to go. He then, much to Ren’s surprise, voices his own thoughts on Wakaba’s death and how suspicious it was, and how her last words to him was “I think I might die”. Well, Wakaba wasn’t a liar, that’s for sure. Sojiro then tells Ren that part of the reason he took Futaba in was a need for redemption; he didn’t believe Wakaba or take her seriously when she needed him most. Ren then states that the Phantom Thieves will deal with the rotten adults that killed Wakaba and made Futaba sad. Speaking of, our little hacker walks in and drinks down the cup of memorial coffee. Sojiro then decides that some family fun time is in order by playing with fireworks, but Morgana, however, still looks glum…

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Later that night, Morgana talks to Ren about whether or not he’s really human. Of course, Ren reassures his roommate that he is a human, and that, once they solve all the mysteries of the Metaverse and Mementos, everything will be hunky dory and Morgana will return to his true form. Morgana cheers up a bit with this with Ren offering reassuring bro-claps, and as they drift off to sleep, Morgana defiantly states that he is, indeed, a human. Roll Credits!

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After the credits, it’s back to the interrogation room with Sae. She then shows Ren a picture of their next target, stating that, considering all that happened, he should know who this person is. She reminds him that his testimony with regards to this man will be serious, considering what happened to him. She then demands to know what they did to Kunikazu Okumura.

And that’s the end of Episode 18 and the end of the Futaba Sakura introduction story arc. Not a whole lot happened this time around, but the Persona series is just as much character driven as it is battle driven. That being said, this episode felt like one big gigantic exposition dump, and not a real informative one at that. I mean, most of this episode was just a repeat of everything we already learned. It just gets so boring. The only saving grace to all this dialogue is Futaba herself.

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Honestly, out of all the characters, I think Futaba got the longest setup of any of the Phantom Thieves. From the Alibaba time up to now took about three episodes, if memory serves. While I do appreciate this time to flesh out this character, and while I do understand Futaba is one of many fan favorite characters, I do have to question the amount of time they took to set her up. Couldn’t all this have been done over the course of a couple episodes while we did other things? I mean, we’re approaching the end of the series, with only a handful of episodes left. Do we really have time to deal with Futaba for this long?

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Now, I know that sounds weird coming from me, someone who was complaining that the show was maybe moving a little too fast… but now we’re approaching the end and we need to get somethings done before we reach the grand finale. We still have one more character to introduce before the ending, and there are about two more palaces and Mementos to deal with… and honestly, I don’t see this show getting another 12 episodes to finish things up. I really hope the creators know what they’re doing. It is a good thing that they’re incorporating Morgana’s melancholy into the story to set up for the next storyline, as we really cant afford to have an episode or two of “Morgana is depressed, let’s find out why.”

Honestly, the little blip with Mishima in the restaurant was pretty pointless. In the game, Mishima goes through this entire story arc and is his own social link. In the show, however, we don’t get this, and he’s there mostly for comic relief. Did we really need the moment with him trying to hook up with some girls he met online? That conversation with Morgana could’ve been done anywhere else and we didn’t need to have Michima there trying to have a virtual booty call.

So yeah, Episode 18 is over and done and we move onto episode 19. Hey yo dawg. I heard you like beach episodes! So we put a beach episode next to your beach episode so you can beach while you beach.

Oh, before I forget. I had mentioned Vic Mignogna earlier, and it just so happens that, as I submit this review for editing, today is his birthday. So I would like to wish a very happy birthday to the man that has given (English) voice to such iconic characters as…

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Dark Mousey from DNAngel

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Goemon from Ganbare Goemon...

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Edward Elric from the Fullmetal Alchemist Series…

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Kurz Weber from Full Metal Panic

…and the man who has also brought us…the prodigiously horrendous Sakura-Con 2009 Commercial that many an anime fan, myself included, has dragged over the coals for it’s abysmal portrayal of anime fans. This commercial is legendary for several reasons including the overall whiteness of all these anime fans, their random declaration of love for all things Japanese (Weaboo much?), and of course, the infamous Garugamesh bro.

So happy mid-50’s birthday Victor Joseph Mignogna and many happy returns of the day… and may you never… EVER repeat this atrocity of a commercial again. You know better. Hell, you even dragged poor Tiffany Grant into this foolishness… I can’t even…

Speaking of foolishness, here’s something that’s not foolishness–my 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.

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