Persona 5: The Animation – Episode 21 – “You Can Call Me ‘Noir’”

What’s up, What’s Up, WAZZUP?! Josh here, moving at his dauntless pace with yet another review of yet another episode of Persona 5: The Animation! Yes, I’m slowly but steadily catching up once again so I can be on time for the final episode in a few weeks! Once again, thank you for your patience as I catch back up with these reviews, and thank you as always for all your constructive critiques and commentary! Every little bit helps me be a better reviewer and keeps me going on, and going strong!

Episode 21 was yet another good episode, combining multiple stories from the game into one episode, and while that might sound like a lot, this episode manages to give us enough information and character development to make it feel natural and not hurried. However, the worry still remains that we have so much story and so few episodes. Will this episode be the prodigious jump-start into our finale? Let’s find out.

It’s time to feed your anger like fire! I’m Josh, and this is Episode 21 of Persona 5: The Animation!

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The episode picks up inside Ren’s room with Haru, Ann and Morgana, back from his little hiatus. Haru has just told the group about her pending forced marriage to Sugimura brought about by her politically ambitious father; everyone is naturally upset over this, and Yusuke asks if her father has always been an evil douche canoe. Haru explains that her grandfather actually started Okumura foods as a bunch of small cafes, focusing more on customer satisfaction and just being a decent human being as compared to earning profits; however, that particular business model wasn’t enough to bring sustainable revenue into the business and the café was shut down after gramps passed away. From that point on, Haru’s dad focused the company business more on profits and business boomed, but the employees suffered to the point where the business was known as a sweatshop. Haru states that she doesn’t like this path that her father has gone down and, incidentally, she doesn’t think being forced to marry a guy she hardly knows that treats her like a dog is a good thing either. After confirming that the Phan-Site has prodigious requests to take him down, and after coming to one accord, The Phantoms decide to accept the case with a deadline of September 30th—the day that Haru is supposed to move in with Sugimura. ROLL CREDITS!

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After the credits, we find ourselves back in the Metaverse outside one of the bio-metric doors; Beauty Thief is all willing to fight for the sake of her father, but Mona tells her to stay on the sidelines as she’s not used to battle and her Persona is weak. Beauty Thief understands and agrees to the benching. but before they set off, Skull asks what’s with the whole “Beauty Thief” moniker, and she explains that she’s always wanted to be a heroine of justice like the female superheros on TV. Admirable goal… very admirable. So long as she doesn’t wanna be like Sakura from Naruto, that’s just perfectly fine with me. You wanna talk about useless? That cow is as useless as a solar powered flashlight in the hands of Stevie Wonder. Anyway, Mona breaks up the chatter and Haru opens the door.

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Surprise, surprise, Shadow-Okumura is on the other side and he looks like a cheap Darth Vader knockoff. I mean seriously, come on Okumura! You can do much better than that! This is supposed to be your cognition! Your world! You can make yourself look like a long-tongued sex monster, a floating painting, a fly in a cheap suit, ANYTHING… and you opt for the classic Star Trek villain special?! Really?! Good grief. Anyway, Shadow Okumura is on the other side of the door along with Shadow Sugimura, and the two discuss Beauty Thief as though she’s not there, with Shadow Okumura not particularly caring what happens to his daughter under Sugimura so long as he gets what he wants from the deal. Beauty Thief is clearly distraught about this, but Shadow Okumura ain’t done yet. He pretty much tells her that she’s just a stepping stool for him; a foundation on which he can build up his own desires. Shadow Okumura leaves, telling Shadow Sugimura to do what he wants… and he decides to take her up on that offer, saying that he’s going to have his way with her and toy around with her until he gets bored. He then transforms into a large robot in a particularly ugly suit and charges after her, and it looks as though Beauty Thief is screwed as Shadow Sugimura goes in for the strike.

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However, the attack is blocked by a Persona. It’s voice rings out in Beauty Thief’s observing that the “fated princess” has finally made up her mind and that her freedom relies on betrayal and that if she really wants that freedom she must decide who’s side she’s on. Beauty Thief states that her heart has been set for some time, and the force of her will now COMPLETELY breaks her bonds, causing her inner trickster to FULLY manifest itself into the legendary French spy and fleur-de-lis branded beheaded beauty Milady! Haru bids farewell to her father, stating that she’s no longer his puppet and, at her command, Milady unleashes holy hell from under Miladys skirt as she fires off blast after blast of all manner of heavy artillery, destroying Shadow Sugimura… with style. I would expect nothing less than a dominant performance from anyone wearing a fleur-de-lis. Who Dat, indeed.

Suffice it to say, The Phantoms are impressed and welcome Beauty Thief with open arms. However, their newest team member requests that the group call her “Noir”…which means Black in French, and represents the slightly darker side of the law the Phantom Thieves traverse in order to find justice. Good enough for me!

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The next day at school, Ren meets up with Haru at the rooftop garden, and he asks if she’s really cool with changing her fathers heart, knowing the consequences that await him, and the stigma of being the daughter of a criminal. Haru seems fine with this, stating that she’s always been ready for such an eventuality as she’s posted a request on the Phan-Site to change her fathers heart, willing to sacrifice her happiness if it means bringing about a change in her father.

Back in the palace, The Phantoms traverse the complex maze of Okumura’s palace, even once being blasted into space to get from one side to another. And no, I’m not going to comment on how they’re able to breathe in the vacuum of space, or how is sound able to be heard in the vacuum of space…this is Okumura’s cognition—maybe he has oxygen there too or something. I will allow it! Anyway, The Phantoms eventually encounter the floating sphere of treasure that will only appear with the receipt of a calling card. Joker leaves it up to Noir to deliver it.

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Sure enough, Okumura gets the message, and he’s none too happy. After reading it, he makes a phone call to some mysterious figure demanding the police come over. In the shadows, Haru runs off, determined in what she is about to do.

Back in Leblanc, The Phantoms are watching Exposition News. As it turns out, Okumura called the police and told them about the calling card. Yusuke thinks this is strange as normally the person targeted does not go out of their way to call the police and notify them of calling cards. Even more troubling, the Phan-Site is filled with comments along the lines of “Just hurry up and do it!” and “Take him down, Phantom Thieves.” Instead of being seen as legitimate fighters for justice, they’re now entertainment, a reality TV show being played out in real time. Oh great, The Phantoms are now The Kardashians. Despite this, the group decides to continue on as normal to steal the treasure and then make Okumura confess his crimes. Cue up “Life Will Change!”

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Back inside the palace, it seems as though the station is at full red alert, preparing for launch with the destination set to Utopia, discarding the comparatively minuscule Okumura Foods for something much bigger— a lucrative position in politics. GEE, WHY DOES THAT SOUND SO FAMILIAR?! This guy is two MAGA hats away from…He Who Must Not Be Named. The Phantoms confront Shadow-Okumura and Noir gives him one more chance to repent of his sins. However, Shadow-Okumura doesn’t take the bait, offering Noir a chance to either join him or die with the others. Of course, baby girl decides to stick with a good thing, expressing outrage that the good name of the business her Grandfather built is being dragged through the mud. Shadow-Okumura pretty much says “Yup, I sure the hell am! You wanna roll?” Of course, Noir says “Hell to the Naw-naw” and summons her Persona, determined to stop her father one way or another.

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Shadow-Okumura, in the great tradition of CEO’s and managers, decides to have the underlings deal with The Phantoms. He summons various levels of robot “employees”, each one weak to certain attacks, and the first wave is weak to fire, so Panther and Carmen are up first. They’re easily dispatched, but there’s more to come. Skull and Fox are up next, but their attacks are not very effective. Shadow-Okumura summons more powerful hired help, causing Queen to join in the fun astride Johanna. Soon every is getting in on the shenanigans, including Oracle who comes through with the buffs when the others are tired. Eventually, with all the enemies beat down, it’s time for an all-out attack and Shadow-Okumura is defeated, and Morgana grabs the treasure after posing with a cigar. Go figure. It’s awesome.

After the battle, The Phantoms confront Shadow-Okumura, who apologizes to his daughter for his earlier remarks. Mona asks if he’s the one responsible for the Mental Shutdowns, but he forcefully denies it, stating that he only made the requests to knock out his competition to gain an advantage. He then breaks down crying, causing his palace to begin falling apart. The Phantoms decide to question him once they get out the palace to safety. Before she leaves, Noir tells her father that only he can take responsibly for his actions, just as he taught her. As she leaves, Shadow-Okumura promises that he’ll turn over a new leaf and be more sympathetic to people. It’s almost like A Christmas Carol.

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…that is, if A Christmas Carol involved Ebenezer Scrooge getting shot by a mysterious figure in the shadows and dying. Funny, I don’t remember that version of the story. I remember the Flintstones did a version of A Christmas Carol… and I hated it. Everyone hating on Fred because he wanted to be the star of the play and Wilma acting like she’s going to divorce Fred or something. Ugh, I hate it with a passion. Give me Scrooged with Bill Murray any day…. or give me any version that has Patrick Stewart as Scrooge. But I digress. Shadow-Okumura gets shot in his palace and collapses, his palace finally crumbling around him.

Back in the Velvet Room and, what do you know, Ren is actually getting words of praise from the two warden brats. It seems they underestimated him; he’s actually turning out to be quite promising in their eyes. However, Igor offers a warning; what goes up must come down, as there are always unexpected situations in a game. Don’t I know it. ESPECIALLY THIS GAME.

The next day in the school garden, the group are harvesting the few little crops in planters. Ryuji asks about Okumura, and Haru says that he’s been locked in his study and incoherent when called. She worries that he’ll wind up like the others, but Yusuke reassures her that it’s normal as Madarame went through the same thing after his change. Ryuji then changes the subject; how are they going to celebrate their success and welcome their new member. After bouncing around a few ideas, our fearless leader suggests an Amusement Park…

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…and as it turns out, the Okumuras had an entire amusement park rented out for a company party, but due to the scandal, they called it off. Rather than let it go to waste since they couldn’t get a refund, Haru figured that the group could go ahead and have a ball on their dime. And so The Phantoms take up Haru on that offer and have a great time at Not-Disneyland. While getting their grub on, Yusuke asks about the treasure from the palace. This time, it was an old school plastic model of a space station; Haru explains that her father really wanted that model when he was little, but as the family business was going under, they couldn’t afford one. Morgana reminds Ren that it’s time for the press conference to begin, so the group gather around his phone. Okumura is in front of the cameras explaining that all the rumors about the poor working conditions of his company and how it was ran were all true and his fault. When asked about the officials who opposed his expansions who suddenly “fell ill,” Okumura begins by stating that he actually has an announcement to make specifically about it, but before he gets the chance, black blood begins oozing from his eyes and nose (stupid Japanese censorship), and Okumura collapses in pain. Someone calls for an ambulance, but I think it goes without saying…

The Phantoms are… suffice it to say… rather shook at this bit of news, no more so than Haru who has a completely understandable reaction to seeing her father exsanguinate and die on live TV for the world to see… she screams her bleedin’ head off. Roll Credits!

After the credits, we see Sae and Akechi re-watching the news conference on YouTube, because apparently in this world, there’s no such things as Terms of Use. Sae suspects that the people Okumura was working with had a falling out, and they somehow triggered his breakdown and subsequent death, and the Phantom Thieves were somehow involved. Akechi suggests that maybe the Phantom thieves didn’t have anything to do with it, but Sae will hear none of that foolishness. The investigation into the death of Shujin’s principal is already setup and there’s plans to search the Okumura residence the next day where Sae is confident evidence will turn up. She even has plans to use Haru to try and solve the case. Suffice it to say, baby girl is going for the kill.

And so that’s the end of episode 21! I have to say, this episode managed to pack in quite a bit, and I was completely impressed. It did feel like it moved pretty fast, but I realize that the quick pacing is necessary considering that we have a few precious episodes before the end.

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It feels like forever since we last had a Persona battle, and this one was a nice return to form. I love the fact that everyone actually gets a good chance to fight and everyone gets a good little moment, especially our newest member Haru. While her awakening is different than the others, it’s still a very well done moment that is, more or less, on par with the game…except there was no little spotlight when Haru collapses down dramatically. It would’ve been nice if they had that and Ryuji would just look up like “Wait, what? Where’s that light coming from?” I also like the fact that we get to see cute little Haru in the beginning of the episode. Not only is she beyond adorable, but, in my book, it’s always a good thing when we see where a character came from to better appreciate who and where they are now.

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I do have to admit, while I’m still concerned about the amount of episodes left verses the amount of story left to tell, this episode has eased my worries a little that the creators can in fact tell the remainder of the story in the amount of time given… but only a little.

 

Hope you all had a great Labor Day, unless you’re actually in labor while reading this, in which case, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!? Anyway, 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.

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