Hey guys, Josh here once again, going at my dauntless pace to talk about the awesomeness that is Persona 5: The Animation! Again, I wanna thank you guys so much for sticking with me all this time. Like I said in my previous review, I’m currently recovering from a massive case of burn-out and so I’m about an episode behind on my reviews, but I am determined to catch back up and get back on the right path, so once again, forgive me that this review is late!
So we are now on episode 13 and offically past the halfway point! As you’ll recall, my thoughts on Episode 12 was that it was not that good. I mean, anytime I draw comparisons between this episode and King’s Game: The Animation, you know it’s bad. This time around? Well, thankfully, it’s nowhere near as bad! This is a solid filler episode… and yes, contrary to what you may have heard/seen on Naruto Shippuden, good filler episodes in anime do exist.
Time to take the mask off and be free. I’m Josh, and this is Episode 13 of Persona 5: The Animation!
Our episode kicks off with a perp walk on TV. Good times. The son of a prominent politician is being led away in handcuffs with his father behind, who destroyed evidence on his behalf. Hmm… a famous politician and his son both in trouble? Interesting. The person who caught the perp was none other than our Golden Child Pancake Lover Goro Akechi, who is being interviewed on air. Ren and Sojiro are watching in LeBlanc as Akechi himself walks into the café. He orders a cuppa joe and asks Ren to play a game of Chess (Sojiro had a board laid out earlier because… of course he does). Ren says that he doesn’t know how to play, but Akechi says that Ren will pick it up quickly. Umm… no. Chess is not something you just “pick up,” brother man. That’s something you have to sit down and LEARN.
In a booth, the two boys begin the game, resuming the discussion they had in a previous episode about the justice of the Phantom Thieves. Ren, of course, is fully supportive of the group, and Akechi, a guy who probably has the word “Justice” tattooed on his nether regions, sees their methods of changing hearts as problematic. He states that he’s gathering information on them, and that soon, he will reveal their identities. Roll Credits!
At school, the Phantom Thieves are still the talk of the campus, and our Precious Cinnamon Roll Forum Admin Mishima couldn’t be happier. The Phan-Site is getting loads of traffic, and he sees a big wave coming on the horizon for the Phantom Thieves popularity. Ryuji echoes this talk about the Big Wave when the group meets up at their “Hideout.” Morgana continues to stress caution, especially with Akechi snooping around, but The Phantoms seem rather impressed and enamored with their newfound popularity….
Yeah, about that… Morgana, my white-pawed brother… I understand completely why you want the group to be cautious, and you’re 100% right; you guys are being looked after by the police and, as Makoto states, the prosecutor’s office. Caution should be used. Secrecy is a must in this operation… which is why it blows my mind to kingdom come that… YOUR MEETING PLACE IS IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUSY WALKWAY OPEN TO THE EFFING PUBLIC!
Come on, guys! I’m gonna need you to be smarter than this! Why would you make your hideout a public place like a train station walkway when ANYONE can hear you in passing?! You KNOW Ryuji is a big mouth, bless his heart, and you know how excited he gets when he talks about Phantom Thief business. Why would you have a meeting spot that’s so out in the open with a guy who can’t keep his mouth shut for love or money!? Makoto, come on! You’re supposed to be the brains of the operation! You should’ve said something about this on DAY ONE! In fact, while I’m thinking about it, why don’t you guys just go BACK UP TO THE ROOF OF THE SCHOOL! Makoto, you’re Student Council President! You can grant special permission to the group to use the roof—or barring that, just go up there anyway! At least, on the roof, you have a guarantee of SOME SORT OF PRIVACY! Good grief, I love you guys, and I love this game, and I love this anime, but y’all can be dumb as a sack of rocks sometimes!
Moving right along. The group decide to go their separate ways—Ryuji decides to go have some fun in the arcade, and Ann, Makoto and Morgana take a walk down to Electric Avenue Cat Avenue, leaving Ren and a rather downcast Yusuke to their own devices. Seems as though our two bros have something planned. Interesting…
Meanwhile, Sae and her boss are watching the news coverage about Kaneshiro and the Phantom Thieves and—wait a minute… why does Kaneshiro have BROWN hair in that perp-walk, but BLACK hair in the one from the previous episode? Come on ya’ll… continuity…get some… quick. Anyway, Sae’s boss says that now that a big guy like Kaneshiro went down due to Phantom Thieves intervention, the police department are pretty anxious to get answers about it. Boss decides to leave the case up to Sae, who promises, rather strongly, to get results. After she leaves, the boss returns to the TV where our bald-headed friend from Episode 5 is being interviewed, promising to bring peace to the city. Ugh. Slap a MAGA cap on him and he’ll be another—NO! NO! Not going to go there! Moving on!
At Leblanc, it seems as though our artist bro has hit a bit of a slump. It seems as though Yusuke is not satisfied with the work he’s putting out as it’s not “Pure Beauty” like the Saiyuri his mother painted. However, Yusuke can’t just wait until inspiration strikes—brother man is on an art scholarship, and if he doesn’t produce and enter his works into competitions, he could lose his scholarship and will have to leave the school. Seems simple enough, right? But Yusuke is conflicted because he feels that putting art work out there for the sake of money is no different than what Madarame did. He then asks Ren for help to escape his slump by helping him understand the human heart, and of course, our bro Ren is all too happy to help. Good man!
The first stage in getting over a slump for Yusuke is pretty simple. Does he take a long walk around the park after dark? Nope. He decides to go into Mementos with Ren in order to gain inspiration from… the tunnel you go through when it’s time to fight a mini-boss. And it seems to be working for him as he giddy begins sketching. While it is nice that he’s able to find inspiration, I do find it a little disconcerting that he’s finding it in the depths and dankness that is Mementos… but, hey, whatever works. For me it took playing an old-school JRPG on my Vita (Stop laughing) and watching Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid for the first time. Yes, I know I’m late. No, I don’t care. Anyway, Fox is in his element, and Joker is happy to see his friend feeling better… but he urges him to hurry as enemies could be lurking around… like the one that just walked up behind them. However, Fox ain’t having it and draws his blade against the inelegant shadow, summoning Goemon with Joker joining in summoning Lamia…
…no, not THAT Lamia… sadly.
Anyway, Yusuke finishes his artwork, dubbed “Desire,” and gets it put in an exhibit. To my eyes, it looks pretty cool—a swirling array of light and darkness spattered with bits of red like sakura blossoms on a wind. However, nobody seems to be drawn to the piece. Eventually an old man comes up and compliments Yusuke on his technique, but that’s about it. He absolutely picks apart “Desire”, calling it mediocre and “tarted-up emptiness” Yusuke is understandably crushed at this, but he accepts the critiques. Thankfully, Yusuke handles this critique from an older person better than Seishū Handa from Barakamon. Punching the elderly is NORMALLY never a good idea…
Outside the gallery, the old man apologizes for his comments earlier and properly introduces himself as Akio Kawanabe, the director of the Japanese Art Support Foundation. He invites Ren and Yusuke out for some sushi…but not just any sushi, no. This is the really GOOD stuff. It seems as though Kawanabe has been following Yusuke’s artwork for quite a while and correctly picks up that he is in the middle of an artist slump. He then offers to help out Yusuke to nurture his talent by relieving his financial worries, allowing him to focus on his artwork in a relaxed environment. Conveniently enough, Kawanabe also works with a group that helps out you up-and-coming artists giving them an avenue to be creative without worrying about the stress of things like money. Sounds great, right? However, Kawanabe inadvertently triggers Yusuke by saying that since he was a student of Madarame, plus his awesome looks (yeah, that’s not creepy at all), he should be very marketable. Yusuke is repulsed at the idea of his artwork only being popular because of his looks and/or his teacher. However, Kawanabe gets real with Yusuke; being an artist is fine, but being an artist with a bit of change in your pocket is even better. Kawanabe decides to leave, telling Yusuke to call him if he changes his mind.
After Ren and Yusuke go their separate ways, who should walk up but the Pancake Bro. It seems as though Akechi wants to hang out for a while. (SOCIAL LINK GO!) So, where does a (Faux) Detective Prince like to hang out in his free time other than a coffee shop? Why, the batting cages of Yongen-Jaya of course! Because everybody knows that Sherlock Holmes loved to pick up his Louisville Slugger and knock a couple out the ballpark every once in a while between cases…and doses of cocaine. (It’s true, look it up!) Anyway, as the two knock off a couple, Akechi decides to info dump. It seems as though, during his investigation of the Phantom Thieves, Akechi found out some information about Kawanabe. It seems as though he’s been known to play a con game with young artists, bringing them in under the guise of helping them, but really he exploits them for money. However, he doesn’t have hard evidence. And that’s where Ren comes in. Akechi wants the two boys to setup a meeting between them and Kawanabe so Akechi could get his proof of wrongdoing, and after hitting a home run, Ren agrees to this… after all, it’s a downright sin to leave your friends hanging.
Speaking of hanging… Fast forward to the next day and… well… Yusuke is trying something new. He decided to gather inspiration from a church in Kanda… by sketching Ren portraying Christ on the Crucifix, arms spread wide, balancing on one leg. You know, when I think of the many, MANY portrayals of Christ in the media today, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Almighty with stylishly messy hair, glasses, and a very nice outfit. Maybe the Romans let Christ stop by a Macy’s or something on the way to his Crucifixion. Grab a quick trim before dying for our sins. It’s only right. Anyway, while sketching Ren, Yusuke agrees to meet back up with Kawanabe, saying that there’s a public exhibition contest coming up, sponsored by the Foundation, and he intends to submit in a piece to show that he does, indeed, have real talent. Heck, if he can make Ren Amamiya look like Christ, then he’s freaking brilliant.
After a rather interesting time passing montage, Ren and Akechi meet up to discuss the case. Seems as though the money trail has gone dry and our Boy Wonder is stumped. (Naoto would’ve figured it out by now… just saying) Akechi just can’t figure out how they’re able to hide where the money is coming or going to.
The next day, The Phantoms meet up in LeBlanc, and Sojiro is surprised that the Juvenile Delinquent that he took in months earlier has gotten friends… one of which is the Student Council President of his school. He even asks if he’s in any kind of trouble, and of course, Makoto says that he’s awesome. Meanwhile, Yusuke, Ann and Ryuji have a chat about art for a while. Admittedly, this conversation is only here just to give Yusuke a primer for improving his art work so I’m not going to waste a lot of time breaking it down. Suffice it to say, after this conversation and one more trip into Mementos, Yusuke gets inspired to take one more crack at his painting from earlier.
That evening, Ren and Yusuke bump into Kawanabe and his assistant at the train station. Kawanabe saw that Yusuke intends to present a piece at the Exhibit and he tries to rattle Yusuke a bit by saying that he should drop out now to save embarrassment as it’s not guaranteed that he’ll take the top spot. Yusuke doesn’t reply, but as Kawanabe and his assistant walk away, Ren asks if he knows about several business, which he doesn’t. Yusuke then tells Ren that while he initially hoped to win the competition, he’ll instead aim to get exposure—to show his art to others.
Now, this is going to be a surprise to all of you, but as it turns out…the bad guy doing all the bad art things is NOT Kawanabe…but his ASSISTANT! Dun-Dun-DUNNNN… and we see him frantically trying to get rid of the evidence, having been triggered by Ren’s inquiry about the companies earlier. However, our “Detective Prince” gets the jump on him with police in tow.
Back at the exhibit, it seems as though Yusuke did, in fact, take first place with his painting, now titled “Desire and Hope.” It’s pretty much the same painting as before, but now it has the brightness and color of hope mixed in with the darkness of desire. Kawanabe is impressed, and again apologizes for his earlier comments; he only wanted to give Yusuke a bit of a challenge to improve. Kawanabe then begins waxing nostalgic about the past (as old people tend to do), where once upon a time, he was good friends with Madarame, but they had a fight and split apart; it seems that Madarame was just completely swallowed in by the praise and adulation he was receiving, letting it get to his head and swallow him up. Kawanabe, not wanting anyone else to end up like him, started up the Foundation to help other young artists out. If you really think about it, Kawanabe is pretty much what Madarame would’ve been had he not gotten greedy and blinded by money and fame. Almost as proof of this, Kawanabe once again offers his assistance and support to Yusuke, minus the marketing, of course. Yusuke is honored, but he declines, stating in short that he has all the support he needs from his friends who will always be there for him. Kawanabe understands fully and leaves, complimenting Yusuke on his awesome friends. ROLL CREDITS!
After the credits, Ren and Akechi play another round of chess, with the news in the background talking about the art case from earlier; as it turns out, the money the assistant was getting was being funneled to a member of the Japanese Diet. Oh, for those who don’t know, the Diet, as I understand it, is pretty much like the United States Congress… except they actually do stuff to improve the lives of their citizens and aren’t currently beholden to an orange dictator. [editor’s note: political joke quota maxed out, Josh.] Ahem. Anyway… Akechi thanks Ren for his help. Ren then speaks for the audience, saying that it should’ve been obvious that the Assistant, the one closest to Kawanabe, was suspicious. Akechi is impressed, and asks Ren to be his partner. Down, yaoi fangirls, he meant business partner…as in helping him solve crimes and stuff. $5 says that there’s already a couple Akechi X Ren Dojinshi out there somewhere. Anyway, Ren declines stating that he still fully supports the Phantom Thieves, and when Akechi asks what would happen if the Phantom Thieves were to use their abilities to change hearts to fulfill their own selfish desires, Ren says that won’t happen… so long as they stick to their true principals and get the job done… they will continue to serve up justice. Checkmate.
And that’s it for Episode 13. This one was really good, a marked improvement across the board from the last episode. While some might classify this episode as being filler, true Persona fans know better—the in-between times are just as important as dungeon crawling.
Admittedly, when I first played Persona 5, I didn’t get very far with Yusuke’s Confidant Link/Social Link… at all, so this was legitimately the first time I’ve seen the events, and I have to say… it was pretty interesting. Maybe it was a little clunky in execution, especially the scene in Leblanc when everyone is talking to Yusuke about hope, desire, fear, heart of the cards, blah, blah, blah…
I’m not quite sure how I feel yet about devoting an entire episode to one Confidant/social link, but this episode did a great job with it, even though Akechi’s whole case in this episode is REALLY weak. I mean, come on; Akechi has solved all these other crimes that even the Police have trouble with…yet he doesn’t think of the assistant being the bad guy until Ren actually steps in? What kind of “Detective Prince” is he anyway?
Also, the chess scenes between Akechi and Ren was pretty boring and it just felt so cliché; the bad guy and the good guy square off over chess while having a conversation filled with double meanings trying to entangle one another until one person moves a piece, looks up and says “Checkmate.” Heck, it was done famously in the movie Death Note: The Last Name. It’s so freaking corny. Can we please use another metaphor for this time of situation please? The baseball scene between these two, however, was really well done and much better than the chess scene.
So yeah, all that withstanding, this episode was actually good. Even with the shortcomings I mentioned above, I think we can all agree that this episode is PRODIGIOUSLY better by comparison. It looks as though we have about one more “Confidant” episode before we get into our next story arc, and hopefully by then, I’ll be completely caught up and back on schedule! Again, thank you so much guys for your patience!
And just because I love you guys so much, here’s a friendly reminder. 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.