Persona 5: The Animation – Episode 15 – “I Am Alibaba”

Hey there, Josh here, once again bring the noise and the funk to your lives with my episodic (if not late) reviews of Persona 5: The Animation! Again, I want to thank you all for being so patient with me and my reviews. Like I said earlier, things are starting to settle down, and right now I’m just playing a game of catch-up. My goal is to be brought up to date by the end of this week, and I’ll shoot for that goal as best I can! Again, thank you for your patience and thank you for your feedback!

So, with all the recaps out the way, we’re finally ready to move on to our next major story arc, and believe me when I say, this is a perfectly executed introduction. This is the first time in a long time I can honestly say I had no problems with anything in this particular episode. This is exactly what I was hoping Persona 5 would be.

While this review isn’t a mirage, it is a chance to fulfill my mission. I’m Josh, and this is Episode 15 of Persona 5: The Animation!

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We start in the office of Sae’s boss, and he’s on the phone talking to some mystery person about the Phantom Thieves. It seems as though he, nor his phone companion, are too taken with the group of heart stealing renegades trying to achieve social reform, nor are they happy with how popular they’ve gotten in the public eye. Ain’t that how it always is? Old folks just can’t seem to stand it when younger people get involved in something, yet they want to complain that the younger generation is lazy and entitled. Speaks volumes to the times we’re living in, doesn’t it? Anyway, boss man says that there could be a counter-measure in the works that could bring them down. ROLL CREDITS!

After the credits, we see The Phantoms take on their most treacherous foe yet; exams. Ryuji, bless his heart, looks as though he’s suffering a fate worse than death that no HP Restores can cure. Anyway, the bell sounds and the torture ends, with Ren telling Morgana that he did good… maybe. Heck, I’ve been there before, Ren.

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And so, over a montage, we see our group head out into town to watch the promised fireworks display. Ann and Makoto look prodigious as always dressed in their summer kimono, and Yusuke looks rather stylish in his dark blue Yukata. Dang, I wish I could wear something like that. Maybe I’ll find one at MechaCon this year… and it won’t cost an arm and a leg. Anyway, the fireworks show goes off without a hitch, however, a summer storm soon brings a premature end to the festivities. Trapped under an awning, Ann complains about her wet kimono and begins to wring it out… until Makoto points out that the boys seem… somewhat interested in this process… though they pretend not to look… and fail in the attempt. Ren, leader that he is, suggests that they go inside the store to escape the rain, but the store is packed with people who had the exact same idea.

While in the store, Ryuji complains how unfair it is that they can’t have an awesome time after finishing their exams and changing Kaneshiro’s heart. Makoto rightly shushes him, but Ann seconds the notion, thinking how sad it is that they aren’t able to make summer memories.  Ryuji then complains about how boring it is that they have to remain in the shadows and how he wants to change the world with a big bang like a firework. However, Makoto pours cold water on his fuse, stating that finding a target as big as Kaneshiro, a mob boss, is pretty tough.

Back at LeBlanc, it seems as though Sae is having a cup of coffee and a chat with Sojiro… and it’s not too pleasant. She’s clearly trying to get some info from him, but he’s tight lipped. She pays and heads out, threatening to use different ways to make him talk.

Screenshot 2018-07-22 02.00.56.pngMeanwhile on Plot Relevant News, there are some shenanigans going on. It seems as though MedJed, an international group of hackers (kinda like Anonymous) has posted a statement about the Phantom Thieves on their website that says, in part, we’re the REAL executors of justice; ya’ll just fake. Change your own hearts and we’ll bring you into our group. If you don’t, they’ll be consequences and repercussions.”

At school the next day, the group discuss the message and MedJed, it seems as though, in the beginning,  they were a like the Phantom Thieves, using the internet to crack into systems to uncover corporate fraud, but recently, they’ve begun to use their skills to threaten large companies to do their bidding. Wouldn’t mind having a MedJed around nowadays, as it seems like Anonymous has gone radio silent since Inauguration Day… just saying. Anyway, the group are pretty much non plussed about MedJed as they probably don’t even know their identities.

Later that day, Mishima tells Ren about something strange on the Phan-Site… there’s a weird logo that is floating on top of the forums… a round grinning head with sharp teeth.


Yeah… actually, that’s about right. Except the logo is black… and I’m 99.9% certain the logo doesn’t transform into a digital-dinosaur.

The shenanigans continue during class when, while Kawakami goes over what was on the test, every single cell phone in the class rings loudly, all the phones showing the same black grinning logo. What the hell is going on here?

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Later we see Ren getting a checkup from Tae Takemi, the local physician who gave Ren drugs in the first episode. Yeah, there’s no way to make that sound better, is there? She compliments how tone he’s gotten since their last checkup, thankful that she has a gunea pig with a healthy lifestyle. As he waits outside, the icon from earlier appears on his phone. When he clicks it, a chat window opens up. The sender, identified only as Alibaba, greets Ren as “The leader of the Phantom Thieves.” Of course, this gets his attention right away. Alibaba asks if Ren liked the little ring tone performace they put on and then gets down to the brass tacks. Alibaba knows all about medJed’s threats, and offers to provide information on them to bring them down. However, they want something in return. Alibaba then says that it’s cool if he discusses it with the others, as they know everyone must come to a unanimous decision when it comes to heart changing matters. Yup. Alibaba has a heart that needs stealing.

The next day at the prodigiously stupid meeting place, Ren shows the message to the others, and they are clearly shocked. Not only does Alibaba know everything about them, but it seems as though they have a way of hacking their phones. Ann wonders if this is in fact MedJed, but Ryuji, of all people, reminds her that Alibaba said they would “deal” with them, meaning this is an independent person—the enemies of MedJed. Ren states he did try to send a message back, but only got an error message. Ann and Makoto theorize that maybe their other parts of their phones have been hacked too, much to the horror of Ryuji who fumbles to delete stuff.


So, Ryuji… brother man… what you got in your phone, huh? Come on. You can tell us. What you got in your phone that you’re so anxious about?

Anyway, Makoto advises caution on using their phones, suggesting that any major business be done face-to-face. Oh, and may I make another suggestion, Makoto? If you don’t mind… maybe it would be a good idea if you DON’T MEET UP IN A PUBLIC WALKWAY WITHIN EARSHOT OF GOD ONLY KNOWS WHO?!

Later, Ren returns to LeBlanc and Sojiro tells him he got a letter. It’s only addressed to “Mr. Ren Amamiya,” with no return address.

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When Ren meets up with the group again the next day, they take a closer look, and inside the envelope is a blank red card, about the size and color of one of their calling cards. As they take a look, Alibaba chimes in with a message. Aparantly they think it’s enough to send a calling card to change a persons heart, and they’re rather insistent that they hurry up and do the change. Ren sends a message telling Alibaba that they need a name in order to change a heart. After a bit of back and forth, Alibaba reluctantly gives them a name: Futaba Sakura. Alibaba then ups the ante, telling them to hurry up and change the heart, or else she’ll expose the group. Ren replies that in order to do the change, they need some keywords in order to see if this Futaba Sakura even has a palace. Alibaba is puzzled at this, thinking they’re just stalling. Ren messages that they should meet. This clearly has Alibaba flustered, thinking that The Phantoms steal hearts while in direct contact with their target. Rather abruptly, Alibaba decides to call the whole thing off, promising not to reveal their identities and to not look into Futaba Sakura any further. They go offline before Ren has a chance to reply.

Later, the group recount what they just learned. Ann feels that she’s heard the name “Sakura” before. Yusuke, rightly states that Sakura is Sojiro’s last name… something that Ren should’ve AUTOMATICALLY picked up on. Granted, I can give the others a pass because they didn’t know Sojiro for that long, but come on, Ren! YOU ARE LIVING WITH THIS MAN! YOU SHOULD KNOW HIS NAME! Anyway, the group theorizes who Sakura could be, but are unable to come up with any solid ideas. Everyone else seems quick to let the whole incident go, yet Ren thinks there’s something more to this.

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Back at Leblanc, Sojiro’s favorite customer Sae has returned, and baby girl is not holding back. Ren walks in the middle of the conversation with Sojiro once again refusing to give up some information. However Sae threatens to terminate paternal authority, saying that in his current familial situation, there’s little to no points in his favor, and a 99.9% chance of victory in her favor should they go to court, especially with abuse suspicions floating around. Sojiro clearly knows nothing about those allegations, and Sae walks off, no doubt doing a mental fist pump. When Ren asks about what’s going on, Sojiro lashes out, once again threatening to throw Ren out before heading out for the night.

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That night, The Phantoms have a digi-chat, and Ren tells them about the conversation he overheard between Sojiro and Sae. The group immediately defend Sojiro, saying there’s no way that he could be an abusive parent. When Ren mentions Sae’s threat of Sojiro’s paternal authority being terminated, Yusuke comes to the conclusion that Futaba is Sojiro’s daughter. They then wonder why in the world would Alibaa wanna change Futaba’s heart. When Ryuji suggests that he ask Sojiro about it, Morgana advises against it, not wanting to make Sojiro so irate he actually does throw Ren out the house. Which… honestly, if I were Ren, the next time Sojiro would threaten to throw me out, I would just look at him and call his bluff, saying something “You know what? I’m sick of this! Go ahead and throw me out. Just gimme my money that my folks were giving you for living here.”

That night, with the click of a few keys, all of Shibuya goes dark. All the lights around the city click off, throwing the city into darkness. The next morning, with the power restored, MedJed puts out a statement on their website saying that this was just a demonstration and because they didn’t get a reply from The Phantoms, they now issue an ultimatum; either the Phantom Thieves reveal their identities to the public, or they will attack Japan. The group meets up to discuss what this could possibly mean. Yusuke theorizes that a cyber attack could throw Japan’s economy into the toilet, and the blame would immediately go to the Phantom Thieves as they didn’t reveal their identities. Ren states that they will absolutely not reveal themselves to the public, losing their justice in the process. Of course the group is on board with that, but with no means to fight back, they’re up the creek. However, Makoto is bothered by something Alibaba said in their last communication. Putting the messages in context, she theorizes that maybe Futaba and Alibaba are the same person. There’s just one way to find out.

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However, LeBlanc seems to have closed early for the night, and Sojiro is nowhere to be found. When they go to his house around the corner, the house is completely dark with no signs of life. And it just so happens to be raining. Our group then decides to take up shelter inside the dark house, as it seems the door was left unlocked. Straight out of a horror story, the group goes down a dark hallway with an open door and a strange light at the end. Next thing you know, of course the lights go out and a loud scream could be heard, scaring Makoto. She’s so adorable. Someone or something is thumping and bumping around upstairs and it’s freaking everyone out, especially Makoto. She opts to hang onto Ren for support as the sound of footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs. Makoto decides to get the hell out of dodge, but in typical white girl in a horror movie fashion, she trips and falls, her legs freezing up on her. The mysterious bespectacled figure in the shadows soon approaches them and is illuminated by a bright bolt of lightning… which scares Makoto and our barefoot computer hacker. Roll Credits!

After the credits—oh, wait… that’s where it ends. Well done, show! Well done, indeed!

So, that’s episode 15, and I have to say, this episode was pitch PERFECT. I loved this episode from beginning to end! If this is what the second half of Persona 5: The Animation has to offer, I want more of this please and thank you. I can honestly say I can’t think of a single thing this particular episode did wrong! Everything was executed flawlessly!

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I have to say, I love the little touches in this episode, some of it is small, and some of it is pretty important to the plot later on down the line. For example, I love how for each shot, when the Phantoms are together looking at something like the Calling Card or Ren’s phone, they aways have the shot angled with the viewer looking up at them. I love that little detail. I also love how Makoto flinches ever so slightly when she reads something Alibaba sends that catches her attention. I also really like the reflections of the chat window in Morgana’s eyes and in Ren’s glasses. On the bigger scale, I love the scene when Sae threatens Sojiro. If you listen to her dialogue, she speaks about points in favor, chance, percentages and chances of victory. This has a PRODIGIOUS payoff later on in the series and it is a hint of what to expect down the road. These little things are what I love to catch onto.

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I also love the scene when we see The Phantoms messaging each other from different locations—Ann walking in the park, Ryuji outside his apartment, Makoto at home… stuff like that. They could’ve easily just had this scene in Ren’s room with him just messaging the group, but the fact that we actually see that the group have lives and do stuff outside of school really gives this show depth. Also, the animation this time around is actually really good so that’s always a good thing.

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The horror movie aspect in the last few minutes of the episode were really well done and fall-on-the-ground funny! I think the creators were trying to make a full on parody of a hokey horror movie, and if that was the case, then mission freaking accomplished!

So yeah, Episode 15… a perfect finished product and a great introduction to one of the most adorable characters in the franchise… and probably the most relatable too.

Reminder Time again! 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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