Good morning, Good Evening, Good Afternoon! I’m Josh, and I bid you welcome back to my review of the fantastic voyage that is Persona 5: The Animation. Ladies and gentlemen, with this review, I am officially all caught up! I’m no longer lagging behind! Happy days are here again! I want to thank all you guys, with special thanks to the editorial staff here at Surreal Resolution; these guys are so awesome and understanding, and words can’t express how much I appreciate their patience! But it looks as though everything is back on track now, and barring any prodigious mental breakdowns on my part, it should be smooth, on time sailing for the rest of the series!
Speaking of, this episode is another great one, just like last week. Seriously, I don’t know if there’s been a change with the director, or the creators said “Hey, we gotta step the game up,” but as of recent, the quality and overall feel of the episodes has gotten much better in the second half, and it’s very much appreciated, because certain upcoming events require that nothing short of absolute attention to detail is needed. This episode shows that the creators understand this and are ready to put in the work.
Look how far we’ve gone! I’m Josh, and this is Episode 16 of Persona 5: The Animation!
We pick up right where we left off in the previous episode with both Makoto and our mystery guest screaming bloody murder. Our barefooted bespectacled hacker pulls an “eff this stuff I’m out” and runs back upstairs, leaving Makoto cowering in fear grabbing Ren’s leg… which is how Sojiro finds the two of them, having heard the screams and came running. Ahem… yeah, that’s… that’s awkward. I’m sure he never saw that coming. Roll Credits!
After the credits, Ren decides to ask straight out if Futaba Sakura is, indeed, his daughter. However, when it comes to young Futaba, Sojiro is NOT the father. Futaba is actually the daughter of an acquaintance of his, an old friend and single mother who was deep into some sort of scientific research he had no idea about. Sadly, she committed suicide by jumping in front of a car with Futaba looking on, and the events, naturally, traumatized baby girl and she became a hikikomori: isolating herself from reality and the outside world, only communicating with Sojiro with the closed door between them. Sojiro laments that maybe he hasn’t been the best foster parent to Futaba, but he states that all he wants is to give her a safe place.
Later, after Sojiro leaves, the group discuss what they heard. Ryuji reinforces the fact that there’s no way in hell Sojiro is abusing Futaba and the others agree. They also confirm that Futaba and Alibaba are one and the same and that the request was to change her own heart so she could stop being a shut-in, and Ren has the idea to check the app to see if she even has a palace. Lo and behold, baby girl does indeed have one! Meanwhile, our fuzziest member of the team goes off to do some recon on their newest target, peeping in on Futaba through a window as she listens in on a recording of Sojiro’s earlier conversation.
That night, in the Velvet Room, it seems as though Ren’s actions in the real world have gotten the attention of Caroline, Justine and “Igor.” The twin wardens berate Ren for helping someone else while he himself is still on his path of rehabilitation, calling his actions either really bold or really foolish. However, “Igor” seems interested in seeing how Ren will deal with this current situation.
The next day at school, the campus is abuzz with gossip about the match between MedJed and The Phantoms, and understandably, people are concerned about there being another power outage or WORSE. Momentai, you guys; The Phantoms are currently game planning as we speak on how to combat MedJed. The group meet after school and make things official—their target is Futaba Sakura, and they are going to change her heart. Yusuke hesitates about this particular mission—after all, their target isn’t an evil no-good nick like Kamoshida, Madarame, Kaneshiro and Trump have been. Morgana reassures him that changing hearts isn’t always about defeating evil; it’s about changing a cognition that has been distorted enough where a palace forms. He does admit that this time is unusual, and that there could be some unforeseen circumstances, however, our group is confident that they can tackle anything that comes. Ah, the arrogance of youth.
Later at Sojiro’s house, the group talks to Futaba through the door. They need the last keyword in order to gain access to the palace, and she’s the only one that knows it. Our orange haired hacker is still incommunicado until Ren decides to message her using the address from last time. Ren asks her several questions about her current living environment, and as it turns out, Futaba is not really comfortable in her room, but has accepted that her room will be her final resting place; her tomb. It’s a hit in the MetaNav! So now it’s time to game plan and figure out what to do next and—oh, wait… no, it’s not. Ryuji, bless his hyperactive puppy heart, gets button happy and clicks the “Go” button, transporting the group into the Metaverse.
This time around, our group find themselves in the most obvious place where one would think to find a tomb…in the desert. The scalding hot desert. Needless to say, The Phantoms are in no way prepared for this…in more ways than one. If you’ll recall, our group transported to the Metaverse inside Sojiro’s house… and what’s the one thing that you always do before entering a Japanese house? That’s right, you leave the shoes at the front door. So, our intrepid group of thieves find themselves on the hot-hot desert floor only in their socks—time for the hot-foot Riverdance! Sadly, since Futaba doesn’t see the group as a threat yet (after all, she made the request to change her own heart), their clothes have yet to transform into their typical Metaverse forms. Sucks to be you!
After transforming into Van Mode, Morgana takes our Riverdancing phantom thieves to their target—a massive pyramid. Thankfully, Futaba’s tomb has A/C on full blast, but methinks this was not an option during King Tutankhamun’s internment, but you never know. The Egyptians were a very creative bunch. Sadly, though, our group is pretty sweaty, and for the girls, this causes their clothes to become somewhat translucent, which catches the attention of the boys… much to their chagrin.
Anyway, enough shenanigans, we got a palace to plunder. Morgana snaps out of his perverted fantasies long enough to see something at the top of the stairs—it’s a shadow of Futaba, dressed in full Pharaoh garb. However, instead of engaging in battle like the others, Shadow Futaba questions the group in front of her, offering up no help to change her counterpart’s heart in the real world. Suddenly, voices ring out throughout the palace, and the voices are accusatory, blaming her for her mother’s death and badgering her to die. Dang, it’s just like the message boards on 4Chan. Both the Shadow and real-world Futaba are clearly affected by this, and Shadow Futaba disappears, causing The Phantoms battle gear to materialize. Baby girl is now on red alert, and she sees the group as threats, and it seems as though Futaba is a big Indiana Jones fan, as a large glowing boulder soon comes tumbling down the stairs, sending The Phantoms scrambling.
Later, our group meets up at the batting cages for a postmortem and to blow off steam. The group is amazed that someone who willingly asked to have her heart changed would turn around and throw up defenses like that. Typically, when someone asks you to do something, they don’t try and set you up for failure… unless you’re the current President of the United States, in which case all bets are off. However, the group are determined to help out Futaba, but Makoto reminds the group that time is not on their side—they have to take care of Futaba and then take care of MedJed in short order.
That afternoon on the way home, Ren stumbles across another conversation between Sae and Sojiro. Apparently she’s grilling him about something called “Cognitive Psience,” but Sojiro is clueless about the subject, despite his and Futaba’s connection to it. Content that she can’t get any more information, she leaves, and Sojiro shuts up shop early.
Meanwhile, Futaba is still being haunted by her thoughts… one in particular is so strong, it appears as though it’s standing in the room behind her, glaring down while mouthing something that we can’t quite hear, but you can imagine it’s probably none too pleasant. I’m willing to bet that it’s saying something to the tune of “Make America Great Again.” Heck, that would throw anyone into a bad mental state. Sojiro knocks on her door and asks about her well being, still not wanting to force her into things, but offering gentle reassurance that he’s there. Futaba doesn’t reply. Bless her sweet heart… I just wanna make her a happy little sushi roll.
The next day, The Phantoms decide to do some tomb raiding. However, as in all great Egyptian pyramids (at least the ones I’ve seen in movies) there are booby traps aplenty—spikes, boulders, and of course, shadows; all of which symbolize her current mental state. The Phantoms then come across several “Hieroglyphs” depicting a rather tragic tale:
The first shows her receiving a note from several suit-clad adults. Overhead, they hear a male voice reading what sounds a lot like a suicide note from a parent who places all her problems squarely on Futaba, as though it’s her fault for existing. For some reason, in the picture, the adults aren’t letting her see the note, but are just holding it from her and reading what’s on the paper. Interesting. Naturally, The Phantoms assume this is just a case of maternal necrosis, or what we would call “Postpartum Depression.”
The wall opens up in front of them and after solving several more puzzles and running from several MORE boulders, the group comes across another large hieroglyph, this one depicting Futaba’s mother being hit by the car with Futaba watching on, her last words ringing in the chamber seemingly reinforcing the fact that Futaba’s mom had really reached the end of her rope with her daughter and decided to end it all…which is even more suspicious if you really think about it. I mean, come on…I don’t pretend to know what goes through the mind of a person about to commit suicide, let alone a parent about to do the deed, but I’m certain they’re not going to just scream out their child’s name like that before jumping to their doom. The plot thickens…
A few more puzzles and a bit more running, and we get another hieroglyph. This one shows Futaba’s mom working on something while a young Futaba tugs at her clothes, seemingly begging for attention. The voice overs sound like your typical little kid wanting to spend time with their always busy parent, and her mom is just beyond frustrated. While Makoto seems to think this is part of the maternal necrosis, Ann knows better; she knows that little kids can be a little bratty when their folks are occupied, and that wouldn’t be the proverbial straw that broke the camels back and pushed mom to off herself. Futaba’s voice rings out in the tomb that because she killed her mother, she is locked in her tomb and must die there to atone. Ann is clearly affected by this, but Makoto offers support as the doors open up to reveal the entryway into the final chamber.
The Phantoms meet up with Shadow Futaba in front of a large set of doors that look a lot like the one leading into Futaba’s room. Shadow Futaba explains that in order to open the doors in the Palace and get the treasure, the Futaba in the real world must open the door herself in the real world and let them in. The group decides to return to the real world, determined to get Futaba to open up.
Back in the real world, Shadow Futaba appears before the real Futaba, questioning her. When will she stop blaming herself for what happened? When will she realize the truth about what happened? Why did she reach out to
the truth the phantom thieves? And most importantly, will she sit around do nothing, and allow the Phantom Thieves to fall victim to her own thoughts?
After a hasty dinner, Ren joins the others at Sojiro’s house outside of Futaba’s door, beseeching her to let them in. Futaba is naturally hesitant, but Ren explains that her Shadow wanted them to help her, and “She” told them how to open the door and steal her heart. Eventually, Futaba unlocks the door and, after a bit more persuading, she actually opens the door for them to come in…
…but she’s nowhere to be found. It appears as though our little four-eyed hacker is determined to be a shut in, even in her own room, scrambling for the closet as soon as the door was opened. The group once again beseeches Futaba to open the door, with Ann relating to how she must feel to ask others for help. This seems to work as our little precious cinnamon roll bursts out the closet, arms wide open, screaming at the group to go ahead and take her heart, completely terrified that she has to reveal herself to these strange characters in her room. Bless her little heart…
Meanwhile, the true monster deep inside Futaba’s mind has awoken. It’s about to go down…Next Time!
And so, that’s episode 16. Like I said earlier, I don’t know if the creators finally had a Come to Jesus moment or what, but the episodes in this second half have been amazing, and this one is NO exception. Once again, I can find little if nothing to complain about this time around! As I’ve said the last time, the creators must’ve had an intervention or went on Iyanla: Fix My Anime or something, because this show is markedly improved from the first season!
While they did write out some moments that were in the game, such as some palace scenes, I honestly don’t think we missed anything. For example, there was a cut scene in the game where the group are riding to Futaba’s palace in Morgana and the boys are ogling Ann and Makoto from the back seat. While that scene would’ve been real funny to see in the anime, it would’ve wasted a bit of time. But, the little moment in the tomb more than made up for it. Also, I’m not upset that they didn’t show all the intricate traps and puzzles inside the tomb—it would’ve taken too much of the story. Would it have been NICE to see it? Yeah, of course. But I understand why it was cut, and I didn’t feel like I lost anything watching the episode as presented.
Again, I have to say, I love the small details they did write in. I didn’t mention this in the last episode, but I love the fact that, when the group is having a chat in the school, Yusuke, who does not attend Shujin, has to be put on Speaker to join in the conversation. I know it’s small, but sometimes the little details are the ones that catch your eye the most. I think they alluded to that in the game, but seeing that they took the time to show it in the anime is really nice.
Another little detail that I’m so happy they left in was the fact that, when the group transport to the Metaverse from inside Sojiro’s house, none of them are wearing shoes, so naturally, their socked feet would be burning on the sun baked sand. In the video game, everyone is just standing around chilling like it’s no big deal. Even Makoto, who was barefoot, was just carrying on a conversation like it’s nothing. That small detail may seem insignificant to some, but for some people like myself, who have played the game, it’s a pretty big deal.
I also like how Ann seems a little more passionate this time around regarding Futaba, probably a little more so than any of the other team members. Because of what she went through with Shiho attempting suicide, she seems more sensitive and concerned about anyone talking about taking their own lives. I don’t recall if it was played up like this in the video game, but even if it wasn’t, this is a great way to add depth to Ann’s character. Also the little moment when Makoto just puts her hand on Ann’s shoulder right before the doors opened up was nice too. She knows how Ann feels about the situation…probably more so than the others. And I like that they gave her that small moment to show just how deep their friendship has gotten.
All that being said, this was another prodigiously polished episode! Next week, we’ll actually get our first major boss battle of the second half, and I REALLY look forward to seeing how it’s handled… and I look forward to finishing out the series with no more instances of writer’s block. Knock on wood.
Oh yeah, before I forget, this Saturday, Good Lord Willing, I’ll be at MechaCon 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana! Before you ask—no, I won’t have a panel or anything… and no, I won’t be doing any kind of press interviews or anything either. I’m not that important. But I will be going live several times during the convention on Saturday, so if you wanna check that out, please follow me on Twitter @KhakiBlueSocks! Watch me act like a total fanboy as I wonder the halls of the Convention Center checking out the different cosplays, spending too much money in the dealer room, attending panels, and for fits and giggles, watch as I make a complete fool of myself in front of some of my favorite anime V/A’s! It’s going to be fun.
Yup. The text is in bold, so you know what time it is! That’s right, time to remind you of a couple things! 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.