I initially wanted to write a post about the game itself, but it always felt like such a daunting task. There’s just so much to say and cover. Luckily, I have this adaptation. It really allows me to not just talk about the anime itself, but also break the game down into manageable bite-size analyses. Basically, my coverage on Persona 5 The Animation also serves as my write-up for the game. Even though the adaptation has been a bit of a letdown (read: a lot), I’m still glad it exists.
— Jesus, could you keep it down, Ryuji?
— Kamoshida never grabbed anyone in the game. Again, it’s one of those small changes that takes the adaptation a bit too far.
— Interestingly enough, he addresses Ann when he walks forward to accuse Ren and Ryuji. I don’t believe he did that in the game. I don’t mind this small addition.
— This is rather retro.
— Oh, are we gonna get a different OP for every palace-clearing episode? It has some fun moments like the two wardens coming together to become one, portraying Ren and Goro as foils, and also hinting at the latter’s duality. Also, this song is kinda growing on me. It doesn’t get me hyped up for a heist, but I dunno… I guess I just dig anything by Lyn Inaizumi.
— More exposition follows after the OP. The game itself had a ton of exposition, especially at the start. Still, the pacing there was a little better, because you had gameplay sequences to break up Morgana’s infodumping. Because the adaptation has to wrap this story up in just 24 or whatever episodes (I think it’s 24), the time crunch makes it feel like we’re just being fed back-to-back-to-back exposition. It’s an unfortunate side effect of adapting any Persona game, so I wouldn’t actually hold this against the studio (are they still A-1 Pictures or is it CloverWorks now?).
— The animation almost looks good again during these conversations.
— I was disappointed that I couldn’t revisit old palaces in Persona 5. The game has several improvements over Persona 4, but it would also go backwards in many areas. I know there’s a story reason for this, but they could always conjure up some bullshit like, “Oh, lemme reconstruct Kamoshida’s Palace from your memories!” Most people don’t have fun backtracking, but I dunno, I always like finding secrets in areas I’ve already visited. That sort of thing has always appealed to me.
— Finally… also, I’ve mentioned this before, but I love the track during this scene.
— Wait, Ryuji is asking what they’re doing here? Wasn’t it his idea to come here in the game?!
— Oh, I get it. Morgana never explained how toy guns would work in the Metaverse, so Ryuji doesn’t understand why they’re here. It’s a little confusing if you’ve played the game, though.
— Despite loving “Layer Cake,” I never cared much for Iwai. I didn’t finish his social link in my first playthrough, but even after going through it in the second, it just never really clicked with me. It felt like an afterthought. He seems kinda boring compared to previous representatives of the Hanged Man arcana.
— Yeah, I don’t think band-aids are gonna cut it.
— Man, if only Ren was in college or something, then I wouldn’t feel any qualms about hooking up with Tae. Who doesn’t like a playful, smart doctor for a girlfriend? And of all the confidantes that you can date, I believe she’s the only one who isn’t shy or pretends to be shy about her sexuality. I love bob cuts on girls, so combined with her oversized lab coat… well, enough about that. Unfortunately, it’s just ridiculous to me that a doctor — even a disgraced one — would go for a fucking high school kid. Not only that, she already has plenty of baggage to deal with (we might find out about it later in the adaptation). The idea that she would risk her reputation even further is nuts. Still, she has one of the best social links purely from a gameplay standpoint. That SP-recovering accessory pretty much wrecks the game’s challenge.
— I also prefer Tae’s English voice-acting over the Japanese one. Deep, sultry voices all the way.
— Oh come on, she wouldn’t make this comment in front of his legal guardian. Granted, Sojiro seems like he barely gives a shit about Ren in this adaptation, but still…
— Wh-what? She just gives him medicine out of nowhere?! In the game, you have to go to her clinic and ask about her experimental meds. She then starts getting suspicious of you, and it’s a great scene. This, on the other hand… this is just nuts. Here, have some random ass meds, kid I’ve never met before! Let me know how they work.
— Honestly, I barely bothered with Morgana’s infiltration tools. Sure, I made some lockpicks, but that was about it. The game’s easy enough as it is even on Hard. I haven’t touched Extreme, though.
— I’m still hoping that Sojiro confronts Ren about Morgana. Again, it is one of the best scenes in the game, and it shows us an early glimpse of the old man’s soft side.
— Ooh, this is new. We get to see Shiho with her hair down.
— “Life Will Change” is the only reason why I would always take my time running to the boss. One thing, though: in the game, you only got the instrumental version for the first few palaces. Then when you finally got the vocal track, it was dope because you felt as though you had finally reached a pivotal moment in the story. The adaptation probably never really understood this aspect of the game.
— I was hoping that Ren’s personality would shine through more in this adaptation, but lately, he’s been kind of a blank slate. I’m glad they had him say “Sexy Cat,” but we need more.
— Interesting angle. Some areas of the adaptation are obviously more polished than the others. At least Ann’s got more to work with here than her 3-D model… whenever the animation decides to hold up.
— It’s kinda weird that they suddenly have to go and disable traps after they’ve already found the treasure. They’re supposed to have already secured a route, but I guess this makes sense in a different way. After all, if Kamoshida is on high alert, wouldn’t he install a more robust security system? Plus, fast travel wouldn’t make sense in an anime. Normally, you’d just warp to the last and final safe room, but yeah…
— You might wonder why Ann’s seduction might work on Shadows, but they’re really just manifestations of negative human emotions. This adaptation never gets into it, but you can hear all about that nonsense in the Persona 3 movies and probably the Persona 4 adaptation as well (I can’t be sure).
— We finally see Ren recruit Pixie to his team. This is pretty much a Shin Megami Tensei staple. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see him answer any of the zany questions that the game would throw at you. He simply thanks her, so she decides to join his team. Um, okay. I’m still amazed that it took this long for this scene to occur. C’mon, this is one of the primary reasons to play the Persona series. You’re basically playing Pokemon but with demons and dieties instead of cute, furry animals and a lot more waifus.
— Why would you play the social link up music during this recruitment scene?
— At least Pixie’s mask crashing into Ren’s face is kinda cool.
— Ah, the big boss battle is here. In the game, his name is Asmodeus, which makes him a demon of lust. Makes sense. Not sure how I feel about the 3-D, though. It doesn’t look as bad as other attempts at CGI in other shows, but eh…
— As I’ve said before, I love the boss battle music. In fact, I love this one the most out of the Hashino trilogy.
— I don’t think you can use a Vanish Ball in a boss fight.
— I always sent Ryuji to get Kamoshida’s treasure as well. It made sense since I needed Morgana to heal. Even so, I wish they had developed this mechanic further. Imagine if you could beat every boss without actually killing them. You simply had to steal their treasure, but the trick gets harder and harder further into the game. Maybe you need to fulfill certain requirements within the palace or something. For instance, if you mess with the wiring, you can briefly turn out the lights, and this will allow your infiltrator to get closer to the treasure or something. I dunno, I’m just throwing a random idea out there. Nevertheless, you can make this a viable alternative by making the bosses extra hard. My point is that I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could beat Kamoshida without killing him, and I was subsequently disappointed that this wasn’t a thing with the rest of the palace bosses.
— Where are his slaves that he would sic on you?
— Interesting. Ren ends up passing out mid-fight and showing up in the Velvet Room. I believe that’s a game over. But instead, the adaptation uses this moment to teach us all about fusing Personas. That’s… an interesting way to do it. I kinda like it. Welp, see ya later, Arsene.
— That reminds me… I watched this streamer go through the entire game with Arsene. She simply refused to fuse him. She’d just sacrifice all her other Personas over and over to level him up. That was some real dedication.
— The adaptation doesn’t really give us a good look at the wholesome guillotine action.
— I’m amused to see Agathion, a level 3 Persona, turn this battle around. In the game, I was probably rocking Jack Frost or something in the early teens.
— In the game, the boys were afraid that Ann would murder Kamoshida right then and there. She, of course, holds herself back like what you see now in the adaptation. It’s kinda unfortunate that they left this moment out.
— Also, when the palace collapses, we should’ve seen Morgana revert back to his cat form. In the adaptation, we don’t even see the escape sequence at all. Yet another unfortunate change. Maybe CloverWorks didn’t want to copy what Production I.G had already done, but I don’t see how it could’ve hurt.
— So Kamoshida did sexually abuse his female students in the adaptation as well… they just cut out all the lewd parts from the palace.
— When Kamoshida threatens to kill himself as a way to pay for his crimes, Ann goes on her mini-tirade, and it’s such a cathartic moment. After all, the player should also hate Kamoshida by this point. Not only that, the player should also feel frustration over the fact that the society around these kids have failed them. I think a large part why I like Persona 5 so much is the anger that the kids feel. Not only are they frustrated with their situation, they get to do something about it. They get to take it to the adults and, y’know, rebel. After all, it’s one of the major themes of the story. You felt like these kids were actually effecting change in the world rather than just playing after school detectives. Persona 4 felt too happy-go-lucky, and Persona 3 was… well… if you go back and replay it, the storytelling certainly doesn’t feel as cohesive. Persona 3 certainly had its share of social commentary, but it wasn’t as adeptly woven into the main storyline until much later. You could argue that Persona 5 lacks subtlety with its in-your-face moralizing, but I don’t mind that sort of thing at all. I like making a statement.
— Fucking Ryuji…
— I’m not sure why they replaced the characters’ faces with generic icons…
— Oh man, Ren finally gets his code name.
— Oh hey, the Sojiro scene with Morgana…
— Wait, what? What is this? More accurately, what is this doing here? Man, this adaptation is pushing Goro Akechi hard.
I like the theme of Persona 5. It’s a topic that is becoming more and more relevant in Japanese society. Interestingly, the new Japanese Godzilla movie has somewhat similar theme: it both depicted how Japanese society was hold back by the order/ social norms/etc… enforced by the older generation, which has become quite outdated and ineffective in a new world. In Persona 5 I could somehow sense a young generation of Japanese, frustrated by the injustice and corruption in the old system, trying to break out and let their voice to be heard.
It might be influenced by the current social activities against a more military change in constitution, which you probably have heard from the news. When I was living near Kyoto University, many young students hold demonstration, giving out leaflet and participating in discussion to give their objection to what the government is trying to do…
If this is really signalling a new trend/movement/change in Japanese society, I think it would be what Japan really needs.