If you think my posts on Persona 5 are long, just thank your lucky stars that there isn’t a Nier: Automata adaptation.
— This adaptation loves its Goro Akechi. I honestly can’t say that I feel the same. He wasn’t my fan favorite by a long shot. I think his story just feels a bit too similar to others that I’ve encountered in the past.
— These scenes at least serve to fill in the narrative gaps. When did Akechi first hear of the Phantom Thieves and how did he react to their stories?
— Oh, this OP is here to stay. Hm.
— I’ve come across a lot of anger on the internet over this half-assed adaptation, and while I can understand how those people feel, I guess I’m just used to this sort of thing by now. After blogging anime for nearly a decade, I can count the number of impressive game-to-anime adaptations on one hand (not counting visual novels). In a way, I’m sort of enjoying the badness as its own thing.
— I never did understand why Iwai was so interested in the fake gold medal.
— Ooh, it’s the fancy buffet scene. As an American, the idea of a fancy buffet is a complete mystery to me. Anyways, I’m going to be disappointed if Morgana isn’t forced to eat a mountain of beans (spoiler: I am disappointed).
— Aw, he’s feeding Morgana by hand.
— Oh lord, those chocolate fountains look terrible.
— I’m also not used to sitting on couches at a restaurant.
— Aw, they completely skipped the part where Ren eavesdrops on people as he gathers food. Instead, we get to see Ann being yelled at by a haughty woman. Children everywhere are treated as second class citizens. Sometimes, it’s justified, but more often than not, kids are taught to simply shut up around their elders. We say we value independent thinking, but we also expect those younger than us to simply defer to our judgment. Well, which is it?
— We also immediately jump to Shido, a self-important asshole. When one of Shido’s men shoves Ryuji out of the way, our hero gets his first courage check. If your courage is high enough, you can try to stand up for your buddy. It doesn’t amount to anything, but it’s a fun little thing to look forward to on new game plus. Normally, you wouldn’t pass the courage check on your first playthrough. Still, this reminds me that Persona 5 seemed to have less conversation checks than Persona 4. As a result, replaying the game didn’t seem as fresh.
— Odd… CloverWorks changed the entire setting. In the game, our trio of fledgling Phantom Thieves continue to discuss these matters back at their table. This is where the group decides to continue being Phantom Thieves and fighting for justice in a world full of corrupt or complacent adults. For some reason, however, the adaptation has decided to remove these kids completely from the buffet… they’re just now standing on an indiscriminate floor of a high-rise building. Why would you make this change? What purpose does it serve?
— In fact, it seems that this pivotal conversation takes place over the course of the entire day at multiple locations. After all, I don’t remember visiting a burger joint. In fact, if they just went to a buffet earlier that day, do they really have the appetite to eat fast food afterwards? Anyways, it’s not a particularly long conversation, so it’s hard to wrap my mind around the idea of them taking all day to discuss the official formation of their team. Nevertheless, I guess walking from location to location is more dynamic than just sitting and talking in a restaurant.
— I am boring, so I also went with the default name for my team.
— One thing that could’ve helped Persona 5’s narrative was to flesh out the current political atmosphere that helped bring about Shido’s ascension. He just kinda comes out of nowhere and rides a surge of momentum all the way to the top. Well, if the political system is in disarray, why is that? The story hints at it, but this particular plot point is never fully fleshed out. It’s as if politics is beyond these kids’ grasp. All they really know is that they’re getting screwed. Then again, people complained that the story was long enough. Personally, I loved Persona 5, so I would’ve gladly taken a longer game.
— The adaptation highlights the fact that Sae is particularly interested in all the strange incidents happening lately. This is also a minor plot point that the game could’ve expanded on.
— Ren looks really determined here. He wants to do this more than Ryuji; he’s just not as outwardly enthusiastic as his loud buddy.
— Right from the start, Ryuji is fixated with fame. This is important to keep in mind as future developments play out down the line.
— It’s been brought up before by a ton of people, but Ren does not sit in the very back row. As a result, the guy behind him should be able to see everything (including Morgana). He never says a word, though.
— Is there enough oxygen for the cat?
— Oh hey, it’s Makoto. Again, I prefer her in English, but that’s only because her voice actress is also responsible for A2 in Nier: Automata. I think I mentioned it before, but Makoto is almost the best girl. I like the fact that she’s smart, and I love her toughness. She’s also pretty damn useful in battle. Most of all, it was cute to see her try and stalk you throughout the game. Unfortunately, I just really hate the whole “I’m super booksmart, but I’m oh-so-clueless about the real world” trope. Not only did it remind me too much of Mitsuru from Persona 3, but it feels as though the writers feel the need to give the player one major advantage over every girl that he courts. With Makoto, it’s her real world naivete.
— Also, she wants to be a cop when she grows up, and that’s like… eh…
— Seeing the Phansite, I’m reminded of how the development team initially wanted to incorporate rumors into the game, but they ran out of time. They must have considering how long this game took to come out. Still, rumors would’ve been fun to see. It also would’ve been nice to see the recent games acknowledge the Persona 2 duology a bit more.
— Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to replay those two games… unfortunately, the gameplay in them is not so great. Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment have excellent stories, but I always lose all my enthusiasm as soon as I run into the first random encounter. I just don’t have the patience that I used to have as a kid to power through tedious game design anymore. People speak fondly of the 32-bit era of JRPGs, but between the long load times and cumbersome UI, the thought of replaying them makes me cringe.
— Ahh, Mementos… the freshmaker. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of the place. It’s not that I hate random dungeons. In fact, its randomness is a nice change of pace. Sometimes, you just want to wander around and grind for a bit… as a JRPG fan, of course. If you’re not into JRPGs, you might not understand that feeling. But as I was saying, the problem with Mementos is that it never felt substantial enough. The various sections looked too similar to each other, so it felt like a step back from Persona 4’s random dungeons. It also wasn’t very difficult either, so it’s nothing compared to, say, the Labyrinth of Amala. What Persona 5 lacks is an optional endgame area full of super hard challenges. This is a problem for all of the Persona games, actually. JRPGs generally have post-endgame content to keep the player occupied, but all you can really do in the Persona series is replay the game. Not only that, Mementos ends up playing an important role in the main story, so it’s not allowed to be hard. Persona 3 at least has the Monad Depths, but that’s not fearsome either.
— Also, there just wasn’t much to do in Mementos. The only reason to go in there was to find an important enemy to defeat, which speaks to the lazy design behind the game’s subquests. It was always go to Mementos and beat someone up. Persona 4’s requests were at last a little more varied than that. They didn’t all take place within the dungeons either. In one quest, I had to feed a cat. In another one, I had to run around and talk to a bunch of NPCs.
— Of course the car is in 3D.
— In the game, when you drive Morgana around, you actually get to hear amusing bits of banter between your teammates. I think you can find them on this Tumblr (expect to come across spoilers, of course). Unfortunately, Mementos itself is quite small, so you’ll often run into enemies or the floor’s exit before these humorous conversations can actually play out. Sure, you could just stop the car and listen, but it’s one of those things they should’ve done a better job of playtesting.
— I don’t remember this track in the game. Must be an anime-only song.
— So you find unsavory people in Mementos, and you beat them up. These people are not twisted enough to have their own palaces. They’re bad, but they’re not that bad. Well, some of them are pretty horrible like the “The Head Honcho in Showbiz.” But there’s one that’s like a girl bullying a guy because she has a crush on him. As a Phantom Thief, you can’t help but feel like you’re wasting your time with small fries.
— Also, it’s interesting how you never actually go into the palace of, say, a serial killer. One of the final bosses of the game is certainly an accomplice to murder, but he’s not actually guilty of the deed himself. Imagine how creepy a serial killer’s palace would’ve been, though. Still, I guess this makes sense thematically. The story is about reforming the world and overcoming society’s corruption. Serial killers are evil, but they’re outliers if you really think about it. There’s nothing to reform. They’re just broken people to begin with.
— Still, we have a lot of evil leaders all across the world, but I guess the Phantom Thieves only have jurisdiction over Japan.
— Mm, Madarame gets name-dropped. You can probably guess that he’s our heroes’ next big target. He definitely felt like a step down from Kamoshida. He didn’t seem as threatening as a dude who was literally sexually harassing his students, and personality-wise, I thought he was kinda dull.
— Wow, that is fast. Our Phantom Thieves immediately destroy Nakanohara as soon as he transforms. I guess we don’t really wanna bother with anything but major boss battles.
— Lots of exposition. Lots and lots of it.
— Morgana isn’t sure where he’s from, what he is, or if he’s even supposed to look the way that he does now. I like Morgana more than Teddie, but at this point in the story, I do feel as though he’s a bit too similar to that perverted bear.
— Well, y’see, that just looks like cocaine.
— This is supposed to be Leblanc’s famous curry, but I dunno, man… also, have you actually tried curry with coffee? That’s such a strange combination! They both have incredibly intense flavor profiles (unless you like watered down coffee), so it’s just too much. I tried it once. At work, I get free fancy espresso-based drinks, so one time, I grabbed an order from Japacurry, a food truck that drops by once a week. Yeah, I’m not doing that again.
— See, in the game, Sae does drop by, but never with Akechi in tow. This adaptation loves him, man!
— But I guess we may as well get this relationship started early. Justice Personas are generally pretty useful.
— A hero needs a villain, and a villain needs a hero. In the game, Akechi never really plays a cat-and-mouse game with you despite the fact that, as a detective, he’s supposed to stop your crimes. After all, you’re a Phantom Thief who does his dirty work within the Metaverse. Unless Akechi has magical powers of his own, how exactly would he try and chase you down, right? So I understand the cat-and-mouse game never took place. But man, how cool would that have been, though?
— Anyways, we’ll finally meet Yusuke next week. Both his English and Japanese voices are pretty good…
— Yeah, Moon Boy kinda does.
— I’m tellin’ ya, Akechi is the actual star of this damn adaptation.
— Morgana warns the kids that it’d be real bad for them if their identities are ever discovered… how ironic. Honestly, the Phantom Thieves are the worst kept secret ever.
— Oh, we didn’t have to wait till next week for Yusuke after all.