Persona 5 The Animation Ep. 8: The real deal

Time to wrap up Yusuke’s arc. 

— I like how the calling card made a crumpling noise like it was just any random piece of paper.

— Geez, you think they overdid it a bit with the placement of the calling cards?

— That looks like a bargain bin Morgana. In the game, even when Morgana is in the real world, his character portrait for the most of the dialogue — 99% of the dialogue — still resembles his Metaverse form. Obviously, we can’t see any of that in the adaptation.

— Even though Madarame’s Palace was one of my least favorite dungeons in the game, I really liked the setup at the very end. It was reminiscent of heist movies like Ocean’s Eleven.

— One of the more disappointing things about the game is that it stopped embracing the whole thievery aspect. The group continued to call themselves the Phantom Thieves, but you felt less and less like a group of good-hearted delinquents and more like, well, the last two Persona game.

— But here’s my biggest criticism of Persona 5’s writing as a whole: the writers failed to follow through on their vision. From a distance, the cast is supposed to be seen as a group of troublesome delinquents, but despite their flaws, they’re actually good kids if you get to know them. That’s the idea, anyways. Unfortunately, it felt like the writers chickened out and decided to make everyone pure. For instance, Ryuji looks like a punk, but he’s even a bigger softie than Kanji. There’s no edge to him whatsoever. He’s just a big ol’ goofball with bleached hair. Ann is seen as a slut, but she’s totally innocent. It would’ve been nice if instead of getting yet another bog standard virginal maiden, Ann was simply more comfortable with her sexuality than the average person in Japan. As a result, the moral of the story is that this is totally okay. She’s not a slut just because she isn’t ashamed of her body and inherent sex appeal. But no, the writers pulled their punches. They didn’t push the whole social rebellion angle as far as they could, which is why the social links are, for the most part, rather disappointing. Then after those two, it’s like they stopped even trying. There’s nothing problematic about Yusuke, Makoto, etc. At his worst, Yusuke is just eccentric.

— Damn, the seculity here sure is tough!

— Having Sae interrogate Ren as a framing device for the vast majority of the story is a neat idea, but boy is that a long interrogation.

— I never had any trouble with the Madarame boss fight, but maybe I was overleveled or something.

— So there’s the real painting… like I said in last week’s post, Yusuke’s backstory is tragic. As harsh as it sounds, it’s also the only thing that I like about his character.

— We also get to see an interesting side to Madarame’s character. He stole the painting, and even if he didn’t kill Yusuke’s mother with his own hands, he let her die. But despite everything, Madarame still raised Yusuke with a surprising amount of affection. More affection than he ever gave to any of his other pupils. Even Yusuke can’t bring himself to truly hate his sensei. Most of the bad guys in the story are unquestionably horrible, but this old man is not as big of a monster as he initially seems. Still an asshole and a criminal, but there’s a layer of complexity there. On the other, there was nothing redeemable about Kamoshida.

— The background music here sounds like something out of Persona 4.

— I also think it would’ve been cooler if you slowly uncovered the true extent of Madarame’s crime through the course of infiltrating his palace. The idea is that he has his deep, dark secrets hidden away within his heart, and you can only learn the truth by plumbing the depths of his being. Instead, the writers simply had the guy stand in front of you and monologue for like five straight minutes. It’s clunky storytelling.

— The boss track always pumps me up.

— Ooh, they actually employ the 3D effect here pretty well in my opinion.

— So the black gunk that Madarame spews at people makes them weak to all elements. I think he only uses if the battle goes on long enough. You also get the chance to paint him with the same gunk, thereby rendering him vulnerable to every type of damage. But I beat him too quickly, so I never actually experienced this part in my own playthrough. I only learned about it by watching other people play the game on either Youtube or Twitch.

— Kinda feels like Ann and Ryuji get a lot of time together.

— Ren summons Leanan Sidhe, so he’s at least level 19.

— In the end, Madarame doesn’t put up much of a fight. It would’ve been cool if they had finished him off with an all-out attack, but Yusuke landing the final blow is fine too.

— I think this is where we’re supposed to learn about the other Metaverse intruder, right? Looks like the adaptation decided to leave this out. Odd.

— How disgraceful.

— But at least Mr. Bowl Cut got some closure. It’s funny how he got a character portrait despite playing such a small role.

— With Madarame’s defeat, it’s time for some pretty awesome developments. Obviously, Makoto is next. We should also discover something shocking about Ren’s homeroom teacher. I think this is when you finally meet Hifumi, but again, I never really cared for her.

— In any case, I really hope Ren starts spending some time with his friends. The adaptation has all but completely ditched the social links. As much as I prefer Persona 5 over Persona 4, I don’t feel the same way about their anime adaptations. For now, at least.

— Yusuke just learned the truth behind his mother’s death. I feel like he should be a bit more emotionally worked up. He’s as cool as a cucumber, though.

— Aren’t those keys for Madarame’s place…? What would he still need them for?

— Hm, that hotpot is not bad for anime food. The flower-shaped carrots are a nice touch.

— I had deep dish pizza today, so I feel the same way.

— At least they left out the part where both Ryuji and Morgana try to look up Ann’s skirt.

— So Yusuke wants to learn more about his teammates, and I’m not happy that the adaptation left out the majority of Ren’s backstory. This is where we’re supposed to learn what truly happened. He saved the woman from being raped, but her attacker turned out to be an influential member of society. He was able to convince the woman to submit a false account of what happened that night. In other words, Ren was betrayed by the very person he tried to help. I can’t believe they didn’t show this part. It’s important, because when most people played the game, they couldn’t understand why Ren would actually get in trouble for helping the woman out. It is only when they get to this point in the story that they finally get to see the complete picture. It’s rather lousy of the adaptation to leave out such an important revelation.

— Morgana is blushing through his fur…

— Ann mentions how she feels as though she’s known Morgana for a long time… I don’t think the story ever satisfactorily resolved this random plot thread.

— Ren’s the leader, but he rarely ever has anything to say. What a waste of Jun Fukuyama.

— Next week’s episode is even titled “Operation maid watch.” Finally.

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10 Replies to “Persona 5 The Animation Ep. 8: The real deal”

  1. ” Ren’s the leader, but he rarely ever has anything to say. What a waste of Jun Fukuyama.”

    Ugghhhhh..yea; it’s as if the anime staff had no idea how to translate Ren into a speaking role for Persona 5. I really don’t think it’s that hard. As you’ve already highlighted before, Ren’s appeal is that he seems like this chill down to earth kid, but there’s this hidden edge about him that comes out, especially when he’s joker; the anime could easily capitalize on that and give him dialogue that expresses those facets of his personality; it’s not that hard

    “From a distance, the cast is supposed to be seen as a group of troublesome delinquents”

    It feels like that observation only really applies to Ren, Ryuji, and Ann, the original trio who bonded as a result of the similar unwarranted social oppression they were facing. Everyone else in the cast doesn’t have that leering perception placed on them by their social circle, so it’s safe to say that the game never tried to frame the entire group in that manner, only that society had done them wrong in some way. I don’t mind too much about Ren and friends being nice kids; the point of their story arcs is that they were all good kids to begin with. The view that they were social delinquents was one that society had unjustly placed upon them due to making assumptions about who they were purely off of falsified rumors and physical appearances. Their conflicts are a result of the insecurities that have developed as a consequence of their oppression, not because of anything problematic and rebellious behavior. The narrative never demonstrated them to possess any inherently troubling personality quirks that would have been deemed as significantly chaotic (unless you wanna argue Ryuji being loud and brash), meaning the writing never really set up that potential for them to be,well….truly delinquent-ish. Would the cast have made for more interesting characters than they already are had persona 5 took that direction? hell yes; but i wouldn’t say the game’s narrative brought up that aspect about the characters to never really go far with it. The whole social delinquent thing was always based in misconception from the beginning. That aside, if you’re saying that it was a missed opportunity on the writing’s end not capitalizing on this potentially precarious layer of Ren, Ryuji, and Ann’s characterization, then i completely agree. It would have been novel to have a main female character who is openly comfortable about her sexuality (without it being flanderized of course) in this type of JRPG; Maybe let Ann not be a virgin, but have those experiences play into her character arc and ultimately lead into her having matured thoughts about sex and sexuality and broadening her perspective on life. She could easily be a teenage girl who has had sexual experiences, but still carries that sense of self-respect that most peers her age would assume she doesn’t have just because she’s not a virgin

  2. They won’t create a female character in the main cast who is sexually active…Have to make fans feel safe that their waifu is still innocent and pure. That’s also the main reason why Makoto acts like she doesn’t know anything about romance when you finally got the chance to hangout with her…Actually I could not see that changed anytime soon. Maybe 5 years later…no, 10 years? In some aspect, Japanese media is still surprisingly conservative when it came to female roles…

    Interestingly, when I look back Sailor Moon manga recently, I am surprised that the author is quite open for her time: Sailor Moon is implied to sleep over and have sex with her boyfriend several time, and neither she nor the story feel that it’s a big deal at all. The troublesome part is I still feel very uncomfortable that a 17 years old man hooking up with a 14 years old girl…Sailormoon is just a secondary school student when she entered the relationship.

    1. “I still feel very uncomfortable that a 17 years old man hooking up with a 14 years old girl…” Really? This is quite common in high school settings where a freshman female and senior male may date and vice versa (the vice versa part being less likely)

      1. She’s not even in highschool, she’s a middle school kid, who is around 13-14 years old at best! From what I remember only at the final arc of the manga did she graduated from middle school to enter high school. (Everyone is surprised that she passed.)

        As I said, they are implied to have sex together, nothing was shown clearly but Usagi has lied to her mom to spend the night at her boyfriend several time, and they were shown to stay in bed together several times…I am okay with dating, but a guy 17 or 18 years old having sex with a 13-14 years old girl is still very creepy in my opinion. Even in Japan, when the age of consent according to the law is 14 years old, it is still very weird if it really happened in real life.

        1. Even dating is too much for me. A high schooler about to graduate shouldn’t be hanging out with a middle schooler. Even if they’re both in high school, a 3 year age gap at that stage in life is too big. But it’s not really about the age. It’s more about maturity levels and the power imbalance that might arise as a result. A 27-year-old and a 24-year-old are likely at the same stage in their lives. I can’t look at a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old in the same light.

        2. Usagi starts off being 14 and ends the series at 16; similarly mamoru starts out being 17 and is 19 by the series end. I brought up the whole freshman to senior comparison because US, highschool is from 9th to 12th grade, which means the age ranges are mostly between 14 and 18; 14 being the youngest most freshman are and 18 being the oldest most seniors are. Usagi at the start of the sailor moon series is as old as a burgeoning freshman, while Mamoru (age 17) is that of an old junior/early highschool senior. Do remember that Japan’s middle school’s extend up until the 9th grade so technically by US standards, Usagi is old enough to be a freshman in highschool (although i believe Usagi was in the second half of 8th grade while Mamoru was in later half of his second highschool year when the series began) which is why the comparison fits.

          Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why the gap may be uncomfortable for some. I’ve personally never found it to be an extremely big deal in that i would never use the word “creepy” to describe that 3 year gap at that stage of life. It is a precarious age difference for sure, but not one that i would find my skin crawling from, especially since i saw such disparity in the open between couples my whole high school life. As a person who studies psychology and human development, I can tell you that the disparity in maturity, while it exists, it’s not as large as one would think (up until a certain threshold anyway). This is part of the reason why some laws are willing to accept a 4 year difference given the age of consent; for example a 14 year old girl and an 18 year old boy dating and being sexually active might still be acceptable in some areas. Yes, the fact that a 16-18 year old is given privileges such as access to career opportunities and has a chance to attain a driver’s license opens up the potential to greatly broaden their horizons and further develop their mental maturity compared to a 14 year old; however, the prefrontal cortex and frontal lobe maturation between these ages are not significantly different, which means that both groups have virtually similar neurological and cognitive capacity. One’s ability for emotional intelligence, impulse control, experiential evaluation, reward vs punishment evaluation, etc. are virtually within the same parameters within this age range. This results in an age range that minimizes the likelihood of any extreme power imbalance. Keep in mind that power imbalance in relationships with age gaps results not just the amount of experience one has over the other, but from the mental and neurological significance of those experience and the younger party’s ability to cognitively and emotionally, mediate, understand, value, and rationalize those experiences. Teen experiences just don’t have the depth that adult experiences have to be able to create such a huge power gap. You may argue for example that a 17 year old can have more sexual experience than a 14 year old, which tips the scales of power, but even that isn’t always the case as there are quite the population of kids that age who are still green when it comes to sexual experiences. But i get it; the potential for that disparity to exist is what generates the apprehension in the first place.

          1. between these ages are not significantly different, which means that both groups have virtually similar neurological and cognitive capacity.

            Not significantly different to virtually similar. I think I’ll need some papers to back up any of these claims, but I don’t care enough about this topic to hash it out. I’ll just say that any non-neglibible difference in maturation is too much for me.

            1. “Not significantly different to virtually similar”

              the “not significantly different” part of my claim refers more to the physical neurological properties of the brain like synaptic count and white and gray matter density (while a difference can be seen in MRI’s, it’s not significantly different), while the “virtually similar” was meant to underline the implications those physical details have on the outcome of behavior, impulse control, and reasoning. The 14 year old brain doesn’t look drastically different from a 16/17 year old brain, in particular the structures that greatly affect our maturity like the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and the anterior Cingular gyrus. I would have initially attached sources to my comment (i’ve got a hard drive full of these bad boys) but man are these articles dense. They’re not like something off of psychology today; you’d have to have a deft understanding of the neuroscience and the research to extrapolate the conclusions that i highlighted. Basic science articles do not touch upon the particular cohort groups within the adolescent timeline necessary in understanding the varying differences in cognition and behavior of distinct ages. Still, ill leave them here if you’re ever bored and are interested in at least sifting through them. Some behavioral research posit that between the age of 16 and 18, we truly start learning how to refine/evaluate our experiences, and value our own knowledge and opinions over others which could play a role in relationship power imbalance when dating someone who isn’t at the age to be at that threshold, but even then some studies point to the brain being able to reach this threshold at the age of 14 or 15 give or take. Regardless, I hear you loud and clear about such negligible differences not mattering in your perception of the subject.

              https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1135755X15000172
              https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878929315300621

              1. about power imbalance, I remember a couple in Card Captor Sakura is a…elementary school girl, and her middle-aged teacher. I think we could agree how creepy that is. Old shoujo manga could be very weird sometimes.

                1. I definitely remember that one; that ain’t getting my support any time see. I do like CCS though….I’m not enjoying the 2018 series as much though; it spins its wheels way too much without achieving anything

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