Persona 5 The Animation Ep. 19: Kawakami’s time to shine

I found this meme about Kawakami on Reddit earlier. Yeah, that about sums it up for me. But what can I say? It’s her hairstyle that really does it for me.

— Too bad Kawakami only looks good in still shots. For the most part, the animation in this week’s episode is deplorable.

— Months after the incident, Kamoshida’s infamy finally makes it into the news. As a result, there’s a media circus outside the school. I think they are downplaying his crimes a bit, though. He didn’t just commit physical abuse.

— It’s not all doom and gloom for our heroes, though. After all, they have a school trip to Hawaii coming up. On paper, that sounds like a blast. On paper, mind you. The problem with Persona 5 is that its missing memorable moments of levity, which Persona 4 had in spades. Just the camping trip alone beats out anything that you’ll find in Persona 5. I don’t know why the writers went with this route. They should’ve known what players really wanted. After all, they gave Ren the option to date practically every single female confidante. The only exception is Sae, but they even had plans for you to romance her as well!

— Point is, I never really quite understood why the team events in Persona 5 were so weak. It wasn’t just the school trip that was a letdown. The beach trip, the school festival, the trip to visit the TV studio, so on and so forth. None of them are all that memorable. At one point, the team even wonders why they even bothered to go to Hawaii in the first place.

— The Phantom Thieves’ popularity is surging, and as a result, requests are flying in on the Phansite. The problem here is that nothing on the internet is truly secure. Plus, the site is being maintained by Mishima. He’s got a good heart (for the most part), but no one would mistake him for an expert in cybersecurity. Let’s just say it would be easy to manipulate the online vote.

— The gang wants to look into the mysterious mental shutdown cases, but they don’t have any leads. As a result, they turn to Makoto to do some digging. Futaba hands Makoto a magical USB stick that can hack into Sae’s laptop. For the game, this led to a potential meme template to exploit. Let’s just say it doesn’t quite look the same in the adaptation.

— Meanwhile, things aren’t going so well for Principal Kobayakawa. He was never much of a character, so we won’t be missing him.

— Ren and his fellow classmates finally make it to Hawaii, and the adaptation does its best to make up for the deficiencies in the game. We certainly didn’t get to see them have this much fun in the original story:

— On the other hand, the animation continues to blow chunks. The only silver lining was that the group picture turned out okay. Compare it to the one in the game. CloverWorks went and made Makoto seem a lot more moe for some reason.

— Futaba quickly comments on the group picture, thereby revealing that she’s installed spying software onto Ren’s phone. See, there’s another reason why you shouldn’t waifu the girl. You’d never have any privacy.

— Didn’t get enough of Kawakami, did ya? Yeah, me neither, so here’s some more fanservice:

None of this is in the game.

— That’s one sorry-looking burger in Ren’s hands. But speaking of Big Bang Burger, the adaptation has yet to show the Big Bang Burger Challenge. Everyday, you can drop by one of the stores to try and eat a gigantic burger. If you’re successful, you get to level up several key areas. It’s a fun, little thing in the game that probably wouldn’t make very much sense in an anime adaptation.

— At one point, Yusuke shows up in Hawaii to join the rest of the gang. According to him, a massive storm prevented his plane from landing in LA. I’ve lived in California nearly all of my life (moved here when I was one). Never has there ever been a storm strong enough to deter planes. It just doesn’t happen here. We do get a ton of forest fires, though! And droughts! We’re dying. Please send water.

— We get to see Ren rescue a socially awkward Hifumi from a bunch of curious Americans. They just want to know more about the Phantom Thieves, but they’re scaring the girl nonetheless. Too bad the animation quality is scaring me as well.

— Oddly enough, this appears to be the first time that Yusuke has mentioned Hifumi being a girl who goes to his school in the anime. He does that much, much earlier in the game. It doesn’t matter, though. I’m not a huge fan of characters like Hifumi. Her social link has great gameplay benefits, but meek girls like her bore me.

— Back in Japan, Futaba is doing some investigation of her own, and she doesn’t bother to loop Morgana in. This doesn’t help the cat feel any less useless. He laments that he’s only good for chauffeuring the team around. Hey, I’d be annoyed in his shoes as well. Plus, whenever Morgana feels down, nobody seems to notice. Maybe it’s just harder to empathize with a cat, because we don’t have a human face to look at.

— It also doesn’t help when the animation makes Morgana look like a motionless statue.

— At night, Ann ends up having to sleep in Ren’s room since she got locked out of her own. Ryuji is also here because his roommate is busy shacking up with a girl. So in the game, your friends ask you what you like in a girl. The conversation seems to get cut short here.

— Also, Mishima is just busy on his phone in the lobby. In the game, he ends up having stomach problems for whatever reason (I think it’s from the water?). These are just odd changes.

— Again, things aren’t going so hot in Japan. The culprit behind the mental shutdowns finally went after Kobayakawa. Again, he won’t be missed.

— Before you know it, Ren has finally returned home from Hawaii. Because he isn’t dating anyone, he doesn’t get to have a special moment on the trip. In the game, if you’re in a relationship with some of the girls (Ann, Makoto, Hifumi, or Kawakami), then you get to spend one afternoon with them. Basically, you just talk, eat garlic shrimp from a food stand (who eats garlic on a date), then talk some more. You also get a memento from the girl of your choice. If you don’t have a girlfriend by this point, I think you can hang with the guys, but I’ve never actually done that myself. Anyways, the point is that we’re missing content just because anime Ren has absolutely no romantic impulses whatsoever.

— Now that the team is back in Japan, it’s time to get down to business. All of the evidence seems to point towards one man: the CEO of Big Bang Burger. I guess this would be like going after Papa John or something. I mean, sure, I guess it’s possible for a burger guy to be involved in a deep conspiracy, but I wish the writers had given him a slightly different background. Make him the Japanese version of Jeff Bezos or something, y’know? Or someone like Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater. A burger guy just seems kinda lame by comparison.

— When the kids return to school, they have to attend an assembly regarding Kobayakawa’s sudden death. You can totally tell that the other students are 3-D models. What’s sad is that the 3-D models look superior to our actual heroes.

— Morgana tries to take the reins of the team and assert himself as the leader of the group. He wants to be useful for something. Everyone else has a role, so he just wants one too. For instance, Yusuke always seems to remind his friends to consider the ethical ramifications of their missions. When Ann wonders if the team has been doing the right thing, it’s easy to write her off. C’mon, of course they’re doing the right thing! Kamoshida was physically and sexually abusing his students! Same goes for the other two bastards. But you have to understand that Ann is operating off of emotions, which are equally as important as cold, hard logic. The point is, even though these two don’t make the final decisions within the Phantom Thieves, they have a role to play. Morgana is missing that role ever since he stopped acting as the team’s navigator. He’s desperate to feel important again.

When the team hesitates to go after Okimura — even though he has a Palace — Morgana gets frustrated. This turns into a shouting argument with Ryuji even though the brash kid was initially on the cat’s side. In the end, Morgana ditches the team to go off on his own. In his insecurity-fueled hubris, the cat thinks he can infiltrate a Palace all on his own even though he’s never been able to do this in the past.

— What troubles me is that nobody — including Ren — even tries to stop Morgana. The risks are way too high. If cat fails, he can die. So why wouldn’t Ren try to say something? I don’t mind the fact that Morgana kicked up some internal drama. My biggest problem with this brief fracture within the Phantom Thieves is that it feels a bit forced. You don’t get any options to prevent Morgana from leaving, because the writers really, really needed a reason to get the cat to leave the team temporarily.

— Elsewhere, we learn that Sae is getting increasingly desperate. She wants to tie the Phantom Thieves to the mental shutdowns, but she has no proof. She knows it, too. But at this point, she’s willing to play dirty to salvage her professional reputation.

— As for Morgana, he quickly runs into trouble in Okimura’s Palace. Of course he would. As a party member, he’s the team best healer. He can’t really take hits. Luckily, Haru is here to help him. I just dunno why they make her look so emotionless. Maybe they want people who haven’t played the game before to think that maybe she’s not so nice.

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