Persona 5 The Animation Ep. 21: The nadir of the story

I have so many complaints about the Okumura section of the story. I’ve already mentioned Haru’s lack of presence in the overall narrative, so I won’t rehash those points again. The Phantom Thieves swoop in and change Okumura’s heart, and as they flee the palace, the disgraced CEO promises to change his ways. All good, right? Unfortunately, the culprit behind the mental shutdowns assassinates Okumura when nobody is looking. For some odd reason, however, the guy doesn’t die for a long, long time. According to Haru, he simply locks himself up in his study until the day of the press conference. Then of course, in front of the all the cameras and thus the entire world, the CEO suffers a gruesome, horrific death. But why did it take so long to kill him? I guess we can write this off as nothing more than a plot contrivance. It may very well be the case that it takes a certain amount of time before a mental shutdown can kick in. Unfortunately, this still isn’t a very satisfying explanation. After all, the player can beat Okumura’s Palace on the very first day that it is available, or wait till the very last minute. Either way, the CEO always dies at the press conference, so… yeah…

Still, this isn’t what bothers me the most about Okumura’s death. Rather, what irks me is Haru’s reaction or lack thereof. In the anime, they actually have her let out a bloodcurdling scream, and that makes sense. After all, the poor girl just had to watch her dad die on live television. Not only that, black bile is oozing out of his every orifice. What’s up with that? It’s bad enough to watch someone die. This is straight-up nightmare fuel. In the game, however, the girl’s reaction is subdued at best. She simply tells the team she has to go. I mean, c’mon, that’s so cold and unemotional. What I find unbelievable, however, is how quickly Haru recovers from the whole ordeal. At first, she keeps her distance from the team, but she eventually resolves to continue fighting as soon as it’s time to tackle the next challenge in the game. I don’t doubt that she would want to catch the person who murdered her father, but I just felt like she got over the tragedy way too quickly and way too easily. The plot has to keep moving, and the game doesn’t want to prevent you from using Haru in the very next palace. As a result, for gameplay reasons, she has to get over her problems and get over them quickly. But from a narrative standpoint, this was really weak and lame.

In a longer game, it might have been possible to hold Haru out for a month or two as she emotionally recovers from her father’s death. After all, the team does kinda get a new party member for the very next palace. Unfortunately, we’re near the end of the game, so Haru can’t really afford to sit out. We only have two and a half palaces left (if you want to consider the last dungeon as a palace of sorts). Plus, the game is long enough as it is. A lot of people went well over 100 hours just to beat Persona 5 on their first playthrough. Personally, I wasted about 80 hours in mine. Anyways, it’s hard for me to love this portion of the story. I didn’t mind Morgana’s mini-drama, but I know it bugged some people. Okumura’s Palace wasn’t my least favorite dungeon in the game, but a lot of people didn’t like it. And for reasons that I’ll explain in a bit, the boss fight here is probably the last inspired out of the entire game. Combined with all the narrative issues above, yeah, this probably is the weakest section of the entire story. Anyways…

Misc. notes & observations:

— So we got chibi Makoto and now chibi Haru. Why is Ann getting the shaft? Hell, anime Ren has maxed out his social link with Ryuji, Makoto, and Yusuke already. Ann’s still waiting to get her time in the spotlight.

— According to Haru, her father “enacted a policy that favored profits.” Afterwards, his business just became a runaway train immediately. Gosh, that was easy. Plus, I doubt a guy who is obsessed with profits would hold some silly burger-eating challenge that only costs 500 yen.

This line is especially bad since it’s coming from Haru’s own father. Sure, it might be a twisted version of him, but this is how he truly feels deep down. I dunno, the idea of hating being poor so much that you’d be willing to sell your own daughter for favors is pretty hard to swallow. I suppose there are people like that out there, though. It’s possible.

A cognition of Haru’s fiance serves as a miniboss of sorts. It’s really not all that memorable, though. After all, like Haru, her fiance doesn’t really have much of a presence in the story. Even though the biggest worry here is to complete the dungeon before she has to marry the guy, he just stops showing up after this point. He should’ve been a recurring figure who harasses Haru. This way, maybe I’d care more about saving her.

— Milady, Haru’s Persona, is kinda cool. Guns actually pop out from beneath her skirt. Unfortunately, we don’t really get to have a really good look in the adaptation. Either everything’s blurry or she’s really, really far away from the audience.

— Well, this splash doesn’t look half bad.

— Before the episode is even half over, we’ve reached the treasure. The adaptation leaves out a lot of the stuff that is annoying about Okumura’s Palace. There’s a section where you have to gather information about a miniboss in order to find and fight the right one. The right one drops a keycard you need to unlock a door. Every time I replay the game, I just brute force my way through this part, i.e. fight everyone. Someone’s going to drop the keycard eventually!

— The adaptation also leaves out the lame section with the conveyor belts.

— Back in the real world, the group sees that the Phansite is being hammered with comments encouraging them to take down Okumura. But y’know, if they’d just scrutinize those user IDs, they might find something fishy about this whole situation. “argh5ghj” is probably not a real person.

Lots of 1% are happy, so…

— Okumura became evil because he didn’t want to be poor. There’s a middle ground between being in debt and running a sweatshop, though. Just sayin’…

— The problem with fighting Okumura is that you don’t really fight him. He’s a chump, so he hides behind his workers. That’s an interesting thematic idea, but in execution, we just find ourselves fighting waves after waves of boring, looking robots.

— Sometimes, you get tall, gangly robots, but they’re still robots you’ve already encountered.

— Eventually, you fight a big boy, but Haru’s fiance was also a big boy. Again, this feels like a retread.

— Last but not least, you have to take down Okumura’s right-hand man, but again, he looks like a palette-swapped enemy.

— So to make the fight interesting, you are actually timed. What the adaptation doesn’t convey is that the team has to get through these battles within 30 minutes. This is more than enough time to get the job done, but you might feel the pressure a bit… especially if you’re underleveled.

— Ren summons Hecatoncheires at one point in the battle, so he’s now at least level 42.

— Eventually, Okumura has no one left to protect him, so he’s just a sitting duck. This part looks kinda awkward, though.

— The whole team is looking good as always. Makoto, especially.

— There’s really only one person who could possibly be the culprit.

— So after another mission accomplished, the group hits up an amusement park to celebrate. I had no idea Ren would dislike rollercoasters this much. Hell, he suggested going to the amusement park in the first place.

— During a lull in the fun, Haru explains why her father’s treasure is a plastic model.

— Anyways, the terrible press conference happens, but I already talked about it up above. In the adaptation, when they cut the live camera feed, we see this pleasant field of flowers. It is not as amusing as what we got in the game.

— I see a #25, so we probably have quite a few episodes left to go.

— Well, if you’re wondering who’s next, this is a pretty big clue.

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