The side characters need lovin’ too, y’know.
— It’s interesting to see Haru’s father in the ICU. He did not die immediately at the conference. I was under the impression that he did. Maybe I’m mistaken or maybe this is another liberty taken by the adaptation. If it’s the latter, it doesn’t really make sense. Everyone else seemed to die on the spot.
— Y’know, even though this old man is one of the bad guys, he’s really not all that memorable. It probably doesn’t help that he doesn’t even have a name. Yep, for a game full of characters, the writers refused to name this guy for some reason. He’s simply known as the SIU Director. Sure, he’s probably just a pawn, but it’s odd nonetheless.
— Anyways, he puts Sae in charge of the investigation into the Phantom Thieves, but we all know she’s just a puppet. Still, the woman jumps at the opportunity, because he’s promising a promotion should she succeed. The problem here — and this is true of both the game and the adaptation — is that the writers never really flesh out Sae’s backstory. Sure, she’s one of the social links, but we level it up by simply progressing the story. As a result, we don’t really learn much about her or her struggles.
Yes, I can certainly imagine that it is very difficult to juggle a career and raising your kid sister on your own. But what stands out to me during this scene is when Sae goes, “You’re giving the case to someone as inexperienced as me?” Y’see, I had been thinking this whole time that she was experienced. I know she wants to shatter the glass ceiling and all, but a few extra scenes to establish her hardship would’ve really gone a long way. For instance, letting us see a flashback where she had been passed over for a promotion because of sexism or something. This would help us understand why she’s willing to compromise her values just to climb the ladder.
— Elsewhere, Haru had overheard that investigators had found a calling card in the principal’s office, so she goes and confront the team about it. Of course, they deny ever targeting Kobayakawa. They never really had any reason to. He’s a loser, but not pure evil by any means. Still, I find it a bit strange that Haru never presses the Phantom Thieves on the matter. She seems to just trust them at their word. Considering how she hasn’t known them for all that long, she should at least be a bit more skeptical, don’t you think? But maybe this isn’t really in her nature.
— What’s kinda cool here is that public opinion has suddenly turned on the Phantom Thieves. This goes to show you how fickle people can be. But not only that, they are also gullible. Both traditional media and social media have such a huge sway over public opinion. People don’t bother to seek out the truth. They just believe whatever they are told to believe, and this is an issue that is very relevant to our current political climate. Unfortunately, like many stories, Persona 5 can only raise the issue. It never seems to offer any real solutions.
— Later that night, Sae tells Makoto that she’ll be staying overnight at her office from this point on, because she has a very important investigation. Yes, yes, she needs to succeed at all cost, but we’ve already been over this.
— The next day, the police have come to Shujin Academy and started questioning the kids. I can’t tell if they’re onto the Phantom Thieves or just being complete idiots. Would you look at that? This kid seems to hang out with all of the other kids who are linked to the Phantom Thieves incident! What a coincidence!
— After school, Futaba reveals that the Medjed they had faced in the summer was nothing more than a fake. How does she know this? ‘Cause code is like fingerprints, she says! No… just no.
— In any case, someone had messed around with the Phansite to make Okumura rocket to the top of the rankings. Basically, the conspirators wanted the Phantom Thieves to go after the burger-peddlin’ CEO. They were being set up right from the get-go. Y’know, I’m surprised that the team continues to let Mishima run the site. Hell, I would think someone with Futaba’s chops would’ve just taken over the site as soon as she joined the team.
— The team thus agrees to lay low for now. Don’t do anything that will make them stand out. That makes sense on paper, but they carry out most of their operations in the Metaverse. Other than sending the calling cards, nothing they do is supposed to stand out in the real world.
— Still, this gives Ren the opportunity finally level up a few social links. For instance, he strikes up a friendship with Haru. It’s nice to hear her speak in Japanese. Her voice is still very high-pitched, but it’s better than that English monstrosity. I’d be nicer, but I doubt the voice actress would ever stumble across this blog anyways. And besides, it’s not her fault. I’m sure she’s more than capable of sounding normal. Rather, it’s the director’s fault.
— At the arcades, Ren learns a few tips on how to bust a cap in them fools by watching Shinya play a game. Yes, in the game, you learn fancy gun skills by befriending the kid. I feel like the Tower arcana is uncompelling in every game. Eh, maybe the old man in Persona 3 wasn’t so bad, but for 4 and 5, they keep giving us these bratty kids that I don’t want to know period. And although gun skills look cool in Persona 5, they’re not really super strong or anything, so you can totally pass on befriending Shinya.
— Afterwards, Mishima tries order Ren around. To manage the public perception of the Phantom Thieves, which is declining as we speak, the Phansite operator wants our hero to go after a guy just because he’s popular. This is an abuse of power for sure, but it was bound to happen. Mishima was a pushover until he met Ren. Thanks to the Phansite, he got a taste of power, and he’s letting it get to his head. He just wants to be important even though he’s clearly riding on someone else’s coattails. Out of all of the social links, Mishima is one of the better ones.
— Plus, leveling up Mishima’s social link is very beneficial. He allows party members on the sidelines to receive equal EXP as the active party. I hate the alternative. All this does is make me grind twice as much (one of Octopath Traveler‘s few but major drawbacks). Realism is never more important than fun when it comes to gameplay. Mishima is also super easy to level up, so it always baffles me when people manage to end the game without maxing him out. Other than this one slip up, he’s a loyal kid.
— Ren then bumps into Hifumi. Her mother used to care about shogi, but lately, all she wants to do is pimp her daughter out. She cares more about exploiting her daughter’s image than anything else, which, as you can imagine, is bewildering for Hifumi. She is normally so reserved, so it isn’t in her character to become an idol within the shogi world. Her fiery side only comes out in the heat of competition.
— A lot of people want Hifumi to be a party member — and hell, this was originally in the cards — but eh, I think her personality is redundant. We have enough of her kind. Still, her social link benefits are pretty good, too. They give you special advantages in battle, but since this isn’t a post about the game, I won’t go into detail about them.
— Last but not least, we finally give Ann some much-needed attention. The thing about Ann’s social link is that if you ignore it, you never hear about Shiho again. So if you befriend her, you get to talk to Shiho one last time. The girl opens up about that painful day she tried to commit suicide, and how much she’s grown since then. Nevertheless, her mother is putting her in another school, so this is goodbye… kinda. Of course, she and Ann will stay in touch, but you may as well never see her again.
— This line is a bit odd for the adaptation, because other than a single run in with Mika, we don’t actually see anime Ann spend all that much time modeling. There’s a bigger focus on that in the game.
— So in the adaptation, Haru overhears Ann’s words, and this seemingly convinces her to keep on fighting. This is a nice way to tie these two stories together.
— The problem here, however, is that anime Ren doesn’t have a single romantic bone in his body. His relationships with all of the girls are strictly platonic. Even though he seems to have spent the most time with Makoto, it’s doubtful that anything will come of that. And because anime Ren is so boringly lame in the love department, we miss out on what I feel is one of the cuter scenes within the game. Ann’s social link has a lot of issues, but I like its ending. She gets super lovey-dovey, which is nice to see because Japanese heroines tend to be so coy when it comes to romance.
— Anyways, the group soon see that Mishima has gone too far, so Ren decides to check Mementos. He has a hunch that he might just find a shadow version of the kid lurking about in that palace.
— I like that the group just walks away from Mishima in the end. He’s not that far gone. He has issues, but he can fix it himself. So back in the real world, Ren finds a contrite Mishima who will devote his energy into a new project instead. A documentary full of details about vigilantes does not exactly sound like the brightest idea, but as long as he keeps it to himself, it can’t be too bad, right? Well, in our day and age, nothing is truly secure if you stick it online.
— Up next is the Shujin Culture Festival — I’m sorry, the Culture “Fastival” — so a certain someone is about to make contact with the Phantom Thieves.
— Not only that, Sae reveals that the next calling card was sent to her of all people. No way! Can Sae truly be evil? Well, there are some shady public prosecutors out there…