So how will Ren respond?
— The cultural festival is coming up, and when the gang count the ballots, they discover that the entire student body wants to invite Akechi to be the special guest. Remember when the gang dropped by the TV station? Even back then, we got the sense that Akechi is super popular in this universe. Of course, I still find this a bit hard to swallow. I dunno, I guess it’s just one of those cultural differences that are hard to explain. The phenomenon of the brilliant young detective is just not something that captivates the West. Over here, students would probably vote for Drake or the Kardashians instead.
— Then again, even Ryuji admits that his peers would normally vote for a singer or an idol, but special times call for special circumstances. Everyone’s freaked out about the Phantom Thieves…
— Interesting angle… what exactly am I supposed to be looking at?
— Phantom Thieves versus the brilliant young detective. On paper, it’s a classic matchup. I guess I only wish it had actually played out that way. There isn’t really much of a cat-and-mouse game between Akechi and the team. As a result, the payoff is also not quite as grand.
— After the OP, we see Ren working at the flower shop. In the game, the flower shop actually has a mini-game of sorts that I was super bad at. Customers would come in and make specific requests. For instance, gimme small flowers with soft colors. I was bad at it. Boy was I bad at it.
— Yo, it’s anime Bernie Sanders! Anyways, is this the first time that we see Toranosuke in the adaptation? I honestly can’t remember. In the game, he’s one of the easiest confidantes to level up. So how it works is that when you hang out with someone, you’ll get certain dialogue choices. If you say something that your friend likes, their relationship with you will grow faster. But for certain confidantes, this often isn’t enough to level up a relationship in one hang-out. In order to be efficient, you would also need to bring a Persona that matches their arcana. For example, if you’re hanging out with Ann, bring a Lovers arcana. Anyways, Toranosuke is easy, because if I recall correctly, it doesn’t matter which dialogue choices you pick when you’re with him. You also don’t need a matching Persona. Same with Mishima, I believe. The only problem with Toranosuke is that he’s usually only available on Sunday nights. Plus, he becomes too busy to hang out once the elections roll around. But it’s okay if you miss out on him. I don’t think the Sun arcana is all that great in P5.
— Later that night, Makoto tells her team that she intends to invite Akechi to the cultural festival after all. Maybe the Phantom Thieves can actually get the brilliant young detective on their side. Well, about that…
— Ren’s pretty smart in the adaptation, but not so smart that he’s at the top of his class. Then again, maybe it’s smart not to stand out too much. I’ll stop saying the word “smart.” In Trails of Cold Steel 1, you could also study hard to do your best on the exam. Unfortunately, no matter how much you try, the character you control (Rean) will never finish at the top of his class. That honestly ticked me off. Of course, in an actual story, being the best at everything would make you a Mary Sue. But when you’re playing a game, you want to be able to be the best, don’t you?
— This Ren is also slick enough to dodge Ushimaru’s chalk of death (not really). In the game, you probably wouldn’t have high enough stats to do this on the first playthrough. This technically encourages you to replay the game again to see how cool a maxed out Ren could be, but Persona doesn’t really take advantage of this. Nothing really changes if you dodge the chalk. Nothing at all. It’s like how in Persona 4, you wouldn’t have enough courage to outright ask the girls for their number on the first playthrough, but it’s not like anything changes if you do. Atlus could do a better job at this, but they haven’t and likely never will. The only JRPG where multiple playthroughs are actually super rewarding is Chrono Trigger.
— Well, dodging the chalk made the cute girl giggle, so I guess that was the reward.
— Ren returns home later to find Akechi waiting for him, and it’s like seeing an ex paying you an unwelcome visit.
— Somehow, I find this chessboard rather dubious…
— On TV, Shido (the bald politician if you’ve forgotten what he looks like) is campaigning hard against the Phantom Thieves. Our heroes have been linked to the psychotic breakdown cases, so now they’re considered a big threat to the nation’s security. Even so, I’d like to think that Japan has other far more pressing challenges to confront. For instance, the population continues to age. I know this has been harped upon for decades, but that doesn’t mean that the problem has gone anywhere. There’s also always the threat of North Korea going nuts. The country’s economy isn’t super hot either. So look, it’s just kinda hilarious that the entire country and Shido are this obsessed when there is no proof that the Phantom Thieves have actually committed any crimes. Well, I guess this is what it mean to be tried in the court of public opinion.
— Of course, Persona 5 isn’t really about the Phantom Thieves. Rather, the issue at hand is that the nation is, as Shido says, lethargic. This has allowed corruption to take root in the form of the villains that the Phantom Thieves tackle, but thanks to the powerful arm of the media, Shido can now spin this against our heroes. It takes dramatic individuals like the Phantom Thieves to stir up public opinion, good or bad. It shouldn’t be like that.
— Akechi now offers his two cents: he doesn’t believe that the Phantom Thieves are the ones behind the psychotic breakdown. Gee, I wonder why he would think that…?
— He looks dishonest here. Not dishonest in that he doesn’t mean what he’s saying. Rather, he’s dishonest in that he’s not actually cheerful at all. Akechi truly does believe that Ren is ahead of him in certain ways, and he’s deeply resentful of that fact. I mean, it doesn’t take a brilliant detective to notice that Akechi is horribly lonely. Despite seemingly being the nation’s idol, he doesn’t appear to have a single friend unless he drops by Leblanc to play chess with Ren. He goes to talk to Sae from time to time, but the woman treats him coldly. After all, she’s got her own ladder to climb, and she doesn’t need to bother with some kid (as smart as he is). On the other hand, Ren is a nobody — hell, he’s even got a criminal record — and yet, our hero has friends who would die for him. Ren comes home to a warm and cozy coffee shop. What do you think Akechi sees when he comes home late at night? Most of all, is any of this fair? Well, for a lot of us, fairness is rather unimportant here, but not to Akechi. Not to Akechi one bit…
— We next see Akechi on a variety show, telling the entire nation that he doesn’t think the Phantom Thieves are that bad. Sure, he still thinks what they’re doing is wrong, but they’re not murderers. It’s all about the media, isn’t it? If you want to befriend the Phantom Thieves, you can’t just go up to them and tell them that you trust them. Oh no, you actually have to go on TV and proclaim to the world that you think the Phantom Thieves are not so bad. Persona 5 takes a decent stab at the idea that society relies on the media way, way too much. Even the good guys fall victim to this.
— It’s finally time for the much-hyped cultural festival. Like the other events in the game, this one feels equally underdeveloped. It would’ve been nice if Ren was allowed to walk around and visit the various clubs and whatnot. Unfortunately, we only get to see this in the adaptation. Maybe this is something that Atlus can flesh out if they ever decide to make a special version of the game. And why wouldn’t they, y’know? Lately, they’ve been doing all they can to milk the Persona franchise. The problem is that idiots like are more than willing to hand over fistfuls of cash. Do I like dancing games? Hell no. Am I going to buy the P3/P5 dancing games? Hell yes! The only Megami Tensei stuff I don’t own are the super rare ones like the Famicom games.
— Act like a normie, Futaba.
— Haru beams with a smile when Ren tells her that they should try to have fun. Maybe that’s why her father isn’t dead yet. Maybe even CloverWorks can see how ridiculous it is to have the girl move on so quickly from her father’s death.
— I also like seeing Kawakami freak out at one of her students dressed up like a maid. I just wish the animation didn’t suck.
— Boy, I love takoyaki. Before I ever had any, I thought anime was just bullshitting me on how good the dish was. But nope, takoyaki is delicious as hell. Unfortunately, I have to go into the city to get decent ones. In the sleepy neighborhood that I live in, I can only get microwaved takoyaki, and those are terrible.
— Akechi shows up and steals the super hot takoyaki. He quickly realizes, however, that he can’t handle the heat despite his claims to the contrary. Serves him right. Plus, I almost want to say that this makes him a poison pill. Can you really trust a man who just eats whatever he sees?
— Honestly, if I have one complaint about takoyaki, it’s that people can overdo it with the super sweet sauce. Spicy takoyaki, on the other hand, doesn’t sound half bad. On the other hand, I’m a megafiend for spicy food. I dump tons of red pepper into my spaghetti, for instance…
— Afterwards, we see Ren finally meet and talk to Toranosuke. Geez, it’s a bit late to start talking to him.
— The next day, Makoto’s interview with Akechi finally kicks off. Since no one can resist asking the guy about the Phantom Thieves, she may as well try and see what she can learn from him. Of course, if she truly does believe that he’s as smart as they claim, then why would he willingly reveal anything at a school assembly of all places? So anything that comes out of his mouth would have to be calculated. Maybe Makoto knows that…? Shrug, who knows?
— Eventually, Akechi dangles a hint that he might know who the Phantom Thieves are, but of course, he is interrupted by a “phone call” before he can say any further. Instead, the gang is invited to speak to him privately in the back.
— Akechi shows everyone the video he had taken of them disappearing into thin air. Well, with technology nowadays, you can fake all sorts of stuff. This by itself isn’t proof enough to arrest the kids.
— Rather, Akechi claims that he had also followed them into the Metaverse and that was how he met the true culprit. As a result, he awakened to his Persona. With all this information, Akechi intends to strong-arm the Phantom Thieves into working with him.
— Makoto honestly looks surprised that Akechi saw through her ruse. That’s silly. She should’ve at least considered that this was possible. Meanwhile, Morgana hasn’t said a single word. It’s odd especially if you’ve played the game.
— Elsewhere, Sae’s boss is getting frustrated with her lack of results. Wht she doesn’t know is that she’s been set up to fail. The evildoers want her to be desperate. As a result, the kids learn that there is now a 30 million yen bounty on their heads. With their backs seemingly against the wall, they feel as though they have no choice but to agree to Akechi’s terms.
— When the Phantom Thieves meet up with Akechi once more, he suggests that they trigger a change of heart in Sae. He has all sorts of rationalizations for this. It would protect Sae, it would show the investigation that they mean business, blah blah blah. Then afterwards, the Phantom Thieves would disband, leaving him to find the “true culprit” all by his lonesome. Of course, this is assuming that the kids can trust him.
— So if you don’t trust him, which you shouldn’t, I thus can’t help but wonder how long he’s been planning this. I wonder how long he’s known that the woman would be a ripe candidate to have a palace and thus use her as a guinea pig for this very operation. If she hadn’t gone off the deep end, he would’ve had to find someone else.
— Honestly, if I had the ability to be a Phantom Thief, I would never give it up. If I can change hearts and thus save lives — hell, make the world a better place — no one would be able to convince me to give that up. It’d be my ethical responsibility to do all that I can.
— When Haru asks Akechi what drives him, he tells her that he has contempt for a certain individual. Well, he’s not wrong…
— I have a lot more to say about Akechi, but I’ll wait until everything’s been revealed. In the end, the group agrees to work with the brilliant young detective. But hey, Ren can hold his own against Akechi in chess, so it’s not hard to imagine that the same can be said about their cat-and-mouse game in real life. Needless to say, Ren and his friends will be alright.
— What? What? The adaptation has Akechi hear Morgana’s voice for the first time now? Hmmmmmmmm…
— Ren’s eyes narrow as the episode comes to an end.
— Post credit scene puts our hero right back in prison. I feel like we keep downgrading with every new game. Elizabeth > Margaret > abusive loli twins.