Persona 5 The Animation Ep. 25: Bringing Sae to justice

‘Cause this is just indecent exposure, ma’am. C’mon, you’re a public prosecutor. 

— Shido’s the leading candidate in the upcoming elections, and I really wish the story — both the game and the adaptation — had done a better job at portraying his rapid ascent in the political world. You’ve always kinda known that he’s a bad guy, but Shido having this much influence over Japan and the country’s public opinion is a bit out of left field. Then again, I suppose from the teenagers’ perspective, this is somewhat realistic. Even at my age, there are a ton of politically apathetic people around me. Most young people just don’t seem to give a shit about politics until it’s too late.

Sigh…

— Wow, look at Baby Jesus over here…

— So the social problem of the moment is that defendants are prosecuted at 99.9% rate. This is obviously shady, and I’m glad that this topic is even being brought up. The problem is, however, is that whenever Persona 5 tries to confront a complex social issue, it suddenly has no solutions to offer.  Y’know, you beat Kamoshida, so he confesses to his crimes and ends up being arrested. You beat Madarame, so he confesses to his crimes and ends up being arrested. So on and so forth. It’s easy to rail against sexual predators and child abusers. Just lock’em up. But what do you think happens when you beat Sae? Jack-diddly-squat. It’s not like they’re going to punish Makoto’s sister. It’s not like the courts are going to undergo a major revamp. Since the Shido problem looms ahead of us, this gives the writers the perfect excuse to suddenly clam up and sweep this serious social problem under the rug.

— Of course, I still love Persona 5, and as a game, it’s one of the best that 2017 had to offer (2016 if you had access to the Japanese version of the game). But it goes to show you that video game narratives still have a long way to go.

— It’s odd that Makoto is the only person to show up in the adaptation, because the whole gang goes to the courthouse in the game. This is presumably because you need to change Sae’s cognition about all of them. The adaptation, however, probably thinks it’s silly for a whole gang of high schoolers to show up to the courthouse.

— So to reach Sae, the gang will unfortunately need a lot of money to move these not-so-subtle scales of justice.

— Here’s the pitch-dark part of the dungeon that I wasn’t a fan of.

— We also see Ren seemingly spending time with both Munehisa and Shinya. Neither of these two characters are all that memorable in my opinion. I think it’s especially damning that Shinya’s problems remind me too much of the kid from Persona 4 (also of the Tower arcana).

— Now we see Ren fight solo in the battle arena. There’s even a callback to Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne when Thor shows up. Luckily, Ren doesn’t have it anywhere near as hard as the Demi-fiend.

— Speaking of the Demi-fiend, I would both love and somewhat dread a Nocturne remake. I feel that the game oozes atmosphere without too much of the campy humor that (personally speaking) often spoils the broth in other SMT games. The problem, however, is that wandering the Vortex World (what Tokyo has become after the Conception) can be a very lonely and thus tiring experience. Purists can rail all they want about how SMT IV and the Persona series have become too “anime” and jam-packed with waifus, but it’s exhausting to dungeon crawl for 50 hours with nothing but personality-less demons on your side. 50 hours might not seem like a whole lot considering how Persona 5 usually takes first-timers about 90+ hours to beat, but most of that playtime is consumed by conversations with your teammates and story moments. Nocturne has none of the former and very little of the latter… comparatively speaking, of course. You still have cutscenes every now and then, but for the most part, you’re so alone. You’re so, so very alone. Then Mother Harlot shows up and pushes your shit in.

— It looks like Ren has made significant progress with Hifumi. Too bad for the anime, this means nothing but yet another platonic friendship. At this point, I don’t even care who he picks as long as he picks one! Well, maybe not your teacher.

— Get yourself a Rangda and make an easy game even easier.

— As for Tae, the adaptation hasn’t gotten to her actual story, huh? I guess that can still wait since it looks like we have quite a few episodes to go.

— Out of all the potential lovers that you can choose from, Tae’s conclusion is oddly the most realistic (as realistic as a relationship between a high schooler and a doctor can be). That also makes it a big letdown for the idealistic among us, but we’ll get to that later.

Wut.

— I like Makoto’s delayed excitement. She’s such a dork. Speaking of Makoto, I’ll probably watch the adaptation again when it gets dubbed. Well, this is assuming they keep the voice actors from the game, but I mean, how can you not recast Cherami Leigh as Makoto? Apparently, she has a major role in Cyberpunk 2077, but I don’t expect that game to come out anytime soon.

— Thanks to Akechi, the team is able to get passed Sae’s cheating shenanigans. I still don’t particularly like the guy, so whatever.

— Ah, Sae’s treasure. Of all of the treasures in the game, it is the only one we never truly get to see in its material form. I wonder what it is.

— Akechi tells the team that they should wait until the very last moment to send the calling card. For the gamer, this should set off all sorts of alarm bells. Sure, he has his rationalizations, but I don’t find them all that convincing.

— I don’t know how common it is in Japan, but I can’t imagine any local politician actually doing what Tora is doing in the ‘States. You’d probably be seen as a crackpot. When I think of people running their mouths in public, I think of the Westboro Baptist Church guys.

— Ah yes, an “anonymous” tip. Honestly, you should all have predicted long ago that Akechi is the traitor. Not only did he insist on the team carrying out the operation on a specific day, he has absolutely no strong ties to anyone else but Ren (and even then, this connection is tenuous). Maybe if the writers had had even more time to spend on this story, they could’ve given us multiple potential suspects. Maybe Haru is still bitter over her father’s death. Maybe they promised Futaba that they would give her information regarding her mother’s death. Maybe Makoto can’t truly bring herself to go against her sister. But in the story that we got, all signs point to Akechi.

— The vocal version of “Life Will Change” should be playing, but maybe they don’t have the rights to it or something. I don’t see why not, but who knows. We seem to just get brand new tracks from Lyn instead. They’re not bad, but they’re not as awesome as the ones we get in the game.

— Man, we better get the vocal version of “Rivers in the Desert.” Not only is it my favorite vocal track in the game, it’s probably my favorite boss fight song in recent years.

— Actually, Nier: Automata’s “Bipolar Nightmare” is close. Especially when you’re ascending the last tower at super speed while the instrumental version is playing, but all of a sudden, shit gets serious and the vocals start in. So now you’re rapidly switching between the two playable characters while the track is blaring… ah man, everything about the third act of Nier: Automata is near directorial perfection. But I digress…

— Honestly, “Rivers in the Desert” should’ve been the final battle music for the entirety of Persona 5, because the one we actually get doesn’t come close to Persona 3’s “The Battle for Everyone’s Souls.” Hell, it’s hard to beat the combination of “The Battle for Everyone’s Souls” and “Kimi no Kioku,” especially after if you know what the lyrics are saying and that gut punch of an ending.

— I know a lot of people are fond of Persona 4‘s soundtrack, and it’s nice… just not my preference.

— Anime has a lot of stories about police dads being killed in the line of duty, huh?

— We’re already getting Shadow Sae’s true form already? The adaptation skips the roulette part where she actively cheats against you in battle, so you have to have one of your teammates mess up her plans.

— Shadow Sae’s true form is kinda cool, I guess. The adaptation goes full 3-D with her probably to avoid fucking up too badly. Boy, wouldn’t that be embarrassing?

— As for the boss fight itself, she’s not so bad until her HP gets low. Once you get to that point, however, her attack power goes up a ton. If you’re not overleveled and you neglect to defend (or cast buffs), you may very well get one-shotted.

— Holy shit, the adaptation actually tells us what the treasure is: her dad’s police notebook.

— Did you know that they originally wanted Sae to be yet another romantic option?

— So after 25 episodes (and months of in-game time), we’re finally back to the beginning of the story. We’re almost there, folks. After one long ass explanation for how Ren gets himself out of his latest predicament, we’ll just have one major Palace left… the Palace that is simultaneously the best and the worst out of the entire game.

— Don’t worry about Ren. This is all going to keikaku.

— And of course, there’s always to be an epilogue. At the end of the day, Persona 5 is a JRPG, and like JRPGs, the game’s final boss has to be grandiose. Suffice it to say, a politician can hardly be the final boss.

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