Where do I even begin with this episode? Maybe we should start with the positives this episode gave. One of the things is that they actually clarified where Akechi and Makoto had happened to meet up, at a national mock exam since it wasn’t clear in the game and the players could only assume. However, I do remember this was the moment where I just about had it with Akechi. I wasn’t too into Makoto at the time either, but even then, I just HATED how he so flippantly dissed her. Who are you to just say that about someone without even knowing them or their reasons? Screw you Akechi.
Now, I have to admit, there was a lot of things that happened in this episode concerning Makoto that I’m a bit conflicted on. On one hand, showing us what her room looked like was great. Especially her freaking book collection. She even has a shelf dedicated to manga, oh my gosh. But man, SMALL MAKOTO IS FREAKING ADORABLE I CAN’T. This part had me SCREAMING because I wasn’t expecting to see a smol Makoto. If I have to commend the anime for anything, it’s seeing the small orphan babies as children. And it definitely showed the significance of that panda pencil case. Since in the game, Makoto is questioned why she still keeps it despite it being fairly old and beat up. WELL NOW WE KNOW AND I’M CRYING. I absolutely LOVED seeing Makoto’s past. Seeing her as a smol child and her interactions with her dad was just great. And it made seeing Makoto at his funeral all the more heartbreaking considering how close she was to him. From this little tidbit, we can clearly see where Makoto got her sense of justice. She loved her dad so much…
All good things must come to an end when we come upon the infamous dinner scene. Makoto is questioning whether if her dad would support the Phantom Thieves, earning her a pretty rough reprimand from Sae. She even went as far from telling Makoto that she was useless and is essentially eating away at her life. Now, in the game, this part literally had me yelling “YOU DO NOT SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT TO YOUR SISTER,” especially because of how emotional it was. However, in the anime it was definitely rushed and it did not carry the same emotional impact. I actually had to rewatch the clip from the game to see what was different. I feel like the anime missed out on some key emotional reactions here and definitely watered down Makoto’s reaction. In the game, she responded a lot more brokenly and sounded like she was on the verge of tears after Sae just kind of let it loose on her. But here in the anime, she took it a lot better and was just silent. Come on anime, she isn’t a robot, let her freaking react!
The Phantom Thieves continue investigating Kaneshiro but to no avail. Makoto happens upon them in their somewhat secret hideout. I admit I chuckled at that random motorcycle advertisement on one of those big screens though. Blatant foreshadowing much lol. This next part is an example of what I kind of dislike about the Phantom Thieves. Or I suppose more specifically Ann and Ryuji. They’re so hostile towards her and while I can kind of understand why they’re on guard around her, it feels almost hypocritical in a sense. Whenever they view someone as an enemy, they completely shut them down without getting to know their reasoning. Kind of like what they went through except their on the opposite end this time. You’d think they would have learned to not judge a person by what they display on the surface.
The prospect of Ann calling Makoto useless triggers memories of her sister calling her the same and Akechi’s terrible comments about her and she ends up marching off to be of some use. Makoto no. Makoto please. She goes directly to the thugs and demands for them to take her to Kaneshiro, having Ren on the phone line to hear them and detect their location. But sheesh, Makoto really was not fully aware of what she was getting into. What she walked into was ALL SORTS of dangerous. (Though I had to laugh when Yusuke commented about how he got the license plate with his keen eye. Gosh dang it Yusuke)
But holy crap the scene where Kaneshiro abruptly grabs Makoto by the neck when she was questioning if one of the guys was him literally had me shook. That was a GREAT way to introduce him as it just made him seem more menacing and “oh crap, this guy really is dangerous.” I feel like this part was a lot more horrifying than in the game, so kudos to the anime for doing something well. Especially since it illustrated how dangerous Kaneshiro is and the threat to strip and take pictures of Makoto left me HORRIFIED. (Insert traumatizing flashbacks to the BAD END for Kaneshiro *shudders) Thankfully the gang came in when they did or else Makoto would have been in a worse situation.
Unfortunately, Kaneshiro takes a picture of them with cigarettes and alcohol in the shot and blackmails them into collecting money for him or else he’d show the picture to their school. Not only that, but if they tell the police of this, Kaneshiro made it clear he’d destroy them and their families. Can I say that I really like the expressions that the anime did for him? That gave him a more sinister vibe so another kudos for the anime.
However, the biggest gripe I have right now is how SEVERELY watered down Makoto character-wise. She’s a very emotional person and prior to her awakening, she hasn’t been shown to have that much emotion past being mildly annoyed and somewhat disheartened, which is a stark difference between her game counterpart, unfortunately. Though I must admit having Morgana shown to just meow while Makoto looks on in confusion was hilarious. They bring Makoto to the Metaverse where they use her to open up a path to get to Kaneshiro’s bank that was in the sky. I also had to chuckle when Makoto immediately got into an aikido stance when the shadow guards walked up to them once they entered the bank. Makoto chill. But boy, did Kaneshiro feel ever more slimy in the anime, probably because of his expressions that weren’t quite conveyed in the game.
Makoto’s main problem is essentially being a doormat and just doing as she is told. Whether it be her sister, the principal or anyone of status, Makoto has kept most of her thoughts to herself and suppressed a lot of what she wanted in favor of being someone she was expected to be, but not really herself. So Kaneshiro essentially telling her to just deal with her circumstances was her tipping point and all of her bottled up emotions just came erupting out of her in glorious flames. Her anime awakening was decent (still nowhere near as good as the game but I digress again…) and I remember being SHOCKED at her persona literally being a motorcycle. Still a very glorious reveal here in the anime I must admit. Though I’m a little disappointed she didn’t crack the floor like she did in the game… And with that, the Phantom Thieves have acquired a new party member, the party member I have been waiting for since the start of the series lol.
Was it just me or were there some a lot of some pretty lowkey shipping feels between Ren and Makoto? Not gonna lie, those two are my OTP in Persona 5 so I may have had my shipping goggles on, even though I’m trying really hard not to. However, the fact that the had REN say the line “won’t you come with us?” instead of Yusuke caught me off guard for a moment. He also saved her from one of the shadows that almost ambushed her. Not to mention he TOTALLY checked her out before coming up with her codename. And don’t get me started with that he was the one to actually name her. Both of my otps literally named each other, considering Ann was also the one to name Yusuke’s codename, heh.
What I don’t like about how the anime handled the start of this arc is how we actually never go to see what happened to Kaneshiro’s victims. While we heard that students were being trapped into a smuggling scam, we never got to see any of them or hear what had happened from their side. And while I understand it was because of time restraints, it still left this arc feeling rather abruptly started. But yeah, I felt up and down with this episode due to the usual terrible pacing this series has become known for and just how my favorite character ended up being a lot more watered down than I’d like her to be. Though I think smol Makoto definitely made this episode for me. However can we PLEASE stop having butt shots of Makoto? Stop it anime, STOP IT.