I thought this series would have been done by now since it was originally slated to have 24 episodes. But I’ve heard rumors that it’s now going up to 31 episodes. A strange number but that means me and Berry are going to have to continue suffering through this series.
Anyways, the episode starts with the Phantom Thieves finally entering Sae’s palace (finally) and have to earn a bunch of coins to be able to access the next area. One of my biggest issues with the presentation of the palace is how dull it seems. The game made the palace out to be super flashy and interesting with all the things going on in it. While the color is bright, the flashing lights and cards falling everywhere are absent, making it not as interesting. And don’t think I didn’t catch them reusing the same shots and animation several different times throughout the episode.
The first big roadblock the group hits is needing a reservation to get into the higher dealing area. However, they just needed to sit in on one of the court hearings that Sae is a part of and have her see them. Though the anime kind of cut a huge corner by just having Makoto sit in when ALL of them are supposed to be there so they can all get through. So that part was a little weird… Once the group is finally able to get through, they have to find a way to get to the manager’s floor, which requires them to gather 100,000 coins. So they then have to go through a bunch of different betting trials such as the darkened maze. And this is the part where I kind of got a bit annoyed. Throughout the sequences of them overcoming several opponents, it cuts to Ren in the real world, slowing down the pace of the sequence. Not to mention they decided to introduce Shinya (aka Get Smoked boy) NOW???
Now I don’t really care if they do confidants during down time, like they did in the first half of the series (even if it feels like a waste of time). However, it’s super aggravating to have the confidants shoved into an episode where the plot SHOULD be progressing. The pacing of the palace infiltration feels super janky with the constant switching between real life and metaverse stuff. And it doesn’t even make it up by having Joker just blast the shadow with a flurry of bullets like he’s supposed to do. I should be used to the anime cheaping out things, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying. Not to mention Joker’s expression when he gets hit by a curse skill. He just looks like he can’t believe something is happening instead of being in pain. I couldn’t take that face seriously at all…
However, once they were able to get the 100,000 coins, Shadow Sae (being a complete douche) raised the coin amount to be one million. But Akechi being Mr. “Ace detective” was able to cheat the system almost by using the first member card to bet and take out loans with, allowing him to cash in 900,000 coins. A lot of foresight on his part. This allows them to make it into the Manager’s Room, securing their route to the treasure. Afterwards, Akechi tells the group they should wait until the last moment to send the calling card so to catch her off guard. Though, I’m sorry, but I always thought Akechi’s plan to hold off sending the calling card until a certain time was bull. I can’t even really understand his reasoning. It just sounds so far fetched. But maybe that was the point…
Anyways, the group agrees to go with that plan of action and then we suddenly enter good ol’ Tora’s confidant SO FREAKING LATE INTO THE SERIES. I’m just so done with these last minute confidants and how they honestly don’t add much to the actual plot of the series.
However, what I did like about this episode was Makoto’s character. Now, for the longest time, I felt as if something was missing from her in the anime. I’ve stated before that I started to doubt if I actually liked her or not, but it was because of how much the anime watered down her character. She seemed to lack certain emotions at times and I just wasn’t getting the same Makoto vibes I felt from her in the game. However, this episode seemed to put her in the spotlight. Though it makes sense since this is her sister’s palace. You can honestly tell from her expression and tone that seeing everything in the palace was breaking her heart. She wants to save her sister from her twisted distortion. And while the scene didn’t hold half as much emotion as it did in the game, the scene between Makoto and Sae gave me feels by the end of it. Makoto telling Sae she’s on her side after her sister told her in genuine kindness (something she probably hasn’t seen in a while) that they should go somewhere together after his is all over, I couldn’t help but cry out “MY BABY” when Makoto broke down crying after Sae left.
Though I did kind of have to chuckle at the fact the episode framed it as if Makoto had tipped off the police of where the group would be. Since it cut from Makoto crying and Sae leaving the house to the readying police squad. Do you honestly believe my beeb would be the traitor they spoke about in the very beginning? …Right?
After the calling card had been delivered the read, the group made their way back into the palace, only to find that the treasure had disappeared. Shadow Sae then opens up a back room where they are to face off with her one final time. She reveals to the group how the burden of living with her father’s death had been weighing heavily on her heart and how she hated his killer. Her warped sense of justice was born from the grief and anger of how her father died and as the oldest, she had to take care of what he left behind. And while I agree how Sae’s way of thinking right now is messed up, I can understand where she is coming from. Losing someone you love sends your mind to a dark place from the grief and can even warp your understanding of things. It can make you bitter and angry and you can’t help but take your frustrations out on others, which Sae has been doing.
It kinda irked me how they didn’t even include the first part of Shadow Sae’s fight with her cheating and just went right into her berserk state. Though it seems like they cut out a lot of the “cheating” parts since they didn’t show the party tamper with the machines to rig good results so they can get the necessary coins. But my gosh Shadow Sae… what have they done to you? She looked absolutely TERRIFYING in the game but in the anime she looked… really weird. Her color palette was very dull and saturated in the game while I think they colored her a little too brightly in the anime and her neck was far too long, making her proportions look a tad strange. Her eyes were too visible as well since in the game they were there, but not as eye catching.
But OH. MY. GOSH. Remember back in my post with the battle with Cognitive Wakaba I was kind of sad that they didn’t have Joker save Makoto from the falling pillar like in the game? THEY FREAKING SAVED IT AND I’M DYING. I honestly can’t believe they saved it for this moment and even I have to agree it makes more sense for Makoto to be out of it and needed to be saved in this moment. But also the fact that they had Joker tell Makoto “you’ll save her, right?” instead of AKECHI. *applauds*
Oh but the applauds don’t end there miraculously. The battle with Shadow Sae was actually really good. There were more dynamic compositions of where the camera was. The awkwardly shaking/moving camera wasn’t there. They utilized more than just elemental lightning bolts. They were actually using their elemental abilities with actual strategy. With Yusuke freezing Shadow Sae in place so Makoto could attack her and Akechi shooting her in the leg with Robin Hood’s light arrow to slow her movements. They had Futaba’s support abilities being put to good use. There was a lot more dynamic movements and actually using the surrounding space rather than just barely moving. I absolutely loved the way Makoto’s motorcycling was utilized in this fight, from saving Haru to actually physically attacking. And while the All Out Attack still isn’t the best, it was a lot more epic than it’s ever been in the anime. Especially with that final attack from Seth (Joker’s persona). This battle had to be THE BEST this anime has put out thus far. While it still isn’t on My Hero standards by a long shot, it was A LOT more interesting to watch than its other fights. Not to mention Makoto desperately trying to reach out to her throughout the fight saying things like even though she’s on her side, she will fight to bring her back to her senses was just icing on the well baked battle cake. Kudos Cloverworks. Kudos. But only this once.
After that surprisingly epic fight, Ryuji and Yusuke show up with the treasure that turns out to be Makoto and Sae’s father’s police notebook. Now, I don’t like how they showed the treasure for reasons that I will not divulge in for the time being. In the game, they just came in with the briefcase without showing what exactly the treasure was. So… let’s see where they go with it I guess. Before they can make a clean getaway, Futaba suddenly senses a large group of figures heading their way. The group is forced to disperse, leaving Joker to draw the attention while taking the treasure. But MMM, the fact that Makoto gives the final words to Ren before they dash away gives me life. Fueling those Protag x Makoto feels that I didn’t expect to see in the anime.
I surprisingly liked this episode, though more so the last five minutes of it lol. That fight gave me hope for future episodes, but this series always seems to let me down whenever that happens. So guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens from this point out and if Cloverworks can actually get their crap together for these last several episodes. Though looking at the person who directed this episode, I noticed it was the same director who also did episode 20, which was probably both mine and Berry’s favorite episode. So kudos to Tomohisa Taguchi for making pretty good episodes in this godforsaken adaptation. Also, kudos to the fact that they actually 2D ANIMATED the random people walking around in the background instead of the usual 3D models.
And man did I just DIE laughing after seeing Makoto awkwardly join the others in cheering for Joker. This episode definitely gave Makoto’s character justice and I’m content with that.