The episode starts out familiar as it takes the opening scenes that we saw from the first episode. Before that, though, we got an interesting look at Justine and Caroline talking amongst themselves about Ren’s rehabilitation and how there actually may be more to it. Back at the Palace, Joker does his cool escape but gets caught by the police. Makoto with the briefcase, and Akechi watch from afar in shock. How in the world did the police get into the palace, and how was Joker arrested? This all ties back to the interrogation moments between him and Sae we’ve seen throughout the show. Sae gets the call that the leader of the Phantom Thieves was arrested and Sae asks to interrogate him. After much goading, she gets clearance and heads over to him.
The next chunk of the episode is sort of a slow burner. The news of the leader of the Phantom Thieves being arrested is spread everywhere, with much shock being that the leader is only a minor. We get a scene with Yoshida, the ex-politician, speaking with one of his colleagues about partnering with him for office. This scene may seem a little random but it actually ties into something important. The election is actually huge, as Shido seems like a shoe in to win. However, Yoshida decides to run on his own on his own terms. He also shows his support of the Thieves. Back with the rest of the Phantom Thieves, nerves and stress are high as the group come together to discuss what they’re going to do next. Of course losing their friend causes them all to worry like crazy. Akechi is also there, being his detective self and analyzing the situation as well as using his connections to investigate. Apparently Ren is being held in an underground interrogation room from what he’s found out. Taking in the info from what they’ve seen, like how the police was able to enter the Palace in the first place when they shouldn’t have, he concludes that someone even more influential and powerful than the person in the black mask was in cahoots with the police and aided them entry into the Palace in order to capture the Thieves. Akechi proposes to not do anything reckless to save him. So, because he has the connections and the ability because of his status, Akechi decides that he will save Ren himself. He made a deal with Ren and wants to prove his justice. No one else stops him, or even says anything so he just goes off on his own.
Back with Sae and Ren in the interrogation room, they reach the end of the events that led up until now. She takes in all the info he’s told her and she tries to make a deal with him. She’s willing to lighten his sentence, if he decides to rat out his accomplises. Because she believes there’s no way that he was able to do everything on his own. She lists off names she took note of: Ryuji, Ann, Yusuke, Futaba, Haru, and Makoto. But Ren doesn’t admit anything. She even asks about Akechi since they part ways, but again Ren says nothing.
Before Sae leaves, Ren gives her his phone and tells her to show it to Akechi. He doesn’t say why but she’s willing to work with him. She goes to the elevator and spots Akechi, wondering how and why he’s even there. He replies nonchalantly and Sae shows him the phone, asking if he’s seen it before. He’s confused, but the phone seems to hold a lot of meaning. Seeing nothing of it, Sae takes it and leaves while Akechi heads down to the room Ren is in.
He asks the bodyguard outside to go with him for protection. He smiles as he comes inside and says he’s here to save Ren. 🙂 Or at least he thought so? He grabs the bodyguard’s gun and shoots him dead and points the gun right to Ren’s forehead. Mocking Ren’s “justice” he smirks and shoots Ren clean through the forehead. Laughing, he puts the gun in Ren’s hand to make it look like murder and suicide, calls him “attic trash” and casually leaves the room. After this scene, it was really creepy that he had told Sae that no one would know if things got violent in the room, foreshadowing this very moment. After this, the credits roll showing Akechi walking in slow-mo with some sexy guitar. And that’s where the episode ends.
Actually, no. Right before the episode finishes, we see a smirk from Ryuji and hear him say “Yeah right.” It was interesting seeing the rest of the Phantom Thieves, waiting, thinking to themselves, putting their trust in Ren. What happened?! What does this mean?! Well I played the game, I know exactly what this means, but I won’t say!
I had guessed that the anime would end at 26 episodes, ending with this exact scene. I didn’t think the anime would continue on, so it looks like Cloverworks is going to take a break and work on the the next cour because there’s still plenty of story to tell. As the final episode, I think it was done well. It was rather slow, though, so I can also see it being a little boring for people until the very last three minutes. What a cliffhanger!
Berry’s Final Impression
Now, I think I’ve made myself pretty clear about my opinion of this anime. I was crazy excited when the anime adaptation was announced and basically pounced on this show. I absolutely love the Persona 5 game, it being one of my favorite games of all time. The story, the characters, the music, the style and charm. The game was the whole package, a sexy game with a lot of personality and heart. Unfortunately, I felt like the anime was the complete opposite of that.
I’ve showed my distaste for the anime plenty of times. The anime thankfully followed the story, but because this a 100+ hour game with most of its story being condensed into 26 episodes, it became a rushed mess. There were a lot of important details and character moments that had to be cut or rushed through just so they could move on. Because of this, some things were a little confusing concerning plot and things like the Metaverse, the Velvet Room, Wakaba’s research, which is HUGE. The plot being slightly altered or rushed also affected some of the characters. While I do appreciate the show touching on the Confidants of the main characters, either they were changed in some way or they were included in the weirdest spots making the pacing jarring when it would switch from Palace adventuring, to sudden Confidant moments. And I don’t even need to repeat the completely useless Confidants getting so much screentime. I can sort of say the same about the Makoto and Yusuke Confidant episodes after the conclusion of the first half of the show. They each took up two episodes which could have been used for more important stuff, such as fleshing out and taking the time with the main plot of the show. I know it may be too much of me to ask that they stick very closely to the game, but I’m not the only in thinking that Cloverworks made some really questionable decisions.
The characters feel less interesting and fun than their game counterparts, and again this has to do with how the anime studio dealt with plot and pacing. The characters would just suffer and they felt like a shell of their former selves. I think the worst offender is Ren/Akira. In the game, he’s the silent protagonist that would only say things that you would choose for him, so you could make him cheeky, funny, weird, or normal. But Ren had a mischievous and clever personality that added to his mysteriousness from some of the cutscenes in the game. But for the most part, he was a little bland that would let the other characters speak for him, which makes sense game wise.
Anime wise, it doesn’t. I was really excited to see what the anime would do with him. Would they take the clever and cunning Joker from the game and double it? No. They managed to make him even more bland than his game self and I’m shocked and disappointed. And a little impressed that they actually managed to do that. I can say the same about the rest of the characters too, but it’s Ren’s treatment that left me the most disappointed.
Cloverworks obviously had some production issues. The show for the most part looked dreary and flat, the fights weren’t very fun to watch. It was even worse when the anime would include the all-out attacks and eyecatches from the game. It just made the whole scene incredibly cheap and cheesy, and very obvious that this was an adaptation of a game. However, sometimes the show would surprise me when it would actually look good. The last episode and the Haru episodes immediately come to mind because of how polished and gorgeous they looked. The visuals in the OPs were also fantastic, and imagine my sigh disappointment that the second OP’s official visuals didn’t appear until the last episode. And it looked so amazing, too.
The few positive things I can say about this adaptation is the music, which is literally ripped from the game so I guess that doesn’t count?, and how the anime handled some of the character interactions. We got lots of snippets of the characters hanging out and just having fun together, which is something we didn’t really see in the game. Watching Futaba and the girls ride the banana boat, the kids shopping and swimming in Hawaii, just being teenagers. It was nice seeing some of them interact. Another thing was adding some anime-only scenes to sort of enhance certain moments, such as Shiho getting beat by Kamoshida, as the game never showed it. It made the situation even more powerful. Another example was the anime showing some of the Thieves like Makoto, Yusuke, and Haru as little kids as they shared very happy memories. One, it was cute as shit!! And two, it also made those scenes more significant.
But really, those are the few positive things I can say about the anime. This anime was a real frustrating experience for me, as well as saddening because of how much they butchered something I loved. But it just reminded me how much I love the game so I can always go back to that. So if I ever see someone showing interest in Persona 5, honestly I would just tell them to buy the game and play it. Or watch a playthough on Youtube. The game has it all, while the anime lacks so very much.
Shadow’s Final Impression
And so the suffering has been put to an end… for now at least. Like Berry, I was super stoked to see an anime adaptation for one of my favorite games. I figured it wouldn’t be the best thing in the world, but I think I might have put a little too much faith that they could at least do a decent retelling. Especially since the Persona 4 anime (not Golden) was actually pretty decent and expanded on their protagonist a lot and made him feel like an actual character rather than just the audience surrogate. Not to mention the fight scenes were so well animated and choreographed, I had somewhat highish hopes for Persona 5.
Unfortunately that was not the case as Cloverworks didn’t seem to know what to do with this series. Not to mention that the animation studio that worked on P4 wasn’t the one that did P5 (unfortunately). I honestly feel so dissatisfied with this adaptation that I had to go watch a playthrough to help me remember why I loved this game. Especially since they watered down the characters so severely I questioned if I liked them or not. The only one that I consistently liked in this adaptation was Yusuke since he remained the adorable weirdo that I knew and loved.
I was also looking forward to how the anime would choose to interpret Ren’s character since the game did give him a decent amount of personality even outside the speech choices. Looking back at the Persona 4 anime, Yu actually had a pretty good character interpretation and it felt as if he had grown as a character throughout his endeavors. They even gave him a character development episode which was trippy as heck but it actually focused on him as a character rather than just the typical silent protagonist. Ren had his moments but overall, he was rather bland and hardly had any truly characterizing moments. Which was a giant disappointment since he came out having less of a personality that he did in the game.
The pacing in this series was absolutely terrible and some of the choices the studio made were questionable, such as the time they decided to devote to confidant things. I understand that the confidants play somewhat of a role in the last arc, but it felt like such a waste of time. I wouldn’t have minded if they had integrated the confidant stories in a more smooth fashion, but the way they did it felt super jarring and slowed down the pace of the plot.
The animation… oh the animation… was just downright terrible at times. The P4 anime had pretty good animation for the action scenes. I wouldn’t have minded if they would have cheaped out on the non action scenes and made the fighting animation top notch like P4. But needless to say, bad animation and unnecessary close ups were the running themes of this series.
However, what I did enjoy was seeing Makoto, Yusuke and Haru as babies. Those parts literally melted my heart upon seeing them. There were some gems here and there like some random silly moments that had me laughing. And it was pretty nice to see the group interactions outside of Phantom Thief work. I also really appreciated how they literally fixed my biggest issue with the Ryuji and Morgana fallout. I absolutely HATED how Ryuji never genuinely apologized to Morgana for what he said to him and just never redeemed himself from that mishap. However, I loved how he came into the room in a panic with a first-aid kit shouting if Morgana was okay and then awkwardly apologized for what he said to him. That was actually a really heartwarming scene and it was everything I had hoped for in the game that never happened.
Like so many people have stated, this adaptation felt so unnecessary and it would have been better if it just didn’t exist. I had to stop my friend from watching the anime because it was such a bad adaptation and I didn’t want her to have a bad impression on it since it’s so much more than the anime showed. You’ll get so much more from watching a playthrough instead.
Final Score: 4/10