「A Beautiful Rose Has Thorns!」
The third part of the Phantom Thieves’ first cognitive heist animates the most harrowing part of the Kamoshida arc; Shiho’s assault and subsequent suicide attempt. As the reasoning for possibly “stealing Kamoshida’s heart” by removing his desires in the form of their most prized treasure becomes more and more justified, nothing sends Ren, Ryuji, and Ann over the edge to bite the bullet to steal his treasure than what happened to Shiho. While his physical abuse of the volleyball team and Ryuji had already made him out to be terrible, his treatment of teen girls made him into a monster. Although his shadow form revels in how he forced himself on Shiho in retaliation for Ann rejecting him, his real world behavior isn’t any better as he gleefully announces that Shiho fell into an inescapable coma and expels Ren, Ryuji, and Mishima in one fell swoop for coming after him. Although the anime charges through many of its details, the hastened build-up doesn’t diminish how punchable Kamoshida is, and how much tension is packed in the doomsday clock that is put on Ren to make a call-to-action in stealing his heart before he’s expelled.
On the flipside, the anime’s depiction of Ann’s development and awakening is hit-and-miss in some regards. They did well to incorporate parts of Ann’s confidant with her memories of Shiho as her only friend aiding in her push to fight back and showing a small blip of her modeling career when fellow model Mika weasels her way into getting Ann booted from a photo shoot. Similarly, I liked the liberty they took with Ren finding out about Ann being pressured by Kamoshida as it felt less weird to just transition from the streets to the restaurant instead of the game’s decision to have you chase after her at the subway station despite barely knowing her. Most importantly, the Awakening scene is very well done as her resolve to fight for Shiho’s justice and put an end to Kamoshida. Persona 5 does wonders with giving the Phantom Thieves awesome moments, and Ann’s empowerment and fury is no exception as she wipes through shadows and stands strong against tyranny in both the game and this episode. They even made sure to have the All Out Attack feel less sloppy with Ann’s splash screen having a lot less “quality”.
But sadly, much of Ann’s perspective is missing from the anime’s adaptation of this section of the game. Rather than directly confronting Ryuji and Ren about wanting to be involved with stealing Kamoshida’s heart after hearing both Shiho utter his name and Ryuji blab about fighting back against him, the anime has her merely tail them to their destination. Her own personal feedback and interest in tearing him apart after Shiho’s suicide attempt is removed from the equation. The same can be said for how the order they placed dungeon-crawling was way before Ann’s awakening. No one suffered all those hours trapped in Kamoshida’s dungeon without Ann’s agi and dia skills coming in handy!
But aside from that, without Ann’s perspective of going through Kamoshida’s palace, you miss out on half of the palace’s impact as Ann discovering a shrine room dedicated to Shiho and a library of other students he’s assaulted is as important to the dungeon as Ryuji’s experience seeing the volleyball team getting strapped down and tortured. The last episode had a similar flaw with how quickly Ann left Kamoshida to Shiho after showing concern for how exhausted she looks from volleyball, but with how difficult it was for the game to unpack the guilt Ann felt for not being able to stick up for her friend until it was too late, hope that the anime would expand on this dwindled for the time being after the decision was made to have Ryuji, Ren, and Morgana secure a route to the treasure without Ann. There’s still some hope in further elaborating on Ann and Shiho’s friendship in the next episode as they send out their first calling card to make Kamoshida’s treasure appear, so maybe it’ll give Ryuji and Ann more to work with as they face off against him.