「I Am Alibaba」
Staying relatively non-biased has been easy so far, but that will be put to the test in this arc because I absolutely love Futaba. With the Anonymous-esque hacker group Medjed as the leading figures to act as a catalyst for the Phantom Thieves next adventure, it finally places the avoidant hacker at center stage as Alibaba places a target on Futaba as the Phantom Thieves’ next heart to steal. While we only see her for a brief interval of time during the episode’s last moments, her identity as both the next target and a girl living under Sojiro’s care will come into play as the arc continues picking up momentum.
For those familiar with the game’s events, it adapts key segments of this section efficiently with fun tweaks to work with. The fireworks festival could’ve been better, considering that it’s one of those awkward parts whether the anime has to adapt one of the game’s animated cut-scenes, but the anime comes into its own for the remainder of the episode. The text message relay between Ren and Alibaba is interesting as a text-scroll across the screen is shown while the group tries to get Futaba’s identity from the mysterious Alibaba. The infiltration of Sojiro’s house was animated perfectly as we see Makoto’s face slowly contort from her fear of supernatural haunts before the scene builds up to its crescendo until reaching the piece-de-resistance with Futaba’s shadowy figure looming over Makoto as they both scream at each other.
Similarly, it’s newer additions were more than welcome as we got a cool scene where Alibaba proves their strength against Ren by having every person’s phone in his class go crazy except for his to create an ominous, foreboding, and neat way of exemplifying just how intimidating the hackers of Persona 5 can be. With the Phantom Thieves operating mostly through online and social media platforms, it also becomes a crux of their latest issues with public opinion as they now have to find a way to sway the public in their direction now that they are working with a live audience hovering over them.
The only issue with this episode in relation to its story-telling methods within the past 15 episodes was Sojiro’s development. It’s the point in the game where we learn far more about Sojiro than we’re lead to believe, but the past episodes haven’t made him be quite as pivotal to Ren’s city life as he is in the game. The impact that the speculation the Phantom Thieves have about Sojiro’s parenting skills or his treatment of Futaba isn’t given as much skepticism or worry as it did in the game where we spent a good chunk of time being yelled at by Sojiro while he taught us how to make coffee and slowly allowed us to break curfew by roaming around new parts of Tokyo the more he got used to our company.
Whether we go with our gut that Sojiro’s softer side we learned from hanging out with him means he couldn’t possibly deserve Sae breathing over his neck or that Sojiro’s rougher side with his threats to send Ren to juvie could be an indicator towards the treatment he could be giving to Futaba, the speculation is far more agonizing until Sojiro spills the beans when you have the capacity to get to know him. The anime breezed through so much of Ren’s moments with Sojiro, however, that we were never able to have the opportunity to get acquainted with him before the threads unraveled on whether he’s being supportive enough to Futaba or not. Nonetheless, Episode 15 gives use a lot of promise for what’s to come as the next episode puts Sojiro in the hot seat for explaining what exactly his situation is with Futaba.