Having a palace dedicated to one of the main characters in your party was bound to draw a parallel to Persona 4, where a majority of the dungeons you face are ruled by the darker thoughts manifested by a future party member’s shadow. Persona 5‘s palace rulers tended to be far less sympathetic with Kamoshida doing acts unbecoming of a teacher, Madarame doing acts unbecoming of an artist, and Kaneshiro doing acts that are becoming of a mafia boss. With Futaba, however, the game shifts the narrative to focus on using the Meta-Nav as a means of ridding Futaba of her self-destructive desires instead of anything sinister. As a twist on Persona 4‘s convention of having the party member refuse to acknowledge their shadow selves and the deeper secrets they lay bare, Futaba accepts the part of herself that is self-loathing too well, yet as a result, her palaces hazardous elements are brought out by the fears she’s kept inside her manifesting into real obstacles such as traps to prevent the Phantom Thieves from coming further or the monstrous Sphinx that Wakaba transformed into as the palace’s final boss.
As such, rather than having to face any distorted form that Shadow Futaba would take on, her shadow takes on a different form outside of what we’ve seen before as a life coach. Once the Phantom Thieves break through, her desires shift from wanting to perish to wanting to re-evaluate her mother’s death, finding that there are too many inconsistencies in both the circumstances of her passing and how the note she left behind was presented to her. Futaba’s epiphany and rage against those responsible for her mother’s death was exemplified well in the anime as her shadow pushed her to re-frame her mother’s passing as not a result of her being a difficult kid, but the work of an entity that saw her as an obstacle to reach her research on psience. A few things were lacking such as the inconsistent mural of her shadow showing her an image of the note reading when she told her to remember what her mother told her when she wanted to go on a trip and the laziness that came from them not animating Ann throw Morgana as they escape the pyramid avalanche when the palace collapses. Still, some of the additions were nice too like the final blow that Joker and Futaba give to Shadow Wakaba and the involvement Ann had in wanting to help Futaba as much as possible, volunteering to fire the cannon because of her personal investment in changing Futaba’s mindset.
With the conclusion of Futaba’s palace and the awakening of her persona Necronomicon, it was adapted fairly well, or at least above expectations with how well its additions worked with the month’s events. Thanks to a promotional tie-in with SkyTree, the “sky tower” you could visit in the game is now the real deal, giving our cast the chance to enjoy the scenery and live out Makoto’s dream of interacting with the SkyTree mascot and Buchimaru-kun. They also make Medjed’s hacking far more impressive as the location of the hack shifts from having Futaba pull an all-nighter in front of the party to pulling up next to Ren and activating the hack from her phone. Akechi actually putting in the detective work at the beginning was interesting too as it shows that he put in the effort to look into the treasures the Phantom Thieves traded in instead of having us assume he’s been tailing them based on intuition alone.
It’s newer additions were helpful in improving the story elements, but the pre-existing scenes were also done justice. We see the compassionate side of Sojiro with the heart-to-heart he has with Ren about helping take care of Futaba, and his immediate response to seeing Futaba walking from her room to LeBlanc. It was so easy to be taken aback by Sojiro choking up when we have seen him as a no-nonsense caretaker, but moments like these in the game helped solidify Sojiro as one of the game’s best characters with the development he gets as he starts taking the effort to learn how to be a better parent to Futaba. Seeing Futaba gorging on expensive sushi and tea was also fun to include, though it does set the tone for her motivations as she gains the resolve to uncover the truth behind her mother’s demise. Hopefully the next few episodes will be fine as the ending scene alludes to Morgana being slowly let-down as it moves into his sadness arc.
ED2: 「INFINITY」 by Lyn