One flaw in Persona 5 that I have been thinking about once I knew that the school field trip to Hawaii would appear in this episode is the game’s lack of “breather moments”. You had times in the other games in the series where there would be diversions from the main story to be able to build upon the characters rather than constantly feel the pressure of having to progress the story. There are other more prominent moments later on in the game during holidays that exemplify this to a T, but with the Summer episodes coming to a close, the beach trip and the Hawaii field trip were just the start of the trend where the game refused to have any breather moments that didn’t involve developing the plot.
For the Hawaii trip, the game used it less as a way to have our main circle of friends grow closer and more as a way to emphasize the rising popularity of the Phantom Thieves reaching international shores and introduce us to Big Bang Burger, the company owned by their next target Okumura Kunikazu. There were a handful of dates you could go on with only some of the girls you’ve met with so far, including Kawakami if you’ve raised her confidant rank to an affectionate level, but nothing to the extent we see in some of the pleasant montages in this episode where we see the characters actually having fun in Hawaii. Some things are glossed over for obvious reasons like not giving Ren the choice to spill the beans on the type of girl he likes, but the inclusions to the Hawaii segment were quite a bit of fun. It was a treat to see Kawakami’s glamour poses, and it was funny to see her have to hide her outfits once Haru barged in to ask her a question. They even gave Hifumi a small appearance where she’s surrounded by American fans of the Phantom Thieves who figured that if they hit on her, she’d tell them about her country’s latest celebrities.
On top of this, the anime has reached the least anticipated moment in the game where the characters are in conflict with one another. The Phantom Thieves’ sudden fame and popularity creeps Yusuke and Makoto out enough that they want to hold off before they take in the Phan-Site’s #1 target with the CEO of Okumura Foods. Ren also finds the hasty route to be the most dangerous route while Ann feels responsible for the death of Principal Kobayakawa, who some have blamed on the Phantom Thieves because of their ties with the cognitive world. Ryuji, however, is gung-ho to stick it to Okumura because he likes the exposure and fame he is gathering by being a Phantom Thief. It’s at this point where Ryuji becomes reckless in his words as he uses Futaba’s mom as a prop to get the rest to back him up on bringing justice to Okumura and drives a wedge between himself and Morgana, the only other member who supports jumping right into Okumura’s palace. In his insecurities over the possibility of not being human, Morgana jump-starts a seperation arc over Ryuji’s anger as he splits off from the party to go after his heart all by himself. He’s caught up by a mysterious Beauty Thief, but this will be something to dive into the next time around.
The most significant development by the end of the episode is in the path that Sae Niijima is in the middle of crossing. Principal Kobayakawa’s death only causes more questions to arise from her investigation on mental shut-downs as the circumstances behind his death not only mirror the other mental shut-down cases in their spontaneity, but are linked to Shujin Academy, leading her to believe the Phantom Thieves involved with stealing Kamoshida’s heart would have a motive in actively killing the principal. With the stakes behind her investigation ramping up, the pressure on her to get results, and Makoto’s consistently odd behavior in her support for the Phantom Thieves, it’ll be interesting how the anime portrays the shift in her behavior that leads her to getting more aggressive with her tactics in solving the case.