「You Can Call Me “Noir”」

And onto the second worst part of the Okumura arc; his palace. From a meaningful purpose, it has the upward advantage of working well with Okumura’s character. As the CEO of a black company (or burakku kigyou) akin to real life izakaya restaurant chain Watami, it fits within his character to have his palace reflect on the work-place fatigue, worker exploitation, and karoshi that would happen from the stress that Okumura Foods gave to its employees. It also gets credit for being one of the many moments that the game calls out societal issues in Japan, and how working conditions have been steadily worsened by exploitative bosses who have no qualms with power harassment and verbal abuse among other grievances. The outer space theme of Big Bang Burger lends itself to both the unbridled ambition that Okumura has and his “Rosebud” being a spaceship model kit he couldn’t afford until inheriting his grandfather’s company. Unfortunately, the depth of its thematic elements are undercut with how awful many of its puzzles are such as fighting through different managers to find the ones with the right key card or the infamous airlock puzzle where you have to travel through several airlocks in a maze to get to the right side of the airport.

Luckily, the anime’s double-edged sword of having turbo-fast pacing is utilized at its highest point during this part of the game so they were able to skip over the obnoxious puzzles of Okumura’s palace yet retain its impact and essence. The anime also works to try to make Okumura a more redeemable figure as it reflects back on Haru’s childhood where her grandfather and father played a positive role in her life. It might have been for time restraints, but excluding the part where Okumura gives a fake apology to Haru before his boss fight also helped to make him seem genuine in his regret over abusing his power as a CEO, using his access to mental shutdowns as a means of getting rid of the competition, and trying to get into politics by trying to pimp out his daughter to a politician’s son. His game appearance did little to make us feel for him in the same way that we weren’t supposed to feel bad about Kamoshida or Kaneshiro, especially with how little we see of Haru’s feelings towards her dad when he was kinder, but the anime does try to give him a better path at redemption before his mental shutdown is triggered.

Haru herself gets far more justice in the anime as we see why she would be attached to the both of them as well as be obsessed with the cafe atmosphere of Leblanc given her experience with her grandfather’s cafe before Okumura inherited it to transform it into a burger chain devoid of compassion or soul. We also get a better understanding of her motivation behind gravitating towards her Beauty Thief personality, the code name Noir, and the drive that allows her to tap into the full powers of her persona, Milady. It sounds sadistic, but the anime also did service to Haru by having her tear up and shout at Destinyland when her father collapsed dead on live television. The game had a weird way of making her feel numb to his passing that goes beyond any feelings she might’ve had about his descent into the criminal underworld, and had Haru treat her father’s death like he was a family pet that died. Not sure if the anime will have her forget about grieving her dad like the game did, but her reaction at the end of the broadcast gives me hope that they would improve on fleshing out Haru, her personality, and her behavior, and not force her into the position where she has to bite her tongue when it comes to being upset about her father’s demise.

This episode sets the tone for the next arc as the cultural phenomenon of the Phantom Thieves’ exploits come to a head with Okumura’s mental shutdown. Sojiro catches onto the public fervor the news helped create in cheering on the Phantom Thieves to steal Okumura’s heart, and as Ryuji becomes disillusioned with how they’re being seen as merely entertainment, the active encouragement from media outlets for the Phantom Thieves to go after Okumura would look more and more like a set-up that would deal a catastrophic blow to the group. The stage is set for Sae Niijima in the episode’s final moments while she gets closer to finding the linkage to Okumura and the Phantom Thieves. Akechi feeds her contradictory information that the Phantom Thieves might have no link with Okumura whatsoever, but Sae’s convictions that Okumura used the Phantom Thieves to eliminate the competition only to turn on him are too strong at this point. With her interest in solving the case beginning to consume her, we can look forward to seeing her come into the picture in the next few episodes. Though the amount of episodes left until the anime reaches its 24th lead me to think they are going to end the anime after the next palace and finish it up in another cour or a film, it’ll be exciting to see not only what the anime has planned for the next palace, but also the surprise twist they planned for the anime.


    1. Although the Phantom Thieves were manipulated to target Okumura, by their very nature I think they would have gone after him anyway. I doubt Shido would have stopped that chance encounter with Haru, they would have found out about her at some point I think and would have helped her. His death made for some very uncomfortable viewing, because although he was an ass with warped desires, he didn’t deserve to die the way he did, live even. He was confessing his crimes and things were going so well.. If anything a jail cell was his next destination.

    2. The boss fight was interesting in the game because of it’s mechanics revolving around how Okumura saw his employees with how expendable they all were. There was even a strange status effect where if someone in your party had Hunger, his Big Bang Burger Challenge special attack heals you instead because you’re fighting the CEO of a fast food chain. It was definitely out of their control because if they didn’t go in, Haru would be forced to be with her fiance, but if they did do it, they’d fall into the trap.

      1. At the end of the battle when he had no one to protect him I thought it highlighted wonderfully that without his staff he really is nothing. I think had he not been killed he would have grew to appreciate his employees more because they were the ones that helped him achieve that success. Without them he would have no empire.

        I liked how the change of heart thing would have showed the real him and not the him corrupted by his immoral choices through his position of power. It’s sad that Haru never got to see the father that she deserved.

  1. If I were to tag myself in that roller coaster photo I’d be Ren.
    That fireworks watching scene though.
    ???? ???? Ren and Makoto standing close to each other! Ryuji and Ann next to each other!!???? ????

    I’m certain the anime will leave out romance so I’ll take all the ship tease scenes I can. haha

    Those flower clips that little Haru had! are the same ones I had when I was a kid!

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