「A Challenge That Must Be Won」

Well, at least Akechi had a good episode. With his relationship with Ren deepening as he joins the Phantom Thieves in Sae’s palace, it gives him ample opportunity to be able to share time with him. Along with the chess they already play at Leblanc, he also confides some of his deepest concerns with Ren as he discusses why his biological father pushed him to where he’s at today, and why he aims to pursue his goals in this manner. Although we never got a Ren that kept trying to shove him out of Leblanc or a “Hi Honey, I’m home!” option adapted from the game, the anime has shown a more cordial relationship that builds on something more than the game did by making him feel much closer to Ren with the number of times they’ve worked together on personal goals together. His form as Crow is definitely symbolic for people savvy to future events, but hearing the Japanese pronunciation tips you off especially because “kuro” makes it all obvious that there is a dark side we’ve yet to see of Akechi.

The only problem is that they completely change parts from other characters’ stories to flesh out Akechi. Earlier, Yusuke’s confidant took a hit from having it be used as a device to get Akechi closer to Ren, but that isn’t as egregious as the decision to have him completely spearhead an investigation on Futaba’s uncle. Sojiro’s route and Futaba’s involvement with it are completely thrown out the window in favor of having Akechi take the spotlight in exposing her uncle. In the game, she actively encourages Ren to help her steal his distorted desires in Mementos, and has a full-on argument with Sojiro when he gets angry about the idea of Futaba working to get revenge on her uncle. Sojiro working through his relationship with Futaba as her foster father is one of the game’s deepest confidant plot lines as it hones in on the insecurity Sojiro has inside as not being good enough for Futaba despite encouraging any growth she’s made along the way. Instead of any of this, Futaba is forced back inside of her room while Akechi comes in to dig up dirt on Futaba’s uncle. The scene where Ren steps in front of Futaba to defend her from her uncle is written to have him go in front of Sojiro instead just because they couldn’t have bothered to involve Futaba in a story line that involves her. Having her straight up go after her uncle and tell him to stay away from Sojiro and her hold far more emotional weight to it than shoving her in her room like the anime did.

They also mashed up the events of Sojiro discovering the calling card Futaba received with his confidant event, resulting in a watered-down resolution that loses its impact. With the video game, it happens as a story event that paves the way for Sojiro trying to defend the Phantom Thieves to protect both Ren and Futaba. Sojiro is not only upset that Futaba received the calling card, but is also a Phantom Thief alongside Ren, who happens to be their leader. With the death threats and public witch-hunt and money reward, Sojiro would be horrified beyond belief. However, Futaba holds her ground and tells him that he wants to find her mother’s killer, knowing she has the power to be able to do it and that he should know more than anyone that her death wasn’t a coincidence. I am comparing it with the English version, but I still remember how amazing of a performance Erica Lindbeck did when she captured Futaba’s desperation to get to Sojiro in getting him to understand how significant the Phantom Thieves were to finding the missing piece to a puzzle she’s needed to find all of this time. The last exasperated “Sojiro…!” still rings in my head as I reflect on what a scene that was. The lengths it took for Sojiro to accept Futaba was saved by the Phantom Thieves, that she is a Phantom Thief, and the guy he swore he’d send to juvie at any point he does something wrong turns out to be their leader was a game-changer in showing just how dedicated Sojiro is to protecting Futaba and how much Ren has grown on him.

Because they cut that scene entirely and had Futaba lock herself away in her room while Akechi takes care of everything, we’re robbed of that moment. We’re robbed of much of the emotional connection we have to getting Sojiro and Futaba on better terms. And because the episode’s
resolution came from Futaba defending Sojiro from Child Services and calling him “father”, all of the calling card discovery moment is shrugged off and he passes it off by saying he connected the dots quickly that something was up. It’s deflated to the point of being an afterthought, and Futaba is robbed of the closure she was able to achieve by being involved with getting her uncle away from them and convincing Sojiro not to stop them right away from any new Phantom Thief developments to protect them.

For some of the successful mash-ups the anime has had with confidants, palaces, and story events, this has been one of the worst yet. While his confidant can be finished anytime, Sojiro’s concern for Futaba comes from having to come to terms with being more of a productive parent throughout the game and over the summer. It’s jarring to hear him open up about his parenting skills and see her uncle showing up this late in the anime when Futaba getting the calling card is far more of a concern at this point in the game. It might’ve fit better before going into the palace when public sentiment of the Phantom Thieves was at its lowest, but it feels out of place a quarter of the way through the palace when we’re already acquainted with Sae. I wished I could’ve gotten into Sojiro, his personal story with Futaba, and the genuine emotion that comes from seeing him opening up and tearing up at the thought of being considered a dad in a much different context. Hopefully at the very least, it’ll be much more amusing to check in next week and go in-depth into Sae Niijima, her palace, and its significance/meaning without the fear of it getting butchered by whatever additions they want to make to have us understand where Akechi is coming from.


  1. Just me or did Mona look fluffier and rounder than usual?

    I completely agree with you on the way they handled Futaba and Sojiro’s confidant arc.
    Largely disappointing. Like the part where Futaba’s uncle steps toward Sojiro, Ren gets between them, he sees this, then he just…slips? At least make him lunge at Ren and lose his balance after Ren dodges it!
    Or was the dumb uncle’s thought process:
    >see delinquent get in the way
    >blame delinquent

    Either way, Futaba should have been there!

    Admittedly it was a heartwarming moment to hear Futaba call Sojiro “dad” and Sojiro tearing up at that but alas, not as touching as the game.
    Also for once there was a reasonable adult, from Child Services no less!

    Did they omit the “traitor” line from the opening scene in the game so we could have Ren’s reaction in the stinger (for the anime-only watchers)?

    Crow has joined the Phantom Thieves in the ED
    1. Her uncle also slipped in the original, but because of graphical limitations, it didn’t look as goofy to see him slip on himself and then save face by using it as an excuse to get the authorities involved.

      That would make sense since they gave him a shocked face at the end as if he was never told about the “traitor”. One of the big lingering details throughout the game is how the cops directly tell Ren he was ratted out, but it was never a factor in this adaptation.

      1. Could’ve sworn Futaba’s uncle charged at Futaba, Ren got in the way, uncle tried taking a swing at him, and Ren dodges causing him to fall flat on his face, but I guess I remembered wrong. I’ll go watch it again.

        I expect Ren’s shocked face in the stinger is because the drugs have worn off and he finally remembers the plan.

        In Chess, the King goes first. Wait...wrong anime.
  2. I thought it was funny at the beginning of the episode Ryuji, Ann, Ren, and Futaba ninja-jump over a hedge while Mona, Yusuke, Haru, Akechi, and Makoto run around it.
    Only Futaba’s less than 5 ft. tall and is a shut-in. No way she could clear that hedge like the former track star and natural athletes.

    Joker and Queen stand next to each other in the final dice game scene!
  3. Why was Ann’s hair colored greyish-yellow in this episode?

    I like how Ren quickly backtracked when he saw Futaba’s uncle getting harassed(SUCH CONVENIENT TIMING!)

    They did say there was going to be a surprise twist that deviated from the game…bad ending?

    Shoot to kill Robin Hood!
  4. I felt that the episode was weak, with Sojiro acquiescing a bit too easily. After you explained how it played out in the game, I’d agree that the writers messed up pretty badly.

    Magnus Tancred
    1. This is how the Calling Card discovery scene played out in the game (Included both dub and sub depending on your listening preference):

      Dub: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMY4hDy7mX8&t=3s
      Sub: https://youtu.be/cjVSWB3W2yo?list=PLEnRK_B0kPIpm6QW5QZKTZsjtmITMfF12&t=3140

      It’s a far more important scene than it ends up being in the anime, and Sojiro does mention knowing that it was obvious early on, but has a much harder time acquiescing knowing that the Phantom Thieves are in too deep. And Futaba actually tries to explain herself albeit in a far more upset mood rather than running off.

  5. I like in the game how Sojiro, after the emotion stuff from Futaba about the calling card was like ffs, ok, it is what it is, just be careful. And of course offers his help. He’s more concerned about their own safety and the climate around the Phantom thieves like in the media than he is angry that they are the Phantom thieves. He took it well.

    1. I think that’s one of the things that makes the rush through Sojiro’s reaction to the Calling Card to be a letdown. With Sae’s bounty she has on the leader of the Phantom Thieves’ heads, politicians calling them out, and public sentiment wanting them to be brought to justice for possible murder, Sojiro should be more frightened like he was in the game that both Futaba and Ren happen to be a part of them at this point in time. He’s understanding and wants to protect them any way he can, but is also aware that he needed to be harsh because he’s scared for what could happen to them if they aren’t careful. That element of danger is kinda diminished as its glossed over to not place a speed bump at the progress to force Futaba to argue with Sojiro right after she called him “father”.

      1. Agreed, the anime failed to really show the seriousness of the situation. The news was probably the most serious thing Sojiro had ever heard and as Futabas guardian and Rens sort of guardian he was scared of losing them both. He’s pretty much Futabas dad at this point and a father figure for Ren so its understandable.

  6. https://randomc.net/image/Persona%205%20The%20Animation/Persona%205%20The%20Animation%20-%2024%20-%20Large%2005.jpg
    [“The Whims of Fate” intensifies]

    Aw man, Shadow Sae’s debut episode and not even a shot of her showing off that sexy back?

    Show Spoiler ▼

    I actually wouldn’t mind either additional episodes or a movie (or two) for the last two arcs.

    1. There’s no need for a movie as they’re quite clearly doing everything in anime tv form. The counter at the end of this episode before the credits shows up to episode 28 and I suspect it’ll continue until the story is done.

    2. They didn’t get to show as much of Shadow Sae as I would’ve hoped, but I can’t wait to see more of her when they start showing more of her off. She doesn’t have a romanceable route, but she’s definitely the most attractive older character in the game.

      That messed me up too. The dice game was rigged in the game to force you to lose (something that also ties into the theming of Sae’s palace of being a part of games rigged against her from the start) and you had to go in a backroom to rig the dice in your favor. To have it be because both Ren and Futaba’s nerves were a mess with their issues with Sojiro did feel weird. Yeah, hopefully they give Tora, Chihaya, and Iwai more digified parts of their confidant story fleshed out because their current status has been very light in content. Loved Futaba’s excitement over Akechi’s phone. It made me feel like I should’ve played through the Japanese sub much further to hear how enthused Aoi Yuuki’s performance is as she lectures Akechi about his looks or her comical remarks in Mementos.

      The anime looks like it’ll go further though because the next batch of Bluray volumes and the current episode count has it going beyond 29 episodes.

      1. So A-1 was granted additional episodes to properly wrap up the story? That’s good news.

        Optimistically, I’m hoping Persona 5: The Animation‘s final episode count will come close to (if not equal) Diamond is Unbreakable.

      2. I think 39 episodes is a good guess. I think they’ll use at least 4 episodes for the final dungeon & ending. The palace after this one if you include set up/confidant stuff may be 4 episodes. I remember after the final boss they had like an hour of story scenes.

    1. On your Akechi point. Show Spoiler ▼


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