Finally, we’ve reached the inner depths of Sae Niijima’s palace. Between its casino theming and “Whims of Fate”, it gave the perfect atmosphere for an Ocean’s Eleven-esque heist on a similar level of fantasy as the museum and bank heists of previous palaces. However, what made Sae’s special was both her association with Makoto as her older sister and the linkage between high stakes gambling and the criminal justice system that Sae is entrenched in. Although her repressed thoughts dwell on how her father’s death pushed her into the direction of resenting criminals and steering her towards prosecuting any of them that come across her desk, it’s the Phantom Thieves that have gotten under her skin.

After realizing that taking the high road offers no reward when pursuing a criminal organization takes more time when you can’t pin anything on them, she becomes hooked on the idea of rigging the system to benefit her and get a conviction. With the amount of times that the SIU Director and Akechi belittled and mocked her for not getting prompt results, the goading would manifest quickly into seeing the courtroom as a casino where the only way to win high stakes / high reward situations is through underhanded tactics like what we see in the palace’s games. And because of the fun fact we learn in this episode of the high probability of guilty verdicts in Japan, Sae’s success and failures end up cemented as a result of the efforts that she’s made to work herself to the bone to get results.

The anime did a decent job at showing a lot of this, albeit with some scenes sped up, changed, or removed. We weren’t able to see as much of Shadow Sae nor did we get the section in her boss battle where she cheats you out of rounds in the stage’s roulette board until you have a party member shoot a number to cheat back. There are also parts like the hunting game in the dark that are trimmed down. Still, the inclusions they make have a lot to offer for the characters such as all the funny faces Ryuuji and Ann make as the party gets duped by the palace’s games. Scenes they included with Makoto did much more to hammer on the struggle that she has with Sae’s change in personality and how far gone she went once she was given the Phantom Thieves investigation. They did more than the game did in showing her genuinely upset and crying over being pitted against her sister, and shows her confrontation with her CGI boss form as a personal battle to regain her older sister back. By the end of it, they did justice to showing how much Makoto placed on herself to save Sae’s well-being by removing the distortion that clouded her judgement. There were also some cute moments Makoto had in the palace like the time she tried to look excited when everyone else was cheering for Ren and some of the ship-teasing that happened when he tackled her out of harm’s way. I remember a scene like this happened in Futaba’s palace in the game, but having it appear in Sae’s casino has more thematic significance in showing Ren’s resolve as he shows concern for Makoto after realizing the challenging situation she’s in by fighting her sister.

Other than that, the episode was decent. The confidant’s function in improving Ren’s abilities in palaces is exemplified only through the interactions with confidants that don’t push their stories forward such as Iwai merely selling him model guns, Shinya lecturing him on his aim, Hifumi showing him tactical strategies, and Takemi offering her potions to him. It’s Toranosuke who gets the most development as Ren helps him in the lieu of a rough demonstration where he’s called by his notorious nickname “No Good Tora”. Shido making his appearance in the news as a force aiming break up the Diet and reform society to his liking makes Toranosuke’s appearance later on significant as well in that Tora’s pitch to bring power back to the youth and his admiration for the Phantom Thieves acts as fuel to shape exactly what Ren wants to get out of being the leader of the Phantom Thieves. There are also interesting twists in the tail-end with how we ended up seeing Sae’s treasure, something we only received vague hints of in the original game. There was also another surprise at the very end of the episode as Ren dodges gunfire from Akechi while he’s still escaping from the palace. The end scene could definitely hint towards the new twist that the anime had in mind since this is very new to those who have played the game. Perhaps we’ll get the answer very soon now that we’re heading closer and closer towards the home stretch of the story.


    1. Yeah I don’t think it was a new scene. At this point in the story Akechi was still pretending to be a part of the team and was unaware that. Show Spoiler ▼

      I’m pretty sure he wasn’t shooting at Ren but was shooting at something else.

  1. The darkness dungeon was the worst part of Saes palace and the easiest. You just had to wall hug, and the enemies were easy enough. I’m also OK with the way they handled the boss battle as the Roulette board wasn’t that special, once they knew she had a glass panel raised when the ball thing landed on something you’d win on, it was a fairly ordinary boss battle.

    Makoto also was pretty emotional about her sister in the game too. What Ren did at the end of the episode was brave too because he knew what he was facing when he jumped from the window.

      1. Yikes, I had no idea you could do that. I thought it was just for revealing treasure and jumping areas. It sounds like I could have been done with it a lot sooner had I taken your advice. Thanks I’ll make note in the future.

  2. This episode felt like they breezed through Sae Palace via montage of farming and more farming and training but it made good use of the confidants Ren met. Takemi for her medicine(and cute guinea pig doodle – couldn’t read what it said though), Shinya for his video game sharpshooting, and Hifumi for Shogi strats.

    I wonder if they just started Tora’s confidant now as a contrast to Shidou?

    I liked the little detail of Joker adjusting his gloves before entering the arena. Just – what even was that expression when he got cursed? He clearly screaming in pain but his face?

    I also liked how the Thieves combined their skills to take down Shadow Sae. There was some good teamwork and action sequences like Joker popping out of Necronomicon and shooting Shadow Sae, Yusuke using Ryuji as a distraction to freeze Sae’s legs, Makoto charging with Johanna allowing Morgana to land a hit, ect.

    10 hours of Joker chugging Takemi's Guinea Pig Concoction pls
    1. Yoshida(Sun) was the easiest Confidant to rank up in the game as you just meet him when he texts or whatever and that’s that. I’m guessing they’ll just give him a few scenes, one of which will be notable.

  3. I was slightly disappointed when they cut Joker saving Makoto during Futaba’s palace. But now I see they were saving that scene for this episode. I have say this scene has a lot more emotional weight and it makes more sense for it to happen in Sae’s Palace. Makoto is breaking down and cannot bring herself to fight her sister and best of all, Ren notices this and pulls her back on her feet, figuratively speaking.

    When I saw Makoto standing in a daze and Shadow Saw swinging her blade down, I thought well, if Ren’s gonna save her I guess it’s gonna be now but nah, they’re not gonna – AKJLDJDKLFJSDKLJDSKLFJLK!!! IT HAPPENED!! He saved her with the weirdest tackle ever but whatever – he saved her! Aaahh! She’s so surprised to see it’s him! AHH! He’s moving closer!! Ahhh! He’s encouraging her and he’s snapped her out of it! Oh, yes! Makoto’s back and saving our lovely floof and talking sense into her sis!

    I may or may have not replayed that scene 50 times before finishing the episode…
    (…to the point where I noticed Joker’s glove turns blue in one frame when he grabs her out of the way and they crash land and her chin is slightly resting in his hair.)

    Okay, I’ve gotta calm down…

    As a bonus, Makoto is the last member to bid Joker goodbye. I like how they mirrored each other as they took off in opposite directions, Joker with the case and Makoto with the secret plan.

    And the RenMako fans go wild!! i.e Me
  4. Appreciated all the little character moments this episode despite some weird faces and animation. (Like simplified Joker after Shadow Sae goes into boss mode and does her explosion attack).

    I laughed when Ryuji and Ann got exasperated over Sae’s rigged games and unfair demands for more tokens and Makoto’s delayed reaction at Joker’s victory in the arena. Also how Ryuji was the first to attempt to help when he saw Joker was outnumbered.

    I liked Skull and Joker shaking hands as he passes the treasure to him. Were that the anime had more friendship moments like this.

    I felt bad seeing Makoto waiting for Sae to leave before breaking down. So when Joker saves Queen, it was the best surprise of the entire episode because of where it happened in the story. It was more fitting and satisfying because not only did he save her life, he strengthens her resolve to save her sister. Ren does care about his friends but he shows it very subtly. It was nice to see him more overt this time.

    It was cool that they had an All Out Attack with all the Phantom Thieves (since this’ll likely be the last time they fight together before —) finishing with Joker’s glare. Although, since his eye was the same red as the background, I couldn’t help but think it looked like he got shot through the eye.

    What happened to your electrical resistance Ryuji? You could totally take an electric fence!
    And here I was complaining about the lack of Munehisa Iwai. Glad that A-1 didn’t totally forget about him. Ditto for Toranosuke Yoshida. Also, Dr. Takemi and Hifumi getting some screentime… Sweet!
    Oh yeah… Now THAT is the money shot of Shadow Sae I’ve been waiting for! (Thanks, Choya.) Also, I guess having a nice posterior is something that runs in the women of the Nijima family… (*aroused snickering*)
    I liked how Joker’s face pretty much says, “Bring it on.” (And with that, the flashback portion is done.)

    Other stuff:
    – The “Bridge of Judgement”… Textbook “moving the goalposts.” And considering that some places in the world have a corrupt justice system, that scene hit a bit close to home.
    – So the anime confirms that Sae’s treasure is her late father’s notebook? No more shadows of doubt there. (Geddit? Uh…)
    – I was always wondering if another party member can ride on Johanna–gameplay and story segregation aside. With Makoto saving Haru, I guess it is possible (story-wise, at least).
    – One thing that makes the bossfights “easier” in the anime than in the game–all party members are there to wail on the boss. (Though leveling up Hifumi’s Confidant route in the game does allow the player to switch party members.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *