「Dark Sun…」

The Persona 5 anime may have missed out on their chance to make a “Phantom Thieves Save Christmas” special to coincide with the in-game calendar, but they can at least save New Years with the Dark Sun OVA that takes us from Akechi shooting Joker in the face to the boss fight with Shido. It’s a lot of material to take on within an hour, and while it is able to capture almost everything, the pacing does hinder the anime’s ability to do justice to the game, nor does it makes improvements to otherwise messier parts of Akechi & Shido’s arc.

Regulating the primary antagonist Shido’s palace to one OVA episode does take the wind out of the sails for Shido in particular. This is the guy who got Joker arrested for making him fall over during his drunken rape attempt. His presence is felt throughout the game with smaller appearances like at a hotel elevator and TV appearances, but the build-up towards Joker confronting the man who ruined his reputation was much more amped up as you dug through his connections to get through his palace. In the OVA, much of his “Cult of Personality” public persona and the nefariousness of his influence is undercut by the anime’s need to get his arc over with. That means glossing over important details that were already mulled over in the game such as Shido’s IT specialist creating Medjed and trying to put the lid on Wakaba’s cognitive psience research. The one detail that bothers me in both the game and anime is how convenient it is that both Madarame and Kaneshiro ended up funneling the yen they made from counterfeit paintings and drug money over to Shido. And with Okumura having donated to Shido in return for Big Bang Burger’s success, it is highly likely that any money Okumura made indirectly gave Kaneshiro more money and resources to work with. So the next time you do the Big Bang Burger challenge in Persona 5, remember that your purchase helped fund sex slavery! I’m also surprised they didn’t connect Kamoshida directly to Shido, but I guess he probably would’ve voted for him on his stance on women’s rights.

But back to the OVA, the pacing does call into question whether the role of an anime adaptation should be to just create a distillation of the story for anyone to enjoy or if it should expand on the story to flesh out parts of the narrative that are limited by the structure of creating an RPG. This is most glaring with Akechi’s development, which was given a little more spotlight in the anime. However, with how the OVA depicts his breakdown, it doesn’t do anything dramatically different enough to justify the larger focus on giving Akechi some fanservice moments throughout the TV broadcast. While we saw Akechi solving cases and helping Joker throughout the TV series, the OVA gives him little to work with as we see his eventual decline. It was always disappointing that Akechi wasn’t written to keep up his cold and calculated demeanor because by flying off the handle, he just comes off like a wannabe of the Persona 4 killer. But whereas the Persona 4 killer’s nuttiness made sense given how he was able to suppress his anger because of the excitement he got from his murder spree, Akechi flying off the handle into a drooling, sniveling mess came off like the writers wanted to capture that same spark.

The fact that Akechi didn’t plan very far in his goal to kill Shido does show that he’s far denser and driven by resentment than we’re lead to think, especially since his “intelligence” was all manufactured by the media and his Metaverse experience. But that doesn’t make him as likable as the series wants us to think. Much like in the game, the anime frames Akechi’s backstory and anger as sympathetic albeit misplaced. Akechi was too angry to realize that both his and Joker’s goals are close to each other, but because they really wanted Akechi to be the other side of the coin, he was written to make the worst decisions using his powers as a wild card. Instead of just outright mentally shutting down Shido or manipulating him through the Metaverse, he decided to play the stupidest game of being his patsy to help dole out mental shutdowns, making the entirely wrong assumption that Shido would let him live long enough to exact his revenge. In the process, Akechi is responsible for the deaths of several innocent people, including Futaba’s mother Wakaba and Haru’s father Kunikazu. Even though Haru was the most reasonable person in the room by acknowledging that she could never forgive Akechi for her father’s death, the rest of the Phantom Thieves go out of their way to sympathize with him. He was used this whole time and it’s easy to understand why someone would end up losing their way after experiencing all of his hardships without friends or loved ones to look toward. But the game, and the anime, both went out of their way to butter him up as a smart, well-meaning kid who should join them in fighting Shido together. It’s as disappointing in the anime as it is in the game, and the one thing that sets it apart is that the fight is shortened and they try to link Joker and Akechi with the Chess piece he gives to him. It’s half-hearted, but at least the bar was low enough that they didn’t make it worse.

The pacing also does the disservice of cutting the edge off of some of the more climactic moments in the game. Much like the build-up to Shido, the scale of the Phantom Thieves’ efforts is undercut by racing through the material. For example, Futaba hacked a television station to broadcast the Phantom Thieves’ last calling card across Tokyo. But with the anime, the scale of the event is treated less like the culmination of their efforts leading to a huge public spectacle of outing Shido and making their grand entrance, and more like another one of Futaba’s wacky plans. Similarly, Ryuji running to grab the lifeboat for the rest of the Thieves had little fanfare. In the game, it was a much larger deal because Ryuji is willing to put his all into charging in spite of his faulty leg, not to mention the sacrifice fake-out having more punch to it with the game lingering on Ryuji possibly dying. It is nice that they had Ryuji pop up earlier after the palace crumbled and didn’t have the girls beat him down for shrugging off their sadness, but it does feel less special.

It might seem like there is doom & gloom for the Persona 5 OVA, but there is plenty to like about it. Because they had to condense Shido’s palace, the anime didn’t have to linger on details that were far more excruciating like adapting all of the rat puzzles or that weird English noble that makes Ryuji resort to having the girls wear swimsuits in a bid to captivate the noble. It does lose the humor of Ann being able to trick him with her terrible acting by impersonating an aristocrat named Ann Windsor, but it was an odd inclusion in the game. They also made the Shido boss fight really awesome with how they teamed up to take on Shido’s multiple forms from Char Aznable to Senator Steven Armstrong. On top of this, they also had Joker summon Yoshitsune, the greatest husbando in Persona 5 for his ability to make everyone bow before your might and strength. Although it oddly places Iwai and Shinya into the fold despite anime Joker having barely any interaction, they did a good job at showing Mishima’s redemption as he puts himself in the scrutiny of the internet by continuing to cheer for the Phantom Thieves no matter what. Last, but not least, they included the infamous massage that Kawakami offers as a maid. It would’ve been nicer to see how Joker helps her out with her personal struggles, but for all of the times that Kawakami has been able to save us from the wrath of Morgana’s early sleeping schedule, it is awesome to see the anime pay homage to why Kawakami is coveted as both the best confidant to complete and as a solid waifu option.

The OVA made a great effort in distilling Shido’s palace in an hour-long special, but with it also come the pitfalls of not being able to capture everything that was amazing about this part in the game and neglecting parts of the game’s story that could’ve used some expansion. It might’ve made Shido into more of an afterthought and did very little to redeem Akechi, but it was a much more refreshing note to end on than the last episode on the anime’s attempt to trick viewers. There’s one more OVA in the pipeline for March called Stars and Ours, so there is one last ace in a lost hand for P5A



  1. I thought Shidos Palace lost a lot of its impact because they rushed it to fit within the OVA episodes time constraint. The Akechi scenes were much better ingame, especially his madness after being “defeated” for the first time and transforming into his second form. Shidos battle also looked low budget, especially the reliance on close ups and some of the art(Like his super buff form) looked so bad.

    I think they made a mistake not making these two palaces as movies.

    1. Also the thought of seeing(next episode) the Show Spoiler ▼

      on a TV budget makes me sad. No doubt it’ll look like ass compared to the game considering Cloverworks track record with the series.

    1. I had a quick check of the Shido calling card video from the game and it’s even worse than that for Ann. The gap is so huge lol.

      That was one of my fav parts from the game, it was basically the Phantom Thieves declaring that they’re coming for Shido, they didn’t care that the authorities knew who Joker was. It was personal. Can’t blame em though, what with Shido being a crooked politician and the mastermind behind all the murders. They had to do it to clear Jokers name.

  2. I really hate Shido’s palace in the game. Being turned into a mouse is one thing, having to play a small puzzle game is another.

    @Choya: I love Yoshitsune too!I used him to wreck Akechi and other bosses in the game.

    I’m excited to see Show Spoiler ▼

    in the next episode.

    1. Yeah I mean, at first it was fun being a mouse. Second, OK, but when they repeated it like ten times it became annoying. I found that was a recurring theme in the Palaces, it was like Atlus just doesn’t know when to stop. I hope with Persona 6 they’re more imaginative with their puzzles and don’t overuse the same thing.

    2. The mouse puzzles started out nicely, but by the time they started making you navigate through courtyards packed with enemies in mouse form, it got old pretty quickly. Funny enough, the permission slip thing was the most annoying aspect for me because they really made you go through hoops to get some of those permission slips especially from the guy in the restaurant, the guy that faked the Medjed site, and the cleaner. Fighting the cleaner and Akechi back-to-back also really sucked.

      Pretty pumped up about how they’ll do the last part and what they’d include in it. I might’ve sounded harsh in my write-up, but it was nice to see the little things they included like Kawakami’s massage and some of the more varied personas like Yoshitsune and Alice. Yoshi especially deserves his time in the spotlight for being one of the most valuable non-DLC personas in the game. Made life far easier with some of the palaces and Mementos.

  3. persona fights really dont translates well into anime, this is the case ever since I watched the persona 4 anime (I didnt watch the older spin off p3 anime so I dunno about that)

    1. I think the P5 anime was trying to remedy some of the problems they had with engaging persona fights from P4A by having the characters involved in tag-teaming and using unique personas like Carmen, Captain Kidd, and Johanna.

      But more often than not, there are alot of fights that just feel skippable in anime format because the fun is in actually playing it. I think the only fight that stuck out for me beforehand was the Kaneshiro one, and that was because it was the fight where they combined several All-Out-Attacks and introduced Johanna’s bike-fu into the fray.

      They should have given the personas more personality to work with like what they did with Alice, but it seems like a missed opportunity given how fun it was to see her face distort.

  4. I really never understood what there was to be sympathetic about with Akechi. He was a smarmy mook to the end who always came off fake and his big plan was to give the guy he hated everything he wanted. The he’d do a big reveal and Shido was supposed to… what? Acknowledge him? Yeah, cause mass murderers do that.

    Then the whole “Hey, isn’t he like us?” from the Thieves was completely undeserved to the point where I actually laughed during the game when Akechi got taken out by Shido’s cognition of him. I was glad he died because I didn’t want to have to suffer through a redemption arc for him.

    1. It was easy to tell that he’d always be against you from the start and that his kind demeanor was fake. Unlike Persona 4’s Naoto, who joins your party because she has a better understanding of what you’re fighting for in spite of her adversarial position, Akechi would always be heading an investigation directly against you and the Phantom Thieves, and any interactions he has with you would play out like a game of chess.

      Although his backstory is rough on him, I wouldn’t have expected Akechi to be seen as a sympathetic character. He spends most of his time in the game giving you his fake “charming” personality, and when that crumbles apart, he spends the last 1/4th is spent going bonkers as he brags about how he’ll murder you and your friends. The fact that he took delight in the fact that he killed Haru’s dad and Futaba’s mom as he made his way towards the ultimate goal of killing Shido at the height of his success was outright appalling. The logic also doesn’t compute as his insistence on helping Shido as part of his plot not only give Shido the power to dispose of him whenever, but his lack of trust in anybody pretty much solidifies the fact that he was going to dispose of Akechi far before his plan would be able to be accomplished.

      It did feel forced when the Phantom Thieves were trying to go for the “He’s not so different from us!” routine. Like, really Makoto? YOU’RE jealous of Akechi? The guy who we just duped after taking his deceptive efforts and turning it against him, all the while we played dumb to butter him up so he would take the bait? They never even gave Futaba a line about her mother, but we sure got a line about her trying to relate herself to Akechi because of her depression.

      You might like the same ice cream flavor as Charles Manson, but you don’t have to bend over backwards to explain why that makes Charles Manson not so different from the rest of us. If only Akechi just made some friends. Then he wouldn’t have mentally shutdown all of those people and cooked together a plan that would have never worked out if he had half the deduction skills to realize the guy who made you a bastard child would backstab you in a heartbeat.

      It would be a shame if they brought Akechi back for whatever’s planned in the horizon or tried to do the same crap they did with the Persona 4 killer by making him a loveable anti-hero even after he killed all those women and turned out to be an egotistical brat. His appearance in Dancing Star Night was rough enough, but it is a guilty pleasure because they went with the decision to have him start going psycho half-way through the song instead of him carrying through with his fakeness.

  5. During Akechi’s breakdown, I had to go check and confirm that he has the same VA as Keiichi, and for the rest of the scene I just imagined he was suffering from Hinamizawa syndrome.

    1. Not sure how the name “Dark Sun” ties into Persona 5, but it reminded me of Black Hole Sun so much that it wouldn’t have been the same if I didn’t add in a nod. Especially as someone big into Soundgarden. It was very shocking and upsetting to see what happened with Chris. The dude was a heck of a singer and still had alot of musical output in his later years. With Scott Weiland, it was sad because he was definitely facing off against his vices before he passed, but Chris was able to keep himself in control for the most part that it never seemed like his issues ruled over his life.

  6. https://randomc.net/image/Persona%205%20The%20Animation/Persona%205%20The%20Animation%20-%2027%20-%20Large%2028.jpg
    Status: Rattled.

    A shame they didn’t give a glimpse of the “Wings/Tomb of Human Sacrifice” among Shadow Shido’s multiple bossfight phases. (The Tomb has a fricking wave motion gun that can wipe your party if you’re not careful or haven’t fully leveled up Futaba’s Confidant.)

    Yoshitsune may be OP AF, but he’s pretty much necessary for Palace bosses and bonus bosses (Caroline and Justine would like to say hi).

    While I’m relieved that the Shido arc wasn’t condensed into a 30-minute episode, even the extended run time of nearly 52 minutes couldn’t save some stuff (the sub-boss fights especially) from being cut out or watered down. It would be awesome if Stars and Ours would be longer than 52 minutes considering what it’s supposed to cover from the game. (Mementos Depths, *major spoiler content*, and final boss fight.)

    As much as I’d love to see Stars and Ours in movie form, the budget required seems too costly and the risk of the movie flopping too high, as the only ones who’d be interested would be the anime-only watchers still trying to stick with it and those watching out of bile fascination. That said, I still hope Stars and Ours would be a good finale to the P5 anime, but I won’t be surprised if it ends up lackluster than the original game it’s supposed to promote.

    1. I really can’t see any Persona 5 movie flopping, what with the videogame entry outselling the other Persona games by quite a massive margin. With some effort they could have done the series justice by making a final entry to cover the games finale, but alas, they did not. When Cloverworks go cheap, they go shoddy.

    2. Sad that the “go to hell, Inari” exchange never got adapted as Yusuke kept making rat puns for the rattled section, but it’s not too much of a biggie.

      Can’t remember if I got him before or after Okumura’s palace, Yoshitsune is an absolute beast. Summoning him for New Game + absolutely wrecks every boss up until some of the later Mementos bosses.

      Stars and Ours could be a decent movie, but I think it’s too invested in being a chunk of P5’s endgame for casual viewers to get as many new viewers as the P3 movies did. Can’t vouch for how P4’s recap movie went though so it’d at least get the fans’ money.

      1. @but I think it’s too invested in being a chunk of P5′s endgame for casual viewers to get as many new viewers as the P3 movies did.

        The Persona 3 movies would have absolutely certainly had an audience that consisted of fans of the videogames, casual viewers would have been a minority. There’s no way anyone could do four separate movies and expect casuals to follow each one enough for them to be successful. And with that in mind Persona 5, being the most successful entry in the franchise would have done much better.

        The four Persona 3 movies also had no recap, they stopped and started at set points in the games story and did little to explain to newcomers who may have watched from the second, third, or fourth movie what happened in the previous movies. This again wouldn’t have prevented them from producing a Persona 5 wrap up movie.

        The Persona 5 anime also has covered the bulk of the story, so for any casuals they would have caught up to the point of the Mementoes finale. Though again, I suspect like with Persona 3 that most of the people watching have played the videogame.

  7. The good news is, they didn’t condense the final quarter of the story into 50 minutes, and there’s one more OVA to cover the rest. The bad news is, it was still rushed with the Akechi arc resolved in the first half and Shido’s battle lasting around 3 minutes!
    Close up shots were good but most of the scenes comprised of faraway shots of people standing around talking, with only their mouths animated.

    I did like how everyone attacked Shido with their Personas but Haru attacks him straight on with her axe!
    I thought it was hilarious how Joker just straight up shoots Akechi with his dual pistols.

    I thought the OVA would open with Akechi shooting Ren the face then showing the Phantom Thieves “reacting” to the news of his alleged suicide. Then it would cut to a triumphant Ren smirking in the empty interrogation room before rolling the Dark Sun intro.
    What we got instead was Sae dragging a drugged up and battered Ren back to Leblanc asking Sojiro to hide him. Not exactly victorious.

    I was also looking forward to Joker removing his mask and asking Shido if he remembered the “damn brat” whose life he ruined. But no, Shido just recognizes him, apparently from his expression.

    Honestly, it should have been an hour long. By the time Shido’s palace started collapsing, they had about 5 minutes to cram in escaping, Ryuji pulling the lever, getting into the lifeboat. and taking about 5 seconds to mourn Ryuji’s sacrifice before he suddenly pops up. While I’m glad it didn’t end with the girls beating the stuffing out of him, it still ended abruptly.

    Apparently, Kawakami’s confidant was covered in a Drama CD in one of the blu-ray’s.

    Yoshitsune DA MAN! NG+ confirmed!
    1. I don’t think that it’s been 100 percent confirmed that OVA2 is the final one. They never did say “Final Episode” just “Next Episode”. Sure story content would dictate that they’ll at least reach the final boss, but I wouldn’t put it past them to do an OVA3 to cover the aftermath. The epilogue is fairly long, though it was a long goodbye lol.

      1. Also remember the episode counter prior to the credits of each episode? If you look at the one at the end of Episode 25, you can clearly see “Episodes 26, 27, 28, 29” perhaps that’s what they meant.

      2. I suppose. But the anime’s schedule seems to follow the game’s story line – to begin the story in April and end in March.

        What would they call the 3rd OVA if they made one?
        I can’t think of a more conclusive title than naming it after the end credits song itself, albeit with a literal translation of “Hoshi to Bokura to”.

        Maybe that’s what Persona 5: R is about. jk jk

        Maybe the twist was the episode counter. lol
  8. I swear, this should have been in the original run…

    Seriously, it didn’t work with P4, so WHY are they doing it AGAIN?

    It’s almost like Atlus is applying its streaming policies, but to their own anime adaptation ¬_¬; , as in “we cannot show beyond this point”.

    1. No room on the TV schedule, anime shows generally get a timeslot and a number of weeks to air their run. Short of announcing another 10-13 to air at a different date(Which may conflict with the Cloverworks schedule for other shows they’re producing) they can’t do much more than this or make a movie.

  9. I wish they had time to animate the “Futaba explains” portion. We could have had a quick montage of the Thieves locating cognitive Akechi, who’s very polite and nice to them, and Queen punching him in the face then dumping him on another floor!

    One thing I still didn’t understand from the game and here(other than plot timing), was the time it takes for a cognition to disappear after you kill it. For example, when Ann slashed Kamoshida’s cognition of her, it disappeared immediately.
    Does it have something to do with the Palace ruler’s perception of people and reality?

    I just saw a screenshot on twitter showing Ryuji stuck in the bushes after they escape the sinking Ark. If only they just turned around! lol


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