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« Persona 5 the Animation – OVA – 01

Persona 5 the Animation – OVA – 02 (END)

「Stars and Ours」

And so, our Phantom Thieves finally reached the end of the game, where they must change the cognitive distortion of society itself in order to free the people of Tokyo from resigning to a state of apathy. While there were some exclusions from the episode such as learning directly from Kamoshida, Madarame, and Kaneshiro that having their hearts stolen made them give up on thinking for themselves all-together, the last OVA faithfully captures the Phantom Thieves’ final battle against the malevolent deity, Yaldabaoth.

To be frank, it was a little disappointing that the game’s final hand was to have the Phantom Thieves’ ultimate gambit be to use the power of their bonds to reinvigorate public opinion and force society as a whole to reform. After Persona 4, especially after Arena Ultimax, it was easy to get burnt out about the idea of another fight where friendship and courage save the day from a reality-destroying deity. What the series’ fifth installment added didn’t change this formula much other than the added twist of trying to wake up the sheeple. It’s one of those things, along with the “rotten adults” angle that did feel like I was getting too old for these Rated M games. But while it can get overbearing at times, the edginess and youthful spirit of Persona 5 does allow for the dive through Mementos Depths to have some fun twists along the way. For instance, the final boss fight against Yaldabaoth is defeated when Arsene evolves into Satanael, a massive persona that uses its gun to shoot Yaldabaoth in the face. For the goofiness that tends to come from using the power of good to conquer evil, the last section at least skips the pretense of being taken too seriously by giving us the ability to shoot the final boss with a big pistol. It also hits at that tender side with how your friends come together to support you. Seeing Mishima go from a coward to a keyboard warrior on a power trip to the one powerless friend willing to fight for you both in Mementos Depths and in juvie is inspiring. It isn’t explored as much in the anime, but Kawakami going from resenting your presence as a delinquent to making sure she can do whatever it takes to help cover for you and support you from the sidelines shares that same distinction.

While Akechi’s identity as the traitor was a surprise, the main twist is far more of a jaw-dropper with Igor being a fake. It was a reveal that many could have only noticed in hindsight since some would have believed that his voice only changed to honor the late Tanonaka Isamu and there would be no way for new players or anime viewers to know that he is never seen doing any of the fusions himself like in past games. It was a startling twist, however, to see that the Igor that you’ve been following the whole time was a fake who imprisoned the real Igor and split his current assistant Lavenza into the two girls that became Caroline and Justine. It was a clever way of diverting attention away from the Velvet Room’s grand secrets by having much of the plot occur in the outside world with the story’s scarier villains being scumbags in the real world. That way, details the Velvet Room and the grand ploy Yaldabaoth made to have Ren and Akechi compete with each other in a rigged supernatural battle for supremacy would only surface when the situation comes full circle when the stage is set for Mementos as the Phantom Thieves’ final target.

The final months of the game after they defeat Yaldabaoth is where the OVA drops the ball. Because they opted to take on Ren’s point-of-view, they just show him immediately take Sae’s offer to turn himself in and use his time in the Velvet Room to time-skip towards his release. This leaves out much of the remaining Phantom Thieves’ involvement in trying to gather info for Ren, the impact that came from Morgana’s presumed death, and the dedication that the remaining confidants, especially Mishima, had in trying to get Ren freed from juvie. They were also limited from being able to depict some of the key farewells, Ren going in to see both Morgana and his friends again, and the latter part of Ren’s drive back to his house where they take the highway towards a vacation spot where they can spend time before they give him one last send-off. It’s easy to understand why everything didn’t make it, but it does reflect on the anime as a whole with how disappointing it has been in showing just how strong his bond is with his friends and other confidants.

Epilogue:

Final Impressions

Persona 5 the Animation has had quite the rocky road. Between the severe drops in animation quality, plot changes that elevate Ren’s involvement with Akechi at the cost of character development for Yusuke, Sojiro, and Futaba, the lack of any real connection that Ren has with any of the confidants, shoving stronger confidant stories like Kawakami’s, Takemi’s, and Iwai’s onto Drama CDs, and putting the actual end of the game in two OVA installments, there are several flaws and missed opportunities that make the anime hard to recommend. While the anime had moments where it stepped up to the plate and improve in quality, the poor job they did with Kamoshida’s palace ended up defining the public opinion of how Persona 5 the Animation would turn out. It was unfortunate that my last final impression back when the final episode of the TV anime aired was steeped in animosity because of their decision to end it at Akechi’s traitor reveal, but it’s hard to justify pulling the show off the air so quickly just because it’d be easier to air two hour-long OVAs than make four episodes and possibly some more to help give Ren more time with his confidants.

That being said, I did prefer it to Persona 4 THE ANIMATION because it stayed consistent with the game’s tone. Whereas P4‘s anime tended to get too overly comedic to get the general tone of the game, this anime does put in the effort to make sure that they are able to capture the game’s story without adding any unnecessary details or tonal shifts. In fact, the anime is actually great with the material it does add as it fleshes out details that are otherwise missed or neglected in the game. Events like the Summer vacation and Hawaii trip give far more of an impression that Ren and his friends are generally very cool with each other, enough so that they would personally hang out with one another even if they weren’t going to Mementos or palaces. It’s weird to say, but Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is amazing because it builds on this and makes it so that the characters have more time interacting with not just Joker, but themselves as well (the moment when Joker convinces Makoto to spar with Yusuke was outright hilarious). While the anime doesn’t go as far, it does give them far more to work with in the sense of giving a positive impression of what their friendship looks like.

Again, it’s hard to recommend the anime considering that there is too much that needed to be there that was either left out, skimmed through, or botched. It gives a good summarization of the game’s plot though and does a decent job at giving the Phantom Thieves more of a connection with each other. If you want the full story behind Persona 5, I’d point towards getting the game or watching a “Let’s Play”. But if you want to give the anime a shot to see scenes from the game come to life, it’d be worth watching to compare and contrast how it fares with your experiences of the game. There’s a holiday episode coming up that encapsulates the magical time of Valentines Day (“Hooooooooo boy!”), but until then, we’ve got Persona 5 Royal to get excited about.

March 27, 2019 at 4:42 pm
11 comments »
  • March 27, 2019 at 5:00 pmDorian S.

    Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be excited or hyped for a Persona 6 anime. I’d just skip it and stick to the games or Let’s Play, like you say we should.

  • March 27, 2019 at 5:39 pmLyfe

    Skipping through the second Grail battle was probably the best thing they did in this adaptation. The battle itself was largely pointless and only showed that the inhabitants of the mementoes Palace were the ones supporting it with energy(Which had to be cut to win). The CG Satanael also wasn’t that bad either, I was concerned with how awful the Shido battle looked in the previous episode that this one would look like ass.

    Overall I think this was one of the better episodes the studio has done. Though I remember the group being way outside of the city in their journey to take Joker home in the game.

    • March 27, 2019 at 5:45 pmLyfe

      Its been a while since I last played the game but if I remember right Joker didn’t want to fight Caroline & Justine as he knew they didn’t want to fight him either. It was a risky move as they could have killed him.

  • March 28, 2019 at 2:41 amyoloalchemist

    At least this provided a tiny hint that Ren may be back at Tokyo after a while instead of just leaving all the friends he made behind. I’ll take that over the game, even if I won’t take anything else from this. Now about that P5R….I’m the farthest anyone can be from commiting to nearly 120 hours of gameplay all over again :’(

    • March 28, 2019 at 4:04 amAex

      The game also hinted that he’d be back in Tokyo during school breaks through in-game conversations, but he wants to do his final year of highschool at home to see what happens. Which I can understand since even if they did basically dump him, he still cares about his parents.

      • March 28, 2019 at 5:46 amLyfe

        To be fair they did the same with P4. It’s just the game saying he made some close bonds, bonds he won’t give up on so easily. They’re hardly going to have him just say bye guys and never come back lol.

    • March 28, 2019 at 5:45 amLyfe

      I really doubt Persona 5R is anything more than an extra dungeon and story scenes like P4G. They wouldn’t change the main story beyond anything cosmetic just to fit another character into it.

  • March 28, 2019 at 4:12 amChris hall

  • March 28, 2019 at 10:09 amStars and Ours could’ve used an extra 10 or 20 minutes

    And that was P5A: the speed run (NG+)
    Once again, rushed pacing but at least the art was more decent than the first OVA.
    Now we know what the budget went into: smug Morgana faces and Satanael.

    I did like that Jun Fukuyama delivered a stronger performance for Joker’s Ultimate Persona Awakening from his determined grunt when he broke the chains to “Pillage him!”.

    Once again, they used “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There” in the oddest place for an insert song. I’d preferred “Swear to My Bones” when the Phantom Thieves find their resolve (even though it was just basically a reiteration of their initial awakening instead of giving a mini-speech of how far they’ve come).
    I thought since they skipped Joker pep talking his teammates out of their prisons and instead pep talked them as a group, they’d regain their “will of the rebellion” and awaken to a stronger power.
    But no, no Ultimate Personas except for Joker. :/

    Then they gloss over some of the most emotional parts in the story – all the efforts the confidants put forth, pleading for Ren’s innocence and just had Sojiro summarize what everyone did while Ren was in juvie.

    I figured they’d end it there but I was kind of hoping they’d make it to the ocean.

  • March 28, 2019 at 10:37 amFlaming Hat

    Never Take Your Heart – wut?

    Oh I get it, that’s what happened when they produced this slip-shod, soulless, cash-grab of an anime.
    =_=

    I actually cheered when he defied Igor and fused the twins mostly because we finally see Ren exert his own will (what little personality he showed in the anime, pretty much got shoved into the Drama CD’s). I also like that when Morgana blamed himself, Ren spoke up, telling him it’s not his fault before they both disappeared.

    If the V-Day special turns out to be as hilarious as Carnival Phantasm’s super special awesome date plan, then at least there will be one episode done right. At the same time I’m kind of hoping it’s a heartwarming and comedic story of the Phantom Thief ladies making chocolates for the guys.

    Seriously, go check out the Summer Diaries Drama CD. Ren hamming it up as Neo Featherman Black is the best thing ever!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlfzdQn-R7A

  • March 28, 2019 at 12:15 pmRAMN

    I thought it was sweet that Ren and Makoto shake hands. I thought she was handing him his farewell present but the handshake was a nice way to show the bond between leader and co-leader. Too bad they didn’t show him saying goodbye to Lavenza.
    I also like that they added a line for Ren mentioning he needed to “talk things out with them”, presumably his parents.

    Sadly, if you didn’t play the game, there’s no real emotional connection the farewell montage even as “Hoshi to Bokura to” plays sweetly overhead. Especially since I don’t think they mentioned Ren was going back home so it felt more like he was thanking all his confidants. You get the feeling that the things they show were included simply because they were in the game. Like when they showed all the souvenirs on the display shelf I thought “Gee, if only they spent some time showing some confident-bonding scenes instead of rushing through the plot.”

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