Well, I’ve got another article and it’s NOT a Fist of The Blue Sky/North Star review! This time I’m taking a crack at looking over this insane trip that is Persona 5. Evidently it’s different from the game, but only in a few parts where the flow and drive of the anime would be otherwise hampered or just make no sense. Not that some parts of the show make sense. Or really many parts for that matter. For those of you who have never watched or played a Persona show/game, welcome to the club and I for one am enjoying myself so far.
We start out with the cut scene from the game with our Phantom Thieves roaming around a casino and causing some havoc, with what appears to be the leader of the group being captured by the police. His “interrogation” is less “interrogation” and more Guantanamo Bay beat down, with police officers viciously beating around a kid who we find out is named Ren Amamiya, code name “Joker”. While he was worked over and constantly threatened by some unnamed bad cops, we then see Sae Nijima enter, the good cop and interrogator who DOESN’T beat the daylights out of the kid to serve as an inquisitive counterpoint to the narrative. We then time jump about 6 months prior to when Ren just started school in Tokyo after an altercation left him on probation for a year. We are then introduced to his fellow students, Ryuji Sakamoto and Ann Takamaki, and ringer for dickbag of the year and overall creepy example of that guy, Suguru Kamoshida scumbag PE Teacher extraordinaire. After saying a few random words with a mysterious app open, Ren and Ryuji head off to school and find themselves in a strange castle where they encounter and are imprisoned by a creepier voiced, yellow eyed version of Kamoshida. This Kamoshida declares them heretics and sentences them to death, and while Ryuji is about to gain a few new holes, Ren seems to snap and then obtains a wardrobe change and a Persona, or physical manifestation of his inner psyche.
After a brief fight, our lads run off and eventually escape the castle finding themselves outside the school proper and being berated by the IRL Kamoshida for being late. Boring exposition later, and more moments of Kamoshida being a dickbag pop up, and we find out that everyone seems to hate/fear him because beyond being a bully, the man also has a horrid habit of physically assaulting the students. He then aims to ruin Ren’s life by having his criminal history pop up and we have implications that beautiful blonde Takamaki is shacking up with the dirty bastard. One super detailed Grape Drank later, we have them once again explore the castle and find cat-not cat Morgana who is simply adorable, and Ryuji finds that he too has a Persona.
Episode 3 has a bunch of moments where they explain how Kamoshida’s influence in the school has been gradually growing with his leadership bringing and driving the track team towards nationals, giving off an oddly Glee like feel for these people’s priorities. That aside, Takamaki is then revealed to be being blackmailed by Kamoshida in exchange for keeping her one and only friend as a starter for the track team. When she finally tells Kamoshida “no” after telling her to go to his apartment, Shiho is booted from the team and opts to take the express elevator off the roof of the school, finding herself in a coma. Kamoshida then pulls some crazy shit and threatens to have Ren, Ryuji, and Kamoshida’s little errand punk Yuuki expelled and maniacally laughs it off. At this point I would like to mention that Morgana has approached them IRL and given them an explanation that they could change Kamoshida from being a piece of shit, but at the worst-case scenario of him dying, to which I yelled “THAT’S THE WORST CASE? THEN DO IT!”
Jumping back into the castle, Ren and Ryuji also drag along Takamaki unknowingly and then proceed to infiltrate the castle and find the place where his Treasure was stored. Takamaki was then captured and before being summarily executed, she is motivated to strike back against Kamoshida and unlocks her own Persona. Thus begins the adventures and thefts of the Phantom Thieves. Beyond all this, the show has set itself up as a fun and random time and I’m looking forward to watching this and then playing the game in a few weeks. The audio and music are fantastic, with a catchy jazz theme underlying everything and the VA’s being great, with Kamoshida having the most punchable voice you’d ever heard. Art-wise, I love the coloring, style, character design, and the thief costumes, especially Ann’s. Beyond all else, the combo attack animation makes me genuinely forget I’m not playing the game from how cinematic it is at times. I’m definitely going to continue watching the show and am curious how they’re going to jam pack all this content from the game into the show’s time constraints. Let me know what you think and if you are enjoying the show or disgusted that they take some minor liberties to change things for the sake of the show’s flow!