This Week in Anime
The Lovable New Thieves of Persona 5 the Animation

by Michelle Liu & Steve Jones,

PERSONA 5 the Animation continues to expand its cast as it barrels through the dense content of its source JRPG. This week, Michelle and Steve discuss their favorite Phantom Thieves and the highs and lows of their ensuing adventures.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.





You can read our weekly coverage of Persona 5 the Animation here!

So Steve, I've been thinking about our usual screencap choices, and I realized we do a disservice to our fellow anime cheesecake-likers by putting so much emphasis on goofy faces over fanservice.

So without further ado, here's a naked butt.

This column has been canceled.

I imagine maids are more to your liking?

Oh, we'll get to that. Definitely. But in the meantime, it's been a couple months since we last checked in on our intrepid group of phantom thieves. And they've certainly been keeping busy!

Yup, between a exposing a plagiarizing artist, busting a crime boss, evading a boy genius detective, and most pressingly, surviving high school, our kiddos are going through a lot! The Phantom Thieves of Hearts have gotten people's attention, for better or for worse. And with their fame, they've brought to attention their version of justice.

Yeah, even for people unfamiliar with the game, the story's video-game-like structure should be apparent by now. the phantom thieves encounter someone with a corrupted desire. They figure out the circumstances of their crimes and the structure of their palace. They enlist the help of a victim and add them to their ranks. They have a super weird boss fight. Rinse and repeat.

It's formulaic as hell, but the show still manages to paint an interesting picture of youth rebellion, as teens call out the bullshit they see in the world and take it into their own hands to make things right.

At its core, Persona 5 is all about the fire and fury of misfit teens reckoning with the evils perpetrated by shitty adults, which is personally a riff I never get tired of hearing.

Of course, Persona 5 manages to jazz things up with its unique brand of JRPG excess, from the bizarre aesthetic of its Palaces to the scenery-chewing manifestations of adult pride and greed our heroes must fight.

The bosses in the Palaces are all pretty much Snidely Whiplash, it's great.

Not gonna lie, I forgot Kaneshiro turned into a rapping fly. That sure was something...

It was art.

I mean, we did learn all about art, thanks to everyone's favorite good art boy.

Speaking of whom, Yusuke's one of my favorite characters in our merry little band. He's dedicated to his work, always looking for ways to depict what he sees in himself and in others.

Like when he pulls inspiration from what he sees in Mementos - anger, ugliness, greed. But at the end of the day, he's a teenager who sees things in black and white (and red), so he has a lot of growing up to do.

Yusuke is one of my favorite characters in the game, and it sucks that he has one of the worst introductions, almost entirely thanks to this scene.

Like, Yusuke's a fun and interesting character, and he has some choice moments later in the story, but a significant part of his intro centers around him being creepy about wanting to paint Ann nude. And this comes directly after an arc about how horrific it was for Ann and her friends to be at the mercy of a lecherous teacher.

Persona 5 is Very Bad at handling its female characters, I won't deny that. Like thanks, I definitely needed a scene of Ann bathing for no reason.

I'm disappointed that the anime didn't take this opportunity to excise some of the really misguided elements of the game, because there's a lot of stuff that chips away at the strength of its core message. I was super upset they chose to include the needlessly homophobic scene with Ryuji, because there's literally no reason for it to be there. There's severe cognitive dissonance to a story about the ways in which society punishes misfits that also goes out of your way to mock gay people.

Blind faithfulness seems to be par for the course when it comes to video game adaptations, so I'm not surprised that happened, but it sucks nonetheless. Also, would it have killed them to make Yusuke a romance option? I mean COME ON, who sketches their best friend's butt in a church?

Just two guys posing in front of the Lord!

Yusuke's date with Ren is the closest we get to acknowledging this ship, unfortunately. It's so good tho.

One thing I will commend the anime for is that it's been weaving Akechi into the story more tightly from the beginning, and that's been working out well.

Akechi makes a nice foil to the Phantom Thieves, Ren especially, so it's awesome that he's been a consistent (ish) presence in the show and not just dropped in halfway through. He's the guy who works mostly within the bounds of the law, while Ren and friends operate at their own personal discretion.

Every phantom thief must have a homoerotically charged relationship with their rival detective.

Somehow I don't think that relationship would work out. Goro's is a face that says "i see what u mean but nah man u cray".

They have a thorny game of cat and mouse ahead of them, but we can hope that maybe one day they'll be able to settle down and enjoy pancakes together.

And while we're on the subject of subterfuge, Makoto is trying her best.

She is! Even when she's not sure what she's even working toward. Adulthood is scary for her too, albeit in a somewhat different way than for Ryuji or Ann.

Her arc during the Kaneshiro chapter is one of my favorite parts of the game. It's a familiar story, sure, of the girl who's expected to be the model student and nothing more in the eyes of society. But it's told and executed so satisfyingly. You feel Makoto's frustrations, and when she finally puts her foot down, it feels amazing.

And whereas the other characters have some back-and-forth with their Personas, Makoto doesn't hesitate to call hers. (I also love that she was ready to throw hands even before she got her magic JRPG powers.)

She's extremely good, I 100% wholeheartedly agree. That confidence was always in her; it just took a little nudge to get her to own it.

And boy does she own it.

Can I get a "yass queen"? 'Cause YASS QUEEN.

Not everyone can pull off the Mad Max biker riding a lady motorcycle look, but Makoto definitely earns her title.

If that's the level of extra it takes for her to realize what she wants, then all the power to her.

Keep in mind that Persona 5 is a 100+ hour game, so there's a ton of content that will never going to make it into the anime, but I think it's done a pretty good job focusing on the important stuff, like Ryuji's relationship with the track team, Yusuke's struggles with his art...

...and of course, Becky.

Becky is important because she makes Blankstare-kun nervous, which is a very good look on him.

Kawakami is important as the premier example of an adult who's also worn down by the system, constantly tired and having to work multiple demeaning jobs in order to make ends meet. She's that millennial representation we crave.

It'd be great if she weren't also a potential love interest for Ren, considering the whole Kamoshida arc. As much as I enjoy her presence, it is irresponsible to have that as an option.

It's SUPER messed up, but at the same time, you develop your relationship with her as a player by paying her money to do chores for you, which is maybe the most depraved thing I've ever done in a video game, and I loved every moment. I mean, it's severe cognitive dissonance, but this is one instance where I simply just have to embrace my most problematic urges. Thankfully, the anime will sidestep the whole "Ren can date her" thing, which is for the best.

Thankfully, this adaptation does retain the best dialogue choice in the entire game.

Excellent taste.

As long as the anime continues to give me tired/flustered/unamused Kawakami faces, I'll be content. They are my definition of Big Mood.

I'd classify her more under Wife City, but fair.

Big Mood is but a district in my Wife City. But anyway, Persona 5's anime is half over, and there's still a lot of ground left to cover with not much time left to cover it. My favorite Palace is coming up next, so I'm excited for that!

I for one am looking forward to more of Akechi and Ren's totally-not-dates, because I'm filthy fujo trash who's more interested in seeing the characters faff about than beat more JRPG bosses.

Yeah, the anime hasn't been the slam dunk adaptation that fixes all of the game's problems that I hoped in my heart of hearts it would be. But it's still pretty good, and it still understands the core strengths of Persona 5.

The kids are our future, and while the world may be a fuck, we gotta let them do their thing and make it slightly less of a fuck.

The kids, and one very moe cat.

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