This week is Ann’s reveal, as well as the group securing the infiltration route to the treasure; the source of twisted desire that causes a palace to form. In the real world, Ann is suffering mentally from the attentions of Kamoshida while her friend Suzui is forced to suffer physical abuses from Kamoshida’s frustration at Ann. Ann becomes involved when she unwittingly is pulled into the metaverse and captured by Shadow Kamoshida. Because of some choice words from Amamiya, she is able to awaken to her persona, Carmen.
This episode featured a lot of the heavy elements from the game. The perverse nature of Kamoshida, the quiet suffering of both girls, as well as the eventual mental collapse of Suzui. From what I remembered of the game, this section had a flurry of text scenes to explain the full situation of what was going on. Both due to cut scenes and from the game having you speak with various NPCs. So why then did the series not spend as much time explaining this like the game did? Well that’s simple, the anime could show the characters doing all of that without speaking a single line.
Take for instance the scene where Ann is asked to go home from her photo shoot assignment. Granted, this wasn’t in the game but is a good addition to the series. It only lasts for a moment but they are able to convey that she is distracted before the story points it out. In addition, the scene with Shadow Kamoshida, granted at this point we’re fairly aware of his depravity but the story goes a little bit further to showing it off. Right before he uses the sword to begin cutting her shirt, we get a close up of his lips. Normally, this would be nothing more than a trope, but the show steps it up by leaving a visible line of spit on his upper lip. A great choice here, since it definitely helps to deliver a feeling of actual disgust rather than a societal disgust at his actions.
Here’s something else as well. When I played through the game, I assumed that during this stage of the game that the main character was either just trying to be supportive of the people he’s interacted with. Or at the very least that he was just trying to keep them from giving up. But there is a single scene that actually changed my thinking on this. As Ann is about to give up, Amamiya shouts some defiant lines so that Ann won’t just let Kamoshida get away with what he’s done in the real world. This sparks her awakening, but while Morgana and Ryuji look on in wonder, Amamiya actually has a curtailed smile on his face. I took this to mean that after he saw how to awaken Ryuji’s persona by accident the last time, he’s actually gone out of his way this episode to make her awaken as well. So what does this mean, and why does it matter? Because during the questioning sections I always assumed that Amamiya was a complete white hat especially after what I learned later in the game. But this shines a new light on him, and all without a single word of dialogue needing to be said.
Overall I feel like the episode suffered a little disruption from pacing. Due in part because there was a lot of heavy elements that needed to be tackled as well as the inclusion of a second fight. For my thoughts on the choices made for the fights you can read about them here. I’m still finding great enjoyment in the series, and if the final scene after the credits is anything to go by, we’re getting into the first boss fight of the game/series next week.