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Chapter 38: 5/25: Bonfire Of The Vanities (New)

This update contains content from Parts 38 and 39 of the original LP.

The preparations have been made.

Early Morning

Music: Beneath the Mask (Instrumental Version)

It appears you’re lying low lately. What’s with the change?

Really… Is it just my imagination then? Anyhow… I wish the culprit would come forward soon… It’s absurd to pretend I can do the police’s job… I wish he considered my feelings before asking me this.

…Should you be telling me this?

Early Morning → After School

(to crowd) Please excuse me for a moment.

Ooh, a fan letter. Love reading these!

It’s… uh…

Music: Disquiet

“You are an artist who uses his authority to shamelessly steal the ideas of his pupils. We have decided to make you confess all your crimes with your own mouth. We will take your distorted desires without fail. From, #Millennials…”
(crumpling up calling card) Whose doing is this!?

I mean, it sounds exactly like something Yusuke would write, and he did just find out about about my terrible secret the other day, but naaaaaaah, couldn’t be…

We don’t know! The same letter has been posted everywhere…
What about the security cameras!?
There were no signs of the culprit… All we saw was a cat in the recordings…
Remove these at once!
Of course! Um…
…What now!?
It’s about this affecting the exhibit… We believe it’s just a prank, but what of the mass media?
Are you insinuating that this slander is true?
Of course not!

It’s those damn brats’ doing, isn’t it? Well, it means nothing… They’ll only be able to do as they please until this exhibit is over…

Yup! It was perfect! The composition was way cooler too!

I understand the urge to witness Madarame lose his shit, but why did we have to come here in person? If he noticed any of us we’d be beyond fucked.

The Treasure should appear right about now.
You better enjoy the air of freedom while you still can, old man. Anyways, d’you guys check online? People are already talkin’ about that callin’ card.

Course, none of ‘em have any idea what it means, but still!

We’ll show ‘em… We’re gonna suprise ‘em all!
I’m sure you know, but we only get one shot to pull this off!

You’re right, we did know that.

It’ll be fine. We managed last time too.
You have no reservations about this either, right, Yusuke?
Of course not. …We’ll do this.

Music: Life Will Change (Instrumental Version)

I mean, we did basically declare war on him by sendin’ that card.
But there’s nothing to fear. We’ve secured a route, and we’re ready to go. We’ll take the Treasure in style!

We’ll be going with the bros for this boss fight. Sorry Panther, but the boss gimmicks coming up just reward a party composition of Skull, Mona, and Fox.

Thankfully, they get rid of the enemy encounters here between the last safe room and the room with the winch controls. Let’s execute the plan.

I mean, we’ve done a ton in here. It ain’t surprisin’. Anyway, I’m gonna try and draw it out, so I’ll leave the switch to you guys.
Will you be okay? What if it catches up to you?
Heh, don’t underestimate an ex-runner. I’m definitely gonna shake it off!

There’s Skull’s distraction to get Panther into the main control room…

Yeah, it’s perfect!
You seem to be enjoying this.
Only the best can appreciate these critical moments. Plus, this feels like we’re really phantom thieves!

Do “real phantom thieves” get strapped to hooks often? This feels rather undignified…
Well… Oh, shut up.

We’ll be counting on you, Mona. And Panther as well!

Good luck, everyone! Let’s do this! *turns off lights*

Joker pulls the switch…

And Mona grabs the Treasure.

“Don’t underestimate an ex-runner,” huh?
Shut it, I’ve been rusty and my leg’s still not totally healed!

That was amazin’, Mona!

I *knew* putting that retractable hook directly above the convenient hole in my laser grid was a bad idea!

Ngh… How dare those vermin… But now we’ll corner them like the rats they are! Lock all the doors at once! They have nowhere to run!

We can look into that later. For now, we must escape.
Yeah, it’s time to go!

Well, let’s make our way over to the window to escape.

What’re you doing!? We have to hurry or—

Shut up, Mona, I’ve played this game before and I know the way to go!

(Security Guard Shadow) There! The trespasser’s up there! Lock down the control room and get them!
Wh-Wh-What do we do!? They’re already here!
There’s no time to contemplate. We must escape—now!

Still love Mona having the painting strapped to him for this short sequence.

But at least we’re outside! Is there a way down out here!?

We don’t have time to lose. Just go through it! Now’s our chance!

Yeah, it’s… probably the right way. Maybe.

For real!? But… I guess there’s no other way!

I knew it! All that security would’ve been meaningless if it just led back inside!

What? How do you figure that? The passage we just went through wasn’t even secured!

It seems we managed to escape their siege.
Mrrrr… Meowww…
Dude… Why’s Mona gettin’ excited now of all times…?

You know, in retrospect we probably should have let Yusuke hold the Treasure instead of the mysterious cat being that reacts to shiny things like catnip.


Music: Tension

THIS is the Treasure!?

So, this face is known as the “Henohenomoheji” and is comprised of several hiaragana characters. It’s typically drawn by schoolchildren. Here’s a post by ChaosArgate from the old thread explaining it better than I can:

Here’s another, for reference:

The general gist of the face’s inclusion here is basically that the fake Treasure represent’s Madarame’s true skills or whatever, and is thus this crude face typically drawn by literal schoolchildren. While doing some light research on the face for this bit, I actually found more than one comparison between it and the “Cool S” phenomenon here in the west. So that’s dumb. I also learned that the “Cool S” has its own Wikipedia page.

Wait, what was I talking about?

Get back!

Still impressed by everyone’s miraculous ability to jump like twelve feet backwards in a single second at the drop of a hat and still land on their feet.

…I just realized I completely voided the purpose of luring you with a fake painting by bringing the real one here. Shit.

So you had a fake prepped, huh!?
Counterfeits are accepted in the world of Japanese art.

That’s not really a “counterfeit,” though. It’s just a different painting.

What made you change like this!? Is it because you became famous!? Can’t you understand how much it pains me to inquire about the crimes of my foster father!?

Feh. Looking back, I only took you in at all because of my association with your mother.
You fiend!
Not like that, relax. She just had an incredible passion and talent, even after her husband died. I recognized that, so I decided to look after her. Your mother and her artwork were all my creations! They belong to me!

How low can you sink?
I suppose I can grant you a gift before you die—a glimpse of the genuine “Sayuri”…!

That’s… the real “Sayuri”? This can’t be! Mom…

What a twist!
Yes, your mother painted this as a self-portrait. She knew she would die soon and left this painting as her last wishes for her son. That is the truth behind the mystery of “Sayuri”’s expression!

You stole something THAT personal!?

I knew right away that with a minor adjustment this painting would be a massive success for me.

But the baby in the picture… Why did you paint over it?
…It was all to stage it. If the babe is erased, the reason for the woman’s expression will become a mystery! That is what the general public is drawn to! Each of those parasitic critics wrote the same thing!

Now, I don’t really “get” art to be honest, but “this woman is happy” doesn’t actually seem that interesting a mystery.
And you know, now that I look at the real thing it’s kind of absurd that people were so into a painting where the entire lower third has been blatantly painted over with an ugly cloud of purple miasma. Uh, no offense, Fox.

I always felt something was off about all this… Now I know what it is. If you really treasured that painting, you wouldn’t even think about replicating it for profit! You don’t love art at all!
Though you have a real Treasure, your true skills are nothing more than those scribbles on that fake!
It makes me laugh, asshole!
So you’ll defy me no matter what… Well then, since you’re my work of art, Yusuke, I’m going to reap you for the sake of my future. …Along with those insolent friends of your there.
I can’t believe you’re treating both mother and son like they’re objects… You’re inhuman!
I’ve heard that you destroy your “art” once they outlive their usefulness… Did that include my mother as well?

Music: Blood of Villain

Oh, shit.

I didn’t *not* kill her, I guess… But c’mon, she had a seizure, and what was I supposed to do? Call for help? But then I wouldn’t get her painting! Besides, she was frail. Probably woulda made it a couple more years at most. So… you get it, right? We’re cool?
You utter bastard…
Hey, that’s no way to talk to the man who looked after you for over a decade! Mostly just to keep you from realizing I stole your mother’s painting, but still!
Wait, how does that work? You took him in, ensuring he would constantly be in the shadow of and thinking about that painting, so he wouldn’t realize it was a portrait of his mother? What?

All right everyone, it’s time for a good old Arist Rant™!

More than any other Shadow in the game, Shadow Madarame’s version of events feels… weirdly unreliable? Like, his explanations don’t stand up to basic scrutiny, introduce more questions than they answer, conflate or reverse cause and effect, and generally don’t make a lot of sense when you compare them to other Shadows in the game. Then you introduce aspects like Rank 10 of the Emperor Confidant where Madarame was legitimately concerned at one point for Yusuke’s wellbeing (which still feels bizarre given everything else we see here), and it almost feels like the game wants you to doubt what parts of this are true? Like, maybe Madarame didn’t actually witness and fail to prevent the death of Yusuke’s mother, but neglected her out of jealousy and indirectly caused it? Or the selfish rationale for taking in Yusuke is a fabrication of his Shadow, created out of feelings of guilt about his mother’s death?

The problem isn’t that this can’t be the case, it’s that the game provides no framework whatsoever to evaluate what Shadow Madarame is saying as true or false. This isn’t Persona 4, where the claims of Shadows are extremely often fabricated from the dark corners of the psyche where self-doubt resides and thrives. In that game, Shadows were your fears about yourself. But in this game, Shadows (with the notable exception of Futaba’s) are just the awful person you are, with no real attempt made to challenge their claims (which, granted, is in part because the “real” versions of these characters are not here to defend themselves like in P4, but also because P5 is just categorically uninterested in their apologia). For all intents and purposes, the Shadow’s telling is real, even as it’s dialed up to eleven to make their real self look as diabolical as possible. The way the two games portray Shadows is just too disparate to be a real help here.

And the one opportunity you’d think would be there for the “truth” to come out, Shadow Madarame’s “regret” scene, doesn’t end up doing this at all and is instead mostly about Akechi skulking about in his brain. It’s not that Shadow Madarame being some big evil bastard is some problem that needs to be fixed, but his actions just fundamentally don’t make sense to me and attempts to solve that problem by treating his story as unreliable aren’t supported by the rest of the game’s portrayal of its version of Shadows, and so we’re forced to go with the much simpler and more consistent answer that everything he’s saying is supposed to be true, even as it fails to make sense.

That said, I feel like if the game actually tried to approach Madarame’s character in a way that was consistent with this unreliability it could have made the character much more interesting. I’m not generally a guy who likes to do the “this is how I would armchair fix this story” thing, but if we could get Madarame as a person who accidentally drove someone to her death out of jealousy then adopted her son as penance, but who also committed further evils like plagiarism and abuse because he feels he’s already beyond redemption, then that added layer of complexity feels like a dramatic improvement over his bleh depiction in the final game without really changing much about the actual events of this backstory. Hell, you could just add it all into the “regret” scene after the boss fight and make all that information retrograde and it wouldn’t be great but it would be something, you know? Whatever.

But that’s my four-paragraph, six hundred-word rant about how the least interesting boss in Persona 5 doesn’t make sense to me. We now resume your regularly scheduled villainy.

You killed her…!
The artistic talents you inherited from your mother were a delightful miscalculation, though. If I’m to steal ideas, it’s much easier robbing the future of brats who won’t talk back than adults. It’s thanks to you that I came up with the idea. You have my gratitude.
I thank you Madarame! Every reason for me to forgive you has disappeared without a trace at this very moment! You aren’t some rotten artist… You’re a despicable fiend who wears the skin of an artist!
All you good-for-nothings…! Barging into my museum and doing whatever the hell you want… Those who have the connections make the rules; those who don’t, follow them. Not to mention, the value of all art is subjective! I make the rules in the art scene! I am the supreme being! I am the god of the art world!
This isn’t good. Get back!

Music: Blooming Villain

Video: Ichiryusai Azazel Madarame

You used others for your own despicable desires, Madarame… You aren’t even worth the art you “create”!

As in the original, we start with The Painter’s Face. We’re not using anything that Resists Physical, which may make this beginning of the fight a little more annoying. As mentioned before, for this fight we’ll be using Skull, Mona, and Fox, and Joker’s Personas Ippon-Datara and Nekomata. We’re not in the stage of the fight where composition matters too much, but I’ll get into why we’re using this party when it becomes relevant.

Quick refresher from the old LP on the way The Painter’s Face works, because it’s mostly the same as in the original:


Each part of the face is a different target with a different HP bar. Unfortunately, they also each have different elemental affinities, as can be seen here. The mouth absorbs Physical and is vulnerable to magic, and vice versa for the eyes. The nose absorbs nothing, because it sucks.


Another annoying aspect of them each being separate is that they each get their own turn. The eyes go first, in between some of our party members, followed by the nose and mouth when the cycle completes. The Right Eye (our left) uses single-target Fire, Electricity, and Ice attacks, while the Left Eye uses Tarukaja on the mouth and Rakunda on the party. Not bringing a Persona with buffs or Ann’s Dekaja, and the fact that we haven’t even seen a Persona with Dekunda (neutralizes debuffs on the party), all compound to make this rather annoying to keep up with, especially if it targets Morgana, who’s rather squishy.

For the record, I was a little wrong about the nose: it does absorb Nuclear, Psychokinesis, Curse, and Bless, but you’re not likely to have much access to those skills at this point so eh. The eyes also only absorb Fire, Ice, Electricity, and Wind, not all magic.

Here, I forget that the eyes absorb magic and use Bufu on one as Fox. One thing we have now that we didn’t have in the original, though, is Skull’s Rampage, which we were too low a level to have access to. Now, he can do solid multi-hit damage to everything at once except the mouth.

Ippon-Datara’s Sledgehammer is a great tool for getting rid of the eyes quickly. The eyes should really be our top priority here, because while the mouth is dealing a lot of the real damage, we can attack the eyes and the nose at the same time with Physical. The problem is that this will heal the mouth, so we need to save it for last.

Also, that Right Eye doesn’t fuck around. It’s the only method the boss has right now of hitting weaknesses, so we need to be careful. Well, actually, the nose can also hit Skull’s Wind weakness, but the nose is a fucking chump that spends its one active turn “twitching” to prepare for attacks it never actually gets to use because we kill it too quickly. It might have gotten to use Dust Flurry to hit everyone with Wind if it had survived another turn, but it didn’t.

As before, the Left Eye buffs and debuffs.

We take the eyes and nose down pretty quickly.

Dammit… Those things can come back if we don’t take them down at once!?

The portrait components seem to have reduced health as well, considering they heal for slightly less when they’re restored (62 HP vs. 75, both of which are presumably 25%).

The last change to the way this phase works also means the nose doesn’t really get a chance to do anything, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

There has to be more than just our color changing! We should be cautious!

I leave the Right Eye alone for a second while I debuff the mouth’s Defense and it uses The Artist’s Grace on Skull to make him weak to everything.

Another eye gets healed.

Thankfully, The Artist’s Grace wears off here in a single turn.

And from there, we get all the components down at once.

Onto the second phase. Bye painting! …Oh, you don’t understand? Well, yes, in the original game you’d go back and forth between Azazel and the painting until you defeated the former, but here you only have to defeat the painting once and the fight just moves on from it. It’s honestly a little disappointing because it’s so much more trivial now.

Also, remember that part of the fight where you send a party member to paint over the components of The Painter’s Face to make them weak to everything? That is, apparently, still an aspect of this fight… it’s just not one I ever saw. From what I read, it happens after the second Restore, which means I must have killed the face too quickly after that and it didn’t happen. Oh well. But, yes, this means the nose didn’t even get to attack us, heh.

The Madarame who gathers a full crowd every time he opens an exhibit! I’m not someone that worthless brats like you are allowed to defy!
Enough of your egotistic ranting! Taste the wrath of all those you’ve preyed upon!

Huh, that didn’t do much.

Then you’ll witness it for yourselves! Behold my master craft!

…Ha, I see. Creating duplicates IS his specialty!

This is the second half of this fight, and the reason we brought this specific party composition. So, we have four copies, and an Azazel that’s not taking a ton of damage. What do we do? Well, each of the Azazel copies blatantly has an associated element. If we attack each element with its “opposite”…

We can hit their weaknesses. And from there…

Baton Pass, baby. We finally get to do it in a boss fight!

Just keep Baton Passing over and over…

Making sure to finish with Yusuke. Why?

Well, if you’ll recall, Giant Slice has its damage boosted when it’s used after a Baton Pass, and now we’ve done a full Baton Pass of three links, meaning it’s gonna do hella damage. Is that a thing the kids say?

But that’s the reason we don’t bring Panther for this one. Skull’s Rampage and Fox’s Giant Slice are just too essential for this, plus we don’t have an accessory to replace Skull’s Zio like we do for Garu or Agi. We could technically replace Mona with Panther, considering Panther has that accessory that gives Garu equipped, but Mona’s Media for party healing is just too useful here.

Stop this… Is this how you show your gratitude to the man who raised you!?
Silence! Don’t waste your breath!

Each of the Ersatzes (the Madarame copies) will give a little speech and then attack with their associated element.

One thing we can also use Baton Pass here for is healing.

A few turns in, we’re now at the point where we can kill some of the Ersatzes. What happens then?

Azazel just summons more. Note that he doesn’t specifically replace the ones you killed, he just summons random ones.

Stop it, you brats, or else…!
You think we’ll be daunted by such threats!?

A few more rounds of Baton Passes and we’re done.

Line Changes!!!!!!

Morgana’s “What nonsense that you used a mousetrap on me!” is now “How dare you try to trap me like some kind of mouse!” Much better.

During the fight with Azazel, Fox’s line “You still have the nerve to say such things!? You will fully taste the wrath of those who were preyed upon by you!” is now “Enough of your egotistic ranting! Taste the wrath of all those you’ve preyed upon!” Again, much better.