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|“||You don't have to do a single thing, and you're provided with food, clothes, a home... I've had no time to think on such ridiculous thoughts. Would Dad have been happy with them? I don't care. He died upholding some lofty sense of righteousness, leaving all his responsibilities on us. Isn't it about time you grew up and acknowledged our situation!? Right now, you're useless to me. All you do is eat away at my life!||„|
|~ Sae Niijima lashing out at her sister, Makoto Niijima|
|“||Cheating!? Unfair!? Silence! This is MY world! If you want a fair fight, then to hell with the game! I'll crush you by force. Fair and square, just as you like!||„|
|~ Shadow Sae's Breakdown.|
Sae Nijima is a major antagonist-turned-supporting protagonist in Persona 5. Before her change of heart, she was the main antagonist of the sixth hiest, the Casino of Envy as Leviathan.
During the latter half of the protagonist's interrogation, Sae Niijima herself is revealed to be the Phantom Thieves' sixth major target. Leviathan, the demon of Envy, is Sae Niijima's Shadow, and she is in control of the casino Palace infiltrated at the start of the game. The casino Palace is imposed on a Tokyo municipal courthouse, with the police station not far away. The palace and Leviathan are manifestations of both the extreme pressure put on her from her job and her feelings of inadequacy in comparison to her co-workers and younger sister.
She is voiced by Yūko Kaida in the Japanese version, and by Elizabeth Maxwell in the English version, the latter also voiced Albedo from the English dub of Overlord.
Sae has long gray hair and brown eyes. She wears a black female business suit with black business pants, pantyhose, and heels. Most of the time, her expression is quite serious. In the Metaverse, Shadow Sae wears a black hat with a large yellow flower. Around her neck is a spiked necklace. As Leviathan, Sae appears as a large robot humanoid carrying a large rusted sword and Gatling gun.
Before her change of heart, Sae was overly serious and stressed, and would never take breaks nor spend time with her sister, which she saw as merely an inconvenience to her. Sae also did anything she can to win a verdict, no matter how illegal it was. Some attributes that stay around are her sharpness and ability to see a "big picture," as well as her determination.
Sae, before her change of heart, represented envy. After her father's death, Sae became very envious of society in general and all the higher ups as her father's work meant nothing upon his death. She became obsessed with justice to the point where she was blinded by it. She also became very obsessed with getting a promotion, doing all she can to get it.
Sae's Palace is the courthouse, which took the form of the Casino of Envy in the Metaverse. This represents how Sae sees court as a game of luck that she must win, even if it means cheating. Sae's treasure is never revealed, however it is assumed to be her father's research notes according to Makoto.
After her change of heart, Sae becomes much less serious and nice to everyone. She realizes the error of her ways and from then on sees the value of justice and the truth. She also does wish to keep everyone safe, as shown by her explaining to the protagonist why turning himself in was for the best at the end of the game.
Sae Nijima grew up with her father and younger sis, Makoto. Sae and her sis admired her father's work as a police employee and his work on exposing much crime and corruption. At some point, Sae's father was murdered. This caused much pain for Sae, as not only her father was gone but now she had to take care of Makoto alone at such a young age. Sae became a prosecutor for the SIU and started to investigate the Mental Shutdown instances. Around 2 years later, she had learned of the protagonist being falsely accused. She planned on taking him in, but when she mentioned it to Sojiro Sakura, he decided to take on the duty instead.
Sae is first seen at the beginning of the game after the protagonist is arrested. She comes to interrogate him, however, the guards refused. However, she gains permission after Sae's director gives her it. Sae comes in and recognizes the protagonist, saying she didn't think the protagonist would be the suspected culprit. She tells him that he needs to talk to her honestly and tell his story to her, for her sake. She tells him to start from the beginning. From then, the protagonist starts to tell his story.
Throughout the game
Sae first appears in the past after the first heist. She comes into Leblanc for a cup of coffee. She sees the protagonist, not recognizing him though. She instead assumed he was a part timer and commented about how she thought the Mental Shutdown cases were all connected.
Throughout the game, Sae becomes increasingly suspicious of the Phantom Thieves, starting to show her darker side. The first time she uncontrollably calls her sister useless. Later she is criticized by Goro Akechi for wanting to win by any means possible, even illegal ones. Later it is revealed that Sae had been following the Mental Shutdowns.
The game will also go back to the present where Sae will do one of two things. When the player acquires a new Confidant, Sae will question something about the protagonist, usually about how he did something due to the Confidant's abilities. Other times Sae will comment on the story and then introduce the next Target (with the exception of Futaba).
Sixth Heist: Sae Niijima
The Thieves hoped to acquire intel by inviting Goro Akechi to their School Party. However, it turned out that Akechi knew that they were the Phantom Thieves. Akechi strikes a deal saying that if they can change the corrupted Sae Niijima's heart and stop being the Phantom Thieves, he will clear them of all charges due to Sae not launching her new task of investigating the Phantom Thieves.
The Thieves, knowing that this was a scam of a deal, take it and make Sae Nijima their next target. The Thieves enter the Casino of Envy where they were tasked by Shadow Sae to play both casino games and special games, such as an arena. They did need to cheat to eventually get to the floor with the treasure. Once they did this the Thieves sent Sae the card by Makoto giving it to her. Sae believes Makoto when she said it was in the mailbox and decides that she needed to go ahead and launch the investigation. The Thieves go after the treasure and confront Niijima's Shadow.
However, Niijima forces the Thieves to partake in a game of chance, rigged in her favor, rather than fighting. The Thieves are able to reveal her cheating, but that's when Shadow Sae turned into Leviathan and fought the Phantom Thieves. After her defeat, Makoto kneels down to her and asks her to remember, however, Shadow Sae just gave confused responses. Yusuke and Ryuji put the Thieves' plan to trick Akechi into place as they grab a fake treasure and separate. The protagonist is arrested by the Police because of a trap set up by Akechi.
Change of Heart
Because her treasure was never stolen, Sae didn't have a change of heart until after the interrogation. Once the protagonist refuses to sell out his teammates and after he tells Sae to give his phone to the "traitor.", Sae's Confidant is maxed out, causing her to have a natural change of heart. She then confronts Akechi in the hall and shows him the phone, dragging them both into Sae's Palace, but not in the actual Palace (assumingly while it was crumbling). Sae leaves when the protagonist's phone sounds a pre-recorded message from Futaba, pleading Sae to save the protagonist from Akechi (despite Akechi not killing the true protagonist due to the Phantom Thieves' plan). Sae finds the protagonist safe and sneaks him out through her car. She then reunites him and the rest of the Phantom Thieves.
Seventh and Eighth Heist
Sae asks the Phantom Thieves to steal Shido's heart and then to let her and the rest of the adults take charge. When the Thieves send the calling card, a few detectives confront her due to her being responsible for the protagonist's case, after they found out the protagonist was alive. Sae pretends to act delusional due to her being targeted, however, the detectives still threaten her, saying she was going to be punished. This never happened since Shido's heart was changed. After this Sae dedicates herself to form a case against Shido.
Sae tries to make a case, but she is shut down by the new SIU director who orders her to stand down. The Thieves stumble upon what to do when they finally decide to erase the Metaverse as a whole by stealing Mementos's treasure. Sae then promises the Thieves that the adults would get it together. The Thieves failed to do this, which resulted in the real world becoming fused with Mementos. She, along with any other max Confidants, realize this unlike the blind public.
After the game, the protagonist finds Sae. Sae thanks him for everything he has done before requesting him to turn himself in. She realizes that if he doesn't the police will track down and possibly arrest all of the Thieves. The protagonist, wanting to keep his friends safe, does so. This disappoints the Thieves heavily, and they start to do everything they can to get him out of juvie. Eventually, Sae comes to the protagonist after nearly two months to inform him that he is free to go. She asks him what her treasure is, however it is never revealed.
Sae last appears on April 19 to give the protagonist her business card, her Confidant gift.
- Sae's Shadow is the only shadow self (besides Shadow Futaba) to be referred to by the person's first name as the game calls her "Shadow Sae."
- Sae is the only major target (excluding Futaba who does not have a villainous role and neither does her Shadow) that is portrayed in a truly sympathetic tone, being motivated by insecurity instead of selfishness.
- Sae is the first major target (excluding Futaba who does not have a villainous role and neither does her Shadow) that truly redeems herself and becomes an ally to the Thieves, without having her Treasure stolen or her palace destroyed. This is later followed by Takuto Maruki in Persona 5 The Royal exclusively.
- Sae's Treasure is the only one that is never explicitly shown, either in the Palace or out of it. Prior to its materialization, however, Makoto theorizes that Sae's real world Treasure is their father's notebook on investigations he's done, as his death in the line of duty is the major catalyst of her cynicism.
- Because leaving her Treasure alone is a major component of the thieves' plan to trick the conspiracy, Sae's Palace is the only one that is not destroyed in the game.
Snow Queen Quest
Persona 3 FES
Persona 4: Arena & Persona 4: Arena Ultimax
Persona 5 The Royal
Persona 5 Strikers