- "Still, I'm glad I was able to save you in court. I've never felt so happy in my entire life. I'm not quite sure how to put it, but... saving your future meant more to me than my own career. I feel like you even taught me how to live."
- —Sae Niijima, Persona 5
Sae Niijima is a character from Persona 5. She is the older sister and legal guardian of Makoto Niijima since their father's murder a few years ago. Sae works as a Public Prosecutor of the Tokyo District Special Investigation Department at the Public Prosecutors Office.
Sae has long gray hair asymmetrically parted on her right side and brown eyes, sometimes depicted with a hint of mauve red.
She wears a black business suit with a black turtleneck. Her blazer's cuffs and the lower part have clamshell-like designs. Accessory-wise, she wears a necklace of a section sign (§) which references her judicial occupation (it also appears in the top right of Shujin Academy's emblem), earrings, and a few dark hair clips can be seen above her right ear. She has violet fingernails and wears black or dark grey high heels. She is sometimes seen with a smartphone and a black bag slung over her shoulder.
Shadow Sae has yellow eyes, extremely thick black eyeliner and black lipstick. She still wears her earrings, but she now has a black choker with spikes, and a hat that resembles an American flapper from the 1920s, with playing cards stashed behind a golden rose. She wears a revealing black dress with purple laces which exposes the center of her torso and her right leg. Her right leg is decorated with fishnet stockings and she wears purple high heels. She wears long black gloves. She seems to have tattoos on her shoulders and back; the tattoo on her back is a black dog's head wearing a choker surrounded by yellow roses.
While she does not initially transform into a demon form during her boss fight, she becomes Leviathan after the Phantom Thieves break a giant roulette wheel she was using to toy with them, a human-sized but tall knight in black spiked plate armor, a helmet resembling a horned demon, several large-caliber guns (such as a rocket launcher) mounted on her right hand and wielding a large red sword in her left.
- "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 Makoto Niijima, Persona 5
Sae is intelligent, professional and serious, although her actual maturity is debatable. A workaholic, Sae is very strict in both her work as prosecutor and guardian for her younger sister, Makoto, constantly telling her to focus on her studies and such. With many responsibilities, Sae is always working due to Japan's work pressure, and is very stressed and exhausted. She must care for Makoto, almost putting her in a single mother's role. Sae has mixed feelings for Makoto; she cares for her and helps her succeed, yet views her as a burden taking away her life and what little enjoyment left, believing Makoto's idealism is due to not having to struggle for a living. Although Makoto is almost of age to move out, this is infeasible given the reality - the Niijima family is not wealthy enough and the "" phenomenon, also common in Japan, is relevant. Sae knows Makoto will likely continue to be a burden for much more time to come.
Her father's ideals, who died in the line of duty, is her sore spot. Sae lashes out when she feels she is compared to him. It is implied Sae loved her father dearly. She absolutely hated his killer from the bottom of her heart when he was murdered. Filled with anger and grief, Sae desired fairness in an unfair world; this may be the reason Sae became a young prosecutor, although it is unknown when she became one. Sae yearns to be respected in a male dominated field, yet realizes it is often a rigged system that caters to the rich and powerful. Sae initially tried to do good and enact fairness and justice, but this gradually changed. As a result of her own powerlessness, despair and a slew of bad experiences, Sae became cynical and pessimistic about her ability to actually pursue justice and keep her career, becoming an investigator that must win, even manipulating evidence to frame guilt, opening the way to her unknowingly being used by the conspiracy via her boss after Kunikazu Okumura's death; her self-destructive behavior and volatile attitude towards others making her an ideal enforcer of Masayoshi Shido due to her increasing willingness to acquiesce to any request by her superiors to get ahead.
Envious of her sister and colleagues, Sae feels they have freedom to do whatever they want, while she is stuck in a dead-end slave job. This envy, combined with her growing disillusionment and frustration with her profession as a concept due to being regularly strung along by political corruption, manifests as a Palace resembling a casino and a hypercompetitive and dishonest Shadow Self hellbent on winning, desiring everyone to feel as helpless as she does while stuck in an unfair and corrupt system. She forces the Phantom Thieves into rigged gambling games that are impossible to win fairly. Her distorted and pitiful worldview is shown during her battle quotes, claiming that a society must have rules and order to operate, and those who do not follow society's rules must be punished and penalized-but also that it is natural and right to alter the rules to favor one side, then call the rigged victory "justice." After being caught cheating in her supposedly "fair" game, this is her final straw as she goes berserk and attempts to kill everyone-offhandedly revealing that she didn't think it was possible to be fair until she gave up on the game. Unlike other Shadow Selves of Palaces, Sae is open to listen to reason; after defeat, the Phantom Thieves convince her to let go of her jealousy without stealing Sae's Treasure. Sae has an epiphany about how pointless her grudges and overcompensation are without fundamentally changing her personality by using her feelings in a more proactive way.
- "Well then, let's move on. At last we arrive at your most recent crime. ...You know what I mean, don't you? This calling card was delivered to your latest target—the one you had decided would prove your innocence. It was addressed to "Sae Niijima." ...Myself. Now, explain everything to me."
- —Sae Niijima talking about herself, Persona 5
After Sae's father who was a police officer died in the line of duty three years ago, she has been obliged to act as her minor sister, Makoto Niijima's legal guardian.
Sae is a Public Prosecutor of the Tokyo District Special Investigation Department (independent from the Police Department) responsible for the Phantom Thieves of Hearts' case. In the prologue of the story, she requests interrogation of the captured protagonist, despite her dismissal from the investigation by her boss. Disgusted that he has been drugged, she asks him to truthfully remember and recollect his side of the story. While mysterious, Sae seems to care for the protagonist's welfare.
Over the course of the game she recapitulates the Thieves' activities with him. She is skeptical of his supernatural claims, such as a talking cat who can turn into a bus, alternate realities, monsters, etc, demanding him to stop fooling around and get serious so she can know the truth, unaware that these childish fantasies actually are the truth.
In order to investigate the mental shutdowns, Sae turns to Sojiro Sakura, an old friend of Wakaba Isshiki for help, as Wakaba researched cognitive psience and Sae attempts to get information about Wakaba's research from him. When Sojiro refuses to cooperate, Sae threatens to bring him to family court, where he would almost certainly lose custody of his adoptive daughter, Futaba Sakura. Upon hearing this, Goro Akechi, Sae's fellow investigator, confronts her about it, resulting in the two having a falling out.
On early September, Makoto uses a USB device prepared by her teammate to steal data from Sae's laptop. Sae later notices the intrusion and accuses Akechi of stealing the data, offending him. In truth, Sae realized Makoto was responsible, but was unwilling to admit it.
When Akechi forces himself into the Phantom Thieves, he suggests that the gang should steal Sae's heart to stop her investigation, otherwise the Public Prosecutors Office may hold them responsible for the deaths of Kunikazu Okumura and Principal Kobayakawa. Her Palace quickly shows just how jaded Sae truly is, with Makoto shocked at how bitter and spiteful her sister's Shadow Self is, and how she views her career as a rigged casino where only the corrupt thrive, symbolizing one of the Seven Deadly Sins (Envy).
Upon receiving her calling card, Sae is infuriated that the Phantom Thieves would consider her unjust, but reassures Makoto that the case will be over soon, and they can spend time together as sisters again, comforting Makoto when she tearfully promises to protect Sae. Sae takes a phone call, and is shocked to realize that the investigation has ordered that she be placed on standby.
Shadow Sae's boss fight takes place on a giant roulette wheel which she occasionally spins to influence the battle depending on if the Phantom Thieves win a bet (healing the winner, damaging the loser, and so on). Initially, her wheel is just as rigged as her other games, with her placing a glass shield over the cups that prevents the ball from landing and ensuring she always wins; eventually, a member of the Thieves is sent to use their gun to knock the ball into the cup. This surprises and angers Shadow Sae, who transforms into Leviathan and attacks in a rage, declaring the Thieves won't be able to take the only power she has away from her, and removes the glass to prove that she can defeat them in a fair fight.
The outcome of this operation differs depending on the dialogue choices after the protagonist has finished his long reminiscence in the interrogation room with Sae.
In the good ending route, the Thieves realize that Akechi is actually the traitor and pretend that they have taken away Sae's Treasure with an empty suitcase, getting Makoto's help in calming Shadow Sae and enlisting her as an ally-which means the Palace never actually collapsed, and the real Sae still has subconscious control over the police station's reality through it. With her ability, they trick Akechi into killing the cognitive versions of the protagonist and the guard of the interrogation room after the apprehension, both born from Sae's Palace. Upon realizing the real reason of being appointed to the case and the true colors of her boss and Akechi, Sae cooperates with the Thieves and transports the protagonist safely to Cafe Leblanc. Sae apologizes to Futaba for putting pressure on Sojiro, and reconciles with Makoto.
When the gang reveal that about the mastermind behind Akechi is Masayoshi Shido, Sae admits that she had her suspicions of Shido because he gains the most from all the victims whose deaths are connected to the Palace.
When the Thieves publicize their video of the upcoming heist of Shido's heart, Sae is blamed by the Police Department for the protagonist's feigned death but she begins to pretend that her heart has been stolen. In the end, she is tasked with charging Shido after the latter's confession to his crimes, but because the Public Prosecutor needs a witness and Akechi has been reported missing, she turns to the protagonist which results in his confinement in the youth detention center for two months. After his allies try every way to prove his innocence in the street assault against Shido, Sae brings the good news of Shido's case and the release of the protagonist because Shido's victim who testified against the protagonist has changed her testimony.
Sae also reveals that after Shido's case has been completely settled she will quit her current job and become a defense attorney. She believes that this is the better way to fight for justice than in the Public Prosecutors Office.
On the protagonist's last day, Sae can be found outside the cafe. She gives him her business card which states that she is now a defense attorney. She also encourages him not to become influenced by terrible adults, as the corrupt adults the Phantom Thieves despised are everywhere. Sae says he should call her if anything happens, although she is not worried about him, saying he will never lose sight of himself.
- "...Then again, I am investigating a "thief who steals hearts." Very well. No matter how absurd it may seem, I'll reevaluate my stance on believing you for now. In return, speak the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It's a fair deal. ...Is that acceptable?"
- —Sae Niijima to the protagonist, Persona 5
Sae represents the Judgement Confidant which starts on July 9th and progresses automatically during her interrogation. None of her ranks offer abilities except rank 10, which gives you an ability called True Justice, an ability with no description but a row of question marks.
Her Confidant can only be maxed if the protagonist answers all of her questions correctly to stay on the Good Ending route. Her Confidant strangely does not have Ranks 7, 8, or 9, jumping from 6 to 10 upon fulfilling the Good Ending requirements. Maxing her Confidant unlocks the fusion of Satan.
Sae's farewell gift to the protagonist on the last day after maxing her Confidant is her Business Card which has no known effect. The item description shows that her intention to become a defense attorney has become true.
|1||July 9th - After Kaneshiro's confession||-|
|2||July 24th - After the revelation of Futaba's past||-|
|3||August 22th - After the announcement of Medjed's defeat||-|
|4||September 13th - After the announcement of Principal Kobayakawa's death||-|
|5||October 12th - After the police inspect Okumura's house||-|
|6||October 28th - After Akechi suggests stealing Sae's heart||-|
|10||November 20th - After fullfilling the requirements for the Good Ending||True Justice|
A majority of the first part of the fight involves Shadow Sae setting up a roulette, betting HP, SP, or money. For the turn after she sets up the roulette, Sae will impose a penalty on anyone who attacks or uses a debuff on her, doing damage to set their HP to 1. However, she cheats on the roulette, ensuring that the player will always lose their bets until they figure out the means of cheating. A Special Order then becomes available to expose her cheating, prompting a Hold Up and advancing the battle to the next part of the fight. In the case if only the protagonist is fighting Shadow Sae,, where a Special Order can never be initiated, they'll have to keep 'gambling' until a cutscene plays where Futaba angers Shadow Sae to the point she decides to stop playing around and transform to her Leviathan form.
Shadow Sae's Leviathan form possesses a mixture of physical, gun, and almighty attacks. Once her HP hits the 2/3 mark she begins reusing Roulette Time without any cheating method - bet accordingly to make the most of the situation.
At the 1/3 mark she begins using Desperation, a buff that drastically raises her offenses at the cost of defenses, cannot be erased by Dekaja, and can even stack with Heat Riser. Take this opportunity to end the battle quickly before she outdamages the party.
This form's massive amounts of HP cannot be depleted normally. The fight will be advanced by the battle's events.
- "Let's do this fair and square!"
- "Now, let us play a game of roulette. The stakes will be... our lives. Of course, acts of violence are forbidden here. One must follow the rules."
- "That's fine by me. Such troublesome people will just face the penalty..."
- "Ah... So you've broken the rules. In that case, it's time you be penalized! This is your penalty! Those who cannot follow rules are not to be tolerated. That is simply how society operates."
- "Breaking rules will be punished!" (Penalty)
- "Very well, time to make your bet! Well, how will you bet?"
- "Hopefully your prediction will be correct this time. *chuckle*"
- "Shut up... SHUT UUUP!"
- "Goodness me, you just keep losing. It seems luck isn't with you." (if protagonist is alone)
- "...! Why would I cheat...?" (if protagonist is alone)
- "You only dare talk like that because you can't beat me..." (if protagonist is alone)
- "You're the one who needs to shut up!" (if protagonist is alone)
- "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!"
- "Behave yourselves."
- "Take this!"
- "Die on my blade!"
- "Die! Die! Die!"
- "As long as you win, it doesn't matter what methods you use! Don't you all think the same!? You're controlling the hearts of others to achieve your own goals! I never lose, even in games of pure luck! Let me prove it!"
- "I will win! Justice can only be on the side of the victor!"
- "Winning is all that matters!"
- "I... I just need to win... As long as I can win... that's all that matters..."
- "I... I..." (defeated)
Shadow Sae concept art.
Leviathan concept art.
Sae on her laptop.
Akechi and Sae.
Shadow Sae stats.
Shadow Sae front.
Shadow Sae back. Note her dog and yellow roses tattoo.
Shadow Sae as a monster, Leviathan.
Shadow Sae as a monster, Leviathan.
Sae receiving a text from Futaba.
|Persona 5 Portraits|
Sae happy cut-in
Sae surprised cut-in
Sae sad cut-in
Sae serious cut-in
Sae serious cut-in
Sae harmed cut-in
Shadow Sae (Leviathan)
Shadow Sae shocked
Shadow Sae smiling
Shadow Sae sad
Shadow Sae cut-in
Sae (冴え) is the verb for "to be clear/skillful." Niijima (新島) is a common Japanese surname meaning "New Island."
- A possible reference of Sae's name could be (新島 八重), a fierce woman from the late Edo period who fought with firearm in a siege and later worked as an army nurse during war-time. For a long time Yae was criticized for her proud attitude over her second husband (which was the male spouse's idea to demonstrate gender equality) and westernized wardrobe, these led to Yae's isolation by her late husband's allies.
- The prominent yellow roses in Shadow Sae's design and her tattoo of a dog head both represent her envy; yellow roses symbolize jealousy in Japanese flower language, and envy is often associated with dogs.
- The dog tattoo may also symbolize guardianship, ritual, loyalty, and spirit. Wolf has the ability to make quick and firm emotional attachments, and often need to trust their own instincts. This ties in with her undying loyalty to the Phantom Thieves.
- Sae's unused voice lines imply that her Confidant ranking originally might have allowed the player to more readily interact and possibly even engage in a romantic relationship with her akin to other female Confidants in the game.
- If the player fights Sae alone, Futaba insults Sae, telling her she is supposed to be an adult and should be ashamed of herself.
- Sae is the only Palace owner who does not have her treasure revealed. However, it was theorized by Makoto to be their father's police journal.
- Sae enjoys motorcycling and kickboxing.
- Sae has a habit, especially when a flashforward occurs during a Confidant meeting, of using some variant of "Explain yourself!", "Answer me!", "Isn't that right?", "Spill it!" or "What do you have to say to that?"
- In the original script for Persona 5, Sae was going to be the guardian of the protagonist during his probation.