|“||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|
Sae Niijima is an antagonist-turned-supporting protagonist in the video game Persona 5. She is the older sister of Makoto Niijima, and her legal guardian since their father's murder a few years before the beginning of the story. Sae works as a Public Prosecutor of the Tokyo District Special Investigation Department at the Public Prosecutors Office.
She is voiced by Yūko Kaida in the Japanese version of the anime, and by Elizabeth Maxwell in the English version of the anime.
Although Sae is 24 years old, she has the appearance of a woman much older. She is a tall woman with 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 gray high heels. She is sometimes seen with a smartphone and a black bag slung over her shoulder.
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.
- She is also the only 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.
- 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.
Persona 3 Social Links
Persona 4 Social Links
Persona 4 Arena
Persona 4: Dancing All Night
Persona 5 Scramble/Strikers
Persona 5 Confidants
Velvet Room Attendants
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth