Last year I did a Waifu Review of one of my all-time favourite games, Persona 5 Royal. I was pretty happy with it. The game is, after all, brimming with romanceable waifus for every taste. But there was a character I left off — not because I didn’t like them as a character but because they simply weren’t a romance option within the game.
I speak, of course, of Sae Niijima, and today, for the first installment of our new Waifu Wednesday column, I am going to rectify this oversight and give Persona 5’s resident prosecutor the love she deserves.
Who is Sae Niijima?
Sae Niijima is one of the first characters you encounter in this RPG masterpiece from 2016. In the game, she mostly serves to drive the plot forward in the interrogation room protagonist Joker finds himself in at the start of the game, introducing the Phantom Thieves’ next target before the main “flashback” portion of the plot plays out.
She is shown to us as a woman in a man’s world, and she is just as steely eyed and serious as that would imply. It isn’t until we’re introduced to her younger sister, Makoto, that we see a different side to Sae.
It is worth noting that most of Persona 5’s plot is framed as a story told to Sae. She is the person we most need to impress with the justice of our actions. She begins sceptical, unsure if we can be trusted. We are, after all, the notorious Phantom Thieves, but by the end she becomes a willing accomplice to our plan to take down the corruption that controls society.
Why we love her
I don’t actually mind that Sae isn’t a romance option in the game. There are more than enough options that are older than Joker, after all, and Sae Niijima’s involvement in Persona 5 is never seen as romantic. Besides, someone can be sexy without being the object of romance. And she is indeed sexy. From her “all business” suit, her serious demeanour, and the pivotal place she occupies in the plot of Persona 5, she appears as a towering and intimidating figure from the opening of the game.
But she isn’t just hot because she is scary. There is a genuine (if sometimes misguided) sweetness with her relationship with her younger sister Makoto. Their relationship is what initially humanises Sae and gives her more grounding even before we venture into her Palace to steal her heart and it is what, in the end, redeems her. Because the Phantom Thieves never actually steal Sae’s corrupted desires. She has a change of heart all on her own because she is that strong as a person.
Speaking of her Palace, lets all take a moment to appreciate how amazing her Shadow version is:
The 1920s glamour aesthetic. The dress that straddles that border between decent and revealing but still manages to be classy at the same time. The self-assurance that degrades into chaos as she slowly loses control of the situation. It’s a look that screams “DANGER” but still manages to lure me in anyway because I have a type and I don’t apologise for that. (I don’t think you have anything to be ashamed of there – Ed.)
Why you’ll love her
If you haven’t played Persona 5 (or its excellent expanded Royal version), then you absolutely need to. It quickly established itself as essential playing for any RPG fan and is likely to occupy more space in the genre as we get more and more spin offs in the coming years — Persona 5 Strikers, anyone? (Yes please – Ed.)
Sae Niijima might not be one of the romance options in the game, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give her the attention she deserves. Between the obvious beauty of both her real and shadow versions and the effortless but unmistakable authority that her English VA, Elizabeth Maxwell, gives her, Sae is a dynamic and endearing character that we all love.
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