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Fanfic / Crimson AU

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Akira Kurusu. Delinquent. Thief. Leader. Hero. Who is he? How many masks can one man wear?

Crimson is a currently-ongoing Persona 5 retelling that goes into great detail into the life of Akira Kurusu and those involved in his life. What will change and what will remain the same?

The story can be read here. And here.

The Crimson alternate universe provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Badass: In canon, Akechi only ever used two Personas (Robin Hood and Loki) despite having the Wild Card. The fic adds another Persona Fenris.
    • Kaneshiro, who was a minor threat in canon is much more dangerous, with his crime ring being an extremely powerful Crime Syndicate with far reach and heavy presence throughout the fic. Kaneshiro himself is also much taller, more muscular, and physically intimidating and more involved with Shido in real life and his Shadow managed to overwhelm Akechi.
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  • Adaptational Curves: Kaneshiro, who was short and portly Gonk in canon is described as tall, muscular, and threatening.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • Played with in regards to Makoto. She cameos as nameless NPC during the Kamoshida story arc and doesn't receive an official introduction until the second story arc. However, she meets Akira far earlier in this story.
    • Played straight with Haru since she appears during the first story arc rather than being introduced during the fifth story arc when the Fall semester begins.
    • Eiko appears in the game after completing Kaneshiro's palace, but she makes her first appearance before the Phantom Thieves know who Kaneshiro is. She is heavily implied to be a prostitute paying off her debts and Iwai can tell that she's a drug addict.
    • The mention of Ali Baba (Futaba) makes an appearance during the Kaneshiro story arc. She contacts the Tatterdemalion group.
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  • Adaptation Expansion: Several of Akira's Confidants plays a more direct role in the story than they did in the game, even interacting with one-another. Dr. Takemi in particular learns about Akira's status as a Phantom Thief during the Kamoshida arc.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: Downplayed but compared to the game where Ryuji had the tendency to hold the Conflict Ball, here he actually acts as the buffer to Akira's paranoia and Ann being the Commander Contrarian.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Downplayed in each case.
    • Akira is this towards Mishima due to holding more of an understandable grudge against him for leaking his records to the school.
    • Makoto retraumatizes Shiho during her investigation into Akira in hopes of obtaining information. She even knew it might be a bad idea to attempt this, but she did it anyway. She comes to quickly regret her decision.
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    • Ann with Akira and Makoto, especially after the above fiasco with Makoto triggering Shiho's trauma. She dresses down Akira for not breaking ties with Makoto earlier and forces a Friend Versus Lover situation. Ann then confronts Makoto about Shiho where she slaps her and lies about being in a relationship with Akira. She fully admits that the latter portion was done intentionally to hurt Makoto.
    • Sae is much more abrasive to Sojiro and Akira than she is in the original game.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Haru's codename is change to Rose instead of Noir, though the name returns back to Noir once Haru fully supports the Phantom Thieves.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Morgana is shown to be a bit less self-centered than his canon self.
    • While still a crooked politician, Shido is this to a certain degree. He is already aware that Akechi is his son and he treats him nicely. Considering his character, however, this could be a ruse.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Iwai was originally a member of Kaneshiro's gang, whereas in the game, while Iwai used to be a yakuza, Kaneshiro's crime ring is indicated to be completely separate from it.
    • Likewise, despite being the main antagonist of Makoto's arc, Kaneshiro had little to do with her until she recklessly charged into his hideout. Here, he's apparently responsible for the death of her father.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Played with in the case of Madarame and his Palace. In canon, Madarame's Palace was an art museum to emphasize his ego as an artist with little talent and needing to steal. Here, his Palace is changed into a factory to represent how he's Only in It for the Money and seeing his apprentices as a means to an end.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In the canon video game, we heard how Kamoshida beat up students, including Ryuji, and he threatens to do that to the Phantom Thieves after the calling card, but we see Kamoshida going through with it when Akira saves Makoto from him.
    • While involved in the Conspiracy, Kobayakawa is never seen requesting a Mental Shutdown on-screen in the canon video game nor does it do it after Makoto decided to stop the Investigation. In this continuity, he immediately asks to have Sae receive a Mental Shutdown when she puts him in his place.
    • We see more explicit detail about how Madarame exploits his apprentices, and how some of them may be beyond help, regardless of what happens to Madarame.
    • Sugimura has always been a nasty person in the game, but the Crimson version not only sends threatening messages to Haru when she goes into hiding from him, he is also bad enough to have a Palace of his own. He also forms an alliance with Kaneshiro eventually abducting Haru and bringing her to Kaneshiro in the hopes that the latter would drug her into compliance.
  • Adapted Out: The SIU Director does not appear in this story.
  • Ascended Extra: The newscaster that interviews Akechi is Mitsuyo Togo, who was originally a one-off boss for Hifumi's Confidant.
    • Junya Kaneshiro was a filler villain back in the canon game. Here, he is planned to become a major threat to the Phantom Thieves.
    • Sugimura is a Palace ruler.
  • Bad Liar: In conjunction with his Complexity Addiction, Akira tends to not create the best cover story for himself when he is put under pressure. Takemi ends up finding out he's a Phantom Thief after pressing him on the subject, and Iwai & Ohya are both quick to find the holes in the lies he told them.
  • Berserk Button: Due to her late father being a police officer, Makoto doesn't take it well when Akira insults the cops.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Deconstructed and played straight with Sae.
    • When Sae finds out Makoto is spending time with Akira, who has a criminal record, she immediately tries to force them from ever being able to spend time together without even trying to get to know Akira which does put a strain on her relationship with Makoto.
    • Played more positively when she learns of Kobayakawa's attempt to blackmail Makoto by withholding a letter of reccomendation if she doesn't investigate the Phantom Thieves where she reads him the riot act and threatens legal action to ruin him.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The new Principal of Shujin, Shiori Toko acts like she's set on fixing Kobayakawa's wrongs and seems to be interested in actually treating the students well. In truth, she's part of The Conspiracy and is trying to use and set up her students for a plan.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Akira was not exactly eager about being made leader, and its shown that the stress has begun to take its toll on him.
  • Complexity Addiction: Some of Akira's plans tend to be more complicated than necessary which causes problems. Alternatively, some people tend to make things more complicated for him. The most notable case being Akira developing feelings for Makoto, but she is investigating him which resulted in her triggering Shiho's trauma. Afterwards, Ann forces him to choose between keeping her on the Phantom Thieves or breaking all ties to Makoto by going through with her own complicated plan of pretending to be 'lovers'.
  • Cutting the Knot: Lala tells Akira, who is noted to have a Complexity Addiction, that when it comes to relationships, being honest with one another is usually the path to go, and that despite its simplicity, people tend to muck it up by making it more complex than it should be.
  • Darker and Edgier: Overall, the drama experienced by some of the main characters (especially Akira) is played up a bit, as well as their willingness to do more serious risk-taking. The villainy of some of the antagonists is also amped up, examples including Kamoshida actually beating the tar out of Akira after he saved Makoto from him and after his change of heart, outright confirmed he raped Shiho (in the game canon, it was only strongly implied that Kamoshida did more than just sexually harass her).
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Kobayakawa dies in the game as well, but is killed due to Akechi a lot earlier here.
    • Madarame is stabbed to death by one of his former students. It’s later revealed that Akechi inflicted a psychotic breakdown on Madarame’s killer in order to make it look like a revenge killing. The fact that said student is a confirmed drug addict helps the cover.
    • Sugimura drowns when his limousine driver is hit with a mental shutdown and crashes the vehicle into the river.
  • Death Glare: Akira's got a pretty good one, and it's enough to even give adults pause. He's got nothing on Sae, though.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Crimson takes a more realistic edge to Persona 5's story, casting Akira more as a teenager who is in over his head. Akira and the other Thieves' tendencies to wing it bites them in the ass as much as it works out in their favor. To that end, because of this, Akira's confidants also now play a more central role in the plot.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Happens on several occassions with several characters:
    • Makoto when she attempts to try and talk to Shiho to get information, only to trigger the latter's trauma. This resulted in Ann being pissed off and coaxing Akira into staying away from her.
    • As Akechi points out, Kobayakawa trying to effectively Blackmail Makoto into investigating her fellow students by threatening to withhold her letter of recommendation was poorly though out when Makoto is the younger sister of a very intimidating yet effective prosecutor. Sure enough, Makoto complained about her circumstances to Sae, who then angrily reads Kobayakawa the riot act.
    • As pointed out below in Reality Ensues, Akira deciding to take Yusuke to the Metaverse to prove Madarame's distortion on a whim, without giving a proper warning, resulted in the latter running away in shock and then getting captured.
    • Makoto's decision to try and press charges against Sugimura using his recorded threatening messages against Haru is a near example. Kagawa, a former cop who was friends with her late father points out that if she does press charges against Sugimura, its highly likely that the brat's father would retaliate by usi his political influence to make an enemy of the SIU (i.e Sae's employers) who may then decide to fire her sister to escape the hassle.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Much like in canon, Kobayakawa blackmails Makoto into investigating the Phantom Thieves for him. Unlike in the game, after Makoto has a falling out with Akira and Ann, she ends up telling Sae about the whole ordeal, and Sae puts an end to all of it. Kobayakawa, in a bid to save face, puts in a request for Sae to suffer a Mental Shutdown in retribution. The Black Mask is less than amused though when he learns that not only did Kobayakawa incompetently pass off his task onto a high school student, but also expects him to kill Sae over something so petty.
  • Dirty Old Man:
    • Kamoshida, who sexually harasses the female students he's in charge of and eventually rapes Shiho.
    • Madarame, who has an interest in younger women that Ann exploits to cajole information from him.
  • The Dreaded: Sae terrifies Akira in their first meeting.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Subverted between Akira and Mishima. While he says he forgives Mishima, he reveals he didn't mean it, and he is still pissed despite understanding the circumstances.
    • Haru has no issue forgiving Makoto for lying to her twice even though she used her as a means to investigating Akira.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Unlike canon, where Caroline and Justine's status as this was implied, here it is more pronounced to the point that they keep away from Joker's view to avoid going insane with their forms, and even them speaking causes him intense nausea.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Akira blows off his first two study sessions with Makoto, he assumes she won't care since she was forced into them by Kawakami. Wrong. He gets his first taste of who Makoto really is when she marches up to him and tells him in no uncertain terms not to miss a third time.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Black Mask refuses Kobayakawa's request to give Sae a mental shutdown partly out of disgust of the man's pettiness.
    • Played With When Sugimura abducts Haru and brings her to Kaneshiro to ask that they could drug her into compliance, Kaneshiro just rejects it in favor of beating Sugimura to a pulp for his stupidity. He decides to just kill Haru and throw her corpse in the water.
  • Evil Is Petty: Happens just as often, if not moreso than canon.
    • Kamoshida inflicting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Akira for luring Makoto away from him.
    • Kobayakawa, upon being cowed by Sae for his attempt to blackmail Makoto, attempts to make a request to inflict a mental shutdown on her. Fortunately, Black Mask refuses.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The Phantom Thieves as in canon.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Akira likes Makoto as more than a friend. However, when Makoto inadvertently triggers Shiho's trauma, Ann gives him an ultimatum. Either he goes through with her plan to eliminate Makoto from his life or she leaves the Phantom Thieves. He chooses to go through with Ann's plan.
  • Game Show: When Akira and his classmates are visiting the tv studio, they end up being in the audience for a game show (unlike in canon when it was only a chat show) and he and Makoto end up being randomly picked to take part, the two of them having to answer question about the other. Then after answering a few questions, the shows host suddenly suggest that Akira's answers were too dry... and proceeds to have Gunge poured on Akira. Then the two of them go through a round in the style of Gladiators. But on roller-skates.
  • Good Samaritan: Yukio Kan, a stranger who helps Akira when the latter is having a panic attack and even offers to call someone to help, one of the few adults Akira meets who hasn't look down on him. Which makes it even that more sadder when seconds later he drops dead from a mental shutdown, even if he probably had a palace.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Both Makoto and Ren plan to find out what each other are doing in regards to the investigating the Phantom Thieves and seeing how much she knows through Morgana. It doesn't work out.
  • Groin Attack: Yusuke inflicts one on Sugimura.
  • Instant Sedation: Sugimura chloroforms Haru from behind and locks her in his car's trunk.
  • It Gets Easier: Madarame's Shadow claims that he initially felt sick taking the Sayuri as his own and profiting off of it, but states this trope word for word.
  • Jerkass: There are several examples.
    • Kamoshida is possibly a bigger one than in canon.
    • Sae in regards to her treatment to Akira.
    • The Principal doesn't try to hide the fact he will withhold Makoto's letter of recommendation that he originally promised her if she doesn't conduct the investigation into the Phantom Thieves.
    • Madarame quickly establishes himself as this.
  • Just a Gangster: Kaneshiro and his followers start a Mob War in protest to the syndicate's leaders planning to turn them into a legitimate organization.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: It was primarily to secure his own position in the Conspiracy, but Akechi's murder of Kobayakawa was done after Kobayakawa tried to make him kill Sae for petty reasons.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Sae does NOT approve of how Akira gets along with her sister and doesn't bother trying to hide it.
  • Likes Older Women: Downplayed due to Akira developing an attraction to Makoto who is at least a year older than him.
  • Mistaken for Romance: Tae assumes Akira is dating Ann, but when he denies this, she asks if he's going out with Makoto. Tae reveals that after drinking some of her medicine as part of her clinical trials, he spouts out the names of all the women he's met, such as Haru and Ohya. This leads Tae to believe Akira's a ladykiller and Kaoru to think Akira has four girlfriends, prompting him to take notes.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Sae drives that point home to Akira on more than one occasion.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Niijima sisters' father is named Akihiko, after the Persona 3 character who also has grey hair and became a detective.
    • Yusuke's mother is named Chisako.
    • Haru's fiancee Sugimura is given the first name Rin.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Akira receives one from Kamoshida after he and Morgana save Makoto from him.
  • Properly Paranoid: Akira has every reason to be concerned about the identities of the Phantom Thieves being exposed, especially due to his criminal record which would result in him going to jail if he is found out.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Sugimura kidnaps Haru and takes her to Kaneshiro's while she is trapped in his car's trunk. She overhears him ask Kaneshiro for the drugs used on the girls in his prostitution ring in order to make her obedient. Kaneshiro refuses and orders her be killed and dumped into the bay. Having learned earlier that Sugimura's car is his palace, Haru manages to use the app in order to escape to the Metaverse.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Sae, much like in canon, goes on a tirade towards Makoto, though the circumstances for it are different. Earlier, Makoto shoved Sugimura in order to stop him from hurting Haru, who immediately threatens to have her arrested for assault. When Makoto tells Sae about what happened, she harshly criticizes her for assaulting someone, not even paying attention to Haru's situation. It leaves Makoto too terrified to speak back.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: After talking with Kaneshiro in an attempt to locate Haru, Kaneshiro gives Sugimura one of his drugged up prostitutes to "work off his frustrations." The chapter ends when Sugimura drags her into his car, saying that her name is "Haru" for the night.
  • Recursive Fanfiction: A one-shot crossover with Akane no Mai entitled Parallel Dimensions - Crimson World features two sets of Phantom Thieves (technically Akira Kurusu meets Ren Amamiya) team up to face a common threat. Can be read here. And here.
  • Redeeming Replacement: Subverted with Shiori Toko, the new Principal of Shujin after Kobayakawa's death who outwardly appears to be set on righting her predecessor's wrongs but is also in on Shido's conspiracy.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Akira is a teenager who was reluctant to become the leader of the Phantom Thieves even if he believes in what they are doing. As a teenager, he doesn't have much experience and while some of his plans and moves work out, such as getting burner phones, they are far from foolproof and they might not work nearly as well as he would hope.
    • Being the leader of the Phantom Thieves is extremely stressful which causes Akira issues with how to handle relationships both within the team and outside it.
    • When people try to figure out who the Phantom Thieves are, they start with the people who openly challenged Kamoshida.
    • Regardless of understanding Mishima's reasons, it doesn't change the fact that Mishima destroyed Akira's chances of having a normal school life by leaking his record online. As a result, Akira isn't likely to be willing to forgive something like that anytime soon.
    • Madarame's exploitation and abuse has left Yusuke clinically malnourished (tell signs include his unnatural paleness and being well underweight according to Dr. Takemi). Moderate (and sometimes even just mild) physical exertion easily fatigues him, and when he was confronted by the team about Madarame, Yusuke spontaneously passed out after becoming physically defensive about their questions.
    • When Akira impulsively decides to bring Yusuke (who is more or less a normal teenager and just suffered a major shock and emotional stress due to Madarame rigging things to have him expelled from Kosei) to the Metaverse with the rest of the thieves, the latter promptly freaks out at the sudden change and monster presence and runs away where he's then captured by some guards.
    • Unlike the game, Take Your Time does not apply with the Confidants. Being a student with a job, and being a Phantom Thief means Akira's schedule and availability can be erratic at times. Many of them aren't going to wait around for Akira when its convenient and are shown to be irritated when he doesn't follow through immediately with them or follow through with his promises.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Much like his game counterpart, Toranosuke Yoshida was originally a scandal plagued politician who has since then changed for the better, but is still remembered as "No Good Tora". Akira believes that it's genuine after talking to him, but Ohya doesn't think that politicians "un-crook" themselves, thinking it's all a front. Akira speculates to Morgana that Ohya is hoping that people don't change.
  • Runaway Train: During the chapter "Impatient Threats", Akira, Morgana, Makoto and Haru are on a subway train when a mental shutdown takes hold of the conductor, leading him to speed the train up. Thankfully, Akira, Makoto and Haru manage to prevent a crash after breaking into the conductor's booth, with the former two hold down the conductor, and Haru taking hold of the accelerator to slow the train down, preventing a crash.
  • Running Gag: Akira has a complicated, borderline antagonistic, relationship with all of his female confidants. Again, his Complexity Addiction and poor time management skills has played a big factor in this.
  • Secret Keeper: Deconstructed. The list of people who know the Phantom Thieves identities are growing so much to the point that Akira is less than pleased by the situation.
  • Sempai/Kohai: Makoto and Akira.
  • Shipper on Deck: Haru is supportive of Akira and Makoto to the point of drawing doodles of them together.
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • Makoto is VERY good at this. It's why She quickly deduces that Akira must be a Phantom Thief despite lacking hard evidence. After she stops crying when Ann lies about Akira being her boyfriend, Makoto realizes the inherent flaws in Ann's behavior and deduces that she must be a Phantom Thief as well.
    • It runs in the family, merely hearing Akira refer to Makoto by her first name its clues Sae in that the two are close friends.
  • Student/Teacher Romance: Downplayed. Makoto acts as Akira's tutor, and they develop a mutual attraction to each other as the story goes on.
  • Stupid Evil: Madarame's downfall came due to his insistence on keeping Yusuke malnourished. When Yusuke goes outside and collapses in the batting cages, Takemi immediately calls the authorities which forces Kaneshiro to threaten Madarame, who then becomes desperate.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Both Yusuke and Haru feel this way for Madarame and Sugimura, even though they admit the men were not good people. In fact, finding out who was responsible for Sugimura's death is one of the reasons Haru decides to join the Phantom Thieves.
  • That One Case: The Niijima sisters' father was killed by a truck driven by a man pumped with drugs. Although the event is viewed as a freak accident, Sae suspects that he was actually murdered. A member of the yakuza tells Iwai that Akihiko Niijima died after investigating Kaneshiro's operations, meaning Sae's deduction is most likely accurate.
  • There Are No Therapists: Subverted. After witnessing a horrible scene at the hotel, Akira is advised to seek therapy, but he chooses not to.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Zig-zagged in regards to Sae. She does show some appreciation to Akira for helping Makoto when she was in a tight spot with Kamoshida, but she makes it clear to both Makoto and Akira she doesn't want Akira associating with her sister nor does she believe he has a future.
    • Sae accuses Makoto of being this when she admits to shoving Sugimura to help Haru, saying that after all she did for her to secure her little sister's future, she puts it in jeopardy by assaulting someone.
  • Unknown Rival: Tatterdemalion become this for The Phantom Thieves when The Phantom Thieves expose Madarame for his crimes (something Tatterdemalion were already planning on doing), though it's very much downplayed.
  • UST: Akira and Makoto, to such an insane degree that Everyone Can See It.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: While happy that his crimes came to light, Nakanohara doesn't feel good about Madarame's death, feeling indirectly responsible for it.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 55 is this: with Madarame being killed immediately after his confession by a former pupil of his. Akechi admits that he set off a Mental Shutdown on said student to keep Madarame from speaking. He also reveals to have set Kobayakawa to die much earlier than canon.
  • What Could Have Been: In universe example. After reconciling with Ann on their arguments regarding being Phantom Thieves, Akira thinks to himself had he not developed feelings for Makoto, they would have for Ann.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Makoto at times, as she believes that going to the police would be more than enough to settle several problems such as Sugimura's treatment of Haru. The other Phantom Thieves are less so, especially Akira whose prior experiences have led them to believe Dirty Cops are the norm.
  • A Wizard Did It: An In-Universe example. When Makoto and Haru are investigating the Phantom Thieves and how they change hearts, Haru casually suggests this.
  • Yandere: Like in the game, Sugimura is possessive of Haru, but it is taken to frightening levels to the point of leaving behind threatening messages on her phone. It is enough to make him have his own Palace.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Kaneshiro takes a liking to Akira when he takes part in his crime ring, much to his discomfort. Akira tells Sae that Kaneshiro unnerved him because "he liked him."

Parallel Dimensions - Crimson World provides examples of:


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