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Fanfic / Persona: The Sougawa Files

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Will anybody like me for who I am?

Persona: The Sougawa Files is a Shin Megami Tensei: Persona fanfiction written by Arsene_Phantom.

Rina Oshiro, the daughter of a wealthy family, moves to the big city of Sougawa to start a new life while living with her sister. While things seem like they're looking up, all is not well in the city, as a strange plague around the city is leaving people in happy, lackadaisical stupors. After a close call with her Shadow, Rina acquires the power of the Wild Card and forms a team called the Freedom Fighters, bent on saving those afflicted with the Shadow disease.

The fanfiction is currently ongoing. It can be read on Archive Of Our Own here.

Persona: The Sougawa Files provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Imagine if your kid or someone you’re otherwise closely connected to got sick and suddenly experienced a massive change in behavior.
    • Worse yet - imagine finding out a crime lord is after, essentially, your kid via the crime lord bursting into your home, beating you to near death, destroying all of your belongings, and leaving behind a threatening note for your kid.
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  • Affably Evil: Some of the Shadows are surprisingly cordial - mostly the ones in the latter half of the story. Shadow Tamiko is a downright Friendly Enemy, Shadow Kazuki's unfailingly polite, and the white half of Shadow Arata is always pleasant and polite.
  • An Aesop: If you feel like you’re trapped, there is always a way out. You just have to find it. And you may not be able to find it on your own.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The Lasher in Shadow Tamiko's dungeon is taken out before it can actually combat the party by Nobuyuki's grunts, Jim and Gerald.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Justified. Shadows intentionally steer attention away from their unusual occurrences with a perception filter; only Persona users can see through this.
  • Arc Villain: The fic is split up into a fairly simple pattern after the core trio of Rina, Hikaru, and Izumi meets up: Character is revealed to have Shadows; Freedom Fighters do the first half of their Shadow's dungeon, with usually a chapter or so in between; Freedom Fighters have a showdown with the Shadow. The arc villains in order are Shadow Wilma, Shadow Ryouichi, Shadow Tamiko, Shadow Kazuki, and Shadow Arata.
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  • Arc Words: After transforming, Shadows always say “I am a Shadow, the true self!”
  • Bait-and-Switch: The second challenge in Shadow Tamiko's dungeon features the group being forced to combat a Sadistic Lasher without the help of their Personas. Before it can get a single attack off, it's killed in one shot by Nobuyuki's men, and the real battle is against them, with Shadow Tamiko allowing the group to use Personas and even helping them in combat.
  • Battle Couple: Hikaru and Izumi.
  • Beneath the Mask: Shadows show the true feelings people hide when they feel trapped, like Shadow Rina’s desire to have true friends and Hikaru’s depression over being unable to be a hero.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Shadow Ryouichi is by far the most cheerful and carefree of the Shadows... but when things don't go his way, he proves to be dangerously cruel.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: The Shadow Selves are often ridiculous, but are not to be underestimated.
  • Big Bad: Nobuyuki Itou, the biggest crime lord in Sougawa, is the main antagonist in control of the Shadows and seeks to rule over Sougawa with an iron fist.
  • Bold Inflation: Several characters have a special style of speaking:
    • Regular Shadows speak in plain bold.
    • Personas speak in italics.
    • Shadow Selves speak in both bold and italics.
  • Brick Joke: In Chapter 9, Hikaru offers a fistbump and Rina thinks he's offering rock-paper-scissors. The same thing happens with Tamiko in Chapter 32. This is even lampshaded by Rina.
    "I'm getting a strange sense of deja vu..."
  • Calling Your Attacks: A few Persona users do this when they're starting out. Hikaru is one of the only ones to do it frequently. His Shadow does it as well.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Shadow Hikaru briefly mentions that his friend died because of him. This is elaborated on in the third chapter of Hikaru’s Social Link.
    • Rina finds a poster made by Tamiko in Chapter 15. She meets Tamiko personally 9 chapters later.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Basically every party member past Wilma shows up before they get relevant to the plot.
  • Combination Attack: All-Out Attacks, though they’re not explicitly named, are used in this fashion.
  • Dare to Be Badass: How Gilgamesh gets Rina to start fighting.
  • Deal with the Devil: Shadow Rina extends Rina the offer of fully merging with her. Thankfully, she refuses.
  • Downer Beginning: While Rina starts off happy, things are quick to take a turn for the worse as Rina’s worries are reinforced and she eventually contracts Shadows.
  • Eldritch Location: Every location taken over by Shadows, starting from Shadow Wilma and beyond, warps places into this. The worst example is Shadow Arata's, which somehow manages to fit an entire outdoors village inside an abandoned prison.
  • Elsewhere Fic: Arsene has described it as her own take on a Persona game - similar format and structure, with Personas and Shadows following canon rules somewhat closely, but with an entirely new cast of characters.
  • The Epic: The main characters' Personas are all characters from epics.
  • Evolution Powerup: When the party's Personas evolve, they're distinctly more powerful. When Hikaru gains Hrothgar, he's able to effortlessly take out a large group of Nobuyuki's grunts alongside Izumi's newly evolved Persona.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Inverted. The female party members' issues have included . The worst male one is Kazuki feeling trapped by criminals.
  • The Goomba: The Gremlin series of Shadows serve as this - it’s the first Shadow Rina fights and they show up a few times later, still pretty weak.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: A few characters try not to swear and censor themselves with this. Wilma is the most obvious example, but Rina is prone to her moments.
  • Inciting Incident: Rina moves to Sougawa with her sister in the hopes of starting a new life. This is what leads to the Shadows latching onto her.
  • Indy Ploy: The Freedom Fighters’ plans usually boil down to “make it up as we go”.
  • It's Personal: Every target the Freedom Fighters go after has to do with personal reasons.
    • Rina goes to save Hikaru because he, in turn, indirectly saved her from succumbing to her Shadow.
    • Rina and Hikaru rescue Izumi cause she’s Hikaru’s best friend, and was also responsible for giving Rina the willpower to stand up to her Shadow.
    • Rina was the only one who bothered out to reach out to Wilma, and thus she’s the first one to suggest they go after her when Wilma starts getting infected.
    • Ryouichi was starting to hurt people before the Shadows took him over, but what spurs Rina into action is him almost getting into a fight with Hikaru.
    • Ryouichi is close friends with Tamiko, and thus points the group to her when she contracts Shadows.
    • Rina seeks to befriend Kazuki and prevent him from falling into the same pitfall as she did. Things get even more personal when she has an argument with him and inadvertently believes herself to be the cause of his Shadows.
    • Arata is Rina's butler, so the connection is obvious. Furthermore, since Arata turns out to be working for Nobuyuki, Rina's driven by her desire to find out his true nature.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A few people fall under this - namely Rina (she grows out of it) and Ryouichi.
  • Large Ham: Almost every Persona and Shadow is kind of over the top, with notable examples being Gilgamesh, who exudes magnificence with every other line he says; and Shadow Izumi, who constantly shouts about how she's going to mow the party down.
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: Most minor characters and scenes play into the overarching plot somehow. Arsene even uses this trope as a justification for why she avoids showing the Social Links of the people not in the party besides the first rank - she prefers to focus on the main characters (though she does plan on doing the other four chapters for each Social Link after the story is done).
  • Living Shadow: Shadows, of course - black blobs that transform into various demonic forms.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: When Shadow Selves are defeated, their locations start to lose their distortion - which is often disastrous for rooms that change in size.
  • The Men in Black: Nobuyuki's men are frequently described as men in black. Heck, Nobuyuki himself qualifies; his clothing is almost entirely black.
  • The Mole: Arata Kobayashi, Rina's butler, turns out to be working for Nobuyuki. Luckily, he gets better.
  • Mood Whiplash: After the sad scene of Rina reassuring Hikaru, it’s quickly played for laughs when he makes a joke about how dramatic she is and then shifts to heartwarming as the two hug.
  • Moving the Goalposts: Shadow Ryouichi plays with this. He promises the party will get access to his office if they get VIP clearance. However, he changes his mind because they "didn't do it right", and uses Exact Words as a justification.
  • Mythology Gag: In Chapter 3, when Rina’s channel surfing, Goro Akechi is alluded to.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • If Nobuyuki hadn't sent his men to kill the Freedom Fighters, they would likely have no idea of his existence. While they may have found out later, it could have bought him some crucial time.
  • Not Himself: A key symptom of Shadows is people acting wildly different than normal.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • Rina pulls off a Hama spell against a Shadow, causing it to die instantly.
    • Shadow Arata, after he transforms, takes out every Freedom Fighter he comes into contact with in one shot. This is a warning sign to the Freedom Fighters that the Shadows are getting too strong and they need to strike at the source.
  • Police are Useless: They can’t notice Shadows, after all.
  • The Power of Friendship: Rina has a wide set of Social Links that grant her power.
  • Precision F-Strike: F-bombs are rather rare in this fic, which makes the times they're dropped even more impactful.
    • Shadow Izumi drops several, and Shadow Ryouichi drops one as well.
    • When Izumi and Tamiko are fighting due to Arata's fake texts, Izumi angrily says "You wanna fucking go?" Luckily, Rina breaks it up before anything serious can happen.
    • After Nobuyuki attacks Rina's apartment, both Hikaru and Izumi are furious enough that they both drop the f-bomb.
  • Public Domain Character: The Personas are all this, taken from epic hero stories, such as Gilgamesh or Beowulf.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Most of the adults fall under this, with some good examples being Rina’s sister Furuta and Principal Kaii.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The Freedom Fighters think it best to keep going against Nobuyuki despite him being Sougawa's biggest crime lord, as they can take on his men individually. This gives Rina a nasty shock when she comes home to find Nobuyuki attacked her apartment and her sister personally.
    • Even though the Freedom Fighters are doing all they can to keep up with the Shadows, as an alien species they simply prove to be growing too powerful. While they defeat Shadow Arata, he's able to one-shot most of them left and right. The team decides to shift to attacking at the source.
  • Recurring Element: Gotta keep some elements for a Persona game.
    • The Velvet Room has another silver-haired, golden-eyed attendant named after a Frankenstein character.
    • An early part of the fanfiction has the protagonist getting into a contract with Igor.
    • The protagonist gets a key to the Velvet Room.
  • Rewatch Bonus: There are quite a few concerning Arata. As just one example, he's the only one who knows about Nobuyuki, and during that particular conversation, he specifically says he's not a man Rina should cross - which now comes off as a Shame If Something Happened moment.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • The party gets Personas from epic stories, tying into the escapism theme.
    • Each of the Shadow Selves from Wilma and beyond have some sort of symbolism with their locations and the form they take.
  • Ship Tease: Plenty.
    • Before they hook up, Hikaru and Izumi are teased plenty of times - Izumi's crush on Hikaru is fairly obvious and Hikaru admits he's interested in her in his initial Social Link chapter.
    • Rina and Hikaru are teased plenty, with them frequently hugging each other. At the end of Chapter 24, Rina has a short inner monologue about how Hikaru means a lot to her. They even discuss this in Chapter 36, where both of them admit to their crushes on each other (even if both of them acknowledge that Hikaru and Izumi are happy together).
    • Despite their orientations being unclear, Rina and Wilma have fairly intimate gestures that can come off as a little more than just friendly touching. Word of God is even that Wilma has a crush on Rina - even if Rina sees her as more of a big sister.
    • Tamiko and Ryouichi have some of this - the two obviously care about each other a lot, to the point where Tamiko is implied to be slipping into depression when Ryouichi is taken over fully by his Shadow. Then again, if Chapter 34's ending is to be believed, those are just her own Shadows, but even then, the fact that they start popping up after Ryouichi's disappearance is more than just a coincidence.
    • Rina and Kazuki is teased right out of the gate and picks up steam with each chapter they're both present in. In their first chapter, Rina outright admits that she finds him attractive in the looks department, and she's forced to play the part of "Lovestruck Admirer" in their improv session. In Chapter 42, when she meets up with him again, Kazuki says that something about Rina is special, and the two even act somewhat flustered towards each other at the end. Arsene even mocks this in the April Fools chapter, with her stating to Rina that there are plenty of other romance options... only for Rina to point out she made it incredibly obvious the two will hook up eventually. They hold hands several times, and Rina even asks her sister how to tell if she "likes" someone, obviously referring to Kazuki.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Chapter 3, there’s a passing joke meant to invoke Bob Ross.
    • One of Shadow Tamiko's quotes is "I can do anything!"
    • The final chapter of Hikaru's Social Link reveals Rina's ringtone is Centuries.
    • In Chapter 57, Kouki reveals to Rina he eats Snackoos.
    • In Chapter 58, there are two. Kazuki is performing a musical known as Amour at the start, and Tamiko attempts to invoke the Crucius Curse on one of Nobuyuki's men.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The antagonists so far have all fallen into this, roughly.
    • The first five Shadows - Hikaru, Izumi, Wilma, Ryouichi, and Tamiko - certainly have serious issues, but they're all self-contained.
    • The next Shadow, Shadow Kazuki, is directly tied to criminals, even if he's not one himself. This marks the first time the Freedom Fighters have to deal with actual legal matters.
    • Shadow Arata comes after, and he's the only Shadow directly tied to Nobuyuki, the main antagonist.
    • And then, of course, Nobuyuki is next - the biggest crime lord in Sougawa.
  • Stepford Smiler: Two of the party members are major examples.
    • Hikaru Hayashi comes off as a cheery young man determined to be a hero, who's charismatic and fun to be around. However, his Social Link reveals he has major parental issues and feels practically burdened by reality, and he uses his Persona as a means of escape.
    • Tamiko Maeda is the resident Chuunibyou, and she's energetic, kind of silly, and friendly to others. Her Shadow reveals she's been struggling with suicidal depression and loneliness because nobody else sees the world the way she sees it.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Clerval has golden eyes, just like other Velvet Room attendants.
  • Switching P.O.V.: In Chapter 51, at the amusement park, the perspective briefly shifts to Wilma and then Izumi. Each of them get a brief segment to themselves before it switches back to Rina.
  • Theme Table: The protagonists all have Personas named after mythological heroes.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Rina, Hikaru, and Izumi are essentially the core party, and are treated as three close friends before they start recruiting more people.
  • Traitor Shot: At the end of Chapter 73, Rina leaves from her chat with Arata. He quietly gets in the elevator, and then says...
    "She's onto me, Nobuyuki. How should I proceed?"
  • Transformation of the Possessed: Shadow Selves that possess their hosts have a smoky aura around them and golden eyes.
  • Unique Protagonist Asset: Rina has the Wild Card Ability, allowing her to make Social Links and use multiple Personas.
  • Urban Fantasy: It’s a story about teenagers in a big city who battle demons and summon manifestations of their psyche.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Nobuyuki and Yuudai share this dynamic. Nobuyuki is ruthlessly stoic and willing to do the most vile things to achieve his goals. Meanwhile, while Yuudai is smart, he's generally bumbling and silly.
  • Villain Episode: Downplayed. Nobuyuki and Yuudai get occasional intermissions at the end of chapters showing what they're up to.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: The Freedom Fighters have to balance their school lives and Shadow-fighting lives.


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