Waifu Wednesday: Kat

Gravity Rush and its sequel are both great games, for sure, but they just wouldn’t be the same without the presence of their heroine Kat.

While the simple act of floating around exploring the weird, wonderful Moebius-inspired worlds is a joyful experience in itself, to do it accompanied by a protagonist who is such a pleasure to be around elevates the experience into something truly special and memorable.

So why is Kat such a good heroine? Let’s take a closer look.

Fanart by K. Satori/FlaxVivi (Twitter)

When we first meet Kat in the original Gravity Rush, we don’t know anything about her. The old favourite setup of her suffering from some form of amnesia is used to put the player and the protagonist in the same situation as one another — it may be hackneyed, but it works. All we know following the introduction is that she is perpetually accompanied by a star-filled cat (whom she names Dusty) and apparently has the ability to shift gravity in a localised area around herself. Oh, and she’s also remarkably cheerful and upbeat, even when in as strange a situation as she finds herself at the story’s outset.

Kat’s upbeat nature is a core part of her appeal. At the time of writing, a popular fashion — particularly for big-budget games — is to go with tortured heroes or even anti-heroes who have endured some sort of tragedy or other unpleasantness and then spend much of the game raging at the world. Kat is the exact opposite to that stereotype in almost every way; she’s female rather than male, she’s young rather than pushing 30, she’s happy rather than sad or angry — and for those who care about such things, she’s even dark-skinned instead of alabaster white.

Fanart by Tuchinokoeffect (Pixiv)

It’s her attitude that is most striking, though. She acts like a girl who isn’t quite ready to grow up and become a boring old adult, yet it’s clear that she feels a certain degree of responsibility rather than indulging purely in the selfish whims of youth.

She’s also a fun take on the “superhero” in that although she obviously has completely fantastic powers with which she can achieve incredible things, you always get the feeling that she’s not quite in control of them, particularly at the outset of the first game. This is in stark contrast to the classic depiction of a superhero as inherently competent and confident — even smug — in their own abilities. Rather than flying gracefully through the air like her rival (and subsequent friend) Raven, who has similar powers, she tumbles chaotically end-over-end, sometimes even slamming face-first to the ground if you’re not particularly careful with how you make her land!

Fanart by 0_ameya (Twitter)

Rather than hurting herself after a dodgy landing, or getting upset or embarrassed, though, Kat just picks herself up, dusts herself off and carries on. This is an attitude she takes towards everything in her life; throughout the course of both Gravity Rush and its sequel, she faces all manner of hardships, yet you never see her break down and cry or bemoan the situation she is in. She always has a positive, encouraging word for others, and she’s always willing to take action to try and make life better for herself and the people she cares about, even if it will take a lot of work to achieve her goals.

Interestingly, she tends not to take the lead, though, which is another reflection of her immaturity. Whenever there’s a long-term goal to achieve, she will defer to someone else, and tends to accomplish the most when she is given clear instructions of what to do. In this way, she acts as a reflection of the player; while you’re free to do as you please in the Gravity Rush games and both contain a variety of hidden secrets to find just through exploring the world, the meat of the game’s content comes through structured activities: being told what to do, whether it’s the story-based missions or the narrative-free challenges.

Fanart by riku (ukir125) (Pixiv)

Kat’s dependence on others to give her instruction doesn’t leave her coming across as in any way meek or feeble, mind you. On the contrary, she’s more than willing to speak her mind, particularly if the things she’s being asked to do are something she doesn’t agree with. She’s spunky, even argumentative at times, and likes to question things so she can understand situations that might initially appear to be overwhelmingly complex. Yet she never lets strange happenings faze her; I guess she figures ever since that morning where she woke up on the bottom level of a floating city with a cat that allowed her to shift gravity at will, she should probably expect the unexpected at all times.

Most of all, she’s a character that clearly loves to have fun, as reflected by the wide variety of activities she gets up to over the course of both games, and further emphasised by the wide array of costumes and emotes she collects throughout her adventures. A significant series of sidequests in Gravity Rush 2 sees her performing the stunts in a movie for a popular idol, for example, and it’s clear she delights in every minute of the experience even as it’s obvious she’s being royally screwed over by the crew. She doesn’t really care, though; she had an enjoyable experience, and that’s all that really matters.

Fanart by anchon (Pixiv)

Kat’s positivity is infectious. It’s hard not to feel happy when you’re in her company, even as the narratives both games explore stray into darker territory in their latter hours. She’s a reassuring, constant presence by the player’s side that helps ensure nothing will ever be too overwhelming, and it’s a genuine delight to see her grow, change and learn things about herself over the course of the two games.

She’s a fitting protagonist for a series that, mechanically, is all about the joy of soaring through the air, and I sincerely hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her.

More about Gravity Rush

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