Waifu Wednesday: Nia

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a game practically overflowing with top-tier waifus, so it’s almost impossible to know where to start celebrating them.

While it might seem obvious to immediately focus on leading ladies Pyra and Mythra (aka Homura and Hikari in the Japanese version) these characters are, in many ways, “the face of Xenoblade Chronicles 2” and as such are already pretty well-known.

So, just to be a bit different — and much to the delight of many of my Twitter followers, if my call for requests earlier is anything to go by — I thought we’d instead look at the other woman in protagonist Rex’s life: the cat-like Gormotti, Nia.

Note that there are some Xenoblade Chronicles 2 spoilers ahead! You have been warned.

We’re introduced to Nia pretty much at the outset of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, when Rex takes on a salvaging job. Nia is presented as part of a mysterious group called Torna, who subsequently reveal themselves to have less than wholesome intentions; at the same time, Nia sides with Rex rather than her former allies, and from there the two strike up a relationship that is initially an uneasy alliance, but which subsequently blossoms into genuine friendship.

Nia is a pretty fascinating character in that she eschews many of the common tropes we see among female cast members in games like this. While there are times she gets herself into trouble and needs help, the same is true for the rest of the cast — and throughout the game as a whole she shows herself to be more than capable of standing up for herself, a trait which she has acquired through many, many years of taking hard knocks growing up.

She is presented as a stark contrast to Pyra in particular; while Pyra is gentle and feminine, Nia is loud, brash, and absolutely unafraid to speak her mind. She’s generally the first to tell people to stop beating around the bush if they’re dragging their heels over doing something, and she most definitely has very little patience for Zeke (whom she continually refers to as “Shellhead”) in the group’s encounters with him prior to him joining the party.

While Catrin-Mai Huw’s use of a strong (and somewhat mature-sounding) Welsh accent for Nia in the English dub proved to be a controversial localisation decision for some, it’s quite appropriate for her personality given how Welsh characters tend to be depicted in the media; at times, Nia’s overall outlook on life brings to mind similarly no-nonsense characters such as Nessa from BBC sitcom Gavin and Stacey. For those who find this aspect of the localisation difficult to stomach, however — I must confess to being one of them — Japanese seiyuu Hitomi Ōwada does a wonderful job of presenting the same personality type in a somewhat more “anime” style, and arguably with a tone of voice that sounds a little more fitting with the age Nia’s rather youthful appearance suggests she is.

Fanart by Natsuyuki (Pixiv)

Nia’s outfit is distinctive and, again, presents a strong contrast with Pyra and Mythra; while both of the latter show a great deal of skin and aren’t afraid to show off their curvaceous figures (though neither are particularly prideful about it; it’s just how they dress), Nia is perpetually clad in a rather unflattering, baggy yellow jumpsuit. Not only that, the context in which she is shown typically contrasts with that of Pyra and Mythra; she’s presented non-romantically and non-sexually for the most part, while both Pyra and Mythra have a number of scenes in which their developing relationship with and feelings for Rex are shown in various ways, be it sharing quiet, tender moments together or giving our hero a formidable-looking slap for making a dick joke.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s attention to detail means that Nia’s personality is presented in numerous non-verbal ways, too. When left idling, we see her catching passing insects by clapping, then checking her hands to see if she “got them”. When swimming, she swims using doggy paddle — like a cat or dog rather than an experienced human adventurer. And when triggering one of her Blades’ Specials in combat, she cheers them on by dancing in a hilariously exaggerated, rather childish manner. And all this is to say nothing of her Japanese voiceover rather adorably shouting “Nyanyanyanyanya!” when she performs certain Arts. Sometimes that catgirl nature flares up more strongly than others, it seems.

Fanart by Seinen (Twitter)

All this changes somewhat as part of a significant moment partway through the story, where Nia reveals herself to actually be a Blade that has been disguising herself and deceiving her allies. In fact, she admits that she’s been deceiving herself as much as Rex and his friends, and thanks Rex in particular for helping her feel comfortable enough to reveal her true nature, even going so far as to tell him she loves him — a confession that is swiftly and insensitively rebuffed in one of the most heart-breakingly excruciating examples of “friendzoning” you’re ever likely to see. Poor girl.

The drastic change in Nia’s visual design when she is in her “Blade” form reflects her increased confidence. Rather than the jumpsuit that covers her entire body, effectively “hiding” her from the world, she instead wears a rather daring high-legged leotard, elaborate thigh-high stockings/boots and billowing cuffs that look distinctly Japanese-inspired. This willingness to embrace not only her own hidden power but her own beauty is a significant moment for her as a character, and is rather a running theme throughout Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s narrative as a whole, as we’ll explore in more detail soon.

Fanart by Chikugen Shiina (Pixiv)

Nia’s abilities in her Blade form are somewhat symbolic of the way she has been treated, too. Prior to meeting Rex — and even joining up with Torna — she had a difficult life that left her greatly damaged, hurting both inside and out and feeling unable to settle anywhere. The influence of Rex and his friends — and the fact that they helped her feel like she finally had a place to belong — helped to “heal” her heart, and as such it’s entirely appropriate that from this point on, she is presented as having formidable restorative and regenerative powers. And, pleasingly, these powers aren’t just the sort of thing she gets to fire off in a cutscene when convenient; they have an actual mechanical impact on the game, too, with her Blade form possessing some enormously helpful passive regeneration abilities.

Nia has become one of the most beloved members of the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 cast with good reason. She’s a character who defies convention and is a lot of fun to hang out with, even before the later revelations about the truth of who she is. She has wonderful interactions with the other members of the party — her personality clash with Zeke makes for some particularly memorable scenes — and she’s clearly been designed and written with a considerable amount of care.

Also, as probably the best healer in the game, you’ll want to keep her around for gameplay reasons as much as simply wanting to spend time with her. A girl who’s a pleasure to count among your friends and who’s pretty much essential in a fight? Sounds like prime waifu material to me.

More about Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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7 thoughts on “Waifu Wednesday: Nia”

  1. I’ve never related to a game character more than I do Dromarch. Nia is stratosphere tier waifu because she reminds me so much of my actual waifu.


    1. Also, if I may add, Nia has the most endearing facial animations of any game character that I have ever seen.


  2. Cat girls and healers are two of my fave things in games. I controlled Nia during the brief time I played Xenoblade 2. She gets turned down by Rex? Aw, how sad. Then again choosing between Nia and Pyra is not an easy decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love both of those things too. I particularly love that Nia isn’t your stereotypical healer in terms of personality. Best of both worlds!

      Yes, unfortunately Nia gets rebuffed somewhat (or, as someone on Twitter put it, “the cat gets cucked”) but she’s remarkably chipper about it, and anyone with eyes can see Rex only has eyes for Pyra anyway. I can’t really blame him!

      Liked by 1 person

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