Professor Kako (Japanese: カコ博士 Hepburn: Kako-hakase), is a human character in Kemono Friends. She was the vice-director of Japari Park's animal research team prior to its closing, as well as both a close friend and mentor to Mirai. Kako is one of the series' few named humans, and is the older cousin of Nana.
Despite being seldom featured in person, Kako is nevertheless a major figure in the backstory of the Kemono Friends universe, typically through background involvement in the world and setting, and her influence on other characters.
Kako's teal eyes closely match her hair in color, although it fades to a Persian green near the tips, giving it a "gradient" look similar to that of many Friends. Her hairstyle is wild, wavy and unkempt, with her bangs falling in between her eyes and locks of hair sticking out on either side of her head.
She dresses simplistically, wearing a simple lilac shirt, tight black pants, and basic white shoes. Over her clothes, she wears a white lab coat befitting her profession, which features a Japari Park logo patch on the sleeve. Kako's hair is tied together with a white bow and two striped animal-tail accessories. The tails resemble those of Raccoons, but are also similar to Lucky Beast tails.
Little is known about the professor's personality, other than what appears in her self-introduction in the fourth Kemono Friends guidebook. Appropriate for her position, Kako is enormously hardworking and devoted to her research. Disappearing into the lab for extended periods of time to conduct research with no outside interaction was considered to be normal for her, although she does it out of love for the animals (and Friends) that she studies. Despite her somewhat stern appearance, Kako is shy and somewhat socially awkward, possibly owing to her lack of regular contact with other people. She is much more comfortable around animals, however, having been been a regular visitor to the zoo since she was very young.
Role in the Plot
Many years before the events of Kemono Friends, Kako lost her parents in an unelaborated accident. She spent much of her youth and young adulthood visiting the zoo; it is unclear whether the loss of her parents begat or influenced her interest in animals. At some point during her youth, she also met and befriended Mirai, and the two would form a close relationship thanks to their very similar passions. She would go on to become an accomplished university student and be invited to work in Japari Park prior to its grand opening. This thrilled Kako, who saw this as an opportunity to concentrate fully on her research, specializing in extinct animal species.
Kako was one of the researchers present for the discovery of Friends when the phenomenon of animals becoming humanoid girls was first observed in Japari Park, and is responsible for some of the earliest documentation and reports on the new discovery. All known information on Kemonoplasm was documented by her, and she has been credited with the revival of extinct animals as Friends as well. It has also been heavily implied, by an unidentified Lucky Beast in the fourth official guidebook, that she was the creator of the prototype drones which would eventually be finalized and mass-produced as Lucky Beasts. Whether the final model is also her design is not yet known.
Kemono Friends (2015 Mobile Game)
At the beginning of the game's story, during the Cellien invasion of Japari Park, the park staff's headquarters is besieged by the Cellien Queen and her followers, forcing them to abandon Park Central and flee from the island. The staff manages to escape safely, with the sole exception of Kako, who is injured and has her Sparkle stolen by the Cellien Queen, who then assumes a form resembling the professor's own. She enters a comatose state following her injury.
In Chapter 9, when the player reaches Park Central, Mirai informs the party as to the whereabouts of the Japari Park staff, as well as the danger that Kako could potentially be in. She tells the others that Kako was the one who inspired her to become a Park Guide from the start, giving the player a nod to their close friendship as mentor and pupil.
During the fight with the Cellien Queen in Chapter 10, Mirai attempts to persuade the villain to stop fighting, hoping that she might possess a personality similar to Kako's own due to the form she had taken on. Mirai reasons that no one loves the Park as much as Kako, so if any trace of her personality remained, the visually similar Cellien Queen might be open to compromise. Unfortunately, the Queen is unaffected, disregarding the Park Guide's words entirely. The party concludes that she is nothing like Kako herself, and proceeds to foil her plans and defeat her, reducing the story's antagonist to nothing but a basic Cellien. As the defeated Cellien Queen begins to revert, however, she says a notably out-of-character line, without context:
“Evolution. Preservation of information. Regeneration. ----
The sparkle lost back then.........
I want to see you again. I can see you again. Revival. Even if it's proven false, even then...”
—Cellien Queen, Kemono Friends (2015 Game)
This single line of dialogue has been subject to heavy fan speculation; the most popular theory is that, upon giving up Kako's Sparkle, the Cellien Queen gave voice to Kako's innermost wishes. Many have chosen to further interpret this as a desperate wish to revive her lost parents, but no official confirmation has been given on the subject.
Even during the game's final scenes and after peace has been restored to Japari Park, Kako does not appear in person.
While she does not appear directly, in Chapter 3, Episode 2, Battle 2's cutscene. Kako is mentioned by Calenda, applauding her on her creation of the barrier used in PVP and Friend vs Friend battles.
“I see, that's the barrier developed with the resonance applied.”
—Calenda, Kemono Friends 3
A Bushiroad live stream in February 2017 confirmed that Kako did regain consciousness after the Cellien Queen was defeated. Additionally, in the opening movie to Kemono Friends Pavilion, Kako is addressed directly by name, seemingly overseeing the status of the Pavilion itself. Further mentions of her by Calenda in the direct sequel of the original Nexon game, Kemono Friends 3, attest to her survival and additionally reveal that she continued working at the Park after the original mobile game's events. However, due to the unknown timeline placement of this movie, the professor's current status, along with that of all other humans that once inhabited Japari Park, is unknown. Her research and accomplishments nevertheless continue to impact the universe of Kemono Friends.
Mirai and Kako originally met at a zoo when they were young, and the two have been close friends since then. Kako had a mentor/pupil dynamic with Mirai, teaching the latter much of what they now know about animals; her influence has been stated to be responsible for Mirai's motivation to become a Park Guide.
Although Kako herself has yet to mention or comment on Mirai (owing to her extremely limited number of appearances in canon), it would appear that Mirai thinks very highly of her, asserting that there is no one who cares more about Japari Park.
Kako is Nana's elder cousin. Their relationship aside from family ties is not detailed aside from them both being employed in Japari Park at some point, and additionally it is not known whether they worked with each-other. However, since they have similar interests — both having a great passion in animals, friends, people, and the Park alike — it is possible that Nana became interested in them through Kako.
While the two are never seen interacting with each-other directly, it can be assumed that they work (or have worked) together, or at least that Calenda has read her research. Calenda applauds Kako's work openly and looks up to her enough to call her a "genius." Kako's side of the relationship, due to her strictly name-only appearance in Kemono Friends 3, is left a mystery.
- Her role as the creator of the Lucky Beast's prototype model is hinted at by a Beast who narrates the bulk of the fourth guidebook's new information, pointing out the resemblance of her hair ornaments to their tails.
- Kako's name means "Past" in Japanese, much like how her pupil and friend Mirai's name means "Future". This may be a reference to Kako's limited direct role in the plot compared to her extensive impact on the franchise's backstory.
- It was not until June 2016, during a collaboration event with the maid café "Schatzkiste" in Akihabara, that Kako's design would be revealed to the public. Photography was strictly forbidden during this event, probably to keep the design secret. Kako's official reveal would wait until a live stream by Bushiroad in February 2017, where cards for the upcoming ChaosTCG collaboration were being announced.
|World of Kemono Friends|
|Protagonists||Nana • Towa • Mirai • Kaban • Kyururu|
|Friends||Serval • Ezo Red Fox • Cerval • Caracal • Aardwolf • Raccoon • Fennec Fox • Penguins Performance Project • Gothic×Luck • The Four Gods • Oinari-Sama|
|Other||Kako • Park Founder • Cellien Queen • Celliens • Lucky • Lucky Beasts • Lucky Beast Type-III • Star Beasts • Groups|
|Japari Park • Kyōshū Region • Riukiu Region • Park Central • Pavilion|
|Japari Bun • Japari Bus • Kemono Amulet • Lucky Beast|
|Cellien • Friend • Beast • Sandstar • Cellium • Sparkle • Kemonoplasm • Kemo Harmony|
|Glossary • Introduction to Kemono Friends|