Professor Kako (Japanese: カコ博士 Hepburn: Kako-hakase), though seldom featured in person, is nevertheless a major figure in the backstory of the Kemono Friends universe. 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.
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 minimalistically, wearing a simple lilac shirt, tight black pants and basic white shoes. Over her clothes, she wears a white labcoat befitting her profession, which features a Japari Park logo patch on the sleeve. Kako's unkempt hair is tied together with a white bow and matching tail accessories. The accessories are lined with stripes, bearing a resemblance to the tails of real raccoons, but also to that of a Lucky Beast.
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 hard working and devoted to her research. Disappearing into the lab for extended periods of time to conduct research with no outside interaction is her norm, although she does it out of love for the animals (and Friends) that she studies. Contrary to initial fan impressions, 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, and has 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 accident. She spent much of her youth and young adulthood visiting the zoo, although it's unclear what impact the loss of her parents had on 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 student in university, and would receive an invitation 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 species of animal.
Kako was one of the researchers present for the discovery of Friends when the phenonemon 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 as-of-yet unknown.
Kemono Friends (2015 Mobile Game)
At the outset of the events of the game's story, during the Cellien invasion of Japari Park, the park staff's headquarters is beseiged 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 personaltiy 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, with the most popular theory being that, upon giving up Kako's Sparkle, the Cellien Queen gave voice to Kako's innermost wishes. Many have chosen to 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.
A Bushiroad livestream 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. 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 met at the zoo when they were young. Although Mirai was already interested in animals, she learnt a great deal about them from Kako, who was slightly older than her. From here, the two girls developed a mentor and pupil relationship of sorts, and it has been stated that much of Mirai's motivation to become a Park Guide was because of that influence.
Although Kako herself has yet to comment on the matter (owing to her extremely limited number of appearances in canon), it would appear that Mirai thinks very highly of her, asserting that no one cares for Japari Park more than she.
Kako and Nana are cousins; Kako is the older of the pair. The nature of their relationship is unknown, although both were employed in Japari Park at some point.
- Kako's hair ornaments resemble the tail of a Lucky Beast, which one (who narrates the bulk of the new information in the fourth guidebook) uses to hint at her role as the creator of the robot's prototype model.
- 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 role in the plot compared to her extensive imapct on the franchise's backstory.
- It was not until June 2016, during a collaboration event with 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 livestream by Bushiroad in February 2017, where cards for the upcoming ChaosTCG collaboration were being announced.