Yeah, it’s Nekomata. Of course. You probably could have guessed that I reserved a spot on my list for Megaten’s main catgirl. Though both her new design (pictured left, from Nocturne) and her old design are a little too much on the “cat” side of catgirl for my taste. I don’t know, maybe if you’re into monster girls. They’re still pretty popular, aren’t they?
Either way, Nekomata is an interesting demon. She’s derived from old folk legends that claim cats who live long enough can take human form and learn human speech and customs. Nekomata are also said to have forked tails, something the current version of SMT Nekomata doesn’t have for whatever reason. If these legends sound familiar, there are some about foxes growing more than one tail and taking human form as well. It’s said that the sadistic queen of the wicked King Zhou, last ruler of the Shang dynasty in China, was an evil fox in human disguise. Though some of these beings are quite nice as well, as anyone who watched the recently aired, extremely depressing anime series The Helpful Fox Senko-san will know.
The Megaten version of Nekomata isn’t really good or evil, however; she just seems to be out for herself. In fact, she never really plays a big plot role in the series as far as I know aside from that infamous “Do something naughty with Nekomata?” mini-boss fight in Nocturne. She’s usually a low-to-mid-level demon, but one who’s worth recruiting for her high agility (she’s a cat, after all) and the strong wind skills she typically has. Just a good team member for the early-mid game. And if you keep her around long enough in Nocturne to level five or six times or so, Nekomata has the opportunity to evolve into a higher-level cat lady demon named Senri, whose design I don’t like nearly as much. A big downgrade in the looks department, but Senri is a better demon in terms of her stats and skills, so you’ll just have to decide for yourself if it’s worth taking the time out to level Nekomata. On the plus side, in Shin Megami Tensei IV, Senri evolves into Nekomata instead.
I also have to give a lot of credit to Kaneko for solving the “two sets of ears” problem that designers have to deal with when it comes to animal-eared girls. Just move those cat ears down to where the human ears would normally be. It looks a little weird, but it’s a better solution than always covering that area with her hair so you never see the place where those ears should be, which is the normal bullshit workaround. Nekopara had fantastic character designs otherwise but it was guilty of doing just this. As is almost every other game or show featuring those kemonomimi girls I’m into. Don’t think we don’t notice what you’re doing. Come on.