Waifu Wednesday: Konoko (Oni)

I’m feeling like we should have a throwback for a title for this week’s Waifu Wednesday piece, so here’s a trip down memory lane. Konoko, main character of both an underrated and forgotten PC and PS2 game remains to this very day as one of the greatest female heroines in video game history. If you ask me, that is. If you happen to be unfamiliar with her then you should probably check out what exactly her story entails. It’s well worth exploring.

Who is Konoko?

Konoko (Oni)
Konoko as she appears in Oni gameplay.

Konoko is the main character of the 2001 action game Oni. The game appeared on both PC and PS2 with quite the notable company name overseeing it – Bungie West, which itself is an offshoot studio of Bungie, the American company behind the Halo franchise. Oni, with its anime aesthetic plus evident inspiration from Ghost in the Shell, captivated a small but dedicated following that kept the community active years after its release through its modding scene.

As the video game that would singlehandedly influence my fascination and adoration for Claymore later on down the line, Oni was just the starting point of my discovery of and appreciation for capable weapon wielding, independent and badass heroines. In its dark and edgy cyberpunk world, set in the distant year of 2032, Konoko is a recently deployed agent of the TCTF (Technological Crimes Task Force) on a mission to infiltrate a criminal organisation. The Syndicate are actively attempting to put the remaining population into further jeopardy against the deadly levels of pollution outside the cities.

But as one might expect from such a set-up, Konoko’s not just an ass kicking leading lady. She’s also confronting her own demons as she goes about saving the day.

Why we love her

As one of the very few battle heroines who comes to mind for actually donning appropriate attire for what she does for her job, this cop goes from strength to strength. While she’s out here saving the world, she’s also got a lot on her plate – and when we say that we mean just how personal the job at hand really is to her. Initially worried about proving herself as a fresh TCTF agent is only the start of her woes and mental anguish.

We can’t say much since this is a spoiler-free write up but to put it mildly, Konoko was always wanting to show her worth as a cop. She would eventually becomes a person whose identity is much greater than that for every hardship she faces and revelation she learns, ultimately leading to her needing to accept herself for who she really is. That’s because while she never fails to showcase just how much of a one woman army she is – capable of dishing out hand-to-hand combat while also being an incredible marksman – this all eventually lends itself into her lone warrior role later on down the line.

You can put much of the enjoyment of her character down to her playstyle even. She’s not just an action girl who prefers to throw herself into a brawl more often than not, but this trait of hers is tied to the home truths she eventually uncovers about herself. The sheer richness of her character growth has an interesting twist to it too.

Why you will love her

She becomes less naïve but due to the trauma she ends up experiencing she becomes cold and deadpan. Since revenge becomes the eventual cause of her drive and desire, it’s an element players actually get to have a hand in shaping. To say that the game itself is quite a heavy and layered experience is putting it mildly.

Furthermore, the level of sympathy you feel for Konoko by the end of her journey depends on your own actions. This further enriches the complexity of Konoko and what she represents by the end of this twisted, dystopian nightmare. At the same time as her internalised battling of seeing herself as a monster due to her bloodthirst and questioning her own morality, her past is as tragic as it could get. She’s been used, manipulated and betrayed and the ghosts of her past never stop tailing her whenever she goes.

As a badass action girl who eventually becomes a broken hero, Konoko still represents an incredible leading woman, regardless of the outcome. When we consider what put her down the dark path she finds herself on, it’s for more than understandable intentions. She is, after all, a protector to those she values most, even if doing said protecting/saving is at the cost of losing her career or mind.

You can find copies of the game for PC and PS2 via Amazon if you want to meet Konoko yourself. It’s well worth seeing her story through.

Lilia Hellal
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