|“||Yuri, from now on, I'm your enemy. This is the last time we will ever speak as friends||„|
|“||What do you mean?||„|
|“||The world as you know it will end, by my hand. If you really think you can stop me, my old friend, bring everything you have. Unlike Nicolai and Rasputin I won't depend upon the power of some evil god, I'll do it with my own hands.||„|
|~ Masaji Kato making up his mind to undo time. Shadow Hearts: Covenant|
Masaji Kato (also known as Kato) is the head of one of Japan's secret super-solider programs in Shadow Hearts Covenant. He is one of Yuri, the hero's friends though through a tragic set of circumstances he is driven to severe depression both as a humanitarian and on a personal level. In his despair he sets out to undo time and rebuild the world's past 100 years. But in doing so he will unmake most if not all of the people that currently exist in it. He has compassion, empathy and honor but lacks any form of mercy to let such concepts get in the way of what he feels must be done. He comes off as a side character at first but as the game progresses he becomes more and more involved behind the scenes, to the point where he kills the game's former Big Bad, Nicolai and takes over as the main antagonist.
Kato in Shadow Hearts
In Shadow Hearts Kato is portrayed as a timid soldier assigned to assist Lt. Colonel Yoshiko Kawashima, one of the early antagonists in the game. Lt. Colonel Kawashima is sent to investigate the supernatural world brought to light in Japan's encounters with Dehuai, a mad Chinese sage that opposed Japan's occupation of his country. Lt. Colonel Kawashima was one of Japan's greatest soldiers at the time, with prestigious family ties but was lacking in knowledge of the occult, so she was sent Kato as her assistant in dealing with Dehuai and his magics. Kato was not only an avid researcher of the supernatural, he was also sent to spy on the Lt. Colonel and report any disloyalty back to headquarters. Lt. Colonel Kawashima was the daughter of a very powerful politician with views that conflicted with Japan's current Minster, Kantaro Ishimura. In light of Kawashima's growing popularity with the troops and local Chinese alike she was deemed dangerous enough to be watched. Kato however not only admired Lt. Colonel Kawashima more than the higher ups, he also fell in love with her and as a result did not report all her activities. Kato's loyalty to Lt. Colonel Kawashima and vague reports opened a military inquest from her father's political rivals, one Yuri and his friends help repel in order to question Lt. Colonel Kawashima about her spying on them. After the heroes help Lt. Colonel Kawashima both the Lt. Colonel and Kato become friends with Yuri and company and agree to work with them to help stop Dehuai, rather than kidnapping them for research purposes into the supernatural as they were originally ordered.
Long after the party leaves China and near the end of the game they will get a letter from a friend in China reporting Lt. Colonel Kawashima's death. With concern of the Lt. Colonel's activities growing and her father's political favor running out Minister Ishimura sent more Japanese troops to Kawashima's outpost, this time with assassination orders. The troops entered shortly after Kato had confessed his love for Lt. Colonel Kawashima and told her to come speak with them in private for an important high-priority message. A few moments after the troops had left with the Lt. Colonel Kato heard a gunshot in the hall and immediately ran outside charging through and killing the troops between him and Lt. Colonel Kawashima. Kawashima had been shot in the back and was quickly dying. With her last breath, Lt. Colonel Kawashima laughs at her father's abandonment of her and regrets deeply that she had not lived as freely as Yuri and his friend had, then died in Kato's arms. Kato had been staying with Yuri's friend in China and told them all about it, he had apparently fallen into a deep depression. This is the last heard of Kato or Lt. Colonel Kawashima in the first game and Yuri vows revenge on the Japanese military if he ever sees them again.
Kato in Shadow Hearts: Covenant
While Yuri is looking for his friend, the famous magician and philosopher Roger Bacon, he encounters Kato in the Port of Southampton. Yuri discovers that in the past year Kato has risen in rank considerably and is now a diplomatic envoy for Japan to the west. Kato and Yuri catch up and when Yuri tells Kato about his encounters with the terrorist organization Sapientes Gladio, Kato momentarily looks surprised and anxious and tell Yuri if he hears anything about them he will send word. In truth Kato had been on his way to see Nicolai the second in command of Sapientes Gladio who had cursed Yuri, sealing his powers from the first game. Sapientes Gladio's leader, Grigori Rasputin, intended to overthrow the Russian Tsar and become the new ruler of Russia and soon Europe; Nicolai intended to overthrow Rasputin after helping him get there; and Japan had intended to "honor alliance with whoever happened to be in charge of Russia at the time". Nicolai was an illegitimate son of Tsar Nicholas II, he did not just want power but also revenge against his father for abandoning him and his mother, Japan however knew since Nicolai was a son, though illegitimate, he would have a binding claim to the throne, so he was the one Kato was sent to make alliances with and Rasputin was never told. Though it was up to Kato to secure Nicolai's allegiance to Japan in whatever way he saw fit.
Kato had heard of a book called the Émigré Manuscript, a book straddling science and sorcery written by Roger Bacon, held by the Vatican, stolen by Albert Simon and eventually recovered by Yuri; as a result only Yuri and Roger knew the book's current hiding place. Nicolai had captured Roger to torture the location of the book out of him as it was the price Kato asked in order to grant Nicolai the resources he would need when overthrowing Rasputin. Kato and Japan's interest in the book was to learn what they needed to bring back the dead, for the Emeigre' Manuscript had the power to undo death and manipulate the gates of time. Kato had convinced his commander, Minister Ishimura, that the book could be used to undo death and give Japan an elite force of undead agents, the program was called the "Mutant Apes Project".
After Rasputin is defeated by Yuri and the Tsar is saved and Nicolai's plans are put to a stop, both his birthright and his revenge had been robbed from him; all his secret meetings with Kato, the trouble he had gone through to find the Emigre' Manuscript and soul pact with the demonic lord Astaroth had been for nothing since Raputin had been defeated before he could take-over Russia. Nicolai lost the last threads of composure when Karin, Yuri's fellow hero, had rejected Nicolai's advances of love and in his rage gave into Astaroth's suggestions and released humanity's pent up malice over the past one thousand years to accelerate World War I. Yuri, Karin and friends arrived to stop Nicolai as soon as Rasputin had been killed but were unable to stop him and fought the transformed Nicolai as Astaroth. After Nicolai's defeat Kato showed up to save him with two of the Mutants Apes, Hiei and Raiden. Nicolai was still an ally of Japan and they honored their arrangment with him, though it was less about honor than unlocking the power of Astaroth then recondition him so they could send Nicolai back to Russia to politically usurp the throne for them. When Yuri insisted Nicolai pay for his crimes then and there Kato used an unidentified set of skills to stop Yuri and vanished with the unconscious Nicolai.
Kato took Nicolai back to Japan and handed him over to Doctor Hojo, a researcher for Ishimura set on understanding and unlocking the nature of the supernatural through science. Hojo intended to use a machine to separate Astaroth from Nicolai's body so he could experiment on the demon lord. Kato made it clear though that Nicolai was of great importance to Japan's national interests and that he must not be permanently harmed in the process of extracting Astaroth. While Hojo worked on Nicolai, Kato was given permission from Ishimura to pursue his ultimate project one Kato had had in mind ever since he had first heard about the Emigre' Manuscript, the rebirth of Yoshiko Kawashima.
The last of the Mutant Apes was Ouka, a recreation of Yoshiko Kawashima's body. Kato had started a cloning process and used the Émigré 's power to speed-up time to fully create an exact physical copy of his fallen love. He however did not attempt to bring back her spirit to inhabit the body or create the body from the remains as was done with previous attempts with the book like those of Jack, or what lead to the creation of Elaine Heyworth's zombie, as a result Ouka was born an entirely separate individual from Yoshiko Kawashima but still one that was very special to Kato. Yuri and friends had of-course followed Kato to Japan and when they tried to break into Hojo's research facility they caught Hojo throwing caution to the wind and willing to destroy Nicolai's ego to get to his prize, the demon lord Astaroth. Kato tried to stop Hojo but the mad doctor was too set on his experiment to listen. When it was over Astaroth was bought to the surface but as Kato pointed out, Nicolai's ego had been the only thing keeping the demon under control and with it weakened by Hojo's experiments Astaroth possessed Nicolai's body and easily escaped his restraints. The Mutant Apes leaped in to stop Astaroth though Kato warned them not to. The battle caused Astaroth to teleport away rather than to bother with his would-be attackers, at this point Kato and Yuri both go their separate ways to find Astaroth and Nicolai.
Yuri discovers that Nicolai is in a cave running through Mt. Fuji with the intent of using the close proximity to the planet's ley-lines to create a massive eruption and quake that would destroy most of the planet. They found that Kato was already ahead of them and he and his Mutant Apes were closing in on Astaroth themselves. When Yuri and his friends arrive at Astaroth's inner chamber Kato and the Mutant Apes were badly hurt and unable to fight anymore, though Astaroth seemed unharmed. Kato warned Yuri the the demon was powerful and had both mystical strength and razor sharp claws dripping with liquid malice, a poison there was not antidote for. After goading Astaroth out of his defenses Yuri and friends fought Astaroth, now much stronger than they he had been in their previous fight thanks to now being free of Nicolai's ego, eventually though Astaroth was defeated by Yuri and his friends. Unlike Rasputin, Nicolai survived the battle with his demonic patron and turned back into himself upon Astaroth's defeat. Nicolai was far from grateful, he was enraged at how far things had spun out of his original plans and picked up a chipped off shard of Astaroth's claws and struck at Kato...however Ouka had thrown herself in the way. For the second time Kato had to watch a woman he loved with the face of his Yoshiko Kawashima die in his arms and unlike the original Yoshiko Kawashima this one had openly reciprocated his love. Kato flew into a rage and crushed Nicolai's head in his bare-hand. He then disappeared for awhile with Hiei, Raiden and Ouka's body.
Kato met Yuri again in front of Lt. Colonel's Kawashima's grave, having placed Ouka's remains in an unmarked grave next to it. He returned the Emigre's Manuscript to Yuri and told him he intended to destroy the world. Kato said if Yuri wanted to stop him the answer was in the book, he also was making a gift of the book to Yuri so he might bring back Alice Elliot, Yuri's love interest and fellow hero from the first game, who had given her life to save Yuri's soul. Yuri went to Roger and Roger agreed to help preform the rites to bring back Alice, though many had unwittingly created monstrous undead from such uses of the book Roger was the books writer and the two hoped that by taking some careful steps Alice could be bought back as she was, though Roger insisted that if they bough back a monster or one of them ended up becoming one himself the other would have to kill him, thus ending the rite. Though the ritual was not successful...entirely...Roger understood from reading the rite what Kato planned. To restore Alice Roger had to use the Emigre' Manuscript to bring her soul back from beyond the gates of time temporarily make such a gate accessible to one such as Kato who had read the book himself and was a learned magician by this point. Kato intended to go to the gates and undo time itself in his anger and despair.
Yuri and his friends found Kato waiting at the sight of the Asuka stone platform in Japan. He told Yuri that when the gate opened near the platform he would use it to unmake the past 100 years and guide the world into an entire new direction, although as Yuri points out that meant many of the people that existed in the world as they were now would never be born. The gate opened and sure enough Kato enters leaving Yuri and the rest of the heroes to catch up. After traversing the dungeon the heroes encounter Hien and Raiden guarding their master in the inner sanctum, the two transform into the Japanese gods of thunder and lighting Fujin and Raijin through some sort of soul pact but are defeated and killed. Once Yuri and his friends make it to Kato he is standing on the thresh-hold of time about to remake it. After exchanging pleasantries and regrets Kato transforms into Susano-o a guardian deity of his own and fights Yuri and his friends. Once the heroes won Kato tells Yuri he is sorry for how things had turned out and tells him and his friends the key to getting out was visualizing the place and the time that made them the most happy. Briefly after revealing the way out Kato dies and his body fades into the void of time.
PersonalityIn the first game Kato is nervous and shy most of the time unless Lt. Colonel Kawashima is in trouble. Kato does not confess his feelings for Kawashima until late in the game and when he does and realizes how awkward the situation is for the Lt. Colonel he immediately begins banging his head against the wall and calling himself stupid. After Kawashima's death though Kato comes out of his depression dedicated to the his country, partially out of fear of what might happen to him if he did not re-prove his loyalty and partially because he believed his willingness to bend the rules for the Lt. Colonel is what got her killed. By the time he is encountered in Shadow Hearts: Covenant Kato is a model Japanese agent and patriot shamelessly working as a lapdog for prime-minister Ishimura while at the same time playing events towards his own goals. Though fond of the Mutant Apes he is willing to physically discipline them if they do not follow orders to the letter. Kato is a slave to his emotions though he hides this well and is very mindful of those he is responsible for. Even during his breakdown Kato is able to compartmentalize his friendship with Yuri and patriotic nature from his depression and rage.
Powers and AbilitiesKato is never encountered in battle as his human-self and so the limitation of his powers are somewhat unclear; However, in encounters through-out the game Kato uses precise ki blasts, teleportation, swift movements and other styles very similar to ninjutsu, in addition he seems to have taught the Mutant Apes to operate in such a style as well though without ki techniques. In the first game it is unclear what if any combat techniques Kato knows and all that is alluded to is that Kato is a well read occultist. In the time between Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts Covenant Kato seemed to have gotten much stronger physically, going from a scrawny build to a muscular one. In both games though Kato is seen as a very well informed soldier not just of the mystical but of the movements of allies and enemies alike.
- In Shadow Hearts Kato's first name is identified as "Seiji" however in Shadow Hearts: Covenant it is changed to "Masaji", this corresponds to different staff members working on the games but may be canonically attributed to Kato working undercover when he was with Kawashima and so "Masaji Kato" is likely his true name.