The first trailer for Catherine: Full Body, a PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita remake of the 2011 game, is garnering criticism for what some are interpreting as a gag making fun of trans identity. Hints that Rin, who makes her debut in the upcoming game, is a trans woman have fans concerned that her storyline may not handle representation well.
Catherine: Full Body again stars nightmare-prone Vincent, who finds himself torn between — and cheating on — women named Catherine and Katherine. The remake adds a third woman, the aforementioned Rin, into the mix.
We don’t know much about Rin yet (even her age is a mystery), other than that she’s voiced by popular actress Aya Hirano and that Vincent becomes romantically entangled with her as well. That’s made most clear by the stinger at the end of the new trailer, where Vincent and Rin end up in a bedroom alone together. Rin stands nude. As Vincent looks at her crotch, his eyes widen with shock.
“Everything about the way [Rin] was revealed hits on tropes regarding stories of men who realize they've slept with a trans woman,” says Kotaku U.K. editor Laura Kate Dale, who has written about trans issues and games for Polygon in the past.
Atlus declined to provide comment on Rin’s potential portrayal in Catherine: Full Body. Dale, however, believes there are a number of reasons to believe Rin will be portrayed as a trans character. Along with the trailer, new artwork focuses on Rin hiking up her dress to expose her crotch, which is pointedly obscured. But the trailer’s final scene is the most concerning indication for Dale and others that Atlus is using Rin’s gender for shock value and comedy.
It wouldn’t be the first time that the studio has failed transgender fans in this regard. Catherine already features another trans woman. Consider this a spoiler warning for the ending of the game.
A character named Erica plays a significant part in the storyline, and over the course of the game, there are several clues that she’s a trans woman. This is confirmed both by a subplot in which a man she’s slept with is admonished for having done so, and in the end credits, where Erica is referred to by her deadname, the name she went by prior to her transition. Fans called out Erica’s role as offensive in reviews and essays following launch.
“[Erica] is the deviant, sexual trickster who seduces unsuspecting men to their sexuality questioning doom,” wrote gaming critic and scholar Mattie Brice in 2011. “Her friends don’t show any support and have extremely little respect for her identity as a woman; as well, her boss is constantly hitting on her, despite that he was punishing her for transitioning into a woman and seeking romance as a trans-woman.”
Compounded by other Atlus games making light of queer representation (which we noted in our review of Persona 5) and the fact that transphobia can often lead to physical assault or even murder, Catherine: Full Body’s trailer isn’t imbuing much confidence in critics like Dale, who have expressed disappointment on social media.
It’s possible that the trailer is misdirection, and that Vincent’s shock is caused by something completely different. (Some fans are even toying with the idea that Rin may be an angel of some kind.) And if Rin does turn out to be a trans woman, some fans hope Atlus will be more thoughtful with her depiction than they have been in the past.
I feel so many people already discounting Catherine: Full Body as bad and like— Tanner of the North Goodbye18000 (@TannerLPer) December 22, 2017
guys it was JUST announced, before getting your panties in a knot let it release
Also we don’t even know IF Rin is trans, crossdressing, intersex, sexless, not worth hyping “potential controversy”
I want to give Atlus the benefit of the doubt with the Catherine: Full Body trailer. But there's already a precedent for blatant transphobia in OG Catherine. Here's to hoping they just picked a really bad first scene to show off Rin.— Doug Nevitt (@ElGordoSupreme) December 22, 2017
Absolutely no certainty Rin is trans.— Vita Princess Mollie (@mollipen) December 22, 2017
Vincent makes EXACT SAME face with vagina-having Catherine.
Even IF Rin is trans + Vincent IS horrified at surprise penis, we have zero context for how that situation resolves itself after that point.
But no, let's all jump to conclusions. https://t.co/AncVS2fpjl
“I would really love to see Rin handled tastefully as a trans woman character,” Dale said. “The idea of a AAA game with two trans characters, one of whom is datable, if pulled off correctly, could be a huge deal, but Atlus’ history with LGBT depictions, and how the original Catherine treated its singular trans character, have me expecting the worst.”