Thursday, March 12, 2015

Those tits won't be necessary pt. II - The defeminization of Cammy!



This is part 2 of an 8 part series. for part one click here!  Or if you want more in depth discussion, try the bonus chapters: The Myth of  Selective DiversityThe Fat the Lean and Everything in between and Lingerie may not be armor (but it's as thin as your arguments)]


Last time, we discussed Ninjitsu, Kunoichi, and Taki's overall design. Today we're going to delve on the topic of Street Fighter. More specifically, we're going to talk about Cammy's design, and how it came to be, while comparing it to it's puritanical makeover counterpart. Before we get into the thick of it, let's cover the redesign notes from Svampiket's original article...



In Street Fighter has both Cammy and Guile a very militaristic style, with the slight difference that Guile rarely perform their duties wearing a thong bathing suit and softly camouflage painted bone. I replaced the aforementioned thong bathing suit against the jacket and pants. Revolutionary, right? Cammys obligatory "showcase its just butt" -pose abolished too. Beret, gloves and shoes, I kept as they were, but why not move up camouflage painting somewhere where it actually relevant?
In discovering that both Cammy and Guile are both soldiers in the military, you've given an example of the purpose of good Character Design; With one look you're able to discern key elements about that character's personality and capability. Let's use Guile, for example.



On first glance, Guile seems to be your standard military tough S.O.B. . We know this information based on his posture, his stern look and his huge biceps and his massive chest. look at it! it's massive! That's what we gathered just from taking one little glance at this guy. We know he can fight, and we know that he definitely fits in a world warrior tournament, and we have some idea that from his appearance, he's going to be somewhat of a brawler. Now, let's look at Cammy.


On first glance, you can tell that she is working in part with some sort of military operation, clearly on the camouflage on her legs, and the style of boots, she has, The body suit, The Beret and the emblem completely distances her from any form of military unit that Guile is a part of. In fact, she might be a part of a military unit from another country entirely! The blonde pigtails signify immaturity, so she's possibly younger than Twenty. The small body type and Leotard leaves clues that she may be some sort of a gymnast, which may give some insight into her fighting style.

So how accurate was that assessment? Well, let's read up on her character background

Capcom's research and development head Noritaka Funamizu stated that Cammy's inclusion in Super Street Fighter II stemmed from his feeling that the game needed another female character besides Chun-Li. Cammy is a fighter with a slender build, strengthened by her solid muscular tone. She has long blonde hair she usually wears in two braided pigtails, blue eyes and a scar on her left cheek. In Super Street Fighter II, she is shown wearing a green sleeveless thong leotard, a red beret, red gloves and black boots. She also wears green camouflage stains on her legs. This incarnation is known as Delta Red Cammy and appears in the Street Fighter II series of games, in other games such as Cannon Spike, in the live action movie, in the American animated series, in several manga and comic book adaptations, in the home versions of Street Fighter IV and in Super Street Fighter IV. Delta Red Cammy is approximately 19 years old in Street Fighter II and 22 in Street Fighter IV. 
A different look was introduced in X-Men vs. Street Fighter. This time, Cammy was depicted wearing a light blue outfit which was part thong leotard and part turtleneck sweater, a matching garrison cap, red gloves and armbraces, brown leather boots, and a yellow necktie. The camouflage of her legs was replaced with blue stains in the shape of lightning bolts. This incarnation is known as Shadaloo Cammy and appears in the Street Fighter Alpha, Marvel vs. Capcom and Capcom vs. SNK series of games, as well as in Namco X Capcom and in several manga and comic adaptations. Shadaloo Cammy is approximately 16 years old.

So were the first impressions spot on with her character bio? There are a few other things that weren't mentioned in the first impressions that lead to a bit more research. Cammy's red beret on further research is a military beret given to The Royal Military police as well as Commandos and Paramilitary forces. This falls in line with the "Delta Red" organization from her current storyline.

Other than that the only thing left to say is... Jeez, Bison. is a bit of a cradle robber, to say the least.


But what about the costume? 

Cammy's play style is high acrobatics and extensive leg based attacks. While she claims no exact style of fighting, you can clearly see the gymnastic influence in her moves. If we want to know more about why she would want to wear leotards, much like gymnasts would, we need look no further than to the origins of said costume.

Gymnastics leotards are really designed to resolve the problems with uncomfortable movements due to wearing loose clothes while performing. This gymnastics leotard is a piece of apparel that can be worn during sports and athletic performances. The design of the garment is as simple as one-piece apparel usually covering the chest and the abdomen but exposing the legs. 
For females, the standard competition uniform is a leotard. Traditionally, competition leotards have always had long sleeves; however, half-length sleeved and sleeveless garments are now permitted under the Code of Points and have been worn by teams at the World Gymnastics Championships and other major events. Practice leotards and those worn in podium training sessions are generally sleeveless.

Of course the long sleeved Leotard design is utilized in what many call "Shadoloo Cammy" or the more popular "Killer Bee" style of costume. The painted designs on the legs are there for two different reasons; The most obvious reason being design and the second reason is dynamic movement. Let's go back to Guile for a second.



This is the animation for Guile's flash kick. Notice the smear effect on his legs, and how the camo print blends out to show the direction that his kick is going? That's dynamic movement. The Animations and smears blog has more on this.
Smears are in-betweens that replicate a motion blur in live action film. While motion blur is something that happens automatically, due to the action being filmed moving faster than what the shutter speed can capture, a smear has to be created by hand. Originally it was replicated using dry brush techniques, where they’d use a brush nearly dry of paint to create a blur effect: 
One more thing before we begin the breakdown of the redesign. I'm sure you're wondering about boots and the gauntlets in Cammy's design and despite their contrasting nature. When incorporating elements that attribute to a character's personality in design, there are certain tricks that are used to contrast in order add emphasis. The "heavy" nature of the boots, and the gauntlets are to emphasize that when Cammy's attacks connect, they'll hit hard! This contrasts with her relatively small frame and thin arms. To further explain that, let's take a look at Big Mex's discussion about psychological cues played a part in the creation of Chun Li.

Above: The strongest woman in the world

Chun-Li was given blue, a strong primary color with a gold trim for contrast. A white belt with a dragon motif painted on it and boots helped accent the color choices. The cut of her dress created the illusion of traditional kung-fu clothing, while not being authentic Chinese at all. Her arms were not bare but covered in a short but puffy sleeve that allowed her shoulders a wide range of movement. Her wrists were adorned with spike weights. As a female character she was drawn with arms much thinner than those of her male counterparts. The spike weights on her wrist created the illusion that her strikes had as much force as the men in the game. It was as much an aesthetic choice as it was a psychological cue. The ways in which the illusion of movement, mass and weight for strikes and special attacks will be described in a later blog. The cut of her dress allowed her legs to show, move and strike with range. This dress gave animators the freedom to give her a broad series of kicking moves without being restricted by a hem on a skirt. As a show of class and modesty Chun-Li was given tights so that her legs were not left bare. Instead of slippers or flats Chun-Li wore wrestling boots. The boots, exposed thighs and spiked bracelets countered the dainty "China Daughter" that was originally proposed for SF II. Her design incorporates a hint of the Timeless Design property as well. While wrestling boots are the closest thing to being modern and really dating her appearance. Even then the cut and shape of those boots have remained relatively unchanged since the early 1900's.
The great cover-up

So let's go back to that top quote, again. This time we'll do a side-by-side of both versions for further reference.
In Street Fighter has both Cammy and Guile a very militaristic style, with the slight difference that Guile rarely perform their duties wearing a thong bathing suit and softly camouflage painted bone. I replaced the aforementioned thong bathing suit against the jacket and pants. Revolutionary, right? Cammys obligatory "showcase its just butt" -pose abolished too. Beret, gloves and shoes, I kept as they were, but why not move up camouflage painting somewhere where it actually relevant?

So what is the first thing you notice about the design?

The first question that comes to mind is; Why is she wearing a mask? She's obviously not described as a super heroine, or a vigilante, nor is she some sort of criminal, so something like that seems confusing. Another point of confusion is her jacket. What exactly is the purpose of the jacket in the scheme of the design? Geographic location could be a factor, but considering the World Warrior competition takes place in many different locales, ranging from Amazon rain forests to Savannah, to the great wall of china, this seems like a bad design aesthetic.

One can attribute the true nature of the jacket's use to wanting to cover up Cammy's original design as a means to "hide her dignity", but in doing so it becomes functionally useless. It does nothing to imply anything to her character, nor does it lend anything to her style of fighting; meaning it restricts her upper body movements, completely.  In comparison to the original designs, this makes even less sense due to the fact that Cammy's breasts and midsection are completely covered, so this is just silly conservatism at play instead of actual design. Sadly, this makes the design generic, and bland, and much like Taki, this character seems like she'd be an extra in a superhero group shot (The Masked Militarian!!).

The use of baggy camo pants in opposition of bare legs, also reeks of this puritan mindset. Remember our earlier explanation of why Gymnasts wear leotards? So in thinking on that, ask yourselves if the use of pants would be helpful or hindering to a Gymnast. Let's use Olympic Gold winning Gymnast Mary Lou Retton as an example. If she were wearing those pants while performing one of her routines would those particular pants be able to hold up in constant action? How about in the image below?



So to answer the writer's question, camouflage painted on skin is used as opposed to camo pants; The artist sometimes finds themselves having to break things down to their most basic state in order to come up with the most simple design. To accomplish this feat, sometimes we need to look to things such as Archetypes (Typical examples of a certain type of person or thing) and signifying elements (clothing/Stance/moves). The Camo paint on the legs, as well as the beret, boots and insignia are visible proof of her being a Military Operative, while teaming with her costume leotard to explain her Gymnastic ability. All of this works, while not having to force her into the trap of being a "Generic Guile clone". Mex has more on this, below.

A serviceman did not need to wear a karate gi in order to let gamers know that he or she was a fighter. With some camouflage, combat boots or other traditional details a character like Guile or Cammy had enough Color and Costume cues to show gamers what style of fighter they were. When combined with a solid fighting Stance, and given appropriate Moves their fictional special forces Technique was sold to gamers. The pseudo military costume would hold up to Timeless Design because the armed forces had not changed their look in decades. A pair of pants, boots and tank top were accurate for a serviceman from the Second World War to today. The costume for Cammy was passable because she was a member of an elite force which wore uniforms that were outside of normal military. Thus the military Archetype was a universally understood model for a fighter, especially in Street Fighter II.

Now, it's normally at this point where one would say "Well Guile can do flash kicks, and he wears standard camo pants". This is true, but Let's also consider the fact that Guile's range of movement is quite limited compared to Cammy and Chun Li for that matter. In The Design of Cammy, much like the design of Chun Li, emphasis is placed on portions of the body related to the type of fighting expertise that character has. Chun Li wears a costume featuring bare legs because the emphasis is on her powerful fast kicks and leg intensive special moves. Likewise, Cammy's emphasis is on her acrobatics, and leg based grappling and striking attacks.

because ripping your pants mid-split is downright embarrassing!

While a character could possibly accomplish such things with pants, A larger question should be asked; "If I take away from a design what should I do to compensate for what was conveyed preiously?". If one hasn't considered this, then the action would ultimately be a disservice to not only the design of the character, but it would be entirely confusing to the player.


Erase the feminine pile on the masculine!


Furthermore,  the question that needs to be asked, here is "why is it that in lieu of Cammy's feminine yet powerful design, did the writer feel the need to masculine her up in order to make her seem more legitimate as a character? ". In turning Cammy into Guile we seem to equate that she had no uniqueness or agency on her own other than as some sort of "sexualized character", and that's misguided at best.

Let's look at little further in Mex's blog for a bit, before we end this week's discussion.

The design of Chun-Li was not perfect in their first attempt. Capcom needed a strong female character for the SFII lineup. To make the character more than a token girl she was originally presented as a female police officer. The concept was good but it would not have had the same impact if the solitary female had been the only character wearing plain clothes. This was not to say that a police uniform made her weaker in canon or purpose but rather that gamers needed to see a fighting archetype in the lineup. Police officer does not automatically equate to fighter. Her costume, color choices and appearance had to spell out explicitly what type of fighter she was. This costume had to hold up to be representative of a particular fighting art even if these cues weren't culturally accurate (or appropriate) as the other characters in the game. In concept it sounded bland and uninspired that every character in the game would have to pander to stereotype (or archetype depending on your point of view) but in the long run it was one of the most important contributions that the designers at Capcom gave the series. One of the challenges for budding designers is to create a character that has a timeless quality and not feel obliged to add modern cues in an attempt to make her more hip or trendy to the moment. 
The designers at Capcom thought that Chun-Li as an officer made her interesting. It helped make the character more well rounded than simply being a fighter for the sake of fighting. In later versions of the series they wrote her in as an ICPO officer trying to bring down Shadolaw. They would even present her in a police uniform in some endings, mirroring the idea that Chun-Li had more substance than poorly conceived female fighters. At no point did her purpose in story ever supersede her look in the game. IE she never flashed a badge or put away her gun before staring a fight. These details and concepts were applied a few years later to Cammy, another female fighter whose costume beguiled her purpose. Like Chun-Li her endings showed that she was a trained agent and part of a bigger plot. 

The term "beguile" in the context that Mex uses, is to charm and hypnotize in sometimes deceptive manner, and of course you notice this more in both these character's designs. The feminine nature of the charters mask their overall strength and power in a quite deceptive manner, which boggles the mind to think that traits should be completely eradicated based on the misconceptions of someone with very little idea of how design theory works. Perhaps, instead of covering up these female fighters, the better option should of been to better understand why they are the way they are in the first place.

This is the end of part II, of this series. Next week we'll be covering the one redesign that seems to be the most egregious of all the designs, as well as explaining why you just can't cover up a Succubus.

Game On !

Links for great reference!!





The following artists were featured in this week's post (give them a glance)

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