Saturday, February 4, 2017

Those Tits Won't Be Necessary Part VIII (FINAL): Never Trust a Big Butt and a smile...



[This is the Final part of an 8 part series If you would like to check out the other parts, click on their respective numbers 7,6,5,4,3,2,1  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)]

For those of you who enjoy writing as a hobby two things can be true; Beginnings can be difficult to write, but endings are even more so. This is a problem I've been struggling with for both this and the Yuzo Koshiro retrospective I did back in 2010. We have been on this ride for some time now, dear reader (at the time of writing this, approximately one year and ten months ) , and I hope that we can say that we've learned a lot in the time it took to finish this mini series, and that the information provided can actually be both applied and considered for your future endeavors of character design. But enough sentimental rambling. I think it's high time for us to get into the last of the eight characters; A curious if not fascinating former member of the Mad Gear gang and now, currently a fight promoter turned Street Fighter. We're talking about Poison!



Before we get into Poison's origins and designs, let's give one final shout out to our lovely friends at Svampricket Who without them, this series would not have been possible.


One of gaming's get tranny, which at a quick glance might appear to be relatively well dressed. There's both linen and denim shorts, it's well after all, okay? Though it's a tank top that shows off just as much as a bra and a pair of denim shorts that are lost three wires from becoming a panty. Undone addition. But! We should not forget that poison actually have a riding crop and a pair of handcuffs too. Here, let me simply biker-style get improved on, jean panty got a couple of long pants, linen were full length and a leather jacket were also added. And something more practical shoes.

The translation seems especially odd on this one, and as with all of these statements, it begs to ask why something so simple and common in female wear is a tank top so damaging? Daisy dukes, thigh cut jeans were very popular in the 90s and made famous by Catherine Bach, in the Dukes of Hazzard television show, are still in circulation. Clearly there are women and some men who thought wearing these are fine. There's nothing wrong with wearing things for simple comfort, right?

                                                       
You tell him he's not allowed to wear that.... 

When this whole series started, the opinion surrounding the re-design was that this was actually a good redesign, and for the most part it can be completely understood as to why. The design retains the core aspect of the character's color scheme, keeps aspects of the costume intact..well for the most part, and the leather jacket kind of adds an interesting addition to what the artist is trying to convey, but after doing this for a while and actually digging a bit more on the character's initial personality, something else begins to make itself completely clear, here. This design, while it looks like a redesign of Poison, kind of comes off more like a picture of someone cos-playing as Poison more than anything else.

The goofy grin, the magazine model stance with the riding crop that looks more like someone pretending than actually filling the role of Poison. Of course, as always we can count this as another case of the artist not having an idea as why this comes off as more of a facsimile of Poison rather than the real deal, but you have to admit, This was actually a pretty close attempt. But, as we've done in the previous chapters, let's cover the origins of the character before we get to any more in depth on this design.

Did you Just assume my Gender?

For most of you who have spent time enjoying Capcom's arcade classics, you're familiar with a little game from 1989 called “Street Fighter 89' ” right? Okay, okay. Maybe you know it by it's more familiar name of Final Fight? Better? Good. Capcom originally intended for Final Fight to be the official sequel to the original Street Fighter game, but according to Yoshiki Okamoto, a few genre changes, and watching the success of the Double Dragon and Double Dragon II: The Revenge arcade games. The game eventually lost it's title and gained the title we know of, today. Some of the most notable aspects of the game is the details of the characters and the designs, which were inspired by 1984 film Streets of Fire. If you haven't seen that film, make some time to do so, it's an awesome film, and you will easily be able to spot the parallels such as Tom Cody (who is also skilled with knives) and Ellen Aim's relationship in the story mirroring Cody and Jessica's, Bred sharing the same wardrobe as Willem Dafoe's character “Raven”, and other interesting tidbits, but again. Digressing.


Now the point of the story where we come in is, right after the release of the arcade version. During the inception of the characters, Akira Yasuda created a female enemy character to contrast against the larger characters, and vary the attack patterns of the enemy A.I. . The character who would be named by an uncredited female employee, was Poison and her palette swap alternate would go on to be called “Roxy”. (Sadly enough, Roxy would fade away into obscurity in later games). According to Akira Nishitani (AKA“NinNin”) and Akira Yasuda (AKA “Akiman”), The company seemed to have been facing some pushback over having the game's main characters assault Poison and Roxy. Below, I've added an image of the twitter conversation that explains this. There's also additional twitter conversations here.

                   
----
[Side note: I would like to point out that both Double Dragon and Double Dragon II: The Revenge, feature a female character brandishing a whip, named Linda. She gets manhandled by Billy and Jimmy Lee in both games, and there has been no talk from Technos about getting any sort of backlash as far I've been able to find. The team-up game Battletoads and Double Dragon, the ultimate team also features the main characters, pulling Linda's hair and kicking her from behind, and still no talk about any sort of backlash what-so-ever. ]

 - xxsp

----

According to the two, They were worried that American Feminist groups were going to sue the company over depictions of violence against women, With that being said, the two devised the idea to state that both characters were “NewHalf” or Pre-op Trans. Now, there is some dispute to this. A video “documentary” from a youtuber named MegatonStammer, where he states that the concept images featured in the 2005 compilation, “Capcom Classics Collection” has a comment at the bottom of the page which has the kana for “Newhalf”. The only issue with this discovery, is the fact that in former escapades as a Graphic Designer, images tend to be revised constantly in the planning process. So if there is no context as to when the notation happened, say like a dated stamp or means to tell when that kana was written, it stands to believe that this could have been added around the time frame that both Akiman and Nishitani stated. Because, as we all know context is everything.

To add to the confusion, Yoshinori Ono, who is credited as coming on board to work with the Street Fighter games around the time of Street Fighter Alpha 3, goes on to state that in his own personal view Poison is a woman, then states later on that between both countries she could be considered either pre-op or post-op. Eventually, he goes on to agree with Nishitani's statement that Poison's sex is left up to the audience to guess, which probably would have saved us a lot of trouble in the first place.

In writing this, my job here isn't to clear up any discussion of whether Poison sits or stands while using the bathroom. That's not what's really important in the long run. I don't really care either way. The whole thing is meant to be subjective. I'm not in a relationship with or planning on having any trysts with the character, So if Capcom wants to play a rousing game of “It's Pat” with Poison as Julia Sweeny's titular character, then so be it. In the grand scheme of things, it just seems like the goal is to keep the controversy going in order to keep people guessing, anyway. So now that we got that all out of the way, let's actually get into what exactly makes Poison tick, shall we?

I could say the same for Bridget, but everyone is gay for Bridget

                                           
Concocting the perfect poison

Poison's name originated from the American 1980's rock band of the same (Music and band names were actually a theme with the Mad Gear gang). Her full name in Japan, according to Fighters Generation is “Poison Kiss”, which also references the 70's glam rock band of the same name. Any additional origin information seems to be pretty thin considering her origins being that of an enemy A.I. Take it away wikia..
“Poison is shown to be a "female" with long, pink, somewhat rugged, hair. She wears a black cap, a choker, blue cutoff shorts, red high heels, and a tanktop cut just below her large breasts. In Final Fight Revenge and some artworks, her hair is shown to be purple instead of pink. She wears several armbands around her right arm and has chains and a pair of handcuffs suspended off her shorts. Final Fight Revenge features her also possessing a whip used in attacks, though the character has not been shown with one in other titles or artwork. Poison stands about 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm) tall and has three sizes of 34-25-35" (88-66-89 cm).

Poison's behavior is represented as womanly and sultry, ranging from flirtatious comments to pole dancing. She is also rather promiscuous, as this is displayed in combat and after defeating an opponent. She enjoys fighting and uses it as a means to stay in shape. Aside from this, Poison is very smart about fighting and does not like to fight children.Poison's behavior is represented as womanly and sultry, ranging from flirtatious comments to pole dancing. She is also rather promiscuous, as this is displayed in combat and after defeating an opponent. She enjoys fighting and uses it as a means to stay in shape. Aside from this, Poison is very smart about fighting and does not like to fight children. ”


BDSM is also a popular subject in Japanese culture as shown in manga and anime like Bakuretsu hunters

Poison's hair color is light purple or lavender, which symbolizes passion, royalty, beauty and femininity.  
Poison's costume design is actually pretty minimal, with her cap, riding crop and handcuffs easily being a reference to “The bizarre style” of BDSM and dominatrix culture (leather / PVC / latex and the like) became the norm in the 20th century, but yet emerged in popular culture in 17th century England. As with most things, the origins of the art date back to before 79 AD in Greek and Roman culture.

The most popular account of domme culture in these times was between Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, and the former love of his student, Alexander the Great, Phyllis. Aristotle, had discouraged Alexander from continuing a relationship with Phyllis, due to amorous relations with women being a distraction from the serious work of great men. As the story goes, Phyllis had managed to seduce Aristotle, who had became besotted with her, and begun to make advances, and as a result of her demands, the Philosopher begun to demean himself by entering her chamber on all fours, carrying Phyllis around like a horse. Another philosopher who is said to have participated in this fetish is Socrates. Xanthippe, a notoriously stubborn woman, said to be the inspiration for Shakespeare's “The taming of the shrew” is shown in a mezzotint to be riding Socrates in the same fashion.


Don't Judge me

The modern Dominatrix, according to Wikipedia is regarded as a female archetype, which operates on a symbolic mode of representation, associated with particular attire and props that are drawn within popular culture to signify her role as a dominant sexualised woman – linked to but distinct form images of sexual fetish. However, books such as Anne O. Nomis' “The history & Arts of the Dominatrix” state that the commercial aspect of BDSM combines not only the power exchange of domination and submission, but also a range of knowledge of both erotic fantasy, role play, fetishes and specialization in using certain aides with a instinctual intuitiveness of satiating a client's deep-seated psychosexual needs.

In the case of Poison, the use of Dominatrix culture seems to be used mainly as a means of bombast, and bravado , not unlike the use of Aposematism in animals to deter predators.

---

Out of curiosity, and interest in seeing other opinions than mine be brought to light about Poison and why she's interesting, I decided to ask for a bit of assistance. Kukuruyo is a popular web comic artist, and fellow fan of lewd style art. I managed to snag some time to talk to him for a bit about why Poison is such an interesting character. I really enjoyed the conversation, as it's always nice to chat with other creative types.

The following is taken from a short conversation between him and myself.


FSBF: My last article on I-No was featured on KiA and a poster also linked your sexy redesigns, which were amazing as always. I wanted to ask if you would like to add any of your thoughts as to why Poison's original design works so well. I can go on about design theory for long stints, which is why a lot of those articles are so damn long, but I think having guests go on about them as well would be a nice way to end this mini series.

Kukuruyo: Um, i haven't give much though as to why it works. For me the main success of Poison is due to being a trans whos not shoved in your face. She has enough hints in the design and the dominatrix attitude typical of trasvestites in movies/shows/pride parades to make you think she is, and there's quite the community in geek culture whos atracted to traps and such.

FSBF: I pretty much agree, here. The Community love her regardless and most of the fan art I've seen have bounced around from Trap to non Trap varieties. Pretty much the same love that people have for Guilty Gear's Bridget.

Kukuruyo: Yeah, the community is not again those characters, is against the politics that some people infuse behind some of them. I love the characters in games like Nights of azure or Fate extella, who are lesbians with beautifull stories, but then i have to see forced diversity like in Dragon age 3, with stupid stereotypical and badly writen characters whose only characteristic is "i'm gay, look at how much gay i am".

FSBF: Exactly. Dragon Age's way of handling these characters did very little to make me interested in playing their games. When I play games I tend to want to just lose myself in the world and it's characters, but having a character constantly remind me of them being gay, kind of leaves me rolling my eyes and saying "Okay okay, we get it"

Kukuruyo: Yeah. The first one is cool, but after that, the writer became a fan of Sarkeesian, and began to do that kind of forced diversity stuff, changing the female designs to be all covered, erasing the female demons from the game, etc. Characters like Dorian, who's always reminding you he's gay, and they even changed the lore of the game to make him a story of homophobia.

FSBF: She had a similar effect on other games like Assassin's Creed Unity, and Mirror's Edge 2. For some strange reason creatives are actually throwing away the premise of writing three dimensional characters and turning those characters into walking stereotypes just to please her, and others like her. Then they wonder why the fanbase that made their games and properties popular in the first place, wind up leaving in droves.

Kukuruyo: Thats why i prefer jap(anese) games. I lost faith in western storytelling, for several reasons including that one. Japs just don't care, they write the characters in the way they like and fit the story the most, and if that means she will be horrible, cowardly, villainous people, or that they're are beaten and die, so be it. I always like to remember the reasons Capcom gave to create Juri Han. They said they where tired of the recent trend of writing those villains as if they had justification for their actions and are just misunderstood. So they did her a psychopath villain who just likes to fight strong people and be a sadist. And i love her the most for it.

FSBF: I like Juri for that fact. She actually reminds me of characters like Vice from The King of Fighters. Just based on their extreme disregard for the safety of others and the extreme sexuality. That probably explains why I had so many issues with the women I dated, growing up. lol
Kukuruyo : Yeah, i kinda have that attraction for crazy women, though by experience i prefer to avoid the ones in reality.
XXSP: Lessons were learned. I'm making better choices, these days lol.

XXSP: Now that I think about it both Poison and Juri tend to have the same demeanor, despite having different backgrounds. That's actually interesting. And yet most of the complaints in that article were aimed more towards poison.
Kukuruyo: I wouldn't say they're the same. Poison's dominatrix attitude seem to be an act, a facade for the purpose of amusing her audience; Juri is more of a femme fatale, who uses her sexuality as any other weapon
XXSP: Poison does have something of a "Ringmaster" mentality when it comes to how she represents herself. I guess that's another layer to the questioning what's beneath the surface, angle. Juri seems more inclined to take out anything in her way with everything she has available. I guess if that means seduction then so be it.
Kukuruyo: It would be interesting to see more on the sexual part of this kind of characters. It always feels dull when in a work there are characters so openly sexual but they never have sex with anyone, or even try. That's one reason i like the Fate series, people fuck in them.
XXSP: Well it's also a logical conclusion to having a character with that type of personality. If they're highly sexual, you would think that the end result is at some point sex is going to happen. The problem seems that when characters like that are made, it only goes so far as playful flirting and a possible romantic chase scenario. That's pretty limiting in terms of character progression.

Kukuruyo: If at least they suggested it happens off screen, but there's a lot of fear to doing that. I remember a very exaggerated case, when they did the anime version of Fate/Unlimited blade works; there's a part in the original game where two characters have sex and is very relevant to the story. In the anime not only they don't show it, but they don't even mention that it happens. If you just watch the anime you have no idea as to why a character suddenly has a change in powers. And we're talking about an anime full of gore.
FSBF: Gore is always a thing in media. Violence and gore can be commonplace, but don't ever let a breast pop out of a top.

As much as I wanted to finish that conversation, I had things I needed to do, that day. Kukuruyo was such a great sport for indulging me. I know he's pretty popular, but I'm going to plug his site again just because his webcomics are pretty awesome, and you should check them out.

Arsenic and old lace...

So here we are, doing this for the last time.. It almost brings a slight bit of mist to my eye. I half expect there to be some sort of recap scene happening as I write this of me typing furiously while downing multiple cups of coffee, red tired eyes and all. Once again, let's make a side-by-side comparison of the two, shall we?



Well, aside from the obvious observation that could lead to claims of what snowflakes, today would call “Slut shaming”, The redesign really isn't that drastically different other than covering up for the sake of such. As stated before, the two points of contention, here are that the character design and the character personality fail to show any signs of matching, and that the character isn't showing any sign of fighting prowess in the displayed pose. So with that being said, let's take a moment to address the elephant in the room;
The goofy grin and the magazine model stance with the riding crop that looks more like someone pretending than actually filling the role of Poison.
After much time actually scrutinizing the redesign, and showing it to others, we've come to the decision that the redesign reminds me more of an odd anime / Victorian chimney sweep variant of what Poison would look like. The original version exudes confidence, sexual power, and allure, while displaying potential for full range of movement in kicks as well as possible savagery and brutality in her dominatrix style of fighting. Of course Anita Sarkeesian, in her usual lazy way of critique, attempted and failed to debunk the argument of female fighters using their sexuality as a means of distraction, but as we've stated in “Lingerie is not armor, but it's not as thin as your arguments” The “honey pot” or “honey trap” is a historical tactic that has been used in Wars, Espionage , Marital infidelity , Television , film, books and in this case, video games.

As stated many times before, Poison's original design succeeds because you can gather so much information from just looking at her. Art isn't and has never been about glancing at something and saying “oh that's pretty”. There is information here that actually exists in the subtext or undertone of what's being presented. That's the clear difference between someone who's just beginning their journey as an artist, and preparing for the journey of artistic mastery.

Even high level practitioners feel they have much to learn

Ultimately, In the case of these redesigns, the moral of the story seems to be that political correctness is more of a disability to the artist than an actual benefit. What exactly do you seem to be accomplishing by limiting what you can and can't present to an audience? Comic books have slowly been losing their edge for some time now, which has only resulted in more and more people becoming disenchanted with them. Match this with the decline in interest in film and television shows which heavily pushed this ideology, and you'll see a growing disinterest in people forcing their own beliefs on others in their entertainment.

The purpose of this series was to not only display this fact, but to give you - the reader who may also be an inspiring or intermediate artist, the ability to understand that in Character design, the actual word “design” holds a tremendous amount of weight. Design isn't just the paltry idea that playing paper dolls with an established character will make them memorable or improve what's already came before.
With the knowledge of understanding what what inspired and help to create the character comes the potential of discovering new ideas and concepts that can breathe new life into that character's design.

My artistic abilities circa 2009

Just to show that I'm not blowing smoke when I say this. I would like to present you some redesigns I did of Street Fighter characters back in 2009. This was the very start of really starting to understand what made the original character's designs stand out. I spent an obscene amount of time breaking the characters down to their core and then re-purposing additional elements into creating an interesting final product. Some of the ideas work while others may not work as well, but they were interesting attempts to say the least. Art is both an expression of yourselves as much as it is a means of conveying important data without the use of words. Design is merely the act of honing that means of communication to a razor sharp edge using research, concepts, and the power of both your mind and imagination. It's been a fantastic ride working on this, and I am very grateful to have been able to had this opportunity to talk art with you guys. Hopefully you can take this information and build upon it as I have. And always remember,

Art is a never ending process of reflection accomplishment and improvement.

- I'll see you next Bossfight!

Reference materials
kukuruyo.com  

Concussive Blows to the Head (my old art blog)



No comments:

Post a Comment