Soulcalibur is a popular fighting game that has been around for decades. Throughout multiple iterations of the fighting game it’s shown off a number of sexy and risque characters both male and female like Isabella Valentine, Z.W.E.I., Maxi, Sophitia, and more.

Bandai Namco showed off their latest version of the game, Soulcalibur VI, at E3. Unfortunately, Kotaku’s Cicillia D’Anastasio had a problem with the game’s character designs specifically the women like Ivy Valentine and Taki.

Her article’s headline reads, “At E3, SoulCalibur’s Objectified Women Felt Like A Relic of The Past.” It wouldn’t improve from there. She would go on to attack Ivy Valentine’s portrayal effectively “slut shaming” her.

“In SoulCalibur 6, Ivy Valentine will be as she always was: wrapped in stringy cloth, balloon-breasted, mostly naked. She wields a snake sword that extends into a whip, a dominatrix’s weapon that’s helped land her in innumerable knock-off porn videos and pin-up images. As one the Soul series’ most recognizable fighters, Ivy has always looked like a caricature of a pubescent boy’s preposterously-proportioned ideal video game lady.”

It’s easy to point out Ivy Valentine for her attire. But she’s not the only character in the game who has unrealistic proportions. A number of the male characters look like they are chiseled from marble. Why isn’t she complaining about them?

Soulcalibur VI Maxi

But I digress. Why is D’Anastasio trying to reduce Ivy Valentine’s character just to her looks? She even makes note that her weapon of choice is a “dominatrix’s whip” in an attempt to remove the character’s gameplay from the debate. And Ivy’s whip is also what makes her a joy to play for many fans. Ivy’s whip is part of her unique fighting style, which is considered a high tier by fans of the franchise. Its unique use of both short and long range attacks are based on her magical whip-sword. Combine that with her ability to switch stances it makes her a character that is complex, fun and challenging for any player.

D’Anastasio goes on to compare the women in Soulcalibur to sex dolls:

“Ivy feels like a bit of a relic of a past’s mainstream, like lead paint or cocaine for toothaches. Last week, I met with Okubo to ask him a burning question I’ve had since I first laid hands on SoulCalibur 2 in 2003: Why do the series’ women still look like sex dolls?”

She would then go on to ask Soulcalibur VI  producer Motohiro Okubo a series of questions about the sex appeal of the game.

“I’ve played SoulCalibur games, and I used to play a lot of Cassandra. I was playing Sophitia just now. I noticed that, in this version, her breasts are more prominent. You can see up her skirt. Ivy, still, is wearing not that many clothes. When I play a game like SoulCalibur, I feel like it’s not for me. I feel like it’s for men who might be interested in these characters. I’ve always sort of felt that about SoulCalibur. Is this something you consider?”

Okubo responds:

“Of course, I am a man, as well as many of the people on the development team. That’s something that we should probably consider if that’s the opinion of a female perspective like you in the future. We weren’t necessarily going out to try and intentionally make something sexy for the purpose of being sexy.”

D’Anastasio would continue to pressure Okubo on the looks of the characters:

“It’s interesting you say you don’t set out to be sexy because SoulCalibur has traditionally had really elaborate breast physics in the game. That doesn’t exist for gameplay, of course.”

Okubo would respond that they were pursuing what they think is cool when it comes to the game design.

“I think, as a result, the characters as a result end up being sexy. That’s not something we can deny necessarily, but in the process of game design, we just really try to go after what we think would be cool actions, cool movement, strong, powerful movements. That is kind of a byproduct of this pursuit of trying to find what we think is pretty cool.”

He added:

There’s a weapon and there’s a character designed around it. If it’s a massive ax or a sword, naturally it’d be a more hulky type of male body. With Ivy, we felt her character with the weapon she wields has a very cold, icy, type of feel, which is this very cool beauty we were trying to express in the character. That was how those characters came to be.

D’Anastasio wasn’t impressed by the answer and described Okubo’s idea of “cool” as “like a fantasy-skinned Playboy centerfold.”

By the end of her article, D’Anastasio concludes that the game is out of place at E3 and refers to her headline stating, “It’s classier to call something what it is,” referring the character designs are “a relic of the past.”

It might be a relic of the past to D’Anastasio, but it’s human nature to like attractive figures even if they are exaggerated. The Natural Tendency towards Beauty in Humans: Evidence from Binocular Rivalry found that “behavioural preference for beauty is driven by an inherent natural tendency towards beauty in humans rather than explicit social cognitive processes.” It’s anything but a relic of the past.

But you don’t need a study to prove that. People like good-looking people in their games. It’s not rocket science.

It’s also quite interesting that D’Anastasio describes them as “fantasy-skinned Playboy centerfold[s].” Except Playboy centerfolds exist and there are women who have body shapes like the Soulcaliber characters. Can we expect D’Anastasio to go on a rant about how they are relics of the past? Or does she tune in and watch the Kardashians? And if you don’t think there aren’t women who look like Ivy, just look at these women who shared their cosplays of the character.

D’Anastasio while recognizing anime games, seems to completely miss the point that this is part of Japanese culture including games, anime, and manga. It’s a normal staple to see scantily clad characters across all of these mediums. Why is she trying to shame the creators of Soulcaliber VI for their gorgeous character designs? Does she feel the same way about all Japanese products that show off scantily clad women? Is she trying to culturally appropriate a Japanese designed game with her neo-Puritan values?

The real problem D’Anastasio seems to have with the game is in her own mind which she actually admits in her own article. She says, “When I play a game like SoulCalibur, I feel like it’s not for me.” Who is making her feel that way? It surely isn’t the game designers or the producers. She firmly admits she had access to the game and was able to play it. No one is stopping her from playing it. No one is making her feel the game isn’t for her, but her.

As with a number of “gaming journalists,” her criticisms seem to stem from a sense of misdirected insecurity. She decides to rail against Soulcaliber VI because of her own “feelings.”

When we play games, we want to have fun. We don’t want fake concern people like D’Anastasio to inject their misdirected insecurity which turns into a political agenda into the games.

Is Soul Calibur VI a fun game? If any of the reactions to its booth during E3 last week were of any hints. Then yes it is. Is there a problem with Ivy? Not in my view, she’s just a character in a video game that people just like to play.

Now enjoy some Ivy vs Sophitia gameplay!

Does Kotaku’s Cicillia D’Anastasio have a point about Ivy’s sexiness? Or there something else going on? Let us know in the comments below!

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About The Author

Jorge Arenas
Resident Star Trek Specialist/ Writer

Jorge Arenas is a Governmental Affairs Director working in the Southwest. If Starfleet were real his career would be in a much different place. Currently, he specializes in all things Star Trek. He loves DC but has a soft spot for Deadpool. When not writing you can find him on World of Warcraft. Battle.net, ID-PassStage6#1707

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