Despite the prior censorship of I-No and admitted goal of the game’s developers to make the series “more accessible to more people,” fans and even game journalists have noticed that Baiken’s bust has only continued to grow with her recent arrival in Guilty Gear Strive.
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One of the series’ most popular fighters since her debut as a secret character in the original Guilty Gear, Baiken was announced for a return to the series on January 24th, when ArcSys announced that she would join Jack-O’ Valentine, Goldlewis Dickinson, and Happy Chaos as the fourth DLC character available in Guilty Gear Strive’s Season Pass 1.
While many were surprised by the reveal that some of Baiken’s more infamously complex guard and parrying mechanics had been dropped in favor of a new tether weapon, others were quick to notice something else about her first.
While several of the game’s female characters sport healthy chests and exposed cleavage, such as I-No, Jack-O’, and Giovanna, fans were quick to note that Baiken certainly has the largest and most exposed chest in all of Strive.
Though the appearance of a busty woman in a Japanese anime-style game is far from novel, Baiken’s specific growth is actually somewhat surprising, as in June 2021, Guilty Gear Strive directors Daisuke Ishiwatari and Akira Katano admitted to Famitsu that they had toned down I-No’s sexualized design in order “to make the game more accessible to more people.”
“Development costs are increasing, but the number of users is decreasing,” Ishiwatari explained. “We want to make the GG [Guilty Gear] brand known to as many people as possible so that they will play our games.”
I-No’s costume in Guilty Gear Xrd and most prior games had deep cleavage and almost bare chest only covered by two straps hanging from her collar.
In Strive, though she again wore an open jacket, this time she wore it with a very short black shirt underneath.
Nonetheless, Baiken’s growing assets caused outrage amongst some, including the seemingly sexual content-averse users of ResetERA.
On the subject of leaks and the official trailer release, some unsurprisingly lamented that Baiken’s design was too exaggerated.
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User ARobotCalledV posted, “Terrible design and I’m not happy she’s back. I wish I could just ignore her but there’s always a chance I fight her,” and also provided a tweet which offered comparison’s of Baiken’s design over different games as evidence that more than her hair was getting bigger and bouncier.
“They turn her into a booby character, gut her moveset, and top of that make her an easy character for the first time ever,” said Ferrio. “Ugh.”
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Drawing comparisons to the Nintendo title whose female character designs also caused outrage, Servbot24 opined, “A character from the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 school of design. ‘My character trait is that I have boobs.'”
“Don’t really understand the need for implants,” Kabuki Waq malded. “They deserve to be called out for this garbage.”
Even so, less people were mad about the design than ResetEra’s reputation would lead you to believe.
As of writing, according to this author’s personal calculations, only 20% of the users in the thread regarding Baiken’s leak have offered their displeasure with the design, with 16% finding it too sexualized, 3% disliking it for more vague reasons, and 1% calling for the samurai to be further redesigned.
In the official thread, it was an even split between users who liked and disliked the design at around 8% each, while over 12% of users focused the discussion on Baiken’s moveset compared to the prior game, and the game’s mechanics.
In fact, it seemed more ResetEra users were upset about the character’s parry mechanics being abandoned or other changes, than her design.
Of course, this is not to say that the notoriously outraged forum was overly accepting of Baiken’s design.
When BloodHound posted “Her drip is crazy. So is her titties. I’ll try her,” they were banned for one month for “Sexist objectification.”
Game journalists were also somewhat outraged. Kotaku asked why Baiken’s chest keeps growing with every sequel, asserting that they had “entered the realm of absurdity” in Strive.
“Where once Baiken was a character so hellbent on revenge that she seemingly couldn’t care less about her risqué wardrobe risking an errant nip slip,” staff reporter Ian Walker proposed. “She’s since been pseudo-Flanderized with a design that focuses mostly on having boobs as big as her head.”
Yet, surprisingly, Walker himself was then quick to point out that Baiken still played an integral part of the series overarching story, and that her having “tig ol’ bitties” didn’t stop her from being a serious and multifaceted character.
Walker even concluded his piece by asking, “Where does it end?” before ultimately admitting that he’d be happy to see them grow even more in future entries, as ” I’ve become surprisingly addicted to chaos over the last few years.”
Baiken’s history across Guilty Gear starts with the destruction of Japan by the Gear Justice and the placement of individuals of Japanese descent into penal colonies – ostensibly for their own protection.
Gears raided Baiken’s colony when she was just a child, killing her parents and friends before depriving her of her own eye and arm. In the aftermath, she vowed revenge against That Man, otherwise known as the creator of the Gears.
Possessing a tomboy personality – in Japanese, she even uses the masculine pronoun “ore” – one of Baiken’s non-canon endings in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R has her state “A woman!? I gave that up long ago.”
Rather than serving as any sort of commentary on contemporary concepts of gender, the Guilty Gear games have clearly shown that Baiken considers herself a warrior first, having abandoned all other sense of self. Her “masculine” personality traits, such as her strutting walk animation, were learned from emulating those who trained her.
Yet, she also strives to continue the traditions of Japan, as seen in such actions as her dedication to protecting the remaining Japanese colonies.
She has even put aside her quest for vengeance at times in recent entries, putting the well being of others above that agenda.
It should be noted while other characters age and and change across Guilty Gear, Baiken’s age is unknown.
Thus, her continuing to ‘develop’ may not be so impossible to fathom amongst a world littered with magically and scientifically enhanced people.
Is the arrival of Baiken a sign that Arc System Works has abandoned their plans to court a wider market in favor of focusing on core appeal? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.
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