When it comes to games, the most commonly cited examples in my experience have been the likes of Samus Aran and Alyx Vance. With the possible exception of the controversial Metroid: Other M, the both of them have been portrayed as tough, but still human, treated with just as much respect as you would expect of a male hero, but not denying their gender.
I have a different icon. Over the last year I've vehemently clung to a relatively new female character from an unlikely source.
Recall in my Senran Kagura Burst review when I stated that the unlockable character for the Hanzo side of the game is my favorite. I didn't go into any more detail than that out of fear of spoiling an unlockable, but now that she's all over the marketing for the subsequent Senran Kagura games, I think the time for spoiling it has long since passed.
I was of course referring to the eldest playable character in the Hanzo side of Senran Kagura: Daidouji, my favorite female character in gaming!
At first glance Daidouji looks like any other playable character in Senran Kagura, with her slender body and giant chest. Just like every other character in Senran Kagura, what makes Daidouji so special isn't her body, but rather what is built around it: her personality, outfit, and fighting style, all of which can be described in one word: "shonen!"
Daidouji is obsessed with having a good fight and getting stronger. She's first seen in Senran Kagura's story in the aftermath of having defended the school from a wave of Hebijo Academy students singlehandedly while the Hanzo girls were busy with their rivals.
As if that small preview wasn't enough, after the main story Daidouji approaches the Hanzo students directly, where it's revealed that this 25-year-old woman has been repeating her senior year so that she can scout shinobi powerful enough to be worthy of her defeating. Having sensed the power the Hanzo girls gained in their story, Daidouji challenges all 5 one at a time as a bonus boss, once again, singlehandedly.
The shere dedication to strength and fighting Daidouji has practically makes her a parody of the most common shonen motivation seen in characters like Goku or Kuwabara, and similarly to Bang Shishigami or Ralf Jones, everything she says and does is so over-the-top and full of energy it's impossible not to love her.
But what Daidouji has over the likes of Ralf and Bang, in addition to her comically always-serious attitude, is her even greater abundance of shonen overtones, which for a Shonen Otaku, is invaluable. Let's go over the list:
- Her hat has no back to it and lets her hair come out of the back, much like Jotaro Kujo from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, except long hair is feminine. Daidouji's hat somehow has the ability to turn her hair into that amazing black mane as well. Her real hair is a smooth blonde, which is possible she hides because it's generally not associated with toughness.
- Her swimsuit is titled as an Asuran Loincloth, Asurans being Hindu deities constantly in conflict and always competing against each other.
- She wears an unbuttoned gakuran (a school outfit for boys) with the kanji for her name embroidered on the back. A gakuran is a common outfit for many shonen characters, such as the aforementioned Jotaro, but Daidouji takes it a step further to make it her own special one.
- Unlike the nimble, combo-heavy fighting styles of the other Senran Kagura characters (and, let's be honest, many female action game characters), Daidouji is very slow and hits like a tank! Her stats outclass any other character in the game, the screen shakes with every blow she lands and she can easily shrug off what would kill a lower-leveled character. In fact, if you look at her statistics with Katsuragi, Yagyuu or Hibari, they make an awed remark.
- Her aerial Hidden Ninpo has her perform Naruto-style handsigns before unleashing a screen-clearing Tenshou Hyakuretsu Ken (Celestial Hundred Crack Fist) and finishing it off with an explosive hadouken.
- Her most powerful ground attack is a projected tiger she shoots out of her fist, much like the previously-pictured gakuran-sporting shonen hero Momotaro does with his sword. Tigers in Buddhism are a common motif in many shonen works, with it and the dragon representing the balance of power. The tiger uses raw strength while the dragon uses patience and wisdom. Considering how eager Daidouji is to bulldoze through anyone who gets in her way, it's quite a fit. Her Hebijo rival is of course the dragon, and she is much calmer and the fastest character in the franchise.
- One of her lines is "I'll send you to hell!" I believe this line is also spoken by Raoh in his final battle with Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star, though that could be a coincidence. This, however, is probably not:
There are different kinds of badass playable females in games, but Daidouji is my favorite kind. She is the hardest, hammiest, toughest, strongest and not to mention most shonen representative female character in gaming, even beating out the likes of Guilty Gear's Baiken. They really thought outside of the box for Daidouji's design and I think we need more characters like her.
And that toughness and serious demeanor makes it that much more adorable to put cute things on.