Thursday, August 21, 2014

Daidouji: The Ultimate Female Game Character

In discussions of feminism and the portrayal of females, I often find people citing their favorite female character from the media and why they are so effective for reasons other than sex appeal or for the story to have at least one token female.

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'm no feminist, but that's the way I see it.

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 everyone else 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 Asura Loincloth, Asuras 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 hers specially made for her.

  • 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, who is much calmer and the fastest character in the franchise.

  • In case you thought her use of the Tenshou Hyakuretsu Ken was only a coincidence, her tag attack with her rival is much more clear.

There are different kinds of badass 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 there is, 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.
I couldn't be more excited for the release of Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson.  It has been shown that outfits and hairstyles in it will be interchangeable between all the playable girls.  Should Daidouji's clothes and hair be available for this, I plan to have every character wear them and change the menu's voice to Daidouji.  It will no longer be Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson.  It will be known as Senran Daidouji 2: Deep Daidouji!


  1. It's so funny that the only thing I could find about how great Daidouji is is this post from so long ago. Thank you though if you see this know you're not alone in your love of Daidouji. She reminds me so much of Akuma and Jotaro I love it.

  2. She fits the SNK Boss category in my opinion

  3. Boy, is pretty bittersweet to read this analysis of why Daidouji is so amazing and then look at what she ended up becoming on recent games of the series. As much as I like that she got to fall in love with Rin, making her so incredibly dumb wasn't worth it.

    1. Since when did she fall in love with Rin? I didn't see that in Estival Versus. And she's not dumb. She was always very straight-minded and more brawn than brains. Even the first game never did anything to say otherwise.

    2. They have a share side story on Peach Beach Splash that lays the subtext so thick that it might as well be text. This side story also seemingly makes canon Daidouji's appearance on Uppers, where she spent a good amount of time wooing other girls.

      Exactly, but since Bon Appetit she was reduced to the classic "Dumb Muscle" trope. First with her ignorance regarding giraffes and her childish idea of monsters being the ultimate challenge.

      EV took this characterization and ran with it, making her struggle with basic math, failing to grasp what it means to be feminine and basically not realizing how ludicrous her training regime has become (although on another side story she's waxing some really contrived metaphors go figure).

      Oh right, another interesting aspect of Daidouji's personality was revealed by the glossary on the Senran Kagura Official Design Works published by UDON, where it states that Daidouji's schoolboy outfit is a reflection of an inferiority complex she has regarding men.

  4. Those side stories were just jokes. Everyone is silly in those.

    1. Not exactly. Daidouji still shows that, let's call it slowness during the EV's DLC missions that pit her against the entire Hanzo team (where the "She punched Time" screencaps come from) and those are canon, explaining what Dai and Rin were doing while the Festival was taking place.

      Furthermore, Daidouji's quest for femininity is acknowledged by her in-game bio on PBS and her characterization there is still in line with the brute of EV's dual heart stories.

    2. I still don't consider that a major change from the start. She's still great.

    3. Is actually a big change to how Daidouji was originally envisioned by Takaki (seen on the Spark! manga) since back then she was actually able to function as a normal member of society -she liked to take strolls all dolled up on her free time for example- rather than the muscle head that can't understand anything if isn't related to fighting.

    4. That isn't characterization, is Flanderization; something that has affected all the characters after SV.

    5. And like Flanders, it's not necessarily a bad thing. I take it for what it is.